Duck Stamp Act Passes Lame Duck Congress

More bucks for ducks!  Wildlife conservation got a win today when the Senate passed the Federal Duck Stamp Act (H.R. 5069).  The legislation simply raises the price of the Federal Duck Stamp from $15 to $25.  This small $10 increase is BIG for wildlife because ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated by the sale of duck stamps goes directly to protect wetland habitat for waterfowl and other fish and wildlife species. The legislation had already unanimously passed the House of Representatives, so the bill flies (no pun intended) to President Obama for his signature.  Say it with me now: quack, quack, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!

The first Duck Stamp, designed by J.N. "Ding" Darling, founder of NWF
The first Duck Stamp, designed by J.N. “Ding” Darling, founder of NWF

The Best Birthday Present

As the Duck Stamp celebrates its 80th birthday, its buying power has never been lower. The price of the Duck Stamp was last increased before today’s college undergrads were even born (1991 just to make you feel old), and since then the price of land has tripled.

The Duck Stamp fee increase to $25 was broadly supported in Congress and in the sportsmen and wildlife community at large because the Duck Stamp is one of the most successful and important conservation tools ever created.  Since the program’s creation in 1934  over $800 million has been generated to preserve over 6 million acres of critical wetlands habitat in the United States as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

A Refuge for Wildlife

The wildlife refuges created by Duck Stamp funds not only provide a home for ducks and geese, but they offer a bunch of other benefits too, such as flood control, water filtration, and habitat for more than 700 bird species, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 1,000 fish species, and one-third of endangered or threatened species.  Even though budget cuts continue to plague wildlife refuges, visitor spending continues to generate billions of dollars every year for local communities.

Duck Stamps are woven deeply in the fabric of our country’s outdoor traditions and sporting heritage.  Led by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, and Aldo Leopold, hunters, anglers, birders, and outdoor enthusiasts recognized that in order to protect the fish and game species they liked to pursue, they must protect wildlife habitat and sustain strong wildlife populations.  National Wildlife Federation’s founder, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, was one of the leaders of this movement in the early-to-mid 20th century, and he conceived of the very idea to raise money for the purchase of wetlands through “duck stamps.”  As a political cartoonist (among many other jobs–how did these folks have the time back then?) he also illustrated the very first stamp.

“There’s Two O’s in Goose”

It was a true team effort with lots of organizations and individuals working together as birds of a feather over many years to land this bill at the President’s desk.  We should all feel good about playing “wingman” to a duck (or goose) today.

P.S. National Wildlife Federation cares about birds AND our readers which is why I left out a “2 birds with 1 stone” pun.