Ducks Unlimited's first project area for a new mitigation program will be used primarily for youth hunting. DU will complete its first North Dakota In-Lieu Fee Mitigation project this spring on private land near Carrington. Restoring and protecting wetlands on the property will mitigate for development that inadvertently impacts wetlands.
"Our In-Lieu Fee program allows developers to move forward with their plans," said Ducks Unlimited Biologist Trent Hieb. "Wetland restoration and protection is what we do, so we can make sure it is done correctly with the best biological value."
The federal government requires public agencies or private businesses to replace wetlands lost through development. With DU's In-Lieu Fee program, developers purchase credits so that Ducks Unlimited will handle the mitigation work. DU looks for legally drained wetlands on properties in the same watershed that can be restored to replace wetlands taken out for new roads, railroad work, or buildings. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service then places an easement on the newly restored wetlands, ensuring they will not be drained in the future.
Lee Wahlund owns the site where DU will restore 59 acres back to wetlands and grassland. Wetland construction took place this fall and DU will seed grass in the spring.
Wahlund is using this land and 240 other acres on his property as part of his established youth hunting program, called WAHLU, which stands for Wildlife and Habitat Land Use. With help from N.D. Game and Fish, organizations and volunteers, the program offers kids the opportunity to take a hunter safety class, learn to shoot and then be taken on their first hunt on the property.
"Basically, I want to get as many kids out as possible and give them their first hunt," Wahlund said. "It all ties together with the mission of the WAHLU program, which is to enjoy and share our great hunting heritage."
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.
Jennifer P. Kross