The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission was recognized by Ducks Unlimited last month reaching the $10 million mark for waterfowl habitat restoration.

The ceremony took place at the 78th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, Va.

"Ducks Unlimited is very pleased to recognize the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for a long and storied history of making wise investments in habitat important to the birds that wing their way to Louisiana each year," said Jerry Holden, DU director of conservation programs. "As approximately 35 percent of the ducks harvested in Louisiana come from Saskatchewan, investing Louisiana's dollars in this geography clearly provides the greatest return for the state's waterfowl hunters."

The Association of Fish and Wildlife State Grants Program is funded primarily by hunting license sales. Through this program, states help fund long-term partnerships that conserve and restore breeding habitat for waterfowl that migrate through and winter in their own states.

This program started in 1965 as one of the very first international public/private partnerships to support migratory bird conservation. Louisiana has been participating in the program since 1965, longer than any other state.

"The importance of state grants contributions to Canadian habitat conservation and restoration projects cannot be overstated," said Pat Kehoe, DU Canada's director of international partnerships. "Individual state contributions are combined with other state contributions, matched dollar for dollar by DU Inc. and DU Canada, and then used as match for North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants."

DU leveraged the 2011-12 Louisiana state grants contribution of $643,796 to secure a total investment of more than $3.2 million for the conservation of important breeding habitats.

Breeding-ground habitat work is critical for the health of continental populations of waterfowl.

"Ducks Unlimited's programs in the U.S. and Canada are consistent with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and our prairie programs are structured to protect native, highly productive habitat while also improving waterfowl production in working agricultural landscapes," Kehoe said.