Come to the rescue
Dennis Anderson, StarTribune
July 3, 2005 DUCK0703
1 The state is in the midst of a duck crisis. Long as the odds are that Minnesota wakes up in time to save what ducks and duck habitat it has left, they're longer still if a constituency of duck hunters and others concerned with waterfowl and wetlands disbands. More foreboding still: Minnesota has more duck hunters than any state -- and a grander waterfowling tradition than most states. If we can't save the only Minnesota-based duck group, it spells trouble not just here, but nationwide.
2 MWA is deserving of help based on its achievements. A partial list of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association's accomplishments include the state duck stamp; an emphasis beginning in the 1970s on the importance of shallow lakes; organization of the state's waterfowlers into an important political force; and development of Woodie Camp -- a kids' camp focusing on hunting skills, hunting ethics and conservation.
3 Money raised locally will stay in the community. MWA's mantra always has been that its money is raised by Minnesotans to benefit Minnesota ducks. Now the group -- should it survive -- promises still more Minnesota-friendly operating procedures. It will leave money raised by local chapters with those chapters, exclusive of membership fees. This is the same model used by Pheasants Forever with success.
4 Politically, now is the time for duck hunters to be more organized, not less. The legislative session just concluded should be clue enough that conservation in this state is losing ground, not gaining. Improving the situation will require considerable work and dedication by fish, wildlife, conservation and other groups concerned with the environment. Ideally, all of these organizations would be concerned with maintaining the clean water systems necessary to ensure healthy duck populations. But that's often not the case. Instead, duck welfare usually is the province of duck groups only -- and duck hunters, most of whom, shamefully, don't belong to any waterfowl group, MWA or Ducks Unlimited.
5 MWA doesn't deserve to be in the life-or-death spot it is. Yes, mistakes were made in the past that contributed to MWA's current predicament. At fault in some instances were staff members; in others, board members. Similar mistakes and misjudgments are made every day by non-profit and for-profit companies, as well as in government. The difference in MWA's case is that -- with virtually no corporate or foundation support -- the group's capacity to recover from its financial mistakes -- withon an infusion of cash -- is virtually non-existent.
6 MWA is now governed and operated by a qualified board and staff. Led by chairman Jim Cox and executive director Les Jones, MWA has experienced, dedicated people at the reins. They've paid as many of the group's bills as they can, while keeping the doors open and hope alive. They've also sought -- and received -- permission from MWA chapters to use habitat funds to pay the group's past-due bills. Now they're asking MWA members to kick in as much as they can to help get the group back on its feet and fulfill its mission of habitat development.
7 Minnesota kids need MWA -- and every conservation group. Some facets of Minnesota's future seem preordained. Example: The state will become evermore urban. Ditto its kids, many of whom now are two or more generations removed from anything resembling rural life. Whatever else this suggests for the state, it surely means the pool of kids from which the next Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Sigurd Olson or Jimmy Robinson will emerge is shrinking. Historically, those who have defended woods, waters, fields and wildlife have considerable experience outdoors, beginning as children. Absent such a population subset, the future for these resources could be grim.
8 We're only talking a $50 pledge (or more, if you can). The MWA is facing a deadline this week, hoping it has enough financial pledges to stay in business. Group leaders say they need about $150,000 to pay off debts and provide enough capital to operate through the coming year, after which they believe they'll be up and running. You can help this effort with as little as a $50 pledge -- or more or less, depending on your means. That's a small price to pay for the chance to help a worthwhile group get on its feet.
9 The contribution is tax-deductible. More altruistic reasons exist to give. But this one doesn't hurt.
10 MWA has a cool logo. Don't let it die. Phone 763-553-2977 or fax 763 559-2532 with your pledge. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Problem: The Minnesota Waterfowl Association is on the brink of going out of business. Past mistakes, now corrected, have sapped the decades-old group's finances.
• Solution: MWA leaders have asked members and others to pledge at least $50 apiece to put the organization on its feet.
• Update: About $60,000 has been pledged.
• Deadline: This week.
• Contact: MWA at 763-553-2977, or email@example.com.
Please help with what ever amount you can afford.