Delivering Conservation in the Great Plains for Continental Waterfowl
Fall 2019
A Note From the Great Plains Region Directors
By Great Plains Director of Public Policy Carmen Miller

Fall has arrived in the Great Plains, with both temperatures and leaves dropping and migrating waterfowl on the move. The central part of our region continues to be very wet from North Dakota to Kansas, which will provide quality habitat for the fall migration, and set the stage for another strong breeding effort in the spring.

Major gift fundraising and events were strong for the Great Plains Region (GPR) in fiscal year 19 (FY19). Staff and volunteers surpassed event fundraising goals by raising nearly $5.7 million in unrestricted funds, with particularly successful years in Montana, Kansas, Colorado and North Dakota. Exceeding the FY19 stretch goal is remarkable, given the fact that flooding throughout the region coincided with events scheduled in affected communities. Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers both in and outside the region rallied to overcome these obstacles with an impressive team effort.
Around DU
DU CEO and Beadle Conservation District sign MOU 

Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam was in Huron, S.D. to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a new regenerative agriculture demonstration farm. The MOU represents an agreement between DU and the Beadle Conservation District to develop a soil health demonstration farm on the 310-acre Baum property, three miles south of Huron.
"Regenerative agriculture brings conservation and agriculture together to benefit both a producer’s operation and wildlife," Putnam said. "The Beadle County farm will demonstrate soil health practices landowners may not have tried. We hope the farm will help us refine these management tools and reduce the producers’ risk for adapting the practices by allowing them to observe and learn before they try them."  
Ducks Unlimited’s Conserve Films featuring the PPR

DU Conserve is an online film series from Ducks Unlimited. Each film tells a unique story about conservationists who are passionate about conserving and enhancing natural resources across North America. Watch the Prairie Pothole film featuring private landowner and partner Jim Faulstich and our staff in South Dakota, Randy Meidinger and Brad Schmidt. 
Rescue Our Wetlands Dedications
Across the Great Plains Region Ducks Unlimited is celebrating the accomplishments of the Rescue Our Wetlands campaign with project dedications. One project from each state was selected to represent DU’s conservation efforts in that state. Each project site houses a cairn listing the supporters in that respective state who upgraded or made new major sponsor commitments during the campaign. Legacy Greenwing members were also recognized during the dedications.  
Around the Region
Colorado - Bijou Ranch wetland project enhances wetlands for waterfowl and people
Water is a precious resource in western states like Colorado. It is increasingly important to identify project opportunities where water resources can be used efficiently to benefit many, including waterfowl. This is exactly what Ducks Unlimited accomplished through the recently-completed Bijou Ranch project.
Kansas - Bring back the Bottoms campaign building steam 
Ducks Unlimited is working to raise $300,000 in private funds to support the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) plan to restore the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. KDWPT will invest millions of dollars in a multi-year effort to renovate the area, which includes the largest inland wetland in the United States.
Watch the video about this significant wetland area featuring DU staff, volunteers and partners.
Montana - Workshop held in Montana to educate producers about cover crops
Ducks Unlimited partnered with NRCS, Blaine County Conservation District and Pheasants Forever to host a cover crop workshop in August. Producers from Blaine, Hill and Phillips counties learned about benefits incorporating cover crops can have on their operations. The principle benefits include minimizing disturbance, increasing plant diversity, maintaining living roots in the soil, keeping the soil covered and incorporating livestock. 
Nebraska - New federal grant means more Basin habitat
Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a new $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to restore, enhance and protect more than 6,000 acres of Rainwater Basin (RWB) in south-central Nebraska. The RWB includes nearly 4,200 square miles of wetlands that are important for millions of shorebirds, migrating waterfowl and other birds.
North Dakota - Great Plains Region helps create a nature-based park in Bismarck
The movie line is, “if you build it, they will come.” Ducks Unlimited believes if you build wetlands in urban areas, people are more likely to visit them. DU’s Great Plains Region (GPR) wants to help Bismarck, N.D., turn 120 acres of open land in the city into a nature-based park with restored wetlands and grasslands.
South Dakota - South Dakota wetland restoration keeps lakes clean and helps control flooding
Wildlife, livestock, landowners and sportsmen will benefit from a wetland restoration project completed near the shores of Waubay Lake in Day County, South Dakota.

