Ducks Unlimited banquet coming up real soon

Published 8:55 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The annual Picayune Chapter of Ducks Unlimited Banquet and Auction will be held on November 16th at 6:30 at the Knights of Columbus Hall behind Dockside Seafood. This is the 29th year for the event and I am looking forward to serving as their auctioneer again.

The banquet is a very family friendly event and casual. There isn’t any reason that you and your family could not load up and come see be a part of one of the world’s largest conservation organizations. This is, as I have said in the past, a great way to introduce your young person or persons to the conservation and sportsman world and show how the greatest conservationists, that being the hunters, give of their time and money to positively improve habitat for many species of animals.

I have written in the past about all that goes on at the banquets, but not a lot about what DU does with the monies collected at the events. Let me give you just a couple of reasons to come and enjoy the silent and live auctions along with some great food. One area in Mississippi that DU is concentrating on is the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.

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The Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) represents the historic floodplain and valley of the lower Mississippi River. It is easily the most significant winter habitat area for mallards in North America. The MAV was once a 24.7 million acre complex of forested wetlands interspersed with swamps, cypress-tupelo brakes, scrub-shrub wetlands and emergent wetlands.

This vast complex of wetlands, through which nearly 40 percent of North America drains, provided wetland functions and wildlife values of incalculable worth. However, the landscape in the MAV has changed dramatically during the last 200 years, with the most rapid change occurring within the last 75 years. Today, only about 20 percent of the original forest remains in the MAV. The rest has been converted to agricultural production.

The MAV is the continent’s most important wintering habitat for mallards and wood ducks, but other species, such as gadwall and green-winged teal also are common. Following widespread land conversion, the region has become more significant to northern pintails, green-winged teal and northern shovelers, as well as snow and white-fronted geese. Catahoula Lake and the lower Mississippi River delta together winter approximately 10-25 percent of the continental population of canvasbacks. With the numbers of ducks coming through this area it is of vital importance.

With the dollars raised in the banquets and auctions world wide, DU can and does make a difference in areas such as this with the use of the conservation easement program. The CEP is funded to protect privately owned land in partnership with the landowner and restore and enhance public land with cooperation of state and federal agencies.

A few other facts about DU in Mississippi, is that there close to 10,000 members that support DU and raised over $600,000 in 2005. Money raised through these banquets in 2005 helped to conserve 249, 458 acres in Mississippi alone. You don’t think DU is doing anything down south, think again.

I really wanted to give you some down home information about what DU is doing for the conservation effort in hopes it would increase your drive to participate. If you have been a supporter of DU, NWTF, NRA or any other viable organization that increases awareness and makes a difference for the future of our children and grandchildren, I salute you. If you are one of those folks that just loves to hit the woods and waters and rape the bounty that God has so richly blessed us with and not give anything back, I would hope that you do a little soul searching and make a difference for the good by attending the banquet and giving of your time and money.

Now don’t forget, Thursday night November 16th at 6:30 located at the KC hall directly behind Dockside Seafood. Dockside will be catering the event so the food will be awesome. Tickets are $40 for single and $50 dollars for couples, 12 years and younger are invited free. If you would like to get your tickets in advance, they are available at Edward Jones investment office on west Canal Street or you can call Thierry Gaubert at 601-799-4599.

Finally, congratulations to both of our local football teams on outstanding winning games Friday night. I attended the Poplarville vs. Petal game and man was it great. My hat goes off to Dodd and Lance and both teams for representing the county so well in post season play. Well that is enough sports, but make sure to get out and support our home town teams and as always, get outdoors and enjoy what God has given us.