An innovative pilot program funded by the Walton Family Foundation, a DU Platinum Legacy Sponsor, is helping to secure donated conservation easements in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV) of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The idea behind this effort is to seek out larger tracts of land that already have significant investments in restoration through the Conservation Reserve Program, and work with landowners to permanently protect the habitat values of these properties.

DU scientists have identified more than 2 million acres of flooded bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands in the LMAV that need to be protected in perpetuity. The sheer size of this landscape means that DU cannot accomplish this task alone, which is why partnerships with landowners, other organizations, and foundations like the Walton Family Foundation are crucial to conserving healthy habitat in these areas.

After receiving a $400,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation in the fall, Ducks Unlimited immediately started implementing the program in two Mississippi counties. Over the course of the next year, this targeted approach will be employed in other select areas of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. This program will focus on properties that are part of larger habitat complexes in an effort to protect contiguous tracts of bottomland hardwood forests across the landscape. These lands, which have been restored with a significant investment of public conservation funds, have not been permanently protected. Using conservation easements to protect areas that already have good habitat and hydrology will bring DU significantly closer to ensuring a secure future for waterfowl in the LMAV.

Through this gift, the Walton Family Foundation is continuing its philanthropic legacy of supporting communities in the Mississippi Delta and investing in the waterfowl of North America.

Each year, hundreds of loyal Ducks Unlimited members gather at dozens of locations across the continent to honor the special friends, volunteer leaders and philanthropists who make wetlands and waterfowl conservation possible. Behind every acre conserved is a story-and usually one or more key benefactors. View Project Dedications that honor the passion and celebrate conservation.