Tag Archives: DUCKS UNLIMITED

Water Flowing Again Into A Top Public Basin Duck Hunting Area

A popular and productive public-land Columbia Basin duck hunting area is filling up with water for the first time in several years, good news as the best part of the waterfowl season arrives.

WATER FLOWS INTO PONDS AT THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA EARLIER THIS WEEK. (BRIAN HECK, DUCKS UNLIMITED)

The recently completed project at WDFW’s Winchester Regulated Access Area unclogged an inlet from the nearby wasteway west of Potholes Reservoir and water is now flowing into the ponds there.

(CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

“This will be the first time in three or four years that we’ll have a good amount of water,” says the agency’s Sean Dougherty in Ephrata.

The area opened in the early 2000s and provided good hunting but gradually the channel that fed water into the ponds silted up, and during 2016’s opener it was completely dry.

(BRIAN HECK, DUCKS UNLIMITED)

Dougherty says that funds were secured last year, including from state duck stamp moneys, to fix the problem.

After coordinating with the Bureau of Reclamation and the local irrigation district and with help from Ducks Unlimited, which provided “technical support and project management,” he says, water has begun flowing in again.

The area primarily attracts mallards as well as other puddlers as the migration and season goes on, but some geese fly in as well, and access is first come, first served.

“It’s really competitive to get a spot,” says Dougherty. “I would encourage you to be there at 4 a.m.”

That’s when vehicles can begin parking here, and the first five parties of up to four hunters each head out to set up their decoy spreads.

FLOODING IN CELL, OR POND, A. (CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

The area is only open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, with the other days off limits to rest the birds.

It’s also next to a game reserve, which helps keep ducks in the area too.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS CURRENT PARKING AND BLIND LOCATIONS FOR THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA. (WDFW)

Dougherty doesn’t want to make any promises about how many greenheads you might down if you set up here, but says it’s one of the best public hunts, with an average of three ducks a gun in the past.

And with more water here this fall, the ponds might also remain as open water longer, though with their shallow depths, ambitious hunters can still bust through the ice later on.

DUCKS SIT ON A POND AT THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA. (CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

Editor’s note: This blog initially contained an outdated WDFW map of access to the Winchester Regulated Access Area. It has subsequently been updated with a new one from regional lands manager Rich Finger. Also, blinds are not assigned and the area is free roam.

Northwest Duck Production Up, Annual USFWS Survey Reports

Northwest waterfowlers should see more mallards and other ducks for the youth hunting weekends next month and when the general season begins in October, but potentially fewer later in fall and winter as northern birds arrive.

Those are some of the bullet points from a federal survey released today.

It reports that Oregon numbers are up 23 percent over last year while Washington counts rose 16 percent.

GADWALL AND MALLARDS TAKE FLIGHT AT STEIGERWALD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE JUST OUTSIDE OF WASHOUGAL, WASHINGTON. (CHAD ZOLLER)

While the bulk of our flocks fly in from British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and Alaska, local production sustains early hunting before cold weather pushes northern birds south.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 294,000 ducks were counted this year in Oregon, up from 240,000 last year, while 281,000 were tallied in Washington, a rise of 39,000 from 2017.

Those are 12 and 59 percent above the long-term averages, respectively.

Mallard counts were also up in both states, from 72,000 to 93,000 in the former and 103,000 to 125,000 in the latter. Those figures are 7 and 51 percent above the average.

USFWS reported that while habitat conditions declined in Oregon compared to 2017, they were still considered “fair to good” because of 2016-17’s wet winter. A wet April helped keep ponds up in Washington, biologists reported.

