Bob Wilson loves the Rocky Mountains. After growing up in Iowa hunting ducks and pheasants along the Mississippi River, he ventured to Colorado for college in the 1960s and knew immediately that it would become his home. "It's Colorado, for heaven's sake," he says. "We have it all, from the prairies to the mountains. The weather is great. It's the good life."
Bob and his wife, Kitty, have worked hard to conserve their beautiful property near Loveland on the banks of the Big Thompson River. When they purchased the land a decade ago, it came with piles of debris that had been dumped along the river over the years. They carted off 20 industrial-sized dumpsters and have continued to restore and enhance the property's natural beauty ever since.
In 2013, Bob and Kitty teamed up with DU Land Protection Specialist Julia Firl to protect 120 acres of their land with a conservation easement valued at over $2.3 million. The Wilsons continue to work with DU on restoration projects to further improve waterfowl habitat. "One of these days I'm going to be gone," Bob says. "There needs to be someone around who cares about the property."
DU Regional Biologist Matt Reddy recognizes that the work Bob and Kitty are doing will become a vital conservation legacy. "In an otherwise rapidly urbanizing area of Colorado, the Wilsons' property provides habitat for a host of wildlife species, including not only mallards, teal, and wood ducks, but also songbirds, an important great blue heron rookery, and breeding raptor roosts," Matt says. "Their efforts are also serving as a catalyst for other conservation work along the Big Thompson River."
The donated conservation easement is just part of Bob and Kitty's support of Ducks Unlimited's conservation mission, however. At DU's national convention in May, the Wilsons pledged $1 million to the Rescue Our Wetlands campaign.
"Bob and Kitty are model major donor-conservationists," said DU Director of Development Kirk Davidson. "They have developers knocking at their door and leveling nearby land to build new homes and shopping malls. Someday their property may be the last remaining refuge for ducks and geese in the area."