The term conservation can be unsettling to some. There tends to be a misunderstanding as to what conservation is and what it means to be a conservationist. Conservation does not mean giving up your right to hunt or fish. Conservation simply means the protection, preservation, or restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife. By preserving the forests, rivers, lakes, and wetlands there will always be a place for future hunters, fishermen, and outdoor enthusiasts to explore, love, and enjoy for generations.
There are several organizations that promote conservation in North America. Ducks Unlimited (DU) and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) are two such organizations. Since their founding, both DU and RMEF combined have conserved and/or enhanced over 20,000,000 acres of land in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Ducks Unlimited was founded in 1937 during the Dust Bowl. Droughts during that time had caused the waterfowl population to fall to an all-time low. Several sportsmen joined together with one simple idea in mind, habitat conservation. For more than 80 years, DU has worked for conservation by restoring grasslands, replanting forests, working with landowners and partners, acquiring land, and creating geographic information systems technology.
By restoring grasslands, DU is able to ensure that waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, have a place to nest and hatch their eggs. Having access to grasslands for nesting, increases the survival rate for waterfowl and therefore helps to maintain a healthy population.
Wet, flooding forests, particularly those in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley are a great habitat for waterfowl. However, due to agriculture and other purposes nearly 80% of forests have been cleared. The construction of levees and dams has also compounded the problem and reduced the amount of forests available to waterfowl. DU works to replant forests and to date, has reforested over 178,000 acres as well as restoring backwater to create the wetland habitats needed for the waterfowl to thrive.
DU now operates in three countries: United States, Canada, and Mexico. They have over 760,000 adult members and nearly 43,000 youth members. To date they have conserved 14,742,089 acres through their habitat conservation programs.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was founded in 1984. It has grown to more than 500 chapters in 49 states. The mission of RMEF is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat, and our hunting heritage by protecting, conserving, restoring, and enhancing natural habitat. RMEF works to conserve through land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration, opening public access and hunting heritage programs.
Prior to the 1800s, elk lived in every state in the United States. Today, elk are found in only 24 states. The elk population in North America is currently around 1,000,000 which is roughly only 10% of where it stood prior to European settlement. RMEF has worked diligently to help restore the elk population and their habitat. Because the elk population decreased dramatically, and in some states, they were wiped out completely, it is not legal to hunt elk in every state that they inhabit. However, RMEF’s work is helping to ensure healthy elk herds, particularly in eastern states so that visitors can view and eventually hunt elk again.
Another way that RMEF is leading the way in conservation is through opening public access. Since 1984, RMEF has opened access to more than 1,300,000 acres for hunters, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.
Outdoor Cap Supports Conservation
Outdoor Cap supports conservation efforts through both Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. By being a licensee of hats, supporting efforts through marketing funds, and donating hats for national events and local chapters, Outdoor Cap is doing our part to ensure a bright future for all to enjoy the outdoors.
By being good stewards of the world around us, we can ensure that our children, grandchildren, and generations for years to come have access to all the wonders and beauty that nature has to offer. It is up to all of us to protect our land and the animals that inhabit it. Conservation means a better world to live in for all of us.
Ernest Hemingway once said, "The earth is a fine place and worth fighting for." We at Outdoor Cap love the great outdoors and want to do our part to preserve its natural beauty and majesty.
To find out more about these organizations and how you can support their efforts, check out the links below.
“About Ducks Unlimited”
“DU 2019 Annual Report” accessed September 1, 2020
“How We Conserve”
“2019 Annual Report: RMEF” accessed September 1, 2020
“Rocky Mountain Elk” accessed September 1, 2020 https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Cold_Springs/Wildlife_Habitat/Elk.html#:~:text=Today%2C%20their%20range%20has%20been,and%20Roosevelt%20elk%20at%2060%2C000).