Member Highlight: Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetland and waterfowl habitats.

Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.8 million acres thanks to nearly $3.5 billion in contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent.

DU got its start nearly 80 years ago during the Dust Bowl era, when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows. Determined not to sit idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyond recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together to form an organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited. Its mission: habitat conservation.

The benefits of that habitat conservation work stretch beyond waterfowl. More than 900 species of wildlife live in freshwater and saltwater wetlands. Also, more than one-third of species on the endangered species list rely in some parts on wetlands.

The impacts to people of wetland conservation are immense. Wetlands improve the overall health of our environment by recharging and purifying groundwater, moderating floods and reducing soil erosion. Wetlands soak up contaminants caused by rainwater runoff, keeping waters clear for recreation and drinking.

Unfortunately, the United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands, and tens of thousands of wetland acres continue to be lost—at an accelerating rate—each year.

In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, DU is focusing on protecting and restoring wetlands that offer the best opportunities for improving the overall health of the bay.

DU is able to deliver its work through a series of partnerships with private individuals, landowners, agencies, scientific communities and other entities, such as the Choose Clean Water Coalition. Ducks Unlimited is a grassroots, volunteer-based organization. Its members are conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts who live primarily throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Its conservation programs have always had a strong biological foundation. That science and research tradition continues today with hundreds of studies to address the habitat needs of waterfowl. Although a great deal of work has been done and many important questions answered, there is still much to learn about how the birds respond to landscape, habitat and environmental changes.

DU has embraced an approach of constant monitoring and evaluation which allows for continual refinement of its habitat programs. In the end, such an approach ensures that each and every dollar invested in conservation programs is used as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ducks Unlimited de Mexico and Wetlands America Trust are committed to making DU's vision of abundant wetlands a reality through the "Rescue Our Wetlands: Banding Together for Waterfowl" campaign. The $2 billion continental campaign was launched in 2015 and is more than halfway toward reaching its goal.