DENVER, August 3, 2005 The Davey family has a long history of managing its lands for wildlife, and when they wanted to sell 160 acres of the ranch, Ducks Unlimited was their first choice for a buyer. Last week, DU bought 160 acres of wetlands in Saguache County, Colo.

"Partnerships with private landowners like the Daveys are critical to wetland habitat protection in Colorado," said Bob Sanders, conservation program manager for DU.

"More than 75 percent of Colorado's wildlife species depend on wetlands during some stage of their life cycle. Unfortunately, the state has lost more than 50 percent of its historic wetland areas."

Protection of the Davey parcel will benefit a number of waterfowl species, especially mallard, cinnamon teal and Canada geese. "This parcel regularly supports some of the highest duck densities in the entire Russell Lakes Complex," said Sanders. "As DU develops and implements management plans for the parcel we should see conditions improve even more." The Davey management plans will compliment current activities on the adjacent public and private lands.

To date, DU has protected more than 11,000 acres in the San Luis Valley through conservation easements. The acquisition of this tract is an important component of DU's goal to protect more than 45,000 acres of critical wetland habitat in Colorado by 2013 through conservation easements and land acquisitions. This purchase by DU is the first of its kind in the San Luis Valley.

The Davey parcel is adjacent to the Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area (RLSWA) and is a critical component of this wetland complex. The area provides high quality, short emergent wetland habitat for a large number and diversity of wetland wildlife species, especially waterfowl. The diversity of wetland types complements the habitats on RLSWA and other properties in the area. Protection of the 160-acre Davey parcel will maintain this essential habitat, provide for surface and subsurface flow of water for wetlands on the parcel and adjacent protected properties and increase the size of wetlands protected by DU in the San Luis Valley.

"The wetlands on the Davey ranch are part of the greater Russell Lakes wetland complex, one of the largest blocks of contiguous wetland habitat in Colorado," said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. "We have a long-term working relationship with Ducks Unlimited on the adjacent Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area, and it is fitting that DU purchased the property to protect it for its wetland and wildlife purposes."

The parcel also includes a portion of Trites Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in the San Luis Valley. The portion of the lake purchased by DU supports one of the largest breeding White-faced Ibis colonies in the state of Colorado.