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Bisbees Conservation Journal Q2 2015

Reflections 54 BISBEE’S CONSERVATION JOURNAL Q2 • 2015 An Update on the Bisbee’s & Ducks Unlimited Mexico Wetlands Restoration Project by Peggy Sundstrom As our three small boats motored up the Ria Celestún, we watched the distant shoreline emerge in a riotous shade of coral. American flamingos, thousands of them, waded in the shallow waters of the estuary, feeding, preening and communicating with one another in croaking calls. Others flew by, stretched out with long necks extended and feet straight back. Splendid in reddishpink with black-tipped wings, the birds were graceful, despite looking aerodynamically unstable, until the point of landing when they tucked their legs and plopped into the water among the others. We were captivated watching the continuous motion of the vast flocks as individuals and groups moved from one part of the broad estuary to another. The observers in our three boats were all members and supporters of Ducks Unlimited (DU), North America’s premier wetlands conservation group whose mission is to conserve wetlands and associated habitats throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. We were in Celestún on the Yucatan Peninsula at the Mangrove Experience to learn about the vital work of Ducks Unlimited de Mexico (DUMAC). For over 40 years, DUMAC has been conserving habitat for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and other species like the American Flamingo that are dependent on mangroves and other sensitive wetland habitats in Mexico during some part of their life cycle. Our journey up the Ria Celestun was a field trip associated with the inaugural Mangrove Experience, a three-day immersion into the challenges and opportunities associated with conserving mangrove wetlands in Mexico. The Mangrove Experience is the brainchild of Eduardo Carrera González, the Chief Executive Officer of DUMAC. The idea was fairly simple: engage committed conservationists in an experiential dialogue about the vital work of protecting the mangrove ecosystems. Stimulate their interest and enhance their understanding of DUMAC’s work and its outstanding results, and in turn generate increased support for DUMAC’s mission. A fairly simple proposition, with the potential for a big impact. Engage the mind first, and the heart will follow. Engage the heart and passion will evolve into action. Our small group of 15, accompanied by DUMAC staff, traveled from throughout the United States and Canada to meet at the John E. Walker Natural Resources Research and Training Center adjacent to the 150,000- acre Ria Celestún Biosphere Reserve, a large coastal wetland reserve and wildlife refuge. The Walker facility serves as headquarters for much of the fieldwork and natural resource management training supported by DUMAC, and was the site of the Mangrove Experience. Our group included individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, and our interest in mangrove wetlands prompted us to attend the Mangrove Experience a part of the Yucatan not typically visited by tourists. My husband, Mikk Anderson, and I decided to attend the Mangrove Experience because we were curious about how DUMAC restores mangrove habitats. We were already familiar with the work of Ducks Unlimited in the United States and Canada, having seen restoration work in progress and successfully completed in our home state of Colorado and in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains of the U.S. and Canada. But we had never seen a mangrove wetland, and we were only somewhat familiar with the conservation challenges of preserving and restoring these wetlands for future generations. So we flew to Mérida, joined up with our fellow conservationists, and traveled to Celestún to get an insider’s perspective of both the mangrove ecosystems and DUMAC’s restoration work. Our focus for the weekend was learning about


Bisbees Conservation Journal Q2 2015
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