2018-19 DUCK SEASONS

Idaho: Area 1 (all counties except Valley, western half of Power and Southeast Idaho): Oct. 13-Jan. 25; Area 2: Oct. 6-Jan. 18

Oregon: Zone 1 (Western, Northcentral counties): Oct. 13-28, Oct. 31-Jan. 27; Zone 2 (Central, Eastern Counties): Oct. 6-Nov. 25, Nov. 28-Jan. 20; Statewide youth weekend: Sept. 22-23; Note: several state and federal refuges also offer youth hunting days; see the regs for dates, application deadlines

Washington: Oct. 13-31, Nov. 3-Jan. 27; Westside youth weekend: Sept. 22-23; Eastside youth weekend: Sept. 29-30

In the “prime” breeding grounds of southern and interior British Columbia, habitat conditions were “very good” to “good,” leading to a slight rise in mallard numbers.

Surveys further north, however, found fewer ducks. Numbers in Alaska and the Yukon declined 15 percent over 2017 and fell below the long-term average, while in northern BC, northern and central Alberta and the Northwest Territory, they dropped 13 percent.

Southern Alberta flocks fell 14 percent while those in Montana and North and South Dakota were essentially unchanged.

Ducks Unlimited reported that, overall, U.S. and Canadian duck numbers were down 13 percent over last year but were still 17 percent above the longterm average.

“The dip in the population for prairie-breeding puddle ducks is not unexpected and by no means unprecedented given that conditions on the prairies this spring were drier than last year,” said DU Chief Scientist Tom Moorman in a press release. “This year’s breeding population decline is a reminder of the need to sustain the capacity of breeding habitats, particularly in the prairies as we go through natural variation in wetland conditions. Waterfowl populations are adapted well to short-term swings in habitat conditions, but we must continue to guard against the long-term loss of prairie breeding habitat.”

Grand scheme, North American mallard, gadwall, green- and blue-winged teal, shoveler and redhead numbers are all declining year to year but still above average, widgeon and canvasback numbers are about average, while pintail and scaup are below average and declining, according to USFWS.

SEATTLE DU BANQUET COMING UP

Seattle Chapter members of Ducks Unlimited are looking to build on their phenomenal support of waterfowl and their habitat with another blockbuster annual banquet early next month.

“We’ve raised more over the past decade than any other Ducks Unlimited chapter in the US,” says organizer and longtime waterfowler Greg James. “We are the first chapter to go over $300,000 net at a dinner, and then the first one to go over $400,000 net.”

In 2016, Seattle DU was honored with a place on the Chairman’s Roll of Honor chapters list, for those that raise $250,000 to $1 million.

Last year’s banquet raised $400,000 for wetlands conservation, James says, and as a DU newsletter states, the chapter’s efforts are showing “that the Emerald City can be known for something other than coffee, jets, and software.”

The 2018 edition is set for Oct. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The evening features a five-star dinner, wines, entertainment and an auction.

For more, contact Karin Dow-Martinez at (206) 524-5300 or karin@kdmanagement.net.

Congress Members Hears About Importance Of National Wildlife Refuge System

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM DUCKS UNLIMITED

Today, the bipartisan Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled “Wildlife Refuges 101.” This briefing covered the important role refuges play in conservation and recreation in the United States, issues facing the Wildlife Refuge system, funding for the refuges and the role Congress plays in supporting the refuge system. Representatives from Ducks Unlimited, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service served as briefing panelists.

SILETZ BAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IS HOME TO WOOD DUCKS, AMONG OTHER WATERFOWL AND OTHER SPECIES. (ROY W. LOWE, USFWS)

The Refuge Caucus is chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-02) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-03).

“As founder and co-chair of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, I’ve seen firsthand how refuges bring together an extraordinarily diverse group of people, from hunters and anglers, to endangered species activists, to public lands advocates,” said Rep. Thompson. “By offering insight from a broad range of expert panelists, this Wildlife Refuge 101 briefing will help members of Congress and their staff as we continue working to protect and enjoy our shared natural heritage.”

“When it comes to ducks and duck hunters, our nation’s system of National Wildlife Refuge lands is the most important,” said Dan Wrinn national director of government affairs for Ducks Unlimited. “But they are so much more than that. Hunting, fishing, birding and exploring wild places go on every day at our nation’s refuges. This system of lands is the envy of the world and needs support from Congress to continue this legacy.”

