Ducks Unlimited has spent nearly five years asking the Federal government to raise the price of federal duck stamps. While the cost per stamp has not gone up since 1991—before I'd even shot my first duck—a DU-supported Senate bill introduced last month would raise it from $15 to $25.
DU's argument is essentially two-fold:
• Funds generated by sales of "migratory bird hunting and conservation stamps" are vital to wetlands conservation. About 2.5 million acres in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) have been conserved through federal easements since 1934, including 7,000 waterfowl production areas (which, by the way, also preserves public-hunting opportunities). Preservation of PPR grassland is absolutely vital to maintaining stable waterfowl populations.
• While the price per stamp has not increased, land values have skyrocketed during the last 20 years. In Minnesota, for instance, the average price for an acre of land in 1998 was $400—today it's $1,400, a 250-percent jump. Though 98 cents of every dollar spent on stamps goes to conservation, a dollar simply doesn't have the buying power it did twenty years ago.
As an advocate for the future of ducks as well as duck hunting, I am suspicious of barriers to entry for new participants, including added costs. However, if we as dedicated waterfowlers believe in the mission of the federal duck stamp program—and I believe we do—isn't it time we plop down ten more bucks than we did during the George H.W. Bush presidency?