By Susan Hallock
BARRYVILLE May 1, 2007 Ducks Unlimited celebrated its 70th anniversary on Saturday night at the Carriage House Restaurant in Barryville as the Sullivan County Chapter of the organization held its annual dinner.
Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit organization, began in Lew Beach in 1937. Since then, the organization has conserved roughly 11 million acres in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Those acres are home to 600 wildlife species, including several which are considered endangered, living and breeding on the saved wetlands.
“Ducks Unlimited is not just for hunters, it is for everyone,” Chairperson Tom Brucher said. “We are here tonight to raise money to help save our natural resources of the wetlands. Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl and these habitats also benefit other wildlife and people as well.
“This year is really exciting for us because we earned the 100th pin which means that from 2004 our organization right here has raised enough funds to take care of 100 acres of wetlands. This truly shows that we are getting the word out and conserving our natural resources.”
Brucher added that Ducks Unlimited members are now concerned with a farm bill now in legislation.
“Right now they are trying to set up just how many acres can be used for Conservation Reserve Programs,” he said. “Our wetlands produce many waterfowl and assist many other animals and with this limitation put on, our animals will be destroyed.
“With the continued progress of construction and economic growth, our wetlands are becoming lost and Ducks Unlimited is doing its best to conserve what land we can,” Brucher continued. “Last year alone 100,000 acres of wetlands were lost to development. Further, with the new ethanol program out there, farmers are starting to raise corn and that will consume more of our wetlands, we need to save the wetlands.”
In addition to the dinner itself, the evening’s activities included a silent auction, regular auction and a lot of fun.
“All the monies we raised here tonight which is roughly over $13,000 will stay in this country and also in Canada and New Mexico to help preserve the wetlands,” Brucher said. “Last year’s dinner like this throughout the country raised over $900,000 to help with our cause and $12 million alone was spent in New York State to preserve wetlands. Currently, we do have over 38,000 acres conserved in New York State alone. So, as you can see Ducks Unlimited is not just about hunting, it is about a greater cause conservation of our very own natural resources.”
How did Brucher and his committee think the auction went?
“I have to say we all had a lot of fun here tonight,” he said. “Many beautiful pieces of artwork were purchased as well as some hunting rifles and supplies. We can thank all of the people that donated to our cause here because if they did not give, we would not be able to give back to our natural resources in such a generous way. Everyone here tonight did a great job and it was exciting watching people bid on the items and get good deals on some really great things.”
Ducks Unlimited is run strictly by volunteers and anyone can join the organization by calling Brucher at 557-0985.
Ducks Unlimited is not just for adults either, the organization offers a program known as Greenwing for younger children. After becoming a Greenwing, the child receives a magazine from Ducks Unlimited as well as other monthly benefits provided by the organization.