Delivering Conservation in the Great Plains for Continental Waterfowl
  Spring 2017
Steve Adair
Director's Message from Steve Adair
After a dry, warm fall, winter descended on the Great Plains with a ROAR. Much of our region was blanketed by snow during the Christmas Holidays. Snowfall totals at our regional office in Bismarck are at their highest levels on record at this point of the season. Dealing with all this snow forces us to slow down, be more patient and reflect on our purposes and values.
Around the Region
Colorado - DU to complete Prewitt State Wildlife Area project in Colorado
Ducks Unlimited will complete a three-year project on the Prewitt Reservoir State Wildlife Area (SWA) this year. The area is northeast of Denver, along the South Platte River. The project is in an area of the reservoir open to public hunting. The goal of the Prewitt project is to enhance more than 450 acres of habitat, including cattail-choked marshes below the reservoir’s dam and wetlands near its shore.
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Kansas - Evening of conservation improves Neosho
An Evening of Conservation secured more than $60,000 in commitments.  These contributions helped DU leverage grant funds to renovate the main wetland unit at Neosho Wildlife Area. DU is improving structures that will make Neosho WA a premiere migration stop for waterfowl as well as improve public hunting opportunities.
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Water control structure at Neosho.
Montana -  DU educates Montana landowners about conservation options
Ducks Unlimited staff and partners held workshops in 2016 in Montana to inform landowners about the many conservation easement options available. Additional meetings, organized by Pheasants Forever (PF) biologists were held to address expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres and reenrollment alternatives for landowners.  
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Nebraska - Major sponsor knows all aspects of DU’s work
Randy Kleager advises those considering a Ducks Unlimited major sponsor gift to get out on a project site.
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 Randy Kleager at the Prairie Experience, 2016
North Dakota - DU program helps Devils Lake area landowners
For landowners in the Devils Lake watershed, flooding and low crop prices have made farming some fields difficult and less profitable. A new program will help address problems with water and nonproductive cropland. The Enbridge Ecofootprint Program can provide cost sharing for landowners wanting to turn marginal cropland and expiring Conservation Reserve Program acres into grazing land.
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Fencing in ND
  Converted CRP to grazing in ND.
South Dakota – Improvements on Sand Lake NWR lead to high quality habitat
Providing a reliable food source for waterfowl is the goal of a project on Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Ducks Unlimited is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a new water-control structure and repair a berm on an 80-acre wetland near the Columbia Dam.
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Wyoming - Historic Ocean Lake receives Rescue Our Wetlands signature project dedication
Ocean Lake is one of the largest lakes in Wyoming and a significant migratory stopover for birds in the Central Flyway. Ducks Unlimited partnered with the WGFD, to restore seasonal wetlands and improve water delivery to wetlands at the site.
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Staff Updates
GIS Intern
The GPR has a new GIS intern, Tanner Zach. Tanner’s responsibilities include working on GIS projects related to the GPR’s waterfowl production study in the Bakken. He is originally from northeast Nebraska and attended South Dakota State University where he earned a degree in wildlife and fisheries with a minor in GIS.

Tom Eckroth has rejoined the Great Plains office part-time as a surveyor and construction manager. Tom originally started with DU in 1988 and retired in 2013. Tom’s experience and expertise are being put to use on a growing list of projects in North Dakota and South Dakota. He is also helping train the newer engineering staff in survey and construction management for the region.
Nate Jensen joined the Great Plains Region engineering team in October and is stationed in the Grand Island, Nebraska office. Nate is from Gretna, Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in civil engineering. He worked for Olsson Associates in La Vista, Nebraska for more than two years. Nate has knowledge of geotechnical design, civil 3-D design and soils experience from 14 Midwest states. Nate’s primary responsibilities are working with projects in Colorado and Kansas. 
Public Policy
Michael Findlay has moved from Bismarck, North Dakota to Colorado, where he will maintain his position as governmental affairs representative from the Fort Collins office. His duties will involve focusing on state policy efforts, with emphasis on North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas. He will also provide support as needed on federal issues.


The GPR is adding more staff in Wyoming. Noelle Smith accepted the wetland specialist position for Wyoming and started in January. This position is a 2-year collaborative venture between the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DU. The position is funded in large part through a Wetland Program Development Grant from the EPA. The intent of this venture is to assist DU and WGFD in building additional capacity and expertise specializing on wetlands in Wyoming.

Noelle received her BA from Rhodes College in Tennessee and her MS in Biology from Eastern Kentucky University. Noelle brings with her a strong background in wetland and avian ecology. She also brings a solid understanding of the Wetland Program Development Grants which helped fund her research. Noelle will be stationed in Casper, Wyoming at the WGFD regional office where she can coordinate closely with key personnel and programs within WGFD. 

In November, Mason Sieges joined the Great Plains Region as a conservation planning specialist. Mason originates from the east coast where he graduated from the University of Delaware with a master degree in wildlife ecology. Mason’s former experience includes working as a wildlife biologist in New Jersey with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. He has a strong background in GIS, waterfowl and waterbird research.
Maddie Saylor joined the Great Plains engineering team in October. She began working for Ducks Unlimited in 2013 at the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office as the primary engineer for Indiana and Kentucky while also leading multiple projects in Michigan and Ohio. Her responsibilities at the GPR include survey, design, drafting and providing construction management support for regional projects especially in the Dakotas. Maddie is currently an engineer-in-training and is expected to become a licensed Professional Engineer by fall of 2017. 
The GPR is excited to introduce Adam McDaniel, Montana’s new Conservation Specialist. Adam earned his Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from University of North Dakota. He is working out of the Great Falls Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office and will be working closely with NRCS and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to deliver on the ground conservation in central and northeastern Montana.

We are pleased to welcome Sharon Lipetzky to our team as a part-time project coordinator. Sharon will be helping the other project coordinators at the GPR in Bismarck with invoice entry and some project management. Sharon comes to us after a 34-year career at Basin Electric and a brief 6-month retirement. 
Upcoming GPR Events

Looking for a local banquet? Go to, click on "My State" at the top to choose your state, then choose "Local Events". 


  • Annual Ducks Unlimited engineering meeting, April 3-7, Ft. Collins, Colorado
  • Waterfowl pair counts begin April 19, northwest North Dakota. Technicians will begin training for the last season of a project examining how oil and gas development affect breeding waterfowl. 

  • Nest searching begins May 15 on the Coteau Ranch in Goodrich, North Dakota. University of North Dakota student researchers begin training to learn more about the success of duck nests at the Coteau Ranch and determine the best way to communicate on-the-ground conservation with stakeholders and the public. 
2525 River Road
Bismarck, North Dakota 58503