Ducks Unlimited banquet raises $55,000

Ducks Unlimited members Darcy Thomas (left) and Dan Schmid were among the many volunteers selling 50/50 tickets during last Thursday’s fundraiser.

Ducks Unlimited members Darcy Thomas (left) and Dan Schmid were among the many volunteers selling 50/50 tickets during last Thursday’s fundraiser.

by Phil Ambroziak

The preservation of wetlands in Saskatchewan’s Northwest is a round-the-clock job. Just ask Meadow Lake resident Barry Neufeld who, for close to 30 years, has served as a conservation programs specialist with Ducks Unlimited Canada.

“Right now, we have about 59 projects on the go within a 100 to 150-kilometre radius of Meadow Lake,” Neufeld explained. “We also have almost 40,000 acres secured under licensed agreements with SaskWater.”

One of the organization’s bigger projects in this part of the province, Neufeld added, is the Oliver swamp, which is located about 15 miles west of Meadow Lake. It’s a marshy area that was purchased by Ducks Unlimited with the intent of keeping it as a refuge for waterfowl.

“I think things are actually fairly decent in this area right now (with regard to the duck population),” Neufeld said. “We’re not seeing the same numbers we used to see, but I think that’s because the whole province is so wet things are spread out a lot more.”

Ducks Unlimited is also responsible for a series of diking systems along the Beaver and Meadow Rivers. The dikes were put in place decades ago and it’s Neufeld’s job to control them and to handle any repairs when needed.

“The dikes allow us to have better control of how much water we have in a particular area,” Neufeld continued. “Too much water can be harmful not only to landowners, but also to waterfowl. If there’s too much water, nests can easily be washed out. It all depends on how much rainfall we get and how much the rivers rise.”

Because the need for the services provided by Ducks Unlimited are ongoing, so too is the need to fund the projects on an continual basis. One way in which the Meadow Lake chapter of the organization does so is through its annual banquet. Complete with dinner, as well as live and silent auctions, this year’s event was held April 17 at the Meadow Lake Civic Centre and raised close to $55,000.

“That was just the money we raised that night – sponsors and ticket sales put that total over and above that,” stated the event’s dinner chair Jim Sergent. “The money we raise helps to support our ongoing programs. Our event is usually one of the biggest Ducks Unlimited fundraisers in the province.”

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