Migratory Bird Conservation Commission

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission was established on February 18, 1929, by the passage of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. It was created and authorized to consider and approve any areas of land and/or water recommended by the Secretary of the Interior for purchase or rental by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and to fix the price or prices at which such areas may be purchased or rented. In addition to approving purchase and rental prices, the Commission considers the establishment of new waterfowl refuges. The staff support for the Commission is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Realty.


DuckMembers of the Commission are:

  • Chair – Secretary of the Interior
  • John Boozman, Senator from Arkansas
  • Martin Heinrich, Senator from New Mexico
  • Robert J. Wittman, Representative from Virginia
  • Mike Thompson, Representative from California
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Senator John Boozman was appointed to the Commission in April 2018; he replaces Senator Thad Cochran from Mississippi, who served on the Commission from 1981 until his retirement in 2018. 

The Act also designates the ranking officer or an authorized representative of the State department that administers game laws, as an ex officio member to consider and vote on all questions relating to acquisition of areas in that State.


Wood DucksThe Commission usually convenes two times per year during the months of April and September, or as needed. The Division of Realty produces an annual report, that summarizes the operations of the Commission during the preceding fiscal year.

Since the Commission's establishment, over 5.6 million acres have been acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by fee purchase, easement, or lease with monies from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. These funds are allocated at the Secretary's discretion as delegated to the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Fund provides the Department of the Interior with financing for the acquisition of migratory bird habitat. There are four major sources of money for the Fund. The most well-known source is the revenue received from the sale of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as Duck Stamps, as provided for under the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act of March 18, 1934, as amended. The other three major sources include appropriations authorized by the Wetlands Loan Act of October 4, 1961, as amended; import duties collected on arms and ammunition; and receipts from the sale of refuge admission permits as provided for by the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986. The Fund is further supplemented by receipts from the sale of products from rights-of-way across national wildlife refuges, disposals of refuge land, and reverted Federal Aid funds.

In 1989, the Commission acquired the additional responsibility to approve project funding under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. This Act provides for Federal funding to encourage partnerships to protect, enhance, restore, and manage wetlands and other habitats for migratory birds and other fish and wildlife to carry out the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The North American Wetlands Conservation Council, which was created by this legislation, submits project recommendations to the Commission for funding approval. The Council has submitted over 1,900 high priority projects for consideration by the Commission since its establishment. All have been approved for funding, representing a total of $1 billion for the protection of wetland habitat.

A. Eric Alvarez is the ninth and current Secretary to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Rudolph Dieffenbach was the first Secretary to the Commission and served for 18 years from 1929 until 1947.


2019 Annual Report – Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (12.9 MB PDF)

Each stamp is $25, and the proceeds go directly to conserve important waterfowl habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

View percentage of every refuge that was acquired (102 KB PDF) thanks to Duck Stamp dollars.

2018 Status of Hunting and Fishing on NWRS Lands (2.33 MB PDF)

News Releases

Migratory Bird Conservation Commission Archives

Contact Us

Secretary, Migratory Bird Conservation Commission
5275 Leesburg Pike, Mail Stop: 3N053
Falls Church, VA 22041-3803
(703) 358-1716

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