Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, April 2, 2001

Durdahl takes flight as newly elected Ducks Unlimited chair

By Lynda Jensen

Long-time conservationist Ken Durdahl of Howard Lake recently elected for a two-year position as state chairman of the Minnesota chapter of Ducks Unlimited (DU).

The position places him at the head of 50,000 members across the state, with a n income of $4.5 million.

Durdahl has spent about 20 years volunteering for DU. He's been hunting for 35 years, he said.

Previously, he spent several years as the DU area chairman. He was elected to the state chair position by regional directors.

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be having its fundraiser banquet 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 10 at the Blue Note in Winsted, Durdahl said. For tickets, call (320) 543-3372.

The national convention will be in May at San Antonio, Texas.

"I really enjoy it," Durdahl said of his duties and those associated with DU. "They're a great bunch of people."

One of Durdahl's goals is to exceed the $5 million mark in donations during his two-year term, he said.

Durdahl is proud of the organization, which is well known for its conservation efforts in relation to waterfowl wetlands and habitat.

"Eighty-two percent of donations go into the ground," Durdahl said, referring to DU's conservation efforts.

There are more waterfowl hunters in Minnesota than any other state, Durdahl added.

The Minnesota chapter of Ducks Unlimited completed 25 major waterfowl projects in the state last year, improving more than five square miles of habitat, Durdahl said.

This included 12 projects to buy land for wildlife management areas, in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources, which permanently protected 1,400 acres of habitat, Durdahl said. It was funded from a DU cash contribution exceeding $260,000.

Individual projects ranged from small wetland restorations of less than an acre on private lands to the complete restoration of the 366 acre Black Rush Lake in Lyon County, according to Tom Landwehr of the DU News.

Other projects were scattered across the state, with most falling in high waterfowl production and migration areas, Landwehr said.

DU's work shows up in many ways, mostly through partnerships with the DNR, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, and other natural resource agencies.

Projects include:

· purchasing land for waterfowl habitat and public hunting;

· restoring wetlands on public and private lands;

· Establishing nesting cover for ducks, principally on public land;

· Cooperating on artificial nesting structure projects (for example, wood duck boxes, hen houses);

· Intensive waterfowl management work like island creation and predator fence construction; and

· Enhancing migrational lakes.

More than 300 individual sites have been conserved in Minnesota, with another 30 to 40 added each year, all over the state.

"While this effort is highly important, it is always critical for waterfowlers to remember the value of work in Canada and the Dakotas," Landwehr commented.

"Some 70 percent of ducks in the bag of Minnesota hunters were born out-of-state, and conservation work in the Dakotas and Canada is critical to future hunting opportunities," Landwehr said.

"In these areas, DU is the major, and in most cases, only conservation organization," Landwehr said.

Across the nation, DU raises more than $70 million from fundraisers and a membership of more than 701,000, Durdahl said.

DU was originally formed during the 1930s when North America's waterfowl populations plunged due to drought. Within a year of its formation, 6,720 supporters raised $90,000.

Their work then and now ensures a fall flight each year into the new millennium, for future generations to enjoy, Landwehr said.

To join DU, call (320) 543-3372.

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