It’s More than A Duck Stamp. It’s a Champion for Conservation
Op-Ed by Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the signing of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (Federal Duck Stamp Act) of 2014
December 19, 2014
It’s sometimes easy to lose hope these days, given the challenges our nation faces and the seemingly intractable political polarization of our society. But President Obama’s approval today of bipartisan legislation raising the price of the Federal Duck Stamp is a reminder that we’re still capable of great things as a nation.
The Federal Duck Stamp program is one of the most successful conservation initiatives in history. Since the program’s creation in 1934, funding from duck stamp sales has been used to acquire and permanently protect more than 6 million acres of vital National Wildlife Refuge System habitat. Much of this wetland and grassland acreage – which supports hundreds of native species of migratory birds, animals and plants – would otherwise have been plowed under or paved over.
Rising land prices have steadily eroded our ability to protect other vulnerable habitat through acquisitions and the purchase of conservation easements on private land. Raising the price of the stamp from $15 to $25 will restore most of the purchasing power that has been lost since the price was last increased in 1991. With the additional funds generated by the increase, we anticipate being able to protect an estimated 17,000 additional acres of habitat every year.
This will also benefit Americans of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of where they live.
All hunters 16 years of age and older are required to possess a valid stamp, but anyone who cares about conservation can buy one. And what’s more, lands acquired and protected with Duck Stamp dollars are accessible to everyone – not just for hunting, but for wildlife watching, photography and other outdoor recreation. A valid Duck Stamp can also be used for free admission to scores of National Wildlife Refuges that charge admission fees.
Wetlands and associated uplands are as important for people as they are for wildlife. They provide natural protection against flooding and storm surges, filter pollutants from water used by millions of Americans for drinking, cooking and sanitation, and support thousands of jobs and local businesses linked to outdoor recreation and tourism.
Perhaps most importantly, the Duck Stamp price increase represents an emphatic expression of optimism for the future. After all, the stamp itself was born out of far more desperate circumstances.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Office of External Affairs
134 Union Blvd
Lakewood, CO 80228