In Director Hoskins remarks to ASM last Saturday night, he made a few comments about the State Auditor's report.  I thought the members of ASM might find the response of Ducks Unlimited of interest.


  Ducks Unlimited Comments on State Auditor's Critique of Missouri
  Department of Conservation

  MEMPHIS, TN, October 4----This morning, senior executives at Ducks
  Unlimited dismissed charges by the state auditor of Missouri that state
  grants for wetlands conservation were not properly administered or
  audited.   "The state's audit is riddled with inaccuracies, false
  assumptions, and issues taken out of context," said Dr. Alan Wentz of
  Ducks Unlimited.

  Ducks Unlimited, the world leader in wetlands conservation, has an
  active role in the state of Missouri and is a key partner of the
  Missouri Department of Conservation.   According to the state's audit,
  released on October 3rd, the Department has not kept close enough tabs
  on some of Ducks Unlimited's conservation activities.   "The work that
  we do involves a series of checks and balances that insures that tax
  dollars are monitored stringently,"said Dr. Wentz.   "We're disappointed
  that the auditor has portrayed our partnership with the Department in a
  negative light.   Nonetheless, we are extremely pleased and proud to
  have the Missouri Department of Conservation as a partner and look
  forward to a bright future together," added Dr.Wentz.

  The audit also suggests that the Missouri Department of Conservation
  has insufficient access to Ducks Unlimited's financial records.    "We
  routinely evaluate our goals and achievements and report back to the
  state," said Wentz.   Yesterday, John Hoskins, the Director of the
  Department of Conservation, reacted to the auditor's allegation with the
  following statement to the press:  "We have access to DU's books and we
  can account for every penny spent."   Hoskins also said that Ducks
  Unlimited has "poured two dollars into Missouri for every dollar the
  Conservation Department has spent on cooperative projects."

  The North American Wetlands Conservation Act, a federal cost share
  program that supports the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, is a
  critical tool for the conservation of a variety of wetland habitats in
  the United States, Canada and Mexico.     Through NAWCA, Ducks Unlimited
  matches state funding one hundred percent.  The federal government then
  doubles the combined private and state monies.  "The end result is that
  every dollar spent by the state is multiplied by four, and in many
  cases, much more.    From an accounting point of view, it's hard to
  argue with that return on investment," said Dr. Wentz.   From a habitat
  conservation perspective, continued Wentz, the NAWCA program is one of
  the most effective vehicles for waterfowl and wetlands conservation on
  the continent.  NAWCA enables DU's partnership with the state of
  Missouri to reach beyond the state's borders in order to protect
  waterfowl that migrate north to breed.    "The work we do in Missouri is
  part of a larger picture that looks at the life cycle needs of the birds
  and protects a resource we all share," explained Dr. Wentz.   NAWCA
  provides for the expenditure of U.S. funds on the Canadian breeding
  grounds for wetland conservation efforts that are consistent with the
  North American Waterfowl Management Plan and provide habitat for
  waterfowl and other wetland birds that migrate through states like

  The state audit also takes issue with the Missouri Department of
  Conservation's land acquisitions, suggesting that once conservation
  goals have been met, there is little, or no reason, to continue
  acquiring wetlands.   According to the audit, the state has acquired
  43,400 acres of wetlands since 1989, meeting goals by 1997.   Plans to
  continue acquisition are therefore unnecessary, suggests the report.
  "This line of reasoning is completely off base," said Dr. Scott Yaich,
  Director of Conservation Planning at Ducks Unlimited.

  According to Dr. Yaich, efforts in the state have been impressive, but
  the slow march toward wetlands conservation has a long, long way to go.
   The state of Missouri ranks number four in terms of wetland losses.
  Only California, Ohio and Iowa, have suffered greater wetland loss
  percentages.    Since 1780, Missouri has lost approximately 4.2 million
  acres of wetlands, 87% of what was originally there.   "When we assess
  our goals and achievements, we must do so in the context of these
  numbers.   Even though the Missouri Department of Conservation exceeded
  its stated 1989 goal, those 43,400 acres still only amount to 1% of what
  has been lost over time."

  The accomplishments of Ducks Unlimited in Missouri extend beyond
  projects undertaken with the Department of Conservation.  Ducks
  Unlimited works with a wide spectrum of partners that includes DU
  volunteers, private landowners, state agencies, the U.S. Fish and
  Wildlife Service, and corporate partners like Anheuser-Bush.
  Significant funding has also been provided for use in Missouri through a
  Ducks Unlimited program called MARSH.  Since that program started, DU
  has spent $1.5 million in the state.  "We are tapping into every
  resource available to support our work in the state of Missouri," said
  Dr. Wentz.

  For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact Tildy La
  Farge at
  901-758-3859 or [log in to unmask]

  With more than one million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's
  leading wetland and waterfowl conservation group.  Wetlands are nature's
  most productive ecosystems, but the United States has lost more than
  half of its original wetlands, and continues to lose more than 100,000
  wetland acres every year.

  Contact:  Tildy La Farge
       [log in to unmask]

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