The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has introduced the Director's Special Recognition Award, which honors a conservation partner that has made exceptional contributions to help the Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Management Program deliver its mission across the state.

Ducks Unlimited was named the inaugural recipient of this award. Below is the Wisconsin DNR statement on the award:

"For several decades, DU has been a critical partner to DNR. Since the inception of their conservation program, DU has helped DNR and other conservation partners deliver over 145,000 acres of conserved waterfowl habitat through land protection, habitat restoration and enhancement. In 2021 alone, their contributions assisted in the delivery of 6,152 conserved acres in Wisconsin.

DU has been an essential partner by providing DNR Wildlife Management engineering and construction management services for major wetland infrastructure repairs, reconstructions, and wetland restoration projects. In a typical year, DU is involved in providing engineering services for approximately 10 to 15 DNR projects across the state. Notable projects completed over the past year include 100 acres of wetland restoration at Grand River Marsh, restoring natural flow through the West Branch of the Rock River at Horicon Marsh, Mullet Creek Wildlife Area's main water control structure replacement, and a water control structure replacement on the Grettum Flowage at Fish Lake Wildlife Area. This cooperative partnership has been so successful that DNR is doubling its PR contribution toward these services beginning in FY23. As a result, DU has hired an additional construction management engineer.

DU is the lead partner in securing North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants in Wisconsin. These grants have been pivotal in leveraging DNR match and sending grant dollars to projects on DNR lands. Currently, DU is administering five large NAWCA grant initiatives, covering most of southern and northeast Wisconsin. Notable grant sub-awards from DU have contributed to countless land acquisitions over time. Recent land acquisitions through DU's NAWCA grants have occurred in the Lower Wolf River Bottomlands Natural Resource Area, Oconto Marsh, Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, and Tiffany Wildlife Area with more acquisitions in other areas planned. These grants have also contributed to countless wetland and grassland restoration projects. Recent contributions have resulted in restorations at Grand River Marsh, properties along the Lower Chippewa River, Waterloo Wildlife Area, and Big Muskego Wildlife Area.

DU and its sister organization, DU Canada, have been the primary deliverers of our Waterfowl Stamp projects in the Prairie Pothole Region of Manitoba Canada, which obligates 33% of annual Waterfowl Stamp revenues to Canadian waterfowl breeding grounds by statute. Annually, DU is conserving over 1,000 acres with Waterfowl Stamp funds in Canada through creative programs that involve conservation easements, wetland restorations, and conservation agriculture programs on working private lands.

Speaking of Waterfowl Stamp, DU was a critical partner in policy advocacy efforts that led to a long overdue Waterfowl Stamp fee increase from $7 to $12 in 2021. DU continues to serve in policy advocacy to create and improve wetland conservation policies amongst a coalition of NGOs at the state and national level.

As a valued conservation partner, DU's contributions go well beyond these highlights. With that, it was an easy decision to select Ducks Unlimited as the recipient of the first annual Wildlife Management Director's Special Recognition Award."

DU Wisconsin Biologist Brian Glenzinski shared his appreciation of the partnership.

"Ducks Unlimited cannot meet its mission of conserving wetland and grassland habitats without dedicated, enthusiastic partners," Glenzinski said. "The Wisconsin DNR is a champion for landscape-scale restoration and protection efforts, and is one of DU's best companions for preserving our outdoors."

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