Big Win for Wildlife: The Federal Duck Stamp

Remarks from Collin O’Mara,

President of the National Wildlife Federation

Collin O'Mara

Collin O’Mara

Somewhere Ding Darling is smiling as he doodles a Blue Goose…

Today, the Senate passed (via unanimous consent) H.R. 5069, the Federal Duck Stamp Act, which is a huge WIN for wildlife conservation!  The bill by increases the price of duck stamps from $15 to $25 and would generate additional dedicated funding for wetland conservation.

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.  The bill already passed the House so it is on to President Obama’s desk to be signed!

Duck Stamps are licenses required for hunting migratory waterfowl and also serve as an entrance pass for national wildlife refuges and are bought by hunters and birders alike.  More importantly, these stamps are one of the most critical tools for the conservation of wetlands, wildlife, and natural resources—ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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 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.  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.

As the Duck Stamp celebrates its 80thanniversary, its buying power has never been lower.  The price of the Duck Stamp was last increased 23 years ago in 1991 and since then the price of land has tripled.  Even though this bill does restrict the revenue generated from the $10 increase from being direct to fee-title land acquisition, the base price of $15 can still be used for land acquisition and the extra revenue can be used for conservation easements.

I personally want to thank our great team at the National Advocacy Center, and especially Bentley Johnson, Josh Sachs, and John Gale for their hard work on this issue on the Hill and I want to thank the many Affiliates that weighed in with their Members of Congress to advocate passage. This is a great example of our federation at its best–combining our longtime support of conservation finding (since Ding helped create it!) with our mobilized and unified Federation to help ensure legislative passage.

Thank you all for your hard work for wildlife!