Refuges also benefit from one of Ducks Unlimited’s top policy priorities, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Since 1989, NAWCA has impacted the conservation of wetland habitats and their wildlife in all 50 states, conserving more than 33.4 million acres. NAWCA grants support wetland conservation on private and public lands across the country, including the refuge system.

“Our national wildlife refuges offer spectacular natural beauty and critical habitat for wildlife,” said Rep. Kind. “But they are also economic engines that create jobs in local communities. We need to continue protecting and investing in our refuges and in public lands in Wisconsin and across the U.S., to keep local economies strong and to ensure our open spaces can be enjoyed by future generations.”

“National Wildlife Refuges host nearly 50 million visitors each year and make up 850 million acres of pristine public lands dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife,” said Rep. Wittman. “My state of Virginia has 14 of those refuges where people of all ages can visit, explore, fish, hunt and study wildlife. Growing up and even as an adult, visiting the Rappahannock River Wildlife Refuge in my district taught me the value of nature and wildlife in our society and the importance of environmental stewardship.”

The National Wildlife Refuge System is made up of more than 96 million acres of public land in the United States. Refuges aid in habitat restoration and protection, help to control flood and erosion while providing economic benefits to countless communities. Refuges support a $2.4 billion recreation industry. With more than 48 million visitors a year, refuges provide a unique opportunity to see these landscapes while supporting local economies.

“South Jersey is home to three national wildlife refuges that offer visitors a wide array of habitats to explore and myriad animal and plant species to learn about. They play a vital role in sustaining fragile ecosystems and their environmental and economic importance in my district is immeasurable,” said Rep. LoBiondo. “It is important to continue a dialogue with our colleagues to educate them on critical issues facing our wildlife refuges. Forums like Wildlife Refuge 101 ensure Congress is hearing from the appropriate experts and enthusiasts of these environmental treasures.”

Conservation News: RMEF Interim Director Named; DU Celebrates World Wetland Day

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM DUCKS UNLIMITED AND THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

Ducks Unlimited recognizes World Wetlands Day

Cities across the world will be celebrating World Wetlands Day (WWD) on Feb. 2, and Ducks Unlimited (DU) is adding its voice to raise awareness of this important day. Since 1937, DU has conserved more than 14 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats across North America. On average, DU and its many partners help conserve more than 250,000 acres per year.

(DUCKS UNLIMITED)

WWD marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on Feb. 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and the Ramsar Convention.

“Ducks Unlimited focuses on conserving wetlands to maintain healthy waterfowl populations, but the state of our wetlands affects everyone in many ways,” said Ducks Unlimited Chief Conservation Officer Nick Wiley.

DU’s conservation projects provide habitat for more than 900 species of wildlife. People also benefit from healthy wetlands and grasslands, which provide flood absorption, community resilience, clean water, recreational opportunities and fisheries resources. And while people across the globe rely on wetlands to help provide clean water, in the last 50 years the United States alone has lost more than 17 million acres of wetlands.

“World Wetlands Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the threats wetlands face and how they are important. Every day, however, is wetlands day at Ducks Unlimited, and without the support of great, conservation-minded partners our work would certainly be limited,” Wiley said.

Economists estimate that one acre of wetlands can provide up to $200,000 worth of benefits to people. Nearly 44 percent of America’s population regularly depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply, not to mention the health benefits of wetlands. Wetlands in or near urban areas are the focus of this year’s WWD theme. Parks, ponds and near-urban wildlife refuges provide important opportunities for people to spend time outdoors in a healthy, natural setting.

For more information about World Wetlands Day, visit www.worldwetlandsday.org.

Nancy Holland to Serve as RMEF Interim CEO

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced that the Board of Directors has asked Nancy Holland to serve as president and CEO on an interim basis.

“To join the team at this time is very exciting. RMEF has a special place in my heart,” said Holland. “Stepping into this new role, forefront in my thoughts and actions are our members, donors, sponsors and fellow staff members and the conservation mission they have entrusted us to carry forward.”

