Preserve Our Prairies Initiative

The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is a lush and productive ecosystem of wetlands and grasslands that evolved after the glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago. The PPR has the world's best waterfowl nesting habitat, producing a fall flight of ducks unrivaled anywhere on earth. Healthy wetlands are crucial for prairie-nesting ducks, providing nutrients for egg laying and nursery grounds for broods.

Tragically, these vital wetlands continue to be drained and degraded. Grasslands are also vital for nesting waterfowl, but they too are being destroyed at a rapid pace. These ongoing losses make the Prairie Pothole Region one of North America's most threatened waterfowl habitats. The PPR has always been a focus of Ducks Unlimited's conservation work, and that priority remains strong today through the Preserve Our Prairies Initiative. To fill the skies with ducks, DU must continue to safeguard prairie wetlands and grasslands.

We must work together to overcome challenges and protect our waterfowling legacy.

For example, the farm bill represents the single largest private lands conservation program in the United States and provides critical funding for important waterfowl friendly programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program and wetland easement program. Farm bill programs also provide important incentives to landowners to preserve wetlands and grasslands, reduce soil erosion, and provide clean water.

DU's Five-Year Plan for the Prairies

Ducks Unlimited has developed a bold plan to conserve the most critical areas for ducks and geese across the Preserve Our Prairies Initiative area, from the prairies of Canada to the north-central United States. Grounded in cutting-edge science, this new plan focuses on key programs to address the habitat needs of breeding ducks:
  • Working with landowners to protect and restore wetlands and grasslands through voluntary, incentive-based programs
  • Encouraging farmers to grow waterfowl-friendly crops such as winter wheat
  • Advocating strong public policies that protect wetlands and grasslands<
  • Conducting scientific research to guide our conservation efforts.
The Preserve Our Prairies Initiative requires significant resources.

A total of $100 million in philanthropic investment is needed over the next five years to make this effort a success. These funds will be leveraged with $150 million from our conservation partners to safeguard nearly 1 million acres of key prairie habitat. It will take a concerted effort by all who care about prairie wetlands and grasslands to protect these precious landscapes for future generations.

Preserving our Prairies Initiative at a Glance

Five-Year Initiative Goals (FY 2012-16)
Habitat Delivery Acres: 575,110
Influenced Acres: 8,021,892
Public Revenue: $243.8 million
Philanthropic Revenue: $100 million
Total Revenue Goal: $343.8 million

Initiative States and Provinces:
North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta

Conservation Focus:
Protecting and restoring grasslands and wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region
 

Cross-border Conservation

Prairie-nesting ducks are extraordinarily adaptable. Individual birds often return to a location where they bred successfully the year before, but if that area is dry, they may travel hundreds of miles in search of favorable wetland conditions. This strategy has served ducks well, because there are almost always areas of the Prairie Pothole Region that receive ample moisture. Even though these production hotspots change from year to year, ducks still find them. Hedging our bets against localized drought to provide ducks with options is why DU must conserve breeding habitat in both the United States and Canada through the Preserve Our Prairies Initiative.

Providing Landowners Incentives to Conserve

More than 90 percent of the Prairie Pothole Region is privately owned. That is why Ducks Unlimited and its partners work closely with farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners across the region to promote working lands programs that achieve our conservation mission. With a simple stroke of a pen, federal, state, and provincial governments can enact laws that greatly impact the future of waterfowl habitat and our cherished hunting traditions.
Continental waterfowl populations and the key landscapes they depend on throughout their life cycle will be greatly impacted (positively or negatively) by the outcomes of public policy decisions. DU and its supporters must stay educated and engaged on these mission-critical issues in order to sustain healthy waterfowl populations now and into the future.

Our Prairies Need You Now

Your gift to Ducks Unlimited is key to our success, and it is truly the greatest contribution you can make to secure the future of wetlands and waterfowl. Every dollar you give to Ducks Unlimited is leveraged to create a conservation impact far beyond your initial gift. In addition, we invest at least 80 cents of every dollar received in our conservation mission. Start making a difference today for waterfowl, outdoorsmen, and future generations of wildlife and people by making your gift to DU's Preserve Our Prairies Initiative. Help conserve more than 575,000 acres of key breeding habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region of Canada and the United States with your gift today.

Don't wait.

Call DU at (701)355-3500 today to speak with fundraising staff in your area.

Make an online gift.

Download a printable PDF for this initiative