Michigan: Ducks Unlimited Hosts Restoration Tour with Congressman Dan Benishek

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition works closely with several member organizations in five targeted states to achieve our goal of restoring the Great Lakes. The work our member organizations do in the field is the backbone of our campaign – it amplifies our impact throughout the Great Lakes region. We’ll be collecting stories from the fieldwork being implemented by our member organizations and posting about them periodically. Our latest update comes from Ducks Unlimited in Michigan. 

Sturgeon Sloughs, in Michigan's upper peninsula, was the site of the August 2014 restoration tour hosted by Ducks Unlimited and attended by Congressman Dan Benishek (Michigan's 1st District). Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Sturgeon Sloughs, in Michigan’s upper peninsula, was the site of the August 2014 restoration tour hosted by Ducks Unlimited and attended by Congressman Dan Benishek (Michigan’s 1st District). Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

 

In mid-August, Ducks Unlimited (DU) headed up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to provide Congressman Dan Benishek with a tour intended to emphasize the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA). DU in collaboration with the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council (UPRCD) was recently awarded a $1,000,000 grant through NAWCA to enhance and protect 3,727 acres of Upper Peninsula habitat. The grant provides the funding for nine individual projects and the collaboration of ten partners from all walks of conservation. Unique partnerships such as these are key to the success of obtaining funds to advance on the ground conservation in the Great Lakes.

Darcy Rutkowski of the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council meets with Congressman Dan Benishek (Michigan's 1st District). Rutkowski is the grant administrator of the Michigan Upper Peninsula Coastal Wetland Project. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Darcy Rutkowski of the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council meets with Congressman Dan Benishek (Michigan’s 1st District). Rutkowski is the grant administrator of the Michigan Upper Peninsula Coastal Wetland Project. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

To stress to the Congressman the diversity of the partnerships responsible for the success of programs such as NAWCA and GLRI, we invited an assortment of partners from the Michigan Upper Peninsula Coastal Wetland Project III NAWCA grant. The tour began with a round table discussion in which each partner was given the opportunity to describe their role in NAWCA/GLRI projects as well as the impacts these funding sources have had on their work in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Attendees included Ducks Unlimited, UPRCD, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan DNR, the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Along with stressing the importance of NAWCA/GLRI, attendees also discussed the economic benefits to Upper Peninsula communities that both programs provide from hunting, fishing, and bird watching. Following this discussion, the congregation of partners and the Congressman set out to the Sturgeon Sloughs project site to visualize the need for funding to not only upgrade aging infrastructure in this Michigan DNR managed State Wildlife Area, but to enhance habitat and recreational opportunities.

Congressman Dan Benishek (Michigan's 1st District) on a restoration tour lead by Ducks Unlimited. The tour through Sturgeon Sloughs allowed the group, including Mr. Benishek, to see and identify birds. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Congressman Dan Benishek (Michigan’s 1st District) on a restoration tour lead by Ducks Unlimited. The tour through Sturgeon Sloughs allowed the group, including Mr. Benishek, to see and identify birds. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

We were privileged to be treated to beautiful weather and the Congressman was even able to work on his bird identification and enjoyed views of green-winged teal, Great egrets, blue heron, an American bittern, and sandhill cranes.

Our time with Representative Benishek went well over the allotted hours and we believe that the personal accounts each partner was able to convey as well as the actual time spent on the ground at a project site communicated to the Congressman the impacts that GLRI and NAWCA have on the health of the Great Lakes. With a greater appreciation of the work being done in the Great Lakes and the programs that contribute to these efforts, we expect continued support for GLRI, NAWCA, and the war on invasive species in the future from Congressman Benishek.

Check out our full list of field updates from other states and organizations here.

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