Holland is taking a leave from the RMEF Board of Directors, where she served since 2016, while the search continues for a long-term replacement. She and husband Howard are staunch supporters and life members who also served together as co-chairs of RMEF’s Habitat Council.

“Throughout my time with RMEF I have been blessed to meet and befriend wonderful, passionate people. It is these people, individuals, families and corporations that are the essence of RMEF. We come together in our passion for the future of elk and other wild life, wild places and our tradition of hunting. It’s what makes RMEF great.”

A graduate of St. Louis University, Holland has 35 years’ experience in investment and finance including managing a team of global investment professionals working on behalf of their international clients. Since 2009, she served as managing partner of Sapphire Point Partners LLC, which specializes in business consulting and real estate investment.

“RMEF has a strong financial footing, solid membership growth and an environment that supports our mission. We have a 5-year plan that we have been executing. We are solidly on our way to accomplishing those goals and surpassing them,” added Holland. “At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering mission. It’s why we are all here.”

Zinke To BLM, USFWS, NPS: Figure Out How To Increase Fishing, Hunting Access

Federal land managers are being directed to figure out how to provide more fishing and hunting access under a directive signed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today, a move lauded by sportsmen’s groups.

It follows on troubling news earlier this week that participation in hunting dropped by 2.2 million between 2011 and 2016, but could help open more lands, so key to the opportunities we enjoy.

MANAGERS OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT GROUND AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ARE BEING ASKED HOW TO INCREASE HUNTING AND FISHING ACCESS UNDER AN ORDER FROM DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE. THAT PROCESS HAS BEEN ONGOING AT PLACES LIKE TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, WHERE SPECIAL HUNTS FOR AN INCREASING ELK HERD HAVE BEEN HELD, BUT ZINKE’S ORDER COULD OPEN EVEN MORE OPPORTUNITY. (TURNBULL NWR)

“The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands,” said Zinke in a press release. “As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4 a.m. with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.”

His order calls for:

  • The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service to come up with plans within four months for expanding access to hunting and fishing on their lands;
  • Amend management plans for national monuments to specifically ensure hunting and fishing on them;
  • Identify federal lands where those activities are limited;
  • Expand outreach to underserved communities;
  • Develop a “one-stop” website outlining sporting opportunities on all Department of Interior lands;
  • And improve wildlife management collaboration with states, tribes, conservation groups and others.

Ducks Unlimited was supportive, particularly the part of Zinke’s order calling for “significantly” increasing waterfowl populations through habitat projects, as well as more hunting opportunities.

“Wetlands are not only a valuable resource for our nation’s waterfowl, but they also benefit more than 900 other species of wildlife,” noted Dale Hall, DU CEO, in a press release. “Investments in the conservation of wildlife habitats, like wetlands, are vital in preserving, protecting and advancing our nation’s long hunting and angling heritage. At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that all Americans and those generations to come, have access to the wildlife and wild places that we enjoy today.”

In recent years, USFWS has gradually been increasing waterfowl, big game and fishing opportunities on Northwest refuges and those across the country.

Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers said his organization looked forward to working with Zinke and Interior.

“Our hunting and fishing traditions rely on both conservation and access, with insufficient access being the No. 1 reason cited by sportsmen for forgoing time afield,” Tawney said in a press release. “The importance of Secretary Zinke’s commitment to sustaining and expanding public access opportunities to the outdoors, therefore, cannot be overstated.”

Others supporting the move included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as National Rifle Association.

“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted, with lost opportunity replacing the ability to enjoy many of our best outdoor spaces. This extension to Secretarial Order 3356 will go a long way to reversing that trend and help grow the next generation of hunters, fishermen, and recreational shooters,” added Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in a press release. “I appreciate this new order and am committed to working with Secretary Zinke and my colleagues to do everything we can to expand and enhance access to our federal lands for all Alaskans, and all Americans, so that we can continue our rich sportsmen’s heritage.”