Service, Ducks Unlimited, Honor Conservation Hero
August 15, 2014
On August 14, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Ducks Unlimited honored longtime Ducks Unlimited employee, Dr. Jim Ringelman, for his accomplishments in conserving waterfowl in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). An interpretive site was established in his honor on a 160-acre Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) in Sheridan County, ND, which is located in the heart of the PPR. This WPA showcases native grasslands and wetlands that provide habitat for a variety of birds and other wildlife.
In 1986, Canada, Mexico and the United States adopted the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP), launching a new era in wildlife conservation. This plan has remained a leading model for other international conservation plans because it includes periodic updates from the broad waterfowl conservation community. Like all plans, however, NAWMP is only as good as the people behind it.
A revision process began in March 2009, when the Plan Committee formed the NAWMP Revision Steering Committee to serve as a focal point for gathering, vetting and synthesizing ideas from the waterfowl management community and to advise the Plan Committee on the content of the plan revision. Dr. Ringelman, Director of Conservation Programs for Ducks Unlimited in the Dakotas and Montana at that time, was contracted to coordinate the revision process.
Dr. Ringelman understood that we face greater pressures on waterfowl populations and habitat than ever before, including expanding human populations; increased urbanization; global demands for food, energy and fresh water; and climate change. Consequently, when he spearheaded the plan’s 2012 revision, Ringelman ensured that it provided a framework that described the scope and goals, identified the problems facing our waterfowl populations, and set general guidelines for addressing the formidable problems.
Dr. Ringelman acknowledged that the success of this plan would depend upon the strength of partnerships called ‘joint ventures’, which include private, state, provincial, and federal interests. These partners work together to review new scientific information as well as national and international policy developments to protect wetland habitat, which is crucial to populations of waterfowl and other migratory birds.
Dr. Ringelman and the PPJV
Enter the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture (PPJV) – a partnership that protects, restores and enhances high priority wetland and grassland habitat. As a priority under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the PPJV helps sustain populations of migratory and resident birds, and other plant and wildlife species in the PPR.
Dr. Ringelman was an integral part of the PPJV for many years, serving as an invaluable conservation partner, as Chairman of the PPJV Technical Committee and as an engaged member of the PPJV Management Board. His leadership, commitment, and expertise served as a cornerstone for scientific advancement and habitat conservation in the PPJV. In fact, he served as the primary author of the 2005 PPJV Implementation Plan – the guiding document for the joint venture’s activities.
Dr. Ringelman understood that farmers, ranchers, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, are the backbone of the PPJV. Without the willingness of landowners to engage in wetland and grassland conservation, its success would not be possible.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of Dr. Ringelman’s contributions to the success of the PPJV and, in particular, waterfowl conservation in the PPR. Under Dr. Ringelman’s leadership, Ducks Unlimited and the PPJV partners restored and protected over 1 million acres of wetland and grassland habitat in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana – a legacy that will live on for generations.
– FWS –