HORICON, Wis. – Oct. 8, 2013 – Ducks Unlimited and the Horicon Marsh Initiative are running on all cylinders with the acquisition of 71 acres adjacent to Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.
The Horicon Marsh Initiative (HMI) began with a challenge grant from the Ted and Grace Bachhuber Foundation Inc. back in 2010. The foundation pledged an initial $500,000 with an additional $500,000 to follow if Ducks Unlimited could raise $500,000 in matching funds. DU rose to the challenge and raised the $500,000 within two and a half years, far ahead of projections.
HMI's four-pronged conservation strategy fit DU's mission and the goals of the foundation. DU partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and others to address the watershed restoration, invasive species control and wetland management aspects of the program, but land protection had not been included until the recent land acquisition.
“I could not have dreamed of a better piece of ground for DU to protect in the program focus area,” said DU Regional Biologist Brian Glenzinski. “We have been very active in all other areas, just finishing up the rehabilitation of the Redhead and Teal flowages on the refuge, restoring wetlands and installing buffers higher up in the watershed and spraying cattails down on the state end of the marsh, but this acquisition is the most exciting project the initiative has undertaken.”
The 71-acre parcel not only fulfills HMI's land protection mission, but also will contribute to watershed restoration goals as some of the cropland is restored to wetland and grassland habitat.
This parcel will also address another of DU's major goals by recruiting youth and expanding waterfowl hunting opportunities. Steve Kass, DU director of development, explained, “This property will not only achieve many of the goals of HMI, but will also be used to mentor youth and provide disabled hunters with a quality hunting experience.” Several mentored youth hunts and disabled hunts are taking place this fall.
“This is a win all the way around,” said Steve Lenz, USFWS refuge manager at Horicon NWR. “We are very excited and pleased to have DU as a neighbor to the refuge.” USFWS, WDNR and DU are all working together to provide the habitat restoration and hunting opportunity on the property. Once restoration is complete, long-term plans are to turn the property over to the USFWS for inclusion into Horicon NWR.
“It is heartwarming and exciting to see a purchase like this take place, especially at a time during which we are losing natural resources on a daily basis. I had no idea how successful HMP would be when we initiated it approximately four years ago,” said DU volunteer Ron Babros, a leader in establishing HMI. “Special thanks to the Ted and Grace Bachhuber Foundation; fellow DU volunteers Don Jaga and Mike Ptaschinsky; and DU staff Mike Brumley, Todd Bishop, Tom Munich and Brian Glenzinski for making one of my wildest dreams come true. Their efforts will benefit the people of Wisconsin and more than 900 species of wildlife on the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the world.”
DU plans don't stop here. Most of the money spent under HMI will potentially be used to leverage more conservation dollars for the area. Glenzinski explained, “If the North American Wetlands Conservation Act gets funded, we will be writing a grant to further the mission of the HMI and hope to bring another $1 million to help attain these goals.”
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at www.youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.