Says the organization’s members are “American Heroes” in address to National Convention
BALTIMORE, Md. – May 23 – In a first for the world leader in wetlands conservation, a senior Cabinet official addressed the Ducks Unlimited National Convention, being held in Baltimore, Md.
“Everything Ducks Unlimited does is world-class,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, addressing more than 900 Ducks Unlimited members, volunteers, and staff.
Kempthorne specifically praised DU members’ and staffs’ commitment to conservation, saying that “conservation is not simply writing a check once a year…conservation is a way of life.” He also complimented DU for being a committed partner in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a plan now being used as a model for conservation and management of many other species of wildlife.
In addition to praising DU for leading the way on the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Kempthorne announced that he was reappointing DU’s Senior Group Manager for Conservation and Communications Dr. Alan Wentz to the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, the body instrumental in implementing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
Kempthorne also commended DU members and staff for their support of the Federal Duck Stamp Program.
“Waterfowl hunters arguably have contributed more than anyone,” said Kempthorne, about the stamp, which is required for waterfowl hunters. “Through the purchase of Federal Duck Stamps, you have enabled us to add 5 million acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System, a total the size of the state of Maryland.”
The contest to determine the picture that is used on the stamp each year has twice been hosted by DU in Memphis, Tenn.
“It is an honor to have Secretary Kempthorne come here and speak to us,” said DU President Bruce Lewis. “It is a great pleasure to see the same kind of commitment that DU volunteers have for waterfowl and wetlands mirrored at the highest levels of our government.”
The visit from Secretary Kempthorne wasn’t the only brush with the federal government that convention-goers experienced. A large group of volunteers and staff, including DU President Bruce Lewis, Chairman of the Board Dr. James Hulbert, First Vice-President John Pope, and Executive Vice President Don Young, visited Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress.
The tour brought 150 people from around the nation to a luncheon meeting with more than a dozen Members of Congress and a senior official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Having so many Members of Congress interested in meeting DU demonstrates ther awareness and appreciation of DU,” said Don Young, executive vice-president for Ducks Unlimited, who took part in the trip. “It was also good to show Congress how many DU members are interested in politics and the political process.”
Also among the attendees were USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Mark Keenum, who spoke to the group about the President’s veto of the Farm Bill, and Senators Michael Crapo and Thad Cochran, along with Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, who received awards for their contributions to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Other attendees included Sen. Ted Stevens (AK), Sen. John Thune (SD), Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sen Charles Grassley (Iowa) and Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), as well Representatives Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Robert Wittman (VA) and Steve Scalise (LA).
“I thought that the trip to Capitol Hill was one of the best days I’ve spent as a DU volunteer and I’ve been at it for 25 years,” said Bruce Deadman, regional vice president of Wisconsin and Illinois.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.
Contact: Neil Shader
Governmental Affairs Office