"If you're not there, you don't care."
That's the mobilization cry for the Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water rally scheduled 1 p.m. April 2 on the Capitol Mall in St. Paul.
The event will draw attention to Minnesota's dwindling wetlands and declining water quality, two factors that have contributed to poor duck hunting in recent years. But the concern goes beyond duck hunting. If you care about clean water and a healthy ecosystem -- and shouldn't all Minnesotans? -- get to the Capitol on April 2.
We all have a stake in healthy wetlands and a large number of conservation and wildlife organizations that have nothing to do with duck hunting have pledged their support. Free bus rides to and from the event are offered by the local chapter of Pheasants Forever. Phone 829-4736.
The idea for a rally started in December with Dennis Anderson, a Star Tribune outdoors writer. Dave Zentner, past president of the Izaak Walton League, signed on as coordinator. Support has come from more than 40 conservation groups, including Audubon Minnesota, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever and Minnesota Lakes Association.
Duck hunting groups from Iowa and Wisconsin will be on hand to lend their support. Sponsors include Cabela's and Carmichael Lynch Spong, an advertising agency. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been invited to attend.
Turnout is expected to be big, so organizers suggest a pre-noon arrival. A one-hour program begins at 1 p.m. The speaker has yet to be decided.
The rally will have the look of a county fair, with display tents, a kids' casting pond and duck calling contest. Food, commemorative T-shirts, caps and jackets will be on sale.
It's hoped the rally will result in the purchase of more Wildlife Management Areas, funding for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and passage of the Clean Water Legacy bill currently in the Minnesota Legislature.
Will the rally lead to more ducks in Minnesota? That's unknown, but calling attention to the plight of our wetlands is the first step. Your attendance April 2 will show that you care about getting started on the long journey back to healthy wetlands and water.
Log on to www.wetlandsrally.org for more information.
VINCE MEYER, outdoors editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5862.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.