“This is a historic day for Delta Waterfowl and a monumental win for ducks and duck hunters,” said Dr. Scott Petrie, CEO of Delta Waterfowl. “Working Wetlands targets small, temporary and seasonal wetlands, which Delta’s earliest research tells us are the most critical to duck production. I am elated that the program is a step closer to conserving breeding duck habitat on a massive scale.”
Launched as a pilot program in 2015, Delta’s Working Wetlands has annually conserved 9,400 of North Dakota’s most vital temporary and seasonal wetlands — small, shallow ponds that provide essential invertebrates to nesting hens and ducklings, but that are also at highest risk of drainage. Research indicates that 93,500 acres of these wetlands were lost from 1997-2009, and millions of wetland basins remain at risk within the U.S. prairie pothole region. That’s why, in consultation with North Dakota’s agricultural leaders, Delta designed Working Wetlands to provide fair compensation to voluntarily enrolled farmers for protecting critical, duck-producing ponds imbedded in cropland.
Given the past popularity of Working Wetlands with the agriculture community, it is expected that demand for the Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program will greatly outweigh the initial funding. Therefore a ranking criteria will ensure the program conserves landscapes with the highest densities of breeding ducks.
“Conserving the most important duck breeding habitat and producing ducks is our ultimate goal, and that’s what the program is tailored to do by working with farmers and ranchers,” said Delta Waterfowl senior vice president John Devney, who served as the primary architect of Working Wetlands and its leading champion on Capitol Hill. “It’s exciting to see the program enter a new chapter with this week’s announcement, but Delta won’t rest until Working Wetlands is conserving key duck habitat across the entire prairie pothole region.”
The initial enrollment is expected to conserve more than 30,000 small, duck-producing wetlands in North Dakota alone.
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Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and secure the future of duck hunting in North America.