Stamps preserve a legacy
Even if you're not a duck hunter, I think you'll appreciate what thousands of duck hunters across the prairie are doing this fall. It's about as simple a task as you can make it, and much of the time they don't get enough credit for how they have...
Even if you're not a duck hunter, I think you'll appreciate what thousands of duck hunters across the prairie are doing this fall. It's about as simple a task as you can make it, and much of the time they don't get enough credit for how they have contributed to the good of the cause.
Here's what happened to make me stop and think. A few weeks ago I went to the post office and bought my duck stamp. I have done this for just about 20 years running, which seems like a long time, but I know there are readers who can tell me they've purchased duck stamps for decades upon decades. Some day I hope to reach that level also.
Buying a duck stamp provides a hunter age 16 or older the federal authorization to go afield hunting ducks, geese and swans. But it provides more than just a legal right to hunt. Consider that 98 cents out of every dollar generated by the sale of federal duck stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Understandably, the federal duck stamp program has been called one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated, and is a highly effective way to conserve America's natural resources.
As I signed my duck stamp, I took a moment to appreciate the Ross's goose which adorns this year's stamp. I pondered the artist who won the right to have her work grace this magnificent stamp. Further research shows the designer was Sherri Russel Martin of California.
Duck stamp sales began in 1934 and have generated nearly $700 million and directly resulted in leasing and purchase of more than 5 million acres of waterfowl habitat.
What's not often mentioned in translation, and this is where benefits to people who don't hunt waterfowl come into play, are the multitude of fish, reptile, amphibians, shorebirds and other species that benefit from habitat preserved or enhanced because of duck stamp sales. Consider that an estimated one-third of all endangered and threatened species find protection behind duck-stamp-purchased property.
People from all walks of life, from hikers to birdwatchers, benefit from duck stamps. And last but not least, protected wetlands purify water supplies, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.
This year a notation on the stamp is made about the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, celebrating its 20 years of existence. Like the duck stamp, the NAWMP in its own right has been a monumental effort to preserve, maintain and enhance waterfowl populations and their habitat, which trickles down to benefit more than just ducks as well.
I flipped the duck stamp over and learned more about the NAWMP and its two decades of success. Basically, it's a continent-wide response to habitat loss, low population levels and a need to reverse the trend.
As quoted on the back side of the stamp, the plan created a conservation model of public and private partnerships - called joint ventures - to conserve waterfowl habitat in areas of major concern.
What's transpired is nothing short of a marked success, including 13.1 million acres of wetland habitat conserved, preserved and maintained across North America.
So hunters, take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back. And if you don't hunt or haven't bought a duck stamp, for $15 you too can maintain and enhance this conservation legacy.
Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at email@example.com