Ducks Unlimited aims to defend wetlands
EAGLE ” Here’s a statistic to ponder: Only 2 percent of Colorado’s landscape is made up of wetlands. But those wetlands serve as a breeding ground, winter habitat or a stop during migration for more than 480 different animals.
Here’s another statistic: Colorado has lost about 50 percent of its wetlands.
Those kinds of statistics keep people like Bob Sanders and Wendy Sacks involved in Ducks Unlimited. The group, formed more than 66 years ago during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, aims to protect wetlands and the animals that rely on them.
Wetlands are faring pretty well in Eagle County, thanks to the work of local and state organizations, said Sacks, chairwoman for the Eagle River chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
But there still are plenty of reasons why supporters should attend the groups annual fund-raising banquet on Saturday, she said.
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“We’re really lucky,” she said. “All these developments (in Eagle County) are mandated to protect wetlands. What Ducks is trying to do is focus on critical private properties.”
Plus, Sacks added, “They should attend because it’s really fun. It’s a great cause and Ducks Unlimited is the oldest conservation group in the Western Hemisphere.”
What they do
Last year, 84 percent of money raised Ducks Unlimited was used to conserve wetlands and other critical duck and geese habitat. Because most wetlands in Colorado are on private owned land, Ducks Unlimited’s money ” and powers of persuasion ” are important tools used to conserve wetlands, said Sanders, the organization’s regional manager for conservation programs.
Because most wetlands in Colorado are on private owned land, Ducks Unlimited’s money ” and powers of persuasion ” are important tools used to conserve wetlands, said Sanders, the organization’s regional manager for conservation programs.
The organization tries to convince landowners to enter a contract to conserve the wetlands, know as a conservation easement. Colorado offers landowners a $260,000 tax credit for a conservation easement, Sanders said.
“Colorado is the most progressive state of the 50 when it comes to state tax credits for conservation easements,” he said.
Ducks Unlimited also works with state and national groups ” Great Outdoors Colorado, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, for example ” to buy and conserve land, Sanders said.
“The credits aren’t always significant enough to entice landowners,” he said.
Ear for biologists
The organization also will help with wetlands restoration. A landowner can call Ducks Unlimited and ask the group to improve a wetland and demonstrate how to protect it, he said. Ducks Unlimited has participated in about $8 million worth of those types of projects since 1997, Sanders said.
“The real growth area has been in conservation easements ” people are so interested in that,” Sanders said.
Sacks urged local residents to contact her about critical wetlands in need of protection. “I am the ear for the state biologists,” she said.
Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com.