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Vanishing Paradise Team Attends SHOT Show 2014

By: 
Lew Carpenter, Feb. 19, 2014

Photo Courtesy NSSF 

There’s one trade show during the year that hosts the entirety of the hunting industry – SHOT Show. Attracting industry professionals from the United States and more than 100 other countries, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show – SHOT Show –  shattered attendance records in early January, giving industry professionals good reason to believe that 2014 will be another strong year for sales of firearms, ammunition, outdoor gear and law enforcement equipment – and the excise taxes that pay for a vast portion of wildlife management in this country.

The 36th SHOT Show ran Jan. 14 to 17 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Las Vegas. Attendance figures eclipsed last year’s total by the second day of the show and finished at more than 67,000, an increase of 5,000. The show brings together all segments of one of America's oldest and most storied industries. Manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, shooting range operators, outdoor media (largest turnout in the world at nearly 2,500) and representatives from wildlife conservation groups conduct business, exchange ideas, renew contacts and reaffirm the unity that has been the hallmark of the hunting and shooting sports industry.

This confluence of the great rivers of industry and conservation provides opportunities for the Vanishing Paradise (VP) team to solidify partners in our campaign to reconnect the Mississippi River to its Louisiana delta in ways that improve habitat and the wildlife within. The show also provided VP a chance to thank many of our sponsors and supporters – those who understand that healthy wetlands provide opportunities for hunting and angling.

For those unaware of our efforts; Vanishing Paradise is a campaign that started as a partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited to educate and engage sportsmen about the importance of the Mississippi River Delta.

The Mississippi River Delta is truly a unique habitat

·         3.4 million acres of marsh, swamp, forests and barrier islands that together constitutes the largest wetland complex in the continental United States.

·         These wetlands stretch all along the southern end of Louisiana from Mississippi to Texas and represents nearly 40 percent of the coastal wetlands in the lower 48 states.

·         The delta hosts the vast majority of the waterfowl that use the Mississippi and Central Flyways.

·         70% of ducks and geese that use the MS & Central Flyways, (which totals a staggering 10 million ducks and geese a year!)

The U.S. Geological Survey found that the delta loses a football field of land every hour. Think about that; every day the delta loses the equivalent of 24 football fields. And, since the 1930s, the delta has lost about 1900 square miles of land—that’s about the size of the state of Delaware.

How is this Happening?

·         The natural process of the Mississippi River replenished the wetlands by depositing sediment and flooding periodically for thousands of years.

·         Every flood season areas of land were built up by sediment that was left after the floodwaters of that muddy Mississippi River receded.

·         These sediment deposits made up what we know as the Mississippi River Delta.

·         Starting in the 1930s manmade levees and canals intended to serve navigational interests and provide flood control, have disconnected the Mississippi River from the wetlands. They have cut across the landscape and have made it impossible for the river to leave sediment deposits and build up the land.

·         So instead of the sediment being deposited and building up new land, as it did for thousands of years, the sediment is channeled downstream and is deposited off the deep waters of the continental shelf. All that sand, silt, sediment is just lost to the Gulf of Mexico.

What does this mean to American Sportsmen and Women?

·         Bottom line: if you don’t have wetlands to maintain these millions of waterfowl during the winter, you don’t have duck hunting as it exists today across America.

·         They raise the ducks up north in Prairie Pothole regions and around the Great Lakes.

·         The North may grow and breed the ducks, but they have to have a place to winter down South.

·         No wetlands, no ducks, no hunting.

What can be done?

·         You can visit www.vanishingparadise.org, where you will find much more information about the project and things you can do to help. There you can sign up on our action list.

·         We need people from across the country to be available to write to their local Congress people and their U.S. congressional representatives to let them know that this is an important national issue.

·         You can also write letters to the editor to help spread the word. More information about that on the website.

·         Share this information with your social media networks. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Like, share and comment on our materials.

·         But the biggest thing you can do to help right now is just visit the website and SIGN UP.

This year’s SHOT Show again was a great success for the Vanishing Paradise team. Forging new relationships and partnerships, thanking current sponsors and supporters and, most importantly, carrying the message of wetlands restoration to an industry that requires healthy habitat and vibrant wildlife populations to survive.