A special 75th anniversary year shines a light on this weekend’s Ducks Unlimited fundraising banquet in Nelson.
“Ducks [Unlimited] started during a dry and desperate time on Prairie Canada,” says Brad Arner, manager of provincial operations in BC. “A small group of sportsmen who understood the critical importance of habitat to sustain our wildlife decided to take action and become the first to restore habitat.”
Since then, Ducks Unlimited has become active in all parts of the country including Nelson. The local chapter currently has 17 active members, and was started by Brad Letham, still a committee member, Bernie Clarkson and the late Bill Shuttleworth 27 years ago.
Fred Young, a former high school biology teacher has been a member of the local chapter for 16 years. He says club members come from all walks of life — some are hunters, but many today are interested in ensuring healthy wetlands.
“A lot of people are in it now for water quality and wetlands,” he says. “We need to preserve our wetlands if we want to have clean drinking water and help prevent flooding.”
Young says 25 per cent of all the wetlands on earth are in Canada.
“Wetlands are one of Canada’s greatest resources. Wetlands provide a home to hundreds of wildlife species, not just birds. They naturally clean the water we drink every day and help reduce the impact of drought and flooding.”
Ducks Unlimited has been busy protecting and restoring habitat in BC since 1969. One of their first, and still most well known Kootenay projects, was the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.
“It remains one of our landmark partnership projects,” says Arner. “Our on-the-ground work is the obvious evidence of what we do with the donations and partnership dollars.”
Young is proud of the well-known local project — Ducks Bay at Lakeside Park — that includes habitat enhancement and signage about the different kinds of ducks found there and the history of Ducks Unlimited.
“We did a lot of work there planting vegetation and there certainly are a lot of ducks down there,” he says.
The annual banquet fundraiser takes place this Saturday at the Prestige Lakeside Resort starting at 5:30. There will be a silent auction, live auction, some raffles and “of course a very good dinner,” says Young.
Auction items are donated from all over North America including seven prints, one by Robert Bateman.
“There are a lot of items you don’t just find in an ordinary store,” he says.
“Merchants in Nelson are also really generous,” he adds.
For example, he says Fisherman’s Market has donated four live lobsters as well as a $50 gift certificate. The Oyster Man also donated oysters and clams to be won.
And with this being the anniversary year of the organization, “there are quite a few commemorative unique items,” says Young.
Tickets to the dinner are $42 available by contacting Young at 250-352-6117 or Mary-Ann Gaschnitz at 250-354-1512.