"Outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread." —Wendell Berry
Fall, hands down, is my favorite season. It's Gator football, hot afternoons in a dove field, Friday night lights, and the occasional whiff of cooler air in the evening that hints of good things to come. Now keep in mind, I'm a lifelong Floridian: two seasons are all we get—hot and hotter. We put on bug spray to trick or treat, while some of you are begging for candy in the snow. I'm pretty excited about witnessing all four seasons here at the DU Mothership in Memphis.
As waterfowlers, we know those shorter, crisper days also trigger the magical exodus of birds making their "miraculous" transcontinental journey south, following their invisible GPS routes without the condescension of Siri. This seasonal adventure adds another ring to Earth's tree of life and quickens the pulse of those of us who still notice such things.
This year's crop of birds will gaze down at millions of acres of flood-ravaged fields and receding water lines that mark nature's disregard for manmade barriers. Wetlands protected, conserved, and restored by DU are some of the most effective flood-control structures ever conceived by our Creator. Similarly, in the coastal marshes of the Gulf of Mexico, DU is designing restoration projects that are successful because they are natural, mimicking what had long protected that coast from storms and surge. This "natural infrastructure" is a bright part of our future in public policy, partnerships, and delivering acres of habitat. That's what DU has always done, and others are finally noticing. Corporate and government partners are realizing that the work we've always done for wetlands is also really good for people and urban areas.
Of course, our continued success will be because of you. In this issue we highlight our historic Rescue Our Wetlands campaign. Every DU member contributed to this effort. Special thanks go to our 9,200 Major Sponsors and 58,000 volunteers. Because of you, we conserved more than 2.2 million acres across the continent and positively influenced millions of additional acres in the Canadian Boreal Forest with our partners up north. But lest we get too big for our waders, we are still losing wetlands at alarming rates in regions of critical importance to waterfowl, including annual losses of 33,000 acres in the Prairie Pothole Region and over 72,000 acres in coastal watersheds of the United States.
There is so much more work to be done—more partnerships with landowners, especially farmers and ranchers; more policy to enact that recognizes the total value of wetlands to flood mitigation, to nutrient management, and to people; and more member recruitment to introduce the next generation to the passion of DU.
Last year's disappointing duck season reminds us that they call it hunting for a reason. Like college football, there are good seasons and bad, and we will always have to contend with floods, hurricanes, droughts, and the whims of the jet stream. Our conviction, our passion for the habitat transcends all challenges. Our mission is built for the ages. When we do all the conservation work we do, with all the members we have, and the new ones we inspire, we are building a foundation for success for generations to come.
We have accomplished much. There is so much more to accomplish. Thank you for your support and enjoy your Fall!
Adam H. Putnam,
Chief Executive Officer