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Peterson helps waterfowl flourish

Praising his lifetime of support, a national waterfowl preservation group honored Alexandria businessman Maynard "Bud" Peterson last week.

Ducks Unlimited bestowed Peterson - owner of Pete's County Market - with a stone memorial last Thursday at the Runestone Waterfowl Production Area, located south of Highway 27 near Kensington.

"He's just been a good friend of Ducks Unlimited for decades," said Ron Stromstad, senior director of development for the organization.

Though he declined to say exactly how much Peterson has donated to the group over the years, Stromstad said plaque dedications are reserved for individuals who give $100,000 or more.

The money, he said, helps fund the society's Living Lakes Initiative, which since 2004 has sought to preserve and manage shallow lakes and wetland areas in Minnesota and Iowa.

"Our mission is simple," Stromstad said. "It's all about protecting, restoring and enhancing habitat for waterfowl."

John Schneider, state conservation programs manager for Ducks Unlimited, said support from major donors, such as Peterson, is "absolutely critical" in helping it fulfill its goals.

"We simply can't raise enough money at local events to do everything that ducks need us to do in the state," he said. "Without gifts from folks like Mr. Peterson, we wouldn't be able to leverage state and federal [government] grant resources to fully implement our Living Lakes Initiative."

As part of its initiative, Ducks Unlimited, in tandem with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helped restore the Runestone wetland reserve two years ago.

During Thursday's dedication ceremony at the waterfowl production area, Schneider said Peterson talked about spending time in the area as a young boy.

"He was really pleased to have the monument out there," Schneider said, "where he grew up hunting, west of Alexandria."

Last month, Peterson announced he was donating $1.5 million to the proposed Alexandria area YMCA.

In recognition of the gift, YMCA officials said they planned to name the two-story, 56,000 square-foot building after Peterson and his late wife, Sylvia.