Originally created 10/15/00

Fund-raiser helps plans for future



Ducks Unlimited has been around for a long, long time -- since 1937.

Throughout those years, the popular conservation group has raised more than $1 billion and played a role in conserving 9.4 million acres of habitat, mostly for waterfowl.

They also throw some pretty good parties, and the one at Savannah Rapids Pavilion last Wednesday was no exception.

About 350 people turned out for the Augusta chapter's annual fundraiser. There was plenty of firepower up for auction, from Browning to Beneli, lots of artwork and some interesting characters in the crowd as well.

Scott Kelly, chairman of DU's Augusta Chapter, tells me this was the 34th consecutive year local waterfowlers have gathered to benefit ducks and have a little fun in the process. The event raised $30,000 last year.

It's important to realize that ducks and geese are migratory creatures, and working to conserve their habitat and range is vastly different than, for example, re-establishing turkeys in a specific national forest.

The Augusta chapter's party was among hundreds held nationwide that generate $44 million annually, all pooled for a broadly organized effort to make sure there will be waterfowl many years from now.

ANGLERS AID WILDLIFE FEDERATION: The S.C. Wildlife Federation received a show of support -- and $1,700 -- from the Clarks Hill Striper Club last week.

The club voted to donate the money to the federation to offset legal fees associated with the 12-year-old battle with the Army Corps of Engineers over Russell Dam's reversible turbines.

Ed Lepley of Martinez, a veteran striper angler, said the donation was hand delivered to a federation member Thursday.

The federation and state of South Carolina sued the Corps and won a 1988 injunction against operating the dam's reversible turbines unless the Corps could prove they would not wreak environmental havoc.

The Corps now contends it can operate the $600 million project safely, without harming the environment, despite studies that show the turbines will kill 6 to 12 million baitfish a year.

The Federation and South Carolina authorities still disagree, and the issue is headed for a long awaited showdown Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C., where a judge is expected to make a decision.

It will be interesting to see what happens. But even if the plaintiffs lose, they really didn't.

Because of the litigation, the Corps has expanded parks and fishing access areas, promised a $3 million oxygenation system to aid striper fishing in Thurmond Lake and added many other amenities to benefit the public.

TUCKAHOE HARVEST TOTALS: Last week's Outdoors Page carried an account of the early primitive weapons hunt at the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area in Screven County, about 65 miles south of Augusta.

I checked in with Area Manager Howard Pope a few days ago to see if the biologists managing the hunt had tallied the weekend's harvest.

Pope told me 429 hunters signed in for the three-day hunt, which scattered folks all across the area's 15,000 acres of swamp and bottomlands. It also filled three campgrounds.

Those hunters checked in 49 deer, of which 30 were bucks and 19 were does. Some good eight-pointers were among the harvest. The hunters also took 21 feral hogs -- a favorite among river swamp hunters.

The success rate was 11 percent for deer and 16 percent for hogs, but there undoubtedly were other animals harvested but not checked in. The next gun hunts on Tuckahoe are Nov. 2-4 and Nov. 23-25, both during regular firearms season.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119.