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Duck Stamps: Still A Great Deal

September 1, 2015

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

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Last week, when dewpoints were low and the nights were cool it was easy to imagine hearing a flock of Canada Geese winging their way south from the Canadian tundra. I have a fond childhood memory of my mother dashing out the door when she heard those first flocks flying over the house. Still wearing her apron, she would gaze up at the scene while calling to us. As a child I would plop down on my back in the yard near her and watch them pass. Then watch the clouds until the next skein arrived.

It is such a rich memory in my psyche, that last week the cool weather alone sent me to the post office to purchase my Duck Stamp. I have been an advocate for “Duck Stamps” for a long time.  Technically they are called Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, and were first established in the mid-1930’s. Back then waterfowl populations were at an all time low. The Depression, a decades-long drought and remnants of unregulated market hunting certainly didn’t help ducks and geese in those days.

The cost for a Duck Stamp is $25. This year, the price of a Duck Stamp finally got a price increase. Congress never argues about raising their own salaries, but raising the price of a Duck Stamp seems to be fraught with all sorts of political maneuvering. Go figure.

Anyone can purchase a duck stamp. (Those hunting ducks and geese must purchase a duck stamp along with their license.) What do you get for your investment? Well, your Duck Stamp is a ticket into any of the 500+ National Wildlife Refuges. Places like John Heinz at Tinicum (NLT’s first conservation project) and Edwin B. Forsythe are two nearby refuges.  Just wave your stamp at the gate and enter. (It is such a cool feeling.) Plus Duck Stamp money purchases habitat for those wildlife refuges. Six million (6,000,000) acres have been protected since the program began. If that doesn’t impress you, get this: $ 0.98 of every dollar from a duck stamp sale goes to expand habitat that is managed by the National Wildlife Refuge system. Talk about a return on the investment.

As a kid, it was a big deal when those Vs of geese flew over, because it was big deal to my mom. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that Mom had lived through springs and falls when the geese didn’t pass over with their raucous honking. That is why I buy a Duck Stamp every fall. Those migrating Vs are a big deal.

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