Federal Duck Stamp Act Passes Senate

On the afternoon of December 2, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) got unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass H.R. 5069, the Federal Duck Stamp Act, and another bill, S. 1000, the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act.

Of course, last month, the House itself passed H.R. 5069, which would increase the price of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp from $15 to $25. The extra $10 would be dedicated to easements. It has been estimated that an additional $16 million per year for habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System could be available through this increase.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who had strongly pushed for the bill as lead Senate sponsor, said that the bill was needed for conservation efforts since the price of stamps had not increased since 1991. One of Vitter’s chief allies in the Senate, Mark Begich (D-Ak), emphasized the importance of bringing the stamp up-to-date, stressing, that “the program has lost buying power because of inflation and because the price of targeted habitat has tripled over the past two decades.” Vitter added, “This [Senate passage] is huge news for conservation and duck hunters.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Dan Ashe, commented, “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”.
Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, added, “The additional duck stamps funding provided by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists will not only conserve critical waterfowl habitat, but will also help ensure the future of our water-fowling traditions.”

The bill has now headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The current stamps expire on June 30, 2015, and the new price, once the President signs the bill into law, is expected to appear on stamps for 2015-2016.

This law should strengthen the means by which crucial funds for wetland and grassland habitats are collected. Still, the case for saving these habitats has to be made again and again to Americans preoccupied with other issues. More of the public also needs to appreciate the constructive role of easements at this particular time and the necessity to increase overall sales of the stamp, especially among those people not currently required to buy the stamp.

Ultimately, it’s all about the habitat!