Land Sales


Please find below a list of questions people have brought to our attention, and corresponding answers and explanations. If you would like further clarification on any of these topics or have additional questions, please e-mail them to us at Your continued support of Ducks Unlimited is greatly appreciated and we value your comments and opinions. We take careful consideration of all comments we receive.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is DU buying and selling property?
2. How are these land acquisitions funded?
3. Is all land sold back into private ownership?
4. Who can purchase Grasslands for Tomorrow properties?
5. What are the restrictions/easements placed upon the land?
6. How does Ducks Unlimited select lands to purchase?
7. Can people donate land to Ducks Unlimited?
8. How can I find out about future sales?

Question: Why is DU buying and selling property?

Answer: Acquiring land for short-term ownership is one of the strategies DU is using to fully implement our mission. DU can do this through either acquiring an easement (via purchase or donation) or acquiring the land.

Through easements, we purchase or gain through donation, only those rights that are needed to maintain the habitat desired on the landscape. When we buy land, we hold all the rights for a time. We then sell all rights, or just those needed to protect the habitat desired, to an agency or other entity (e.g., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) for safekeeping. Any remaining rights are auctioned off to another buyer via our auction site-which provides a good venue for selling property.

Our buy/sell strategy is an innovative way to cost-effectively protect important waterfowl habitat from being degraded or destroyed. DU purchases land from willing landowners, paying market value based on independent appraisal. DU then restores the conservation values of the property, protects the land with perpetual conservation easements, and finally recuperates all or part of its initial capital investment by selling the land. Dollars raised from the sale of the fully protected land are then available for further land purchases.

Question: How are these land acquisitions funded?

Answer: Event, dinner, and membership dollars are NOT used to purchase property. Money for land acquisitions comes from special capital gifts given for the purpose of purchasing land.

Question: Is all land sold back into private ownership?

Answer: No, in fact priority is given to state and federal agencies interested in a property. While some tracts of land will be sold to conservation buyers, DU has sold most of the land purchased and restored to-date to state and federal wildlife agencies. Additionally, 'private ownership' does not always mean it is being sold to sportsmen or hunting interests. For instance, one tract in South Dakota was sold to a local rancher for long-term stewardship. In all cases, DU ensures the conservation values of the land are permanently protected before selling to any buyer.

Question: Who can purchase Grasslands for Tomorrow properties?

Answer: When DU offers land to conservation buyers via its auction site, anyone can submit a bid to buy the property. Paramount in the plans for the land sales is that no individual be given preference. Several things go into making sure this is the case. First, DU has created the Conservation Land Directory, which is an auction-based system that allows individuals to bid on property that is being offered up for sale. The auction format is a fair and open way to ensure that DU does not show favoritism and that land is sold for, at minimum, fair market value.

Question: What are the restrictions/easements placed upon the land?

Answer: Before DU sells land, conservation easements are placed upon the property, which perpetually protect the conservation values and character of the property. All wetlands are protected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) wetland easements, preventing wetlands from being drained and degraded. Both native and restored prairies are protected with USFWS grassland easements, which prevent the land from being plowed, and restrict haying until on or after July 15th of every year. Grazing is permitted at any time, however DU tries to work with buyers to establish good grazing practices.

Question: How does Ducks Unlimited select lands to purchase?

Answer: A science-based approach is used to identify lands that DU might consider purchasing. Areas with the potential for high densities of breeding ducks and large tracts of remaining grassland are preferred. DU also purchases land that already provides valuable waterfowl habitat, but is at high-risk of cultivation or development.

DU purchases land as a last resort. DU would rather see landowners enroll their land in permanent grassland and wetland easement programs, foregoing the need for DU to purchase the land. However, there are times when the landowners choose not to place easements on their land and, instead, choose to sell their property. If the land contains valuable waterfowl habitat, DU may contact the landowner to make an offer for the land. In other cases the landowner contacts DU. DU normally pays full market price for the land, based on an independent appraisal.

Question: Can people donate land to Ducks Unlimited?

Answer: Yes, people can, and do, donate land to DU. People often bequeath land to DU in their wills, or give land to DU for conservation or tax purposes. Additionally, non-conservation properties, buildings, and other assets can be donated to DU. Ducks Unlimited then sells those assets and uses the proceeds for work in high priority areas for waterfowl.

Question: How can I find out about future sales?

Answer: DU plans to advertise future sales in the DU Magazine and one can always visit the Conservation Land Directory page at to view current and upcoming sales.