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Ducks call, they answer
by Hailee Vance
Mar 13, 2009 | 1420 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - The proposed Kily Ranch Wildlife Wetland Preserve could save local and migratory bird habitat said retired biology teacher Bob Lawson. Nature trails would provide public access and outdoor education.
Twenty-nine years ago retired biology teacher Bob Lawson started the Sparks chapter of Ducks Unlimited (DU). Since then it has gained 28 members and has raised more than $1.2 million for wetland conservation.

“Without Ducks Unlimited the waterfowl population would not be where it’s at today,” Lawson said.

This year is the fifth year in a row that the Sparks chapter has been recognized with the President’s Top 100 award. The award honors the top 100 DU chapters that raise the most grassroots dollars for DU’s habitat conservation work.

The Sparks chapter made the list after raising $65,000 last November during its annual fundraising dinner. There were 285 people at the dinner hosted at the Resort at Red Hawk. During the dinner attendees can participate in raffles, games and two auctions (one silent and one live). The dinner is the only fundraising event that the chapter does every year.

Lawson said that his chapter likes to compete with the Elko and Las Vegas chapters for best state dinner. He also said that over the past few years Sparks has been on top.

“I’m very proud of my committee,” Lawson said. “They work very hard. We have four meetings before the dinner and it comes together, which says a lot for the committee.”

DU is an organization whose goal is to conserve the wetlands so that North America will have waterfowl long into the future. Lawson said he believes in the organization’s mission and wants people to know that 88 cents to ever dollar raised for DU goes into the ground.

“I want young people to see what I saw,” Lawson said. “I spend hundreds of hours every year and I could be doing other things, but I believe in the people.”

According to wearewetlands.org, every year North America loses more than 80,000 acres of wetlands. Lawson said that it is important to conserve wetlands because they are a vital part of our ecosystem. Lawson says that although Nevada does not have a huge number of wetlands the state does have important stopping points for waterfowl.

“Wetlands are important as far as water quality and they are a breeding ground for many species of fish,” Lawson said. “If we lose the wetlands like we did with Hurricane Katrina all that is gone.”

To give hands-on help to the cause, the Sparks chapter does a Wood Duck nesting project where they set out wood boxes for the ducks to nest in. Local member Dave Stanley also hosts a DU Greenwing event in July that gives kids 17 and under the chance to go on boat rides in the marshes, participate in duck calling contests and to see how ducks are banded and caught.

With all the money raised and all the man hours spent helping to conserve the wetlands here and across the country, DU president Bruce Lewis says DU volunteers never fail to answer the call.

“These chapters are showing that the future of waterfowl populations and wetlands that filter our drinking water are important to them and their communities,” Lewis said. “The more money we raise, the more habitat we can conserve and the closer we are to preserving our waterfowl hunting heritage.”
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