Delta Waterfowl Applauds Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba’s Historic Wetland Conservation Pledge

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — Delta Waterfowl has long advocated for a voluntary, incentive-based program that works with farmers to conserve small wetlands — those most important to breeding ducks and most at-risk of drainage — across the Prairie Pothole Region. On Tuesday, Delta’s efforts and vision came one step closer to becoming a reality.

In outlining the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba’s conservation platform, Premier Brian Pallister vowed to create new incentives encouraging landowners to conserve small ephemeral and temporary wetlands through the province’s Growing Outcomes in Watersheds, or GROW, program.

“A re-elected PC government will invest an additional $50 million in our GROW Trust to bring it up to the $100 million mark,” Pallister said. “This will provide stable and perpetual funding for the country’s most comprehensive green stewardship programs.”

Pallister also noted commitment to conserving 90 percent of the province’s ephemeral and temporary wetlands (types 1 and 2) in Manitoba’s agricultural regions. Voluntary incentives will be offered to farmers through the GROW program, and funded by the recently created GROW Trust. Additionally, the platform outlined new wetland regulations and other significant new conservation programing.

“This is important validation of Delta’s long-standing work to find new solutions to conserve small wetlands on working farms,” said Jim Fisher, senior director of Canadian conservation and hunting policy for Delta Waterfowl. “For my entire career, we have been working to find new tools and approaches to conserve these small wetlands, from Adopt-a-Pothole to our work on Alternative Land Use Services. We have appreciated having the opportunity to demonstrate to the Manitoba government that an investment in small wetlands is good policy. Delta is grateful to see such a bold commitment to conserving incredibly important breeding duck habitat.”

The announcement comes at a critical juncture for waterfowl conservation in Canada. Recent analysis suggests the annual wetland loss across sample areas of the Canadian Prairie Pothole Region was 2.2 percent annually from 2001 to 2011. Many people fear the loss rate has accelerated in recent years, with dramatic consequences for nesting ducks.

“We know that when those wetlands disappear from the landscape, the productive duck breeding habitats are lost forever,” Fisher said.

The platform proposal is consistent with Delta’s founding vision for ALUS, and more recently, the Working Wetlands program in the United States, which was successfully included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Delta believes that working with farmers and ranchers and creating voluntary, incentive-based tools is the best strategy to conserve the most vulnerable, productive wetlands for nesting ducks — small, shallow wetlands. These approaches engage private landowners in a positive manner while affecting large-scale waterfowl conservation.

“This is a very good day for Delta, ducks and duck hunters,” said Dr. Scott Petrie, CEO and chief scientific officer of Delta Waterfowl. “This type of commitment to address wetland conservation at large scales in Manitoba’s pothole country is a dream that would have seemed impossible a few short years ago. I am proud of the very good work done by Jim Fisher to provide Delta’s perspective and illustrate the value small wetlands provide, and I’m greatly appreciative of the Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership in bringing the program forward. This will have far-reaching implications for wetland conservation in Manitoba, and hopefully across prairie Canada, in the years to come.”

 For more information, contact Jim Fisher at (877) 667-5656 or jfisher@deltawaterfowl.org.

Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America.

Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.