Scott and Le Sueur counties’ chapter of the recently defunct Minnesota Waterfowl Association will carry on, its members said.
The Scott-Le Sueur Waterfowlers will still hold their annual duck-house building event, member Bob Trnka of Montgomery said. They’ll still support waterfowl and local habitat conservation efforts. And later this month, they’ll hold their first annual banquet as an independent organization.
“We still care enough about this stuff; let’s keep going,” Trnka said.
The banquet’s set for Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Park Ballroom in New Prague. Tickets are $50 for an adult or $70 for a couple, which includes the food and membership with the group, Trnka said.
The statewide waterfowl association announced its closure in September, pointing to falling membership, less hunting and too few young people involved. As Trnka put it, they went broke.
“Times have changed in the waterfowl and conservation world, and the old duck men are fading into the sunset,” the association wrote in a statement.
The Scott-Le Sueur chapter can probably ramp up its own efforts now that it doesn’t have to share money with the state organization, said Myron Tietz, the waterfowlers’ event chairman.
Among other projects, the chapter for years has helped the Department of Natural Resources buy and restore wetlands and wildlife management areas around Sanborn Lake south of New Prague and elsewhere, Tietz said.
Trnka said the duck-house build is probably the group’s biggest yearly event. Members make several hundred house kits for kids 16 and younger to put together on a Sunday in February. Then families will take them home and put them up for wood ducks to raise their young.
Wood ducks naturally nest in holes in dead trees, Trnka said, but suitable trees and nearby ponds are harder to find these days.
Tim Koppelman, assistant area wildlife manager with the Department of Natural Resources’ Nicollet office, said ducks use nearly all of the houses, especially around Sanborn.
“It’s an easy way to get habitat out there,” Trnka said. “And it is so much fun.”