Whetting an appetite for wetlands

Annual Ducks Unlimited fundraising banquet set for Saturday

For 26 years, Ducks Unlimited has raised money to preserve wildlife habitat.

This Saturday, the Craig chapter is asking community members to help continue the tradition.

The 26th annual Duck Un----limited fundraising banquet and auction is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn of Craig, 300 S. Colorado Hwy. 13.

The event includes dinner, cocktails and a number of items up for auction and raffle, including seven guns, various art prints, decorative decoys and gift certificates to local businesses. One of the guns will go to the winner of a poker run game at the event.

Mike Anson, who is co-sponsoring the committee for the local chapter with his wife, Mardi, said the items up for grabs include many potential gifts. One in particular he mentioned is a 20-gauge youth model shotgun.

The event begins at 4:30 p.m. Saturday with cocktails. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the auction is at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $50 per person or $70 per couple. Youth ages 14 or younger can attend for $20, and corporate tables, which seat 10, are $500. The ticket price includes the event as well as the annual membership fees of the organization.

The Ansons are also seeking corporate sponsors, which are companies that donate $250 or more to the organization. Companies that donate are entered into a raffle drawing for a chance at prizes.

Mike Anson said the money raised at the annual fundraiser goes to the international organization, which uses 83 percent of the funds for wetlands and waterfowl conservation and education.

Local members typically send the international office about $10,000. But last year, the group raised about $16,000 after expenses.

About $16 million of Ducks Unlimited and state and federal funds has been funneled to Colorado wetlands preservation, Anson said. Some of the funds have gone toward Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge and Yampa River State Park.

The international group has 5,000 chapters in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The Craig chapter boasts about 100 members, 10 of which serve on the committee to plan the banquet each fall.

Mike Anson, who attended the first Craig banquet when he was young, said Duck Unlimited is about preserving wildlife and its habitats for hunters, bird watchers and those who simply appreciate nature.

"Just so our kids have places to go hunting and have waterfowl around," Anson said.

He said he looks forward to Saturday and hopes for a large turnout.

"I think people should come out and support a great organization that supports wildlife," he said. "They can have a night out and a nice meal ... and they could win some nice prizes."

For more information on tickets to Saturday's banquet, call Amy Updike at 824-8252. Tickets are available at the door.

For more information on Ducks Unlimited, visit www.ducks.org.

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