BONNERS FERRY — The Kootenai Valley Ducks Unlimited held their annual fundraising event at the Boundary County Fairgrounds on May 13, attracting more than 130 people for the banquet and auction. Catered by the Springs Restaurant of the Kootenai River Inn, the evening was filled with games, raffles and auctions. Rows of tables were filled with a variety of items, donated by many local businesses and individuals.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of all the contributors in the local area. They always come through for us,” said Kootenai Valley Ducks Unlimited Chairwoman Susan Gutknecht.
“I am very honored and privileged to be a part of this,” said Gutknecht, who moved to Bonners Ferry five years ago with her husband, Bill, also a committee member.
Gutknecht was asked if she would help collect donations. She accepted and from there she kept taking on more responsibilities.
“This is my second year as chair,” she said. “We exceeded all of our goals last year (referring to 2015) and are on target to do so again this year. I’m so proud of this committee.”
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation, with over 13 million acres nationwide and more than 31,000 acres in Idaho alone. Their projects include the Boundary Creek Wetland Restoration Project, where they restored 620 acres of wetlands, riparian areas and upland habitat near the Kootenai River.
“Ducks Unlimited is a conservation organization,” said Senior Regional Director Mond Warren. “We do fundraisers to help with their conservation mission. It is not a hunting club. It’s not a hunting organization. Our primary focus is wetlands conservation.”
According to Warren, they’re currently working on the Clark Fork Delta, a $6.8 million conservation project where the Clark Fork River comes into Lake Pend Oreille. They’re restoring the entire delta in that location.
Warren was a volunteer for 18 years before becoming an employee of Ducks Unlimited.
“Probably the best company I have ever worked for. It’s just a great organization,” he said. “I do 30-plus events a year and this one is really special because you can really see how this community bonds together and supports these gals and guys running this event. It’s cool to see.”
The highest-selling auction item was the Ducks Unlimited Rifle of the Year, which brought in $1,000. They also auctioned off a print in the name of the Larry Napier Fund. Napier was a longtime member, originally joining in 1989. Proceeds from that auction, combined with other donations, help to send a Boundary County youngster to the Youth Conservation Camp.
“We so appreciate all the support we get from the people who keep coming back to attend the event every year,” said Gutknecht.