Ducks Unlimited regional biologist Tim Willis recently met with members of the Mississippi Conservation Funding Coalition in Jackson to discuss options for creating a dedicated source of state funding for Mississippi conservation. The purpose of the planning meeting was to develop key goals for the funding initiative and to research funding options, such as dedicated funding mechanisms that have been successfully used in both Arkansas and Missouri.

During the Mississippi Conservation Funding Coalition's meeting, four key goals were also identified for the funding initiative: develop a strategy for mission success for funding that includes a public and legislative effort; secure funding for a defined number of years; identify and prioritize lands that are threatened and valued; and develop a public opinion, research-driven communications strategy, plan, and program. Reaching these goals will be essential to securing future funding for Mississippi conservation projects.

Currently, TNC, MDWFP, and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation are working with the support of other agencies, including DU. The first step is to raise approximately $80,000 to perform a feasibility study and polling. Obtaining the results from these studies and polling will be crucial in determining the next course of action.

"Efforts like this are crucial to conservation success because they bring together various organizations and agencies to focus on a common goal. That cooperation will lead to long-term benefits for Mississippi's wildlife, wild places, and people," Willis said.

Other organizations in attendance included the Nature Conservancy; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Wildlife Federation; Mississippi Secretary of State's office; Delta Wildlife; and the Audubon Society.