Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 20, 2005

Ken Durdahl elected to high position with Ducks Unlimited

By Lynda Jensen
Editor

Long-time conservationist Ken Durdahl of Howard Lake was recently elected as senior vice president for Ducks Unlimited (DU).

As only one of 20 such officers in the nation, Durdahl represents eight states – Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Iowa, and Nebraska.

“Ken Durdahl is a super volunteer,” said Bill Allen, Minnesota’s major donor chairman and retired DU regional director for Southeast Minnesota.

Ducks Unlimited has 700,000 members across the nation, with a budget of $70 million spent toward conserving wetlands and nature.

The top spot is where Durdahl’s passion is, placing him just under the president of an organization that is a world leader in conservation.

Minnesota also happens to be consistently on the top of lists for volunteerism and conservation efforts for Ducks Unlimited.

Durdahl has spent about 25 years volunteering for DU. He’s been hunting for about 40 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 regional position will keep him even more busy travelling, while he balances his regular job as a small business owner of his own construction company.

Durdahl will travel across the country speaking and making engagements for such events as dedications.

He will also be looking for other volunteers to join DU.

Busy people like himself are sometimes the most productive people he’s known when it comes to volunteers, he said.

“The best volunteers are busy people,” he noted. “That’s the kind of people I look for.”

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

“Eighty-four percent of donations go into conservation efforts,” Durdahl said.

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

Ducks Unlimited has pledged $10 million to Minnesota over the next number of years, Durdahl said.

The stewardship work done by DU includes more than a dozen 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.

Projects are funded from DU cash contributions that amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Individual projects can range 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 a few years ago, Durdahl said.

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

“It’s not just about the water anymore,” Durdahl added.

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;

· Eestablishing 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,” Durdahl 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,” Durdahl said.

“In these areas, DU is the major, and in most cases, only conservation organization,” 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.

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

To join DU, call Durdahl at (320) 543-3372 or visit www.ducks.org.


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