This award is being given to the 162 private duck clubs and over 2,000 member hunters of the Grassland Resource Conservation District, located in the Central Valley of California. Accepting the award on behalf of the landowners is Mr. Dennis Campini, who serves on the Grassland RCD Board of Directors and who has made countless contributions to the Grasslands over the years.

The Grassland RCD is located within the Grassland Ecological Area, the largest contiguous block of wetlands west of the Mississippi River. Located in the heart of the Pacific Flyway in California’s Central Valley, the District comprises 75,000 acres of wetlands, riparian, and associated upland habitats, and hosts some of the greatest concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds on earth.

In 1991, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network recognized the Grassland Ecological Area as an Internationally Significant Shorebird Site. It has also been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society. In 2005, the Grassland Ecological Area was designated as Wetlands of International Importance under The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, making it one of 22 Ramsar sites in the United States.

Sixty-five percent of Grassland Ecological Area wetlands are privately owned and intensively managed to maximize wetland productivity and help meet the needs of the migratory birds of the Pacific flyway. Private landowners continue to make tremendous contributions of time and money to sustain the productivity of the wetlands on an annual basis. Many of the landowners have worked with Central Valley Joint Venture partners for nearly 25 years, primarily as contributors and beneficiaries of North American Wetland Conservation Act grants. Those grants have protected, restored, and enhanced tens of thousands of acres of bird habitat, which also host a wide range of other wildlife. In addition to this valuable habitat conservation, many of the landowners have supported and advocated for the Central Valley Joint Venture mission at the local, state, and national level.

The Grassland Resource Conservation District is widely recognized as an extremely important area for migratory birds and for its excellent collaboration with the Central Valley Joint Venture. On behalf of the Joint Ventures, we are honored to present the private landowners of this region with the 2012 North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture Conservation Champion Award.