Rock Hall, Md. Natural-gas investment firm managing partner
In 2004, Brown offered to rehab some wood-duck nesting boxes for DuPont’s Chesapeake Farms, and soon after, the Maryland DNR offered him duck-stamp funds to restore boxes on public wetlands. He founded the Maryland Wood Duck Initiative to develop a network of volunteers who help maintain and monitor nearly 1,800 boxes, which have produced more than 25,000 ducklings in just seven years.
Wildlife management became a hobby of mine in 1993, when my wife and I bought a farm in Kent County. I spent a decade converting it to a wildlife habitat complex including wetlands, where I found old wood-duck boxes. I read up on how to fix them, brought in more, then watched them get invaded by raccoons, squirrels, and snakes. I had about an eight-year learning curve before seeing any hatchlings; my desire to start the Maryland Wood Duck Initiative would come of my wanting to share that knowledge with others.
I don’t like to do anything halfway, so before committing to the task of using state duck-stamp funds to rehab two nesting sites for the 2005 hatch, I asked myself if it made sense to bite off so much responsibility. I also told the DNR that I didn’t want to do this if it was just about carpentry. I let them know that we could make a serious impact on the species and improve the total wetlands experience for our community.
We’re lucky in Maryland that this great habitat already exists. We just need to -maintain and optimize it. I can encourage volunteers with the reams of data we’ve -aggregated, but the experience is a true revelation. I couldn’t see paying to work off calories at the gym, not when I can do it this way and still have an extra beer at night.