Ducks Unlimited led the effort to restore hydrology to eight wetlands drained decades ago on a 296-acre parcel of native grassland and wetland habitat near the southern shore of Waubay Lake. About 39 wetland acres were restored by plugging drainage ditches, which restored their natural hydrology. According to Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist Randy Meidinger, the wetland restoration project brings South Dakota multiple benefits.
Wyoming - Ocean Lake project complete
The history of the Northwest Wetlands at Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area seems to have been lost in time. When Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) approached Ducks Unlimited in 2013 to collaborate on this unique project, everyone was excited. Prior to the restoration, the site had six non-functioning levees. 
Across the Boarder Conservation
Canadian Government invests to protect wetlands and migratory birds
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Government of Canada will provide $10 million over two years to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
North Dakota Ducks Unlimited workshop teaches kids hunting skills

In preparation for 2019-20 waterfowl hunting season, Ducks Unlimited held an event at the DU office in Bismarck, to teach kids ages 16 and under the skills they need to safely hunt waterfowl. The event occurred on August 16, and instructors from DU and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department conducted the educational sessions. 
North Dakota Ducks Unlimited staff volunteer for youth Envirothon 

The North Dakota Envirothon is a problem-solving natural resource annual competition for high school students. Teams are generally associated with a sponsoring school and usually train the entire school year with their adviser to prepare for the annual state-wide competition.
Study resources in the fields of soils, aquatics, wildlife, prairie, forestry and range land, and a current environmental issue are assembled by natural resource professionals and provided to the teams. Using these resources, students learn the skills of thinking and working as a team to assess natural resource issues affecting the environment. The competition is in late spring. 

Ducks Unlimited Biologist Dane Buysse is the state coordinator for the Envirothon. Other DU staff volunteer as trail guides to support the teams of young people and provide examples of careers in natural resource conservation and management. 
Meet the Makers - DU’s prairie donor dedication site metalwork expands
Ducks Unlimited is one of America’s largest conservation organizations, but without the generosity of its donors, DU could not have conserved more than 14.5 million acres. To commemorate those who contribute $100,000 or more to prairie conservation, DU’s Coteau Ranch is the site of the Donor Dedication Wall, a metalwork piece made up of nine panels decorated with cattails, ducks and plaques bearing the names of donors who helped support the Great Plains Region (GPR).
Montana - A unique incentive to make Montana a million-dollar state
Ducks Unlimited Senior Regional Director Barry Allen and DU Director of Development Chris Hildebrandt say raising $1 million for Ducks Unlimited in Montana is a great reason to shave your head. 

“We wanted to get the volunteers charged up to accomplish a goal we have never reached before,” said Allen. “We thought if we were willing to sacrifice our hair, our volunteers and supporters would be willing to give their time and donations to the effort.” 

The challenge was set in 2016 and the volunteers kicked their fundraising into high gear during the following three years. Allen worked with local volunteers and made sure all 50 DU events in Montana ran efficiently despite any hurdles. Some events only had three or four people on the planning committee, and Barry traveled to these places to ensure each event was a success.  
Staff Additions
Emily Schwartz - Agronomist
Emily Schwartz started in August at the Ducks Unlimited Great Plains Regional Office as a field agronomist. Emily hopes to use her passion for agriculture and conservation to help promote, deliver and adapt the new soil health programs with the conservation program team. Schwartz will work with North Dakota agricultural producers on conservation solutions.

Emily earned her degree in natural resource management at North Dakota State University. She also added a minor in crop and weed science after seeing the importance of having natural resource managers and agricultural producers work together. Her professional experience ranges from field agronomy to agricultural and environmental counseling.  
Other Regions
See what is going on around the country in the other Ducks Unlimited regions. Check out their e-newsletters.
Just for Fun
This summer a research team from The Loon Project discovered a loon pair in Wisconsin raising a mallard duckling. Read more about this unusual find.
Ducks Unlimited Great Plains Office
2525 River Road
Bismarck, North Dakota USA 58503