Summer 2020 EPlains News Directors Note

A message from Mike George, Director of Conservation Programs for the GPR

"The times they are a changin'."—Bob Dylan.

It has been an interesting five months, to say the least, and the times seem like they are changing. Ducks Unlimited, like most of the nation, has been impacted by COVID-19. Offices have closed, events have been postponed or cancelled and austere steps have been taken to save money across the company. Two things haven’t changed: The spring migration of waterfowl moving north was right on schedule, and DU biologists and engineers have continued to put projects on the ground to support that migration.

In the Great Plains Region (GPR) we implemented some strategies to save money and maintain the funds we have working for habitat. These strategies include delaying filling positions that don’t work directly on projects, combining some positions where practical, limiting travel unless project related, not replacing older vehicles and using technology for meetings online. Many of these things aren’t sustainable for the long-term (vehicles eventually wear out) but things, like cyber meetings, may become part of our new way of doing business.

When Johann Walker accepted a promotion to director of operations for the GPR, that left an opening in his previous position as director of conservation programs for the breeding states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. We temporarily combined this position with the director of conservation programs for the migration states of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. This created a new post as GPR director of conservation, a job I now occupy.  

As for the migration, once again it was a grand show. The ducks, geese and shorebirds came through Kansas and Nebraska in March and April, headed for Canada and the Dakotas. This time, though, the bird watchers were sheltering at home, and much of the migration spectacle was only witnessed by the few willing to venture out. I made it out a couple of times by myself to watch the sandhill cranes and pintails come through the Platte River and Rainwater Basin and it made me feel like everything was going to be okay as nature continued doing what she has done for thousands of years, even in the face of a pandemic.

As for our biologists and engineers, they continued working without missing a beat. They adapted to following social distancing on job sites, wearing masks, and travelling alone to avoid state and local quarantine rules. They are putting contracts out electronically and working with contractors on computer chat and video meeting sites. It’s not as efficient as meeting in person, but the work continues and that’s what’s important. The ducks and geese are doing what they do best, and we are doing our best to help them.

Be safe and here’s to a fantastic fall hunting season. Teal season starts in much of the Great Plains Region in less than 30 days!