by Clyde Davis: CNJ columnist
Perhaps you have never heard of Jay “Ding” Darling, who was conservationist and cartoonist.
During the Depression years, Darling was among those who were influential in the founding of Ducks Unlimited.
According to local chapter president John McNeil, Ducks Unlimited was founded in 1937 to his knowledge, the country’s largest wetlands conservation organization.
Ducks Unlimited itself is an international organization, built on the foundation laid by Darling and others who saw and acted on the need to protect the nation’s wetlands.
What does that say to this area? Truth be told, we do have wetlands here. We can’t limit the definition to a huge lake, so areas you might overlook — Ned Houk Park, Muleshoe Refuge, even areas such as Grulla Lake and Bottomless Lakes — are breeding habitat for waterfowl.
The Clovis Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is having its annual banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at K-Bob’s restaurant.
There will also be a raffles and auction on outdoor-related items, everything from hunting equipment to outdoor art created by local artists, as well as reproduction of work sent down from the national organization.
The cost is $55 per couple or $45 for a single ticket.
Included in that price is a year membership to the organization. Interested ticket purchasers may contact any member, or see John at Prince Plaza Cleaners.
One of the biggest concerns many of us have is that, in doling out our charitable contributions, we are contributing to top-heavy administrative structures. In Ducks Unlimited, “roughly 90 percent of the money raised goes back into conservation,” according to McNeil. Habitat protection is a widely used method by which the organization increases breeding grounds.
The Clovis chapter is the top fund-raising chapter in New Mexico, according to McNeil. That means better than Albuquerque, better than Santa Fe, better than Las Cruces.
Who cares, or should care, about Ducks Unlimited?
Outdoor lovers. Animal lovers. People who enjoy the serenity of wetlands. People who enjoy waterfowl hunting.
People who realize that wetlands provide breeding grounds for many songbirds, shorebirds, game birds, and species of fish, as well as waterfowl.
Over the past couple weeks, I have contributed sculptures to the Hartley House and the ENMU Women’s’ Scholarship Fund, as well as the hand-carved hunting decoys for the Duck’s Unlimited banquet.
However, think about attending the banquet as an investment in the future. I would hate for my grandson to grow up in a world where all the wetlands had been developed, where there were no waterfowl left because breeding grounds had all been destroyed. Our outdoors is important, and a dollar given to protecting it is a dollar well spent.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: