Wildlife nationwide have a long list of humans to thank for their ideal habitat, and on that list is Shawnee resident Eric Held.

Held, a native of St. Louis, Mo., is employed by Ducks Unlimited as their regional engineer for the Southern Great Plains. He works from an office in Shawnee that is tied to DU’s Southern Regional Office in Jackson, Miss.

His job: Oversee the organization’s conservation and wildlife habitat restoration projects for the Southern Great Plains.


Wildlife nationwide have a long list of humans to thank for their ideal habitat, and on that list is Shawnee resident Eric Held.
Held, a native of St. Louis, Mo., is employed by Ducks Unlimited as their regional engineer for the Southern Great Plains. He works from an office in Shawnee that is tied to DU’s Southern Regional Office in Jackson, Miss.
His job: Oversee the organization’s conservation and wildlife habitat restoration projects for the Southern Great Plains.
“I manage our conservation delivery programs across the Southern Great Plains,” Held said.
The Southern Great Plains is made up of Oklahoma, Kansas, north Texas and east New Mexico. Ducks Unlimited works across North America to restore wetlands habitats which benefit not only waterfowl but all other species of wildlife.
Held’s involvement in the projects, he said, will be anything from planning to fund generating to actually getting his hands dirty with the construction of the habitat. Held is currently teamed up with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) in working on the Drummond Flats Wildlife Management Area near Enid.
One of the main, ongoing efforts of Held’s office, he said, is working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to bring wetlands back to private lands. The NRCS program used for this work is called the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
Held said he estimates he has been part of at least 100 private lands projects and at least 20 public lands projects since coming to Shawnee in 2002. One WRP project had been completed in Pottawatomie County prior to his arrival, Held said, and he has since helped with two. An additional one, bringing the total to four, will be worked on this fall.
At least a dozen have been done in Creek County, Held said, and “there’s too many to count in Lincoln County.”
DU does not create wetlands, he said. They restore them and protect them once they are restored.
“The whole reason we’re here is for migration habitat,” he said.
Waterfowl breed in the northern parts of the country and in Canada, primarily in an area known as the Prairie Pothole Region. From there, they head south to build their nests, raise their young and return north with them. This part of the country is vital to that cycle by providing them a much-needed rest stop on the way back to the breeding grounds, Held said.
Held said it is rewarding to see the projects take shape, and to see the waterfowl and other wildlife species benefit from them.
“It goes from not being a wetland, to being restored,” he said.
One of DU’s recent projects to be completed in Oklahoma is Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area near Frederick. The 7,000-plus acre area boasts more than 3,600 acres of wetlands that supports more than 100 species of birds.
“The other aspect of our job here is to raise support for our work in the breeding grounds, which is the No. 1 priority of Ducks Unlimited,” held said.
Held said wetlands restoration goes beyond helping waterfowl and other wildlife. Water quality in the are of the wetlands is improved, the water table is recharged and flood control is restored.
Held works in his office with Nathan Johnson, a professional engineer, and Glen Moore, an engineering technician. All of DU’s work in the area is conducted by this trio.
“We’re a team,” Held said.
Held said his general interest in the outdoors came from his family and his involvement in the Boy Scouts. As he got older, the interest shifted to wetlands.
Held graduated from the University of Missouri at Roila in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and he earned his master’s degree in public administration this year from the University of Oklahoma.
He worked for two and a half years with the Missouri Department of Conservation prior to being hired by DU in 2002.
Held and his wife, Lori, have a 3-month-old daughter, Emily.
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Jason Smith may be reached at 214-3932.