On September 28 and 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. Although I will not be able to attend this year’s contest, I can tell you from past experience that this is an exciting event. Think about it: Hundreds of artists enter the contest (192 this year), and at the end of two days of judging by a panel of five individuals, one piece of art is chosen to appear on next year’s Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.
Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minnesota, won the 2011 Federal Duck Stamp Contest with his acrylic painting of a single wood duck.
For the first time in the 79-year history of the Federal Duck Stamp, we are holding the contest in the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region, in Ogden, Utah. Why Ogden? First, we have found a terrific partner in Weber State University, site for the judging and other contest-related events.
CAN'T GO? Watch the contest live online
Ogden also offers a great opportunity to see Duck Stamp dollars at work, about 30 miles up the road at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. This refuge is a hallmark example of the Federal Duck Stamp’s conservation legacy and one of the crown jewels of the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System.
Established in 1928 -- just a few years before the creation of the first Federal Duck Stamp, in fact -- Bear River Refuge is an oasis amid the desert aridlands of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. The refuge is alive with activity year-round -- from spring, when breeding birds arrive decked out in their colorful plumage, to fall, when some half a million ducks concentrate on the refuge and more than 30,000 tundra swans arrive.
More than 35 percent of Bear River Refuge’s total acreage has been acquired with funding from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which is made up of revenue from the sale of Duck Stamps, as well as import duties collected on arms and ammunition, and other monies. Anyone who visits the refuge, whether to hunt, fish or watch wildlife, will experience firsthand the tremendous impact of their investment in conservation through buying Federal Duck Stamps.
Federal Duck Stamp revenues have helped to acquire habitat on hundreds of national wildlife refuges in nearly every state. I’m sorry I won’t be at this year’s Duck Stamp Contest, but I know that when I am out in the field visiting with our employees at refuges, there’s a pretty good chance that I am standing somewhere that is protected because of the Federal Duck Stamp.