GILLETT, AR -- The USA Rice Federation, Arkansas Rice Federation, Ducks Unlimited (DU), and Yamaha teamed up to put together a media camp focused on the relationship between working rice lands and wintering waterfowl last week. Writers from Inter-media Outdoors, Agri-Pulse, American Hunter Magazine, Delta Farm Press, ATV Rider, and the Outdoor Channel enjoyed two morning hunts in rice fields near Stuttgart, Arkansas. They were hosted at Buckshot Lodge and guided on their hunts by area rice growers.
Media members saw first-hand the crucial role winter flooded rice fields play in waterfowl survival. Rice lands provide more than 35 percent of all food energy for dabbling ducks across the country, and more than half of the continental population of dabbling ducks winter in rice growing regions.
A study authored by DU scientists for The Rice Foundation found that the cost of replacing existing rice habitat with managed natural wetlands is more than $3.5 billion. That's 3.5 times the original price tag of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
"It's pretty clear that we could not support desired populations of waterfowl without the habitat provided by winter flooded rice lands," DU Director of Conservation Innovation Scott Manley told the writers.
In addition to seeing the habitat importance of rice lands, the media members were given a presentation and tour at Riceland mill and an on-farm tour by Brandon Bauman, an Arkansas rice farmer and member of the USA Rice Producers' Group Conservation Committee.
They all went home with a little taste of waterfowl hunting, a better understanding of rice agriculture, and a new appreciation for the relationship between rice and ducks.
Contact: Andi Cooper, Ducks Unlimited, (601) 956-1936