Measure would channel millions of dollars to wetlands and waterfowl habitat conservation; vote follows House advancement of companion bill last month
By Katie McKalip
A bipartisan bill that would raise the price of a federal Duck Stamp from $15 to $25 and channel millions of dollars toward wetlands and other waterfowl habitat conservation passed the Senate December 2nd, winning loud praise from conservation and sportsmen’s interests that have consistently championed the measure.
The Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 (S. 2621), introduced by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, would increase the cost of a Duck Stamp, the annual permit required to hunt migratory waterfowl, for the first time since 1991. Today’s action follows a November vote by the House of Representatives to advance a companion bill (H.R. 5069), introduced by Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, that drew similarly broad bipartisan support.
“At a time when millions of acres of wildlife habitat are at risk of being lost forever, congressional approval of this bipartisan legislation is a critical boost for wetlands conservation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By restoring the lost purchasing power of the Federal Duck Stamp, this legislation will give us the opportunity to work with thousands of additional landowners across the nation to maintain vital habitat for waterfowl, grassland birds and hundreds of other native species.”
Ashe continued, “I want to thank the bill’s sponsors, congressional leaders and millions of hunters and other conservationists for purchasing Duck Stamps and contributing to the preservation of habitat that all Americans can enjoy for generations to come.”
“The National Wildlife Federation and our fantastic state affiliates strongly supported the price increase (we unanimously adopted a Resolution supporting an increase last year at our Annual Meeting), as did the hunting community at large,” said National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara. The bill already passed the House so it is on to President Obama’s desk to be signed!
National Wildlife Federation’s founder J.N. “Ding” Darling conceived of the idea of using Duck Stamps to raise money for the purchase of wetlands and he also illustrated the very first stamp. It’s a great example of conservationists coming together to fund critical conservation (the North American conservation model in action).
“Since 1934 sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated over $800 million to preserve over 6 million acres of critical wetlands habitat in the United States as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said O’Mara. “Wildlife refuges not only serve as habitat for ducks and geese, but they provide countless benefits such as flood mitigation, 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. Refuge visitor spending also generates billions of dollars every year for local communities.”
“For decades, duck hunters have proudly paid their own way,” said Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) President and CEO Whit Fosburgh, “funding countless conservation initiatives all across the country that have helped increase duck numbers and improve wetland habitat. Yet we want to do more.”
“The price of a Duck Stamp has not been increased since 1991,” Fosburgh continued. “During that time, the price of a first class U.S. postage stamp has increased 14 times. Duck hunters and waterfowl enthusiasts understand the importance of our Duck Stamp purchases, and we thank Congress for putting aside politics to pass this commonsense bill.”
“This week’s actions represent a much-needed win for wetlands conservation, Prairie Pothole protection, the National Wildlife Refuge System and sportsmen’s interests,” said Steve Kline, TRCP director of government relations. “From a practical perspective, they also mean more ducks and better hunting seasons – as well as increased funds to expand and enhance access to places where waterfowlers can enjoy quality days afield.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.