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Alabamian elected chairman of Ducks Unlimited

As president of Ducks Unlimited, Huntsvillian Doug Schoenrock oversaw the organization’s record-breaking conservation efforts.

Now the organization’s chairman of the board, Schoenrock will ensure Ducks Unlimited is meeting its goals while he represents the more than 640,000 Ducks Unlimited members at international, national, regional, state, and local events.

Schoenrock further led the organization’s Presidential Lands Task Force and was influential in expanding DU’s brand and reach through major initiatives such as the premiere of the IMAX film “Wings Over Water” and enhancing the Wetlands America Trust brand.

In his new role as chairman of the board, Schoenrock  He will also serve as a trustee of Wetlands America Trust, the endowment and land trust of Ducks Unlimited.

Schoenrock recently joined Yellowhammer News for a sitdown Q&A session.

Q. What conservation efforts will be made over the next few years?
A. DU plans to work with private landowners to obtain easements. Working with state agencies and organizations such as the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the goal is to work on conservation of over 1 million acres a year between 2023 and 2028 with private, state, and federal support – with a major focus of public conservation areas also being huntable land.

DU is also supported by private donors and has a high efficiency rate meaning, for every dollar received in donations, 80 cents goes directly into the “ground” for conservation. He also praised the support of corporations and federal partners for their conservation efforts.

DU is first and foremost a science-based organization and all their conservation and preservation efforts are based off data collected in the field. There are plans to add 70 to 80 positions in biology and other fields. Schoenrock said DU owed it to the donors; that the work is based on solid scientific foundation and data, so resources and efforts were not being wasted.

Q. What priority areas need the most attention?

A. A major focus for DU in the coming year will be the Dakota Regions of North America. This area has experienced significant drought that occurs on a cycle every 20 to 30 years. This time allows for extra conservation efforts to be performed in the form of rejuvenation. This allows vital breeding grounds to be reinforced to sustain good habitats for the fowl. Unfortunately, studies have shown that recently clutch sizes hatched have decreased to roughly one-third their normal size. Restoring and rejuvenating breeding grounds ensures these areas can provide and sustain healthy breeding populations. Other areas of breeding restoration interest include the Boreal Forest and the breeding habitat in the Prairies. There will also be a focus on the “wintering areas” in Alabama, California, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Q. What is your biggest challenge working with local, state, and federal governments on conservation efforts?

A. The good news for these plans is that DU has a lot of respect in the nation’s capital and that many of the wetland projects they are working on are classified as “Green Infrastructure,” meaning they have high visibility and support from federal agencies.

Q. What is the biggest need from volunteers/members?

A. To help on a local level, DU receives a lot of funding from private donors and encourages everyone to join the organization. If you can’t help financially by becoming a member of Duck’s Unlimited that you can also help by volunteering in a local chapter to support great wild spaces.

Q. How is the best way for youth to get involved with DU conservations efforts?

A. DU has a great program for youth to be involved called Greenwings. There are 120 chapters in colleges and universities as well as 100 high school chapters across the country. If anyone is interested in starting a chapter at their school or for information about the Greenwings program, they should visit https://www.ducks.org/get-involved/youth-programs.

Q. What are your next events in Alabama?

A. The first is Oct. 6 at the Birmingham Zoo and the other is Oct.27 in Huntsville. For additional dates and information on events with Ducks Unlimited, visit https://www.ducks.org/events.

Q. What is the one thing you would like to share that I did not ask about?

A. “Get outside and get outside often.” People should keep a sense of wonderment about nature and support a cause that focuses on conservation. It takes all of us to participate in efforts to sustain, respect, and appreciate the great outdoors and the wildlife that inhabits it.

David Palmore is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News

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