The benefits of wetland ecosystems are numerous. For one thing, they serve as a breeding ground for myriad forms of wildlife, fostering greater biodiversity. In addition, they regulate water flow from both tides and flooded rivers. Tempering shoreline erosion, wetlands serve to effectively buffer storms and high winds. Preserving and fortifying wetlands, then, is an important and essential public concern. The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) finances this mission, in part, through the sale of the federal duck stamp.
On Sale Now: The 2018-2019 Federal Duck Stamp
Selling now is the new and updated Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. Its image is the creation of Minnesota artist Bob Hautman, who won previous federal duck stamp bids in 1997 and 2001. In other years, he has painted state stamps for both Minnesota and Texas. His two brothers are also artists, themselves each winning the opportunity to design the federal duck stamp. Bob Hautman’s picture for 2018-2019 features two mallards–male and female, taking flight from a reedy lake in autumn.
The annual contest to determine the artist who creates the federal duck stamp is held in September. This competition is free and open to any wildlife artist 18 or older. Under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the DOI, the contest restricts the subject art to a few species each year. The upcoming trials, for instance, will seek paintings of wood ducks, American Wigeons and Northern Pintails, among others.
The federal duck stamp is usually sold at local post offices, national wildlife refuges or through the American Birding Association. E-stamps are available in many states through the Amplex Corporation. The cost for a 2018-2019 federal duck stamp is $25.00. Understanding the destination of these funds makes purchasing the stamp well worth the outlay.
History and Effects of the Duck Stamp
As the American continent began to teem with new generations and immigrants, previously pristine places were developed for occupancy. All told, acres numbering in the millions were subject to drainage, their wild species harvested for food. Beyond the consequences of development, these habitats still receive the battering of more frequent drought and flood, the consequences of climate change according to many scientists.
Yet before conservation and environmentalism became popular, Congress passed–and the president signed–the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934. This law mandates that all waterfowl hunters under 16-years old purchase a federal duck stamp. Good for a full year, the stamp is also available for anyone who cares about wetlands to buy. Doing so helps to improve the health of U.S. government-owned wetlands and to expand the overall holdings of estuaries, bogs and marshes.
Of total stamp revenue, 98 cents of every dollar applies directly to wetland remediation. This includes habitat acquisition and the procurement of access roads and other paths. The monies are pooled into a Migratory Bird Conservation Fund; the disbursements are approved by a seven-member commission that includes the secretaries of Agriculture, the Interior and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mermbers of the U.S. Congress–from both the Senate and the House of Representatives–fill out this important panel.
The new federal duck stamp is the latest in a long line of artworks that raise money for protecting and conserving the wetlands of the United States. Representing the beauty of the earth and the urgency of its preservation, these prints result from a highly competitive selection process to discover the most vivid and eye-pleasing wildlife art. The 2018-2019 winner fills that criterion and serves as the standard for environmental stewardship and public responsibility.