Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ACE Basin and Ducks Unlimited CEO host NAWCA Partners

Gadwall lift off from an impoundment at Bear Island WMA
DU guests got a driving tour of rice trunks and dikes

The conservation calendar has been full this fall with events relating to the 25th Anniversary of the ACE Basin, where groups like DU and private landowners placed conservation easements on properties, leading to landscape-scale protection. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act or NAWCA is a federal program that provides funding to make improvements to protected properties, and Bennett’s Point and Bear Island hosted dignitaries to salute completed projects in the Lowcountry.
The lunchtime meal on Friday November 21 at Bennetts Point was held at the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Field Station. Dale Hall is the Chief Executive Officer for Ducks Unlimited based in Memphis, Tennessee and he made remarks at the NERR luncheon and then was given a special tour of Bear Island WMA by Dean Harrigal from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The tour included viewing of  NAWCA projects with lots of visiting migratory waterfowl flying overhead.
Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, at ACE Basin NERR
“The first Ducks Unlimited easement in the ACE Basin was at Mary’s Island, which is now part of the Donnelley WMA,” said Hall. “The wintering grounds here in South Carolina are extremely important to migratory waterfowl who choose to overwinter here. Why? Because the ducks need food sources to get the protein and fat that are necessary to sustain them when they return to the northern nesting grounds. Ducks returning in good shape have better eggshell development which is one positive step towards future waterfowl production.”

At Bennetts Point, Mark Robertson from The Nature Conservancy shared that he sees a strong conservation ethic in South Carolina that is unique. Citing a stat that South Carolina is third in the number of total wetlands behind Louisiana and Florida, he challenged attendees to be mindful that wetlands can be lost where conservation is not present. Robertson also cited that S.C. ranks fifth in states with the least wetlands loss overall.

To view this entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

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