Ducks Unlimited's North Atlantic Office is celebrating one year at its Syracuse, N.Y., location, which serves as the hub for conservation strategies from Maine to Maryland.


New walls, same mission


In 2015 the office relocated from Chester, Md., when that building was scheduled for redevelopment by its owner. DU took the opportunity to evaluate its needs in the northeast corner of the United States.


A few staff relocated in Maryland and some headed to Pennsylvania. The main office moved to New York and now consists of Sarah Fleming, DU's manager of the Completing the Cycle conservation initiative; Brandy Neveldine, New York regional biologist; and Ed Farley and John Fraser, biologist/mitigation specialists.


Syracuse was chosen for several reasons. New York is one of DU's largest states in the northeast for conservation projects. The northeast office is in the center of the Completing the Cycle Initiative and the heart of the Lake Ontario Focus Area.


The office also is used for cooperative team meetings with the conservation staff and with Dan DeLawyer, senior regional director for Western New York, and Kurt Anderson, director of development for New York. The close partnership with the conservation staff and the fund raising staff ensures a cooperative team effort to delivery our mission goals.


Diverse habitat


The habitats in focus throughout the Completing the Cycle region include coastal and interior freshwater wetlands. The goal is to ensure the landscape can sustain birds in a healthy condition throughout the year so they can "complete the cycle" and return to the breeding grounds to successfully reproduce.


New York is unique among other states in the region because it provides breeding, staging and wintering habitat for waterfowl. New York wetlands need to meet all lifecycle stages for waterfowl, which challenges our conservation staff to conserve a diversity of habitat on the landscape.


The inland and coastal marsh boundaries of the Lake Ontario Focus Area include high priority areas of Montezuma, Iroquois, St. Lawrence Valley and the Lake Ontario coast. Conservation efforts focus on enhancement of marginal wetlands, restoration of emergent marshes, and protection of high quality forested and emergent marshes.


Strong support still needed


Human activity has dramatically altered the north Atlantic region since the late 18th century. Continued threats include agriculture practices, invasive species and climate change. Warmer weather will keep birds north for longer periods, putting a bigger strain on existing food sources.


But opportunities are prevalent to restore abandoned or marginal agricultural lands to high quality wetlands and protect pristine wetlands. New York has some of the greatest major donor support in the CTC region, with more than 15,000 donors helping to conserve more than 50,000 acres. Conservation delivery averages over 1,000 acres per year over the past decade.


New York is also the only state in the Atlantic Flyway where waterfowl hunter numbers have increased continuously since 2010.


DU looks forward to using its New York location to serve waterfowl and people in the north Atlantic region for many years to come. Supporters are welcomed to stop by the office to meet the conservation staff.