Delivering Conservation in the Great Plains for Continental Waterfowl
Spring 2020
Welcome Johann Walker
Ducks Unlimited has named Johann Walker as the new director of operations for the Great Plains Region. Walker joined Ducks Unlimited in 2004 as a research biologist at the GPR Office in Bismarck. He then managed and directed the science and planning team for the GPR from 2010 to 2013, leading and publishing research on habitat relationships of breeding waterfowl, land-use change, and conservation strategy. From 2013 to 2020, Walker managed and directed the conservation programs team in the Dakotas and Montana that conserved 824,000 acres of wetland and grassland habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region and Northern Great Plains.
A Message From Great Plains Region Director
By Great Plains Director of Operations Johann Walker

Spring has returned to the Great Plains. Robins are building nests in my neighborhood and lines of geese and ducks are passing overhead on their way to the nesting grounds. Water is running across the landscape. Snow isn’t sticking to the ground like it did in February. Days are longer and warmer. Things are greening up.
Around DU
COVID-19 Updates from Adam Putnam 

Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam is posting regular updates on DU’s status during the COVID-19 management period. The welfare and safety of DU’s volunteers, members and supporters is a top priority. Ducks Unlimited is adhering to the CDC direction to cancel gatherings of more than 10 people. All scheduled fundraising events and gatherings through Sunday, May 10, will be postponed. Check state event web pages or contact event chairs or local DU staff for rescheduling information.
Importance of Prairie Pothole Region captured in IMAX film

Archipelago Films, is currently working on a 3D Giant Screen IMAX film called Wings over Water about bird migration across North America and the prairie wetlands they depend on for survival. The film production company has been making natural history and social documentary films for the past three decades. The film crew visited several locations in the Prairie Pothole Region last fall. The film is narrated by actor, Michael Keaton and scheduled for release in March 2021.
DU applauds rollout of USDA Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program
New program offers incentive-based approach to protecting wetlands on working lands

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the rollout of the Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program, which will invest millions into voluntary protection of wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region.
The Social GPR
Great Plains Region getting Social

The Great Plans Region has been keeping in touch with the social communities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Staff around the region are posting to let everyone know about the work that DU continues to do during restrictive times. Keep in touch and follow the GPR on these channels.
DU offering online auctions for first time
For the first time in its 83-year history, Ducks Unlimited (DU) is now offering event merchandise online. In response to Covid-19 social gathering restrictions, Ducks Unlimited is allowing supporters the opportunity to bid on exclusive merchandise, collectable firearms and excursions online from the comfort of their homes.
Around the Region
State Conservation Reports

State conservation reports are available. Contact Jennifer Kross if you need printed copies. Electronic versions are posted on the state pages of the DU website.
Colorado - Restoration at Elliot State Wildlife Area
Ducks Unlimited’s mission to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever includes restoring and enhancing existing wetland habitat. The Colorado DU team’s project at Elliot State Wildlife Area (SWA) is a great example.
Kansas - Grazing animals working for conservation

Ducks Unlimited biologist Abe Lollar is building connections with private landowners and helping them learn the value of grazing as a wetland management tool. In cooperation with the Kansas Grazing Land Coalition, Lollar is presenting at workshops on how integrating grazing operations with wetland conservation can benefit wildlife and people.
Montana - Phillips County, a focus for DU’s conservation efforts in Montana
Through word-of-mouth, attractive conservation programs and hard work by ranchers over the last couple of years, Ducks Unlimited and partners created a complex south of Dodson that includes more than 11,000 acres of protected wetlands and grasslands. At the same time, the protected acres are still in agriculture and the majority are in private ownership.
Nebraska - Brad Krohn and Ted LaGrange are honored for their conservation commitment
Nebraska Ducks Unlimited (DU) presented two partners wetland conservation awards at its state convention in Lincoln. Brad Krohn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), was chosen as the Nebraska DU Wetland Manager of the Year, and Ted LaGrange, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC), is the 2020 Partner of the Year.
North Dakota -  DU planning for success at Bismarck nature park
Ducks Unlimited is working to bring the great outdoors a little closer. DU is helping develop a new nature-based recreation park in north Bismarck. Surveying the site and other preliminary work is being done in hopes DU will soon be able to buy the land.
South Dakota - DU conservation has a holistic approach
Ducks Unlimited will be sharing weekly updates on recent and future conservation projects in South Dakota. The updates will show how DU takes a holistic approach to conservation and develops relationships with the people who live on this landscape so important to North Americas Waterfowl. Comprehensive conservation benefits all people and wildlife.
Read More about the first update.
South Dakota in the news - One year in, city's wetland project takes shape 

Read the article from the Mitchell Republic about how the city in partnership with Ducks Unlimited is improving the water quality of Lake Mitchell.
Wyoming - DU protects waterfowl habitat and public use on Goshen County property
Ducks Unlimited will transfer a 160-acre tract in Goshen County to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) as part of the Revolving Habitat Program. The property will become part of the Springer/Bump Sullivan Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA), renowned for its waterfowl and upland game hunting. Along with increased public recreation access, acquisition of the Goshen County property secures one-third of the water rights associated with Bump Sullivan Reservoir making wildlife habitat and recreation the highest priority for water use from this reservoir.
Research in the news –   Of ducks and drones: University of North Dakota researchers gear up for inaugural field season using UAVs to monitor ducks and nesting behavior
Ecosystem Services
Carbon - DU mitigates carbon emissions from Homeward Bound program

Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) innovative grassland carbon offset program is helping support the mission of Homeward Bound (HB), a global development program for women in leadership positions surrounding climate challenges. DU provided certified offsets that mitigate the emissions associated with program participants’ travel.
Mitigation - Mitigation credit sales fund acquisition of three properties in South Dakota

Ducks Unlimited acquired three properties in South Dakota that will be developed as mitigation properties by restoring wetlands and associated prairie habitats. The properties include a 158-acre site in Brown County, a 160-acre site in Grant County and a 256-acre site in Clay County. With the addition of these properties, DU now has five mitigation sites operating in South Dakota.
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Trailer 

This past fall we had several families borrow the youth decoy trailer and take kids hunting. This is just one of the families who enjoyed this free resource.
Comments from Scott Bullinger:
“Wanted to share. Took my older two boys out with each of them bringing a friend. Their friends have never goose hunted before. They had a blast, my father-in-law and I didn't shoot a single shot. The boys did all the calling I just watched. It was an awesome day. Thanks to you and Ducks Unlimited for supplying the trailer and decoys.”
Across the Border
DU Canada launches sea level rise campaign

Coastal wetlands and salt marshes are nature’s defense system against sea-level rise. They reduce coastal energy by lowering the amplitude and speed of ocean waves and mitigate storm damage. They also shield coastlines from erosion. Salt marshes are nature’s filtration system, intercepting pollution and providing clean water.
Staff Additions
DU Announces Conservation Leadership Changes
Ducks Unlimited’s Director of Operations in the Great Plains Region, Dr. Steve Adair was promoted to the new position of National Director for Conservation Strategies. In his new position, Steve will be responsible for providing strategic leadership focused on accelerating conservation efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region and for guiding and coordinating the implementation of DU’s highest priority strategic focal areas related to conservation delivery including water and ecosystem services.
Thomas Parker – Engineer, Fort Collins 
Thomas Parker started with DU in November 2019 as an engineer in the Fort Collins office. Thomas is from Memphis, Tenn., and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Louisiana State University and a Master of Science degree from Colorado State University with a focus in hydraulic engineering, stream restoration and river mechanics. His expertise includes hydraulic modeling, stream and habitat restoration, stormwater drainage and detention design, water distribution design, topographic and construction surveying, bank stabilization and slope reinforcement, CAD drafting and construction management. He works with biologists, landowners, regulatory agencies and contractors in the survey, design and construction or rehabilitation of wetland habitats. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and skiing with his wife, Sarah, and two dogs, Wilma and Presley.
Cassie Auxt – Biologist, South Dakota 
Cassie Auxt, a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, is the newest biologist for Ducks Unlimited in South Dakota. Originally from Central Pennsylvania, she worked for multiple wildlife agencies, including federal, state and non-government organizations, contributing to her conservation background. Cassie worked for Ducks Unlimited previously as an intern on a brood survey crew in North Dakota, where her love and respect of waterfowl and wetland and grassland ecosystems flourished.
Cassie believes creating lasting relationships with producers and conservationists is key to ensuring habitat will continue to be restored and protected for generations to come. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, hunting and spending time with her dog, Porter.
Brian Chatham – Agronomist, South Dakota  
In March, Brian Chatham joined Ducks Unlimited in South Dakota as the newest agronomist for the state. He is originally from North Carolina where he attended Lees-McRae college and received a B.S. in wildlife management. He earned a M.S. in crop science at Colorado State University. Brian has more than 20 years of experience working in agriculture and conservation related fields. He worked for a large-scale grain farm and served on many agriculture organizations’ boards.
Brian is a person who believes in farming smarter, not harder, and that has fueled his passion for soil health and no-till practices. He enjoys spending time with his wife Sonya, and his four Labradors, Molly, Regan, Zea and Storm. He is an avid waterfowler and his passion for conservation and agriculture make him a great fit for the DU team.
Billy Gascoigne – National Resource Economist
Billy Gascoigne has been selected as Ducks Unlimited’s National Resource Economist. For the past six years, Billy has served in a similar regional role in the Great Plains where he established himself as a national expert in carbon offsets, environmental markets and sustainable agriculture efforts. Billy is a strong asset and will help expand DU’s ecosystem services efforts across the continent.
Other Regions
See what is going on around the country in the other Ducks Unlimited regions. Check out their e-newsletters.
Just for Fun
Chinese experts mull using duck legion to help Pakistan wipe out locust invasion

Pakistan is experiencing a locust invasion due to climate change influenced weather events that have brought heavy rains and hurricanes to a typically arid area. They are getting help from experts in China who, in the past, have exterminated locust infestations using ducks. Scientists are working together to come up with an economical and environmentally conscious solution, which may include sending 100,000 ducks to Pakistan to stop the locusts.
Ducks Unlimited Great Plains Office
2525 River Road
Bismarck, North Dakota USA 58503