By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist
One of the things my five-year-old grandson Jason likes to do best is explore new outdoor places. Many places are still new to him such as the Blackwater Draw dig site, the stretch of open grassland across from our street or an unexplored corner of Ned Houk Park. At this stage of life, his tastes are not fancy or complex. If it is outdoors and previously unexplored or little explored, it promises an adventure.
It is important to me to make sure there will still be unexplored outdoor places when my grandson is my age.
One thing we can do is to ensure the future of outdoor places with our time and energy. Jason, and other children growing up now, deserve to have contact with nature throughout their lives. They need our efforts to guarantee the amount and quality of guarded land will increase, not decrease over the coming years.
This is to say nothing of the animals, the fellow members of the life community with whom we share our planet. They are not responsible for overdevelopment or the exploitation of the land, but they suffer the consequences nonetheless. Without “Bambi-fying” anything, I think we could all admit that our fellow beings deserve a place to make a safe life, raise their litters or nests of young and be what they were meant to be.
Ducks Unlimited, one of the world’s largest privately funded conservation groups, is dedicated to these same concepts. The D.U. banquet is scheduled at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at KBob’s.
So you believe Ducks Unlimited is only for hunters. D.U. actually includes many who do not hunt; that misconception is like saying that only hunters care about wildlands and wetlands preservation.
Wetlands are an integral part of any wilderness or semiwilderness, as all creatures need water to survive. Even in our arid home turf, I think I once counted 14 wetland areas within a two-hour drive. Start counting: Ned Houk, Ute Lake, Santa Rosa, etc.
John McNeil, Ducks Unlimited local chapter president (dare we say, headdrake?), said the organization is comprised of volunteers and about 90 percent of the money raised goes back into the conservation efforts of Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited is for all people who are concerned about preserving our natural resources, not just the hunter.
So, you don’t much care about waterfowl. Do you care about deer, elk, fish, songbirds, pheasant, wild turkeys,mountain lions,cedars or pine trees? All of the above need water to survive and it doesn’t take a biologist to figure that one out.
One main focus of D.U. is protecting water sources that provide breeding grounds for waterfowl. Such wetlands exist everywhere, though they tend to be concentrated in our neighboring states to the north. The Canada geese who thrill you on a January night with their overhead moonlit song, may have been hatched in North Dakota.
Tickets are available through John at Prince Plaza Cleaners or anyone who is a member. Email me back and I’ll steer you to a member, or better yet, add you to my own ticket sale total.
It’s $55 for two for steak dinner, lots of fun, a year D.U. membership and the chance to preserve the outdoors for Jason and other people who will appreciate it. (Okay, okay, my dog just reminded me animals will appreciate it, too.)