Ducks Unlimited Celebrates 86 Years of Conservation

Established in 1937, DU has conserved more than 15 million acres and counting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – January 26, 2023 – Sunday, January 29 marks the 86th anniversary of Ducks Unlimited (DU), the world’s largest waterfowl and wetland conservation organization.

In 1937, a small group of visionaries and community leaders set out to save North America’s waterfowl populations while celebrating the continent’s strong waterfowl heritage. Emphasizing the critical role wetlands play in North America, DU committed to this mission at the height of the Great Depression and one of the worst droughts in history.

Today, DU is the leading organization promoting wetland conservation. Their work has led to the conservation of more than 15 million acres and counting, thanks to the tireless support of generations of DU members, volunteers, and partners who are part of the organization’s mission to conserve and restore wetlands and other habitats vital to the waterfowl of North America.

“Thanks to the unwavering passion and dedication of our more than 1 million volunteers, members and supporters, Ducks Unlimited has produced phenomenal results in 86 years,” said Chuck Smith, DU President. “That dedication was evident when 575,000 acres of habitat were protected or restored in fiscal year 2022. DU’s mission unites us and delivers results. We are accelerating our efforts to reach 16 million acres in record time.”

DU is the world’s largest and most effective private, non-profit wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. DU delivers its work through partnerships with individuals, landowners, agencies, scientific communities, and other entities.

“Ducks Unlimited was founded to conserve wetlands and associated upland habitat to ensure healthy waterfowl populations,” said DU Conservation Director Dr. Karen Waldrop. “What we have discovered over more than eight decades as a leader in habitat conservation and restoration is that our efforts benefit waterfowl and many other wildlife, people and communities.”

Wetlands refill and purify groundwater, mitigate flooding, and reduce soil erosion. They are also the most productive ecosystems in North America, providing critical habitat for more than 900 species of wildlife and invaluable recreational opportunities for people to enjoy. In addition, DU’s strategic projects have protected communities, agriculture, local economies, homes, and even lives from the destructive impacts of flooding, erosion, and severe weather. Local communities in North America use EU-conserved wetlands for recreation, hunting, education and a better quality of life.

“Ducks Unlimited’s original investment to restore devastated waterfowl populations was limited to protecting prairie wetlands in Canada,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “In 1984, we began working within the United States and since then we have conserved more than 15 million acres of wetlands and have worked with partners to protect nearly 1 billion acres of Boreal Forest. Our founders would be proud to know that their vision not only lives on, but is now also saving more than half a million acres of critical habitat every year.”

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the worldNorth America’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving vanishing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to the contributions of more than one million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of enough wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever. To learn more about our work, visit