Tickets are now available for the annual fundraising banquet and auctions hosted by the Creston branch of Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). It runs on Oct. 5, and will feature more local auction items than usual.
“We have a much wider range of different things to appeal to anyone of any age, instead of just what Ducks offers from their national office,” said Lou Knafla, one of the banquet’s organizers.
For the High Flyer portion of the auction, in which guests bid on small items for a chance at one big one, the local prize can be chosen from Bahamas Travel, Overwaitea Foods or Home Hardware Building Centre, with each creating $2,000-plus packages — ski or casino travel packages have been confirmed, and others are yet to be announced.
More local artisans than usual have contributed to this year’s auctions, and their products, as well as others from local businesses, will be auctioned alongside a special barrel of Alberta Springs whisky. Only 75 were made — in honour of DUC’s 75th anniversary — and have been auctioned at other DUC events for over $600.
“There will be no other barrels like them,” said Knafla. “We actually feel lucky to get one.”
Also up for grabs in the live auction is a limited edition print of Robert Bateman’s Tranquility, created specifically for the anniversary.
The Creston events usually raise over $25,000, all of which is put back into local wetlands management. This year, DUC contributed — along with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority — to $292,000 spent to install two automated slide gates that allow water to be released from Duck Lake prior to spring runoff, and to a 400-metre earthen dike along Leach Lake.
That infrastructure is one of three areas in which DUC helps the Creston Valley, said Knafla.
“If you’re an environmentalist, it enables us to support the whole corridor from Bonners Ferry to Kootenay Lake, which otherwise would get overgrown,” he said, explaining that after dikes were built to protect the valley from flooding, natural waterways had to be supported with manmade infrastructure.
“Economically, it’s money being spent here. There are always two or three students out here doing their master’s thesis on something to do with wildlife.”
In addition, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area’s Ramsar designation as a wetland of international importance brings in visitors from far and wide.
“You have another big place to draw people to the valley,” Knafla said. “It’s a big thing in terms of tourism.”
Tickets are $40 for adults and $15 for ages 17 and under (available at Mawson’s Sports), which includes hors d’oeuvres and dinner with local wines. Tickets purchased before Sept. 21 are eligible for an early bird draw.