Fritz Reid

Courtesy of Gary Kramer

During his long career at Ducks Unlimited, Dr. Fritz Reid, an avid waterfowler, helped forge partnerships that will conserve 1 billion acres of the boreal forest. 


One billion acres.

That’s how much of the boreal forest is on track to being conserved thanks, in large part, to Ducks Unlimited’s Dr. Frederic “Fritz” Reid who led a team of indigenous leaders, conservationists and donors to permanently protect this vast amount of vital waterfowl habitat.

Reid, the director of DU’s arctic and boreal conservation programs, retired at the end of 2022 after more than three decades with the organization.

Reid, 67, retired with a conservation legacy few can match. He helped found Ducks Unlimited’s Western Region office, where he kickstarted many of DU’s conservation programs and partnerships along the Pacific Flyway. But he didn’t stop there. His efforts to protect waterfowl and their habitats extended to Mexico, Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania.

However, his most notable accomplishments were helping raise more than $200 million for Ducks Unlimited’s conservation efforts – the most of anyone in the organization’s 86-year history.  Waterfowl in just about every corner of North America benefit from the partnerships he forged with indigenous peoples while working with a team from DU Canada and Pew Charitable Trusts to preserve so much of the Canadian boreal forest. Up to 40 percent of the continent’s waterfowl raise their young in the boreal each year.

DU CEO Adam Putnam honored Reid’s remarkable career on stage at the Ducks Unlimited National Convention in Las Vegas earlier this spring. Putnam described how Reid is “beloved by volunteers, beloved by his colleagues, respected in his field and a national treasure for conservation.”

“Thank you for everything that you have done for Ducks Unlimited and for our planet,” Putnam told Reid onstage. “It's not an overstatement to say you have impacted the trajectory of global conservation through your efforts as a part of Team DU, and we love you for it.”

Fritz with Rep. Thompson

Courtesy of Dr. Fritz Reid

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson honored Dr. Fritz Reid at his retirement party recently in California.

DU colleagues offer praise

In classic Reid fashion, he downplays all he’s accomplished. He chalked it up to working with great people and having the good fortune to join the organization at a time when continental wetland protection efforts were boosted via programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and various Joint Ventures.

“I was very lucky,” Reid said, “and very fortunate on the timing of when I got involved with Ducks Unlimited.”

His DU colleagues, however, say Reid brought to wetland and waterfowl conservation something truly special. They say he has the ambition and vision to expand DU’s work on a grand scale, combined with a natural likeability and humility that leaves partners, donors and colleagues eager to work with him and, in turn, DU.

“He has worked on a scale on behalf of waterfowl that few before him had,” says Dr. Mark Petrie, director of conservation planning for DU’s Western Region. “He has been able to do that because of his unique ability to build personal relationships with people in every walk of life.”

DU Chief Scientist Dr. Steve Adair shared similar thoughts.

“When Fritz has something to say, people stop and listen, and they know that he's really all about doing the best you can for these landscapes we care about,” Adair said. “It's not about Fritz trying to elevate himself or sound important. Fritz’s ability to pull all those people together and rally around a big vision is unprecedented.”

Reid's retirement doesn’t mean he’ll be sitting things out. He’ll still working for DU on a part-time basis in the boreal. He’ll also continue to serve on the board of the Grassland Water District, which keeps water flowing to the Grassland Ecological Area in California. The Grasslands are the largest wetland complex west of the Mississippi River. He’s also staying on as an associate at University of California, Davis.

Reid lives in the Sacramento region. He and Kim Forrest, his longtime partner who’s had her own long career as a wetland conservationist, share two aptly named Labrador retrievers, Boreal and Taiga.