Vic Updike, left, takes a bid from Jeff Knights, center, and Amy Knights at last year's Ducks Unlimited banquet at the Craig Holiday Inn. This year's event is Saturday at the Craig Holiday Inn.

File photo

Vic Updike, left, takes a bid from Jeff Knights, center, and Amy Knights at last year's Ducks Unlimited banquet at the Craig Holiday Inn. This year's event is Saturday at the Craig Holiday Inn.

Giving back to the environment

Ducks Unlimited Craig chapter hosts annual fundraiser Saturday at Holiday Inn

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By the numbers

774,022: Ducks Unlimited membership in North America

$162.9 million: Revenue and support raised through fundraising efforts from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006.

83: Percentage of Ducks Unlimited money that goes to waterfowl/wetlands conservation and education

11.9 million: Acreage conserved in North America

Source: Ducks Unlimited Web site, www.ducks.org

— The first time Mike Anson attended the Ducks Unlimited dinner for the Craig chapter, he was with his father, Larry, at the annual fundraiser's inaugural event 27 years ago.

These days, Mike Anson still attends the annual DU Dinner, and is co-chairing this year's event, which takes place Saturday at the Craig Holiday Inn.

"I'm a hunter, and it's a way to give back and preserve our future for our kids," he said of his long-term involvement.

Doors open at 5 p.m. followed by a beef roast and potatoes dinner at 6:30 p.m. Live and silent auctions follow dinner. Auction items include artwork, guns and duck decoys, among other items. There also will be raffles and games.

"It's a fun time and a nice night out," Anson said. "There are a lot of nice items that people can bid on : and the money they are spending is going back to help preserve some waterfowl and creating some wetlands."

According to the Ducks Unlimited Web site, the group's purpose on a national and local level is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl.

Started in 1937 by a group of sportsmen who were trying to overcome the damage inflicted on the waterfowl population due to the Dust Bowl, Ducks Unlimited has raised more than $2.48 billion in seven decades - money that has helped habitat conservation of nearly 12 million acres across North America.

More than 80 percent of money donated to Ducks Unlimited goes toward such projects, Anson said, pointing to area projects DU has helped, such as Browns Park and a project that occurred between Craig and Hayden "a number of years ago."

On the state level, Anson said the Craig Chapter is one of the best fundraising efforts in Colorado, gross to net.

Last year's DU Dinner raised an estimated $18,000.

"Last year was the best year for the Craig Chapter, ever," Anson said. "We would like to do a little better this year than last year. So far, it's looking pretty good. We might have our record attendance this year."

A single ticket for Saturday's fundraiser is $50, and a couple's ticket is $75. Tickets can be purchased by calling Amy Updike at 326-6229, or people can show up at the event. Anson would prefer people contact Updike, since the event is close to reaching capacity.

For more information on Ducks Unlimited, visit its Web site at ducks.org.

Jerry Raehal can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 204, or jraehal@craigdailypress.com

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