Hall to Lead Ducks Unlimited

This just in: Former U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service director H. Dale Hall has been tapped as the chief executive officer of Ducks Unlimited.

Hall, who led the USFWS from 2005-2009 and won nearly unanimous praise for his even-handed, practical approach to wildlife conservation, will take over the reins of the continent's oldest and largest wetlands-conservation group early next month.

A Kentucky native, Hall served as a federal wildlife biologist and researcher for most of his career until he was tapped for the top post in 2005. In all, he spent 31 years with the Service, much of it in the field developing his international reputation as a well-respected wetlands ecologist.

Hall succeeded Don Young, DU's executive vice president who resigned last August after leading one of the most successful fundraising drives in the history of non-profit conservation. During Young's tenure Ducks Unlimited raised nearly $1.5 billion and conserved some 4.4 million acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat.

Hall will have his work cut out for him. With reductions in Conservation Reserve Program funding and conversion of waterfowl-breeding habitat to small-grains production, the continent faces a net loss of waterfowl habitat. Add to that decreasing state and federal wildlife agency budgets and a donor community that's feeling the pinch of the tightening economy, and Hall will have to be as inventive a fundraiser as he was an agency administrator.

Here's hoping he can keep ducks in the sky, hunters in the marsh and breathe life into one of the grandest sporting traditions and conservation movements on the planet.