There was big news out of the 85th Ducks Unlimited National Convention last week as it pertains to Arkansas. The DU National Convention was held in New Orleans from July 13-16 drawing waterfowlers from all across the country to set future goals for DU and honor the organization’s volunteers numerous accomplishments tied to wetlands and waterfowl conservation. The Arkansas state chapter of DU was recognized for some big gains in terms of dollars raised in the state. 

  • #2 in most new Life Sponsors Nationally

  • #9 in most new Major Sponsor Upgrades Nationally

  • #2 in most new Feather Society (Planned Gifts) Nationally

For those achievements, Arkansas Ducks Unlimited Received the Presidential Merit Award for surpassing all three Major Gift category goals.

On top of that, the state chapter was also recognized for growing the popular Ducks Unlimited events: 

  • #10 in Event Attendance Growth Nationally

  • #8 in Event Income Growth Nationally

  • #3 in Number of Volunteers Nationally

That event growth earned Arkansas the Silver Excellence Award for an increase in event revenue and attendance over last year’s performance.

Arkansas has over 28,000 DU members and raised over $1.2 million through 92 local events last year. 

Corey Dunn, DU’s Director of Development for Arkansas said, “THANK YOU to our passionate volunteers, members, and major sponsors that make conservation a top priority.  They are the lifeblood of our organization!” 

Arkansas Efforts

So you may ask where do all those donated dollars go? Within the state, Ducks Unlimited is currently focused on their partnership with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission to restore over 50,000 acres of public green tree reservoirs.  The AGFC has documented a decline in the health of these managed habitats over the last few decades. The data shows that the duck preferred red oaks are suffering and more water-tolerant species that are less beneficial to waterfowl are taking over the GTRs. 

The frequency, timing, duration, and depth of flooding are all being overhauled to allow the trees a chance to rebound while water control structures and inventory of the forest floor are all being evaluated and modified. Ducks Unlimited is playing a major role in the fundraising efforts to get these projects paid for with a goal to raise $5 million over 10 years with $20 million in federal matching funds through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA)

Dollars raised thus far are already being put to use within Arkansas. The Phase 1 project at Henry Gray Hurricane WMA near Augusta has been completed with Phase 2 set to start later this year. Near Weiner, the Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA Phase 1 project is underway with Phase 2 targeted for 2023. Survey and modeling work has begun at George H. Dunklin, Jr. Bayou Meto WMA and Shirey Bay/Rainey Brake WMA construction set for summer of 2023. 

Tip of the Cap

Kudos to those involved with Arkansas Ducks Unlimited for their work tied to conservation and habitat restoration within the state. As much false flak as DU gets for spending dollars to keep ducks away from Arkansas, the proof is in the pudding with their investment in the state’s wildlife management areas. The national recognition is yet another feather in the cap for the organization and its volunteers.