In October 2014, a small but intrepid group of Ducks Unlimited major donors from across the United States traveled to the Thickwood Hills region, north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to dedicate the Lesko conservation project. The project was dedicated in honor of 16 major donors from Georgia who helped complete it by contributing more than $100,000 to DU Canada in 2013 as part of the Preserve Our Prairies Initiative.
Characterized by gently rolling hills, the Thickwood Hills region has seen increased agricultural land use over the years, but a number of aspen groves and fescue grasslands still dot the landscape today. Larger blocks of wooded habitat interspersed with cultivated areas occupy the northern reaches of the region. Uncultivated lands are generally used for cattle production.
The Lesko project site was purchased in 2007 and consists of planted nesting cover, native parkland, and intact and restored wetlands. Supporting up to 40 nesting pairs of ducks per square mile, the area is among the most productive waterfowl breeding habitats on the Canadian prairies. The establishment of high-quality, perennial nesting cover amid a high density of wetlands provides significant waterfowl production value. The newly restored wetlands will also attract breeding ducks in the spring. In addition, other wildlife such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, and numerous species of songbirds will benefit from habitats on the Lesko project site.