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Group’s goal: Save wetlands

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Ducks Unlimited isn’t about hunting as much as it is preservation.

By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

Ducks Unlimited isn’t limited to ducks.

“We’re primarily a conservation group,” said Chris Cottongim, area chairman for the Shelby County chapter. “We put money into preserving land forever [Chris’ emphasis] for ducks to breed in, live in and migrate through.”

A national organization, Ducks Unlimited attracts hunters, land owners, and conservation enthusiasts who work to purchase, preserve and restore wetlands for waterfowl habitation. Conserving and managing natural habitats benefits people and wildlife, in addition to ducks, geese and other waterfowl.

 “We purchase land with funds raised by our local chapter, and by combining our monies with chapters across Kentucky,” Cottongim said. “Once purchased, we turn the land over to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to manage. This opens more land for the public to hunt, fish and use for recreation.”

Preserving local lands increases and enhances the duck population in Kentucky. In the 76 years since Ducks Unlimited was founded, 12,000 acres of Kentucky land has been preserved. This figure is part of the 13 million acres of land preserved across North America.

“We are able to take every dollar given and either double or triple it for investment in land preservation. We receive matching funds, taxpayer funds, based on the North American Wetland Conservation Act and federal farm bills. Ducks Unlimited puts these government funds to work in the land.”

On Friday evening the Shelby County chapter of Ducks Unlimited hosts its annual fundraiser dinner at Claudia Sanders Dinner House. “We have two big events a year, this dinner and a sporting clays shooting event in August,” Cottongim said. “The dinner is our major fundraising activity.

“In the past three years that I’ve been chapter chairman, turnout has increased for the dinner. We have a few sponsors from out of town. They’re a little spooked by the unpredictable weather we’ve been having. But I think – I hope – we get a nice turnout on Friday night.”

In addition to the chicken and beef menu offered at Claudia Sanders, the evening will begin with an open bar at 5:30 pm. “After the first five hundred dollars are spent at the bar, it will go cash. Early cocktails should be available for all our guests,” he said.

“We are offering raffles and gifts throughout the evening, featuring the Great Gun Giveaway with up to thirty guns to be awarded. We also have a Greenwing classification, for attendees under 17 years old. They’ll each receive duck calls and have a chance to win a hunting rifle.”

“Families may attend the event. We usually have younger kids who come with their parents. There are a number of hunting families in Shelby County.”

Have the efforts of Ducks Unlimited enhanced the duck population in the area?

“This winter has been an excellent year for the waterfowl population in Kentucky,” Cottongim said. “The extremely cold weather up north has forced more birds to migrate and spend the winter down here. The hunting season in January has been very good.

“Our work, with Ducks Unlimited, is not only about ducks. It’s about conserving land for ever. This is something we leave our children, land that can be used by the public and by our wildlife.”

 

Ducks Unlimited fundraiser

WHAT:Cocktails, dinner event

WHEN:6-11 p.m. Friday

WHERE:Claudia Sanders Dinner House, 3202 Shelbyville Road

TICKETS:  Single, $50; couple, $60.

MORE INFO:Call Chris Cottongim at 502-930-4232