Ducks Unlimited set to host annual fundraiser Sunday |

Ducks Unlimited set to host annual fundraiser Sunday

Ben McCanna

Allan Reishus, district chairman of Ducks Unlimited, acknowledges Colorado isn't known for waterfowl habitats.

"Colorado isn't a major wetlands state like Minnesota or Wisconsin," Reishus said. "But, we're particularly important to migratory birds."

For that reason, Reishus said the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited has been supporting wetlands conservation in Colorado for three decades.

Ducks Unlimited is an international organization that's mission is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl, according to its website.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, the group will host its annual fundraising banquet at the Holiday Inn of Craig, 300 S. Colorado Highway 13.

The event will feature a buffet-style dinner, and live and silent auctions.

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This year marks the 30th year the local chapter has hosted the event.

"I started it in 1980 at the old Cosgriff Hotel, which is long gone," Reishus said. "We've been having banquets now for 30 years, so it's kind of a celebration."

Mardi Anson, a 15-year member of Ducks Unlimited, said the group isn't well known, despite its longevity.

"It's been around Craig forever, and not many people know about it," Anson said.

Reishus said the group attracts members of all stripes.

"Primarily hunters support it, but there's lots of non-hunters, birdwatchers, and so on," he said.

Despite the divergent viewpoints of some of its members, Reishus said there are no conflicts at the annual fundraising event.

"We get people who aren't hunters, but who are conservationists and enjoy wildlife," he said. "They don't mind coming to a banquet, and spending a little money, and sometimes winning some prizes and going home happy."

Reishus said the goal for the Sunday banquet is $10,000.

The event is part of a larger annual fundraising effort.

"Colorado has about 60 of these events around the state every year," Reishus said. "The goal, statewide, is to raise about $1 million."

Reishus said Ducks Unlimited is primarily a funding agency.

"We don't necessarily initiate projects," he said. "Sometimes a conservation organization such as The Nature Conservancy might have a plan in place and they just need funds.

"Often, Ducks Unlimited contributes to get those projects done."

In the past, Ducks Unlimited contributions have improved wetlands at Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge and Yampa River State Wildlife Area, Reishus said.

To raise money this year, Sunday's auction will offer items such as guns and a Labrador puppy.

Veterinarian Kelly Hepworth of Bear Creek Animal Hospital is donating the puppy for the auction.

"We don't hand over the puppy that night," Hepworth said. "We sell the opportunity to get a puppy within the next 12 months."

Hepworth, who breeds Labradors, said new litters of puppies will be available year-round.

Hepworth, a 10-year member of Ducks Unlimited, said a pure-bred Labrador typically costs between $800 and $1,000. He has donated puppies to fundraisers in years past.

"It's a worthwhile cause," he said.

Reishus said the auction will be led by auctioneer Kenny Kawcak.

"He makes for a fun, lively auction that generates quite a bit of dollars for the organization," Reishus said.

Reishus said dinner will be served before the auction.

"Typically, it's pretty darn good eating," he said.

Tickets for the event are $50 per individual, $75 per couple and $25 for children ages 2 and older. Admission includes a year's membership to Ducks Unlimited.

For tickets or more information, call Mardi Anson at 629-2380.

If you go

What: Ducks Unlimited banquet

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Holiday Inn of Craig, 300 S. Colorado Highway 13

Cost: $50 per individual, $75 per couple, $25 for children ages 2 and older. Tickets include a year membership to Ducks Unlimited.

— For tickets or more information, call Mardi Anson at 629-2380.

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