Delta Waterfowl Praises Inclusion of 'Working Wetlands' in 2018 Farm Bill
New conservation program in the 2018 Farm Bill works to conserve vulnerable wetlands on a massive scale
The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill that awaits President Trump’s signature includes numerous priority items that will benefit ducks and duck hunters. Notably, using Delta Waterfowl’s Working Wetlands pilot program in North Dakota as a model, the bill establishes a voluntary, incentive-based conservation program to safeguard America’s most critical wetlands for breeding ducks.
“Our long-term goal for Delta’s Working Wetlands program has been achieved,” said Dr. Scott Petrie, chief executive officer of Delta Waterfowl. “Working Wetlands demonstrated to Congress, biologists and the agriculture community that it’s an innovative conservation solution that works for farmers as well as ducks. This is a monumental victory for wetland conservation on the prairies, and also for ducks and duck hunters.”
Launched as a pilot program in 2015, Delta’s Working Wetlands has annually conserved 9,500 of North Dakota’s most vital temporary and seasonal wetlands – small, shallow ponds that provide essential invertebrates to nesting hens and ducklings, but that are also at highest risk of drainage. An astonishing 93,500 acres of these wetlands were lost from 1997 to 2009, and millions of wetland basins remain at risk within the U.S. prairie pothole region, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Working with agricultural and conservation leaders in the North Dakota, Delta designed Working Wetlands to provide fair compensation to farmers to conserve critical, duck-producing ponds. The program emphasizes voluntary incentives to conserve wetlands on private lands.
“Agricultural producers have embraced Working Wetlands because they recognized Delta’s desire to work with them,” said John Devney, Delta’s senior vice president who served as the primary architect of program. “Working Wetlands enjoyed broad support as a new tool to conserve wetlands because it provides real benefits for ducks and duck hunters. I applaud Congress for including it in the Farm Bill.”
Now fully backed by the Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Delta’s Working Wetlands concept has the potential to conserve a very large number of wetlands on working croplands across the U.S. prairie pothole region.
“More than 90 percent of U.S. duck production occurs on private lands, most of which are working farms and ranches,” Petrie said. “That’s what’s so exciting about an authorized Working Wetlands program – it’s a solution designed to conserve breeding duck habitat on a massive scale.”