LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Sept. 6, 2017 – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently committed to meeting their goal for contributions supporting wetlands restoration on Canadian breeding grounds important to Arkansas's waterfowl.
"AGFC has been a dedicated wetlands conservation partner for many years," Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs Craig LeSchack said. "Both in Arkansas and on the breeding grounds where most of their waterfowl are born each year, the agency has focused its efforts and support on improving habitat for waterfowl and opportunity for hunters."
Last June, Assistant Deputy Director Chris Colclasure, Chief of Wildlife Management Brad Carner and AGFC communications staff members Trey Reid and Jeff Williams traveled to Saskatchewan to view conservation projects implemented by Ducks Unlimited Canada and supported by Arkansas's participation in the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' state contributions to Canada program.
"After witnessing DU's impressive habitat work first hand, and understanding that every dollar we put forth is leveraged at least four times, the AGFC decided to increase annual contributions from $425,000 to $580,000 to meet our AFWA goal," said AGFC Director Jeff Crow.
The state's contribution yields amplified dividends for The Natural State's waterfowl hunters. As with all states that contribute to the program through Ducks Unlimited, AGFC's contribution will be matched by DU and leveraged through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, resulting in at least $2.32 million a year for conservation projects from the state's $580,000 annual commitment.
"We are very pleased to see AGFC elevate their commitment to waterfowl habitat conservation," LeSchack said. "In addition to waterfowl, these wetland and grassland habitats support diverse wildlife and have significant impacts on people in the area by cleaning water, recharging groundwater sources and absorbing flood waters."
Projects are primarily in Saskatchewan, where banding data indicate most of the waterfowl harvested in the state are born.
"The importance of the state's contributions to Canadian habitat conservation and restoration projects cannot be overstated," said Pat Kehoe, DU Canada's director of international partnerships. "Ducks Unlimited's programs in the United States and Canada are consistent with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and our prairie programs are structured to protect native, highly productive habitat while also improving waterfowl production in working agricultural landscapes."
The AFWA program, which helps fund the North American Waterfowl Management Plan habitat projects in Canada, started in 1991 and is one of the primary international public/private partnerships to support migratory bird conservation. State contributions are funded primarily by hunting license sales, though some states include other funding sources. Through this program, states help fund long-term partnerships that conserve and restore breeding habitat for waterfowl that migrate through, and winter in, their own states.