PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 22, 2012

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Waterfowl future requires commitment

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The future of waterfowl hunting in our region relies in conservation and unfortunately in politics.

Let us take conservation first.

 We cannot help it if the winters are warm and most of the ducks never make it down this far. However, when they do reach our region, we can provide them with good habitat conditions. While nesting habitat is critically important, we cannot overlook the wintering grounds.

Without the right combination of water and food, ducks have no reason to stick around.

The land we are able to hunt and conserve needs to be in good condition but there are issues that have been lingering for decades.

Take the marshes along the Intracoastal Canal corridor for example.

Channelization has allowed saltwater intrusion into formerly brackish marsh and that has been extremely negative for waterfowl habitat, particularly in regards to certain foods ducks eat. For many years, no one looked at this problem but since the boom in duck hunting’s popularity, the right people seem to be paying attention.

The Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Bridge City is a shining illustration of good management. The Old River Unit has seen the benefits of erosion control and saltwater barriers. Just 15 years ago, there was very little vegetation there and now there is increasing duck food and signs that marsh is coming back to life.

These measures are a joint effort of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Ducks Unlimited (DU).

Over the last decade, DU has taken a bad rap for seemingly not doing enough habitat conservation in our region (The Texas Chenier Plain), but the facts show a different picture.

Much of DU’s acreage in the Texas Prairie Wetlands Program lies within this range and much its public land projects lie within Orange, Jefferson and Chambers Counties.

The best thing we hunters can do it is to support organizations that promote waterfowl conservation and volunteer to help. In some areas there is starting to be an attitude of “I support DU” versus “I support Delta”.

The fact is modern waterfowl hunting might not be here if it were not for DU and their powerful lobby and conservation ethic.

In addition, Delta although a much smaller organization has some good ideas that deserve support and study. They are also doing powerful things on the political side in Canada, which is an extremely important area for waterfowl production.

They are both good organizations and I am a member of both.

Waterfowl hunters certainly do not always see eye to eye but we can agree that we want a bright future for hunting and that means continually pushing for conservation and sticking to our guns when it comes to the tough issues we face.

If we do not do that there will be no duck hunting in the future and that is a future none of us wants to see.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)