most fitting that we mobilize forces to revitalize the crown jewels of Missouri’s storied wetlands,” says Ken Babcock, DU’s national headquarters senior director of operations, and former MDC assistant director.
Like MDC, DU was founded in 1937 during the Dust Bowl era when habitat conditions were very bleak. The organization has since blossomed into the model for hunter-based conservation organizations, completing more than 20,000 projects, conserving more than 12 million acres and raising more than $3.1 billion for conservation.
Missouri continues to be one of the top states in Ducks Unlimited with more than 19,600 members statewide. Last year, more than 90 Missouri DU chapters held 140 events and raised nearly $950,000 for habitat conservation. To date, these Missouri DU chapters have helped conserve 105,000 acres in Missouri.
“The MDC partnership with Ducks Unlimited is one of the strongest and most effective in the nation,” says Mark Flaspohler, DU manager of conservation programs for Missouri. “Ensuring these critical habitats are forever protected from development is a significant step in the right direction for wildlife, waterfowl, flood protection and water quality.”
MDC and Ducks Unlimited work together to conserve critical waterfowl habitat in Missouri as well as the Prairie Pothole Region of Canada, known as the “duck factory,” where the majority of Missouri’s migratory waterfowl come from each year. Providing important wetland habitat from Canada to Mexico is a vital part of achieving the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. To make this possible, contributions from the states are matched by North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funds, as well as DU, Inc., and DU Canada.
With this year’s contribution of $275,000, MDC has reached the $5 million mark for donations to waterfowl breeding grounds in Canada. With the support of MDC during the past five years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved, enhanced and restored 235,059 acres of prime breeding habitat and positively influenced an additional 1.2 million acres.
“It is the committed support of partners like DU that makes waterfowl conservation and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan a success,” says DeeCee Darrow, MDC wildlife division chief.
In Canada, DU uses a combination of strategically targeted programs, agricultural extension and public policy efforts to advance conservation goals. Direct habitat programs such as land acquisition and conservation easements help secure the remaining habitat base and provide restoration opportunities. Agricultural extension programs focus on adding nesting cover and improving wetland conditions, while the promotion of waterfowl friendly agricultural practices provides positive economic benefits to producers.
“MDC’s investment in Canadian waterfowl habitat yields direct, tangible returns for Missourians,” says MDC Director Robert L. Ziehmer. “Leveraging our contribution and money from other states four-to-one lets us put $2 million into protecting critical nesting habitat that sends millions of ducks winging down the Mississippi Flyway to Missouri and beyond each fall.”