The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act (The Duck Stamp Act) authorizes the purchase of lands using the revenue from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps for the purpose of improving the production of migratory birds, especially waterfowl. Under this program both fee title lands and easements are purchased to protect migratory bird habitat.
Waterfowl Production Areas
WPAs are public lands purchased with Federal Duck Stamp revenue. While many National Wildlife Refuges protect large blocks of land, WPAs are small, ranging in size from as little as 10 acres to nearly 2,000 acres. They are often broadly dispersed over many counties. More than 3,000 WPAs have been purchased since 1958 when Congress authorized the use of Duck Stamp monies for purchasing small wetlands.
The Duck Stamp Act also funds the purchase of wetland and habitat easements. The wetland easement involves a signed agreement with a landowner protecting wetlands on their land from being burned, drained, filled, or leveled in perpetuity. The landowner receives a one-time payment for protecting the wetlands. When protected wetlands go through dry cycles, they can be farmed, grazed or hayed without violating the agreement. The land remains in private control, and the landowner controls access to these wetlands.
Grassland easements generally protect both grassland and wetland habitat, but again the property remains in private control and the landowner allows access. The landowner can hay or harvest seed after July 15th each year, which allows most ground nesting birds to hatch their eggs before any cutting is done. The haying and grazing option allows the landowner to hay after July 15 and graze at any time. The landowner receives a one-time payment for the rights that the Service purchases from them.