Lucky ducks win annual competition

Column by Ron Hellbusch
Posted 7/13/21

About this time each year since 1934 wildlife enthusiast, bird watchers, hunters, stamp collectors, among other conservation-minded people make a modest stamp purchase that has grown in value and …

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Lucky ducks win annual competition

Posted

About this time each year since 1934 wildlife enthusiast, bird watchers, hunters, stamp collectors, among other conservation-minded people make a modest stamp purchase that has grown in value and interest.

The “Federal Duck Stamp” and in more recent decades, the “Junior Duck Stamp” have generated nationwide interest for wetlands conservation. The two duck stamp programs support public education and funding for the purpose of acquiring and preserving valuable habitat for a variety of waterfowl. The stamp programs aid thousands of non-waterfowl bird species as well. The waterfowl stamps were initially designed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to enhance funding for existing wetlands and habitat preservation but has grown to include habitat land purchases as well.

Virtually all species of birds and waterfowl migrate from southern regions of our North American continent to northern breeding and nesting wetlands and habitats. The stamp income and the attention it generates, contributes to a near total continental support among the United States and provisions of Canada. “The Federal Duck Stamp has raised more than $1.1B to protect over 6 million acres of wetlands in addition to the 67 national wildlife refuges nationwide,” Martha Williams, Service Principal Deputy reported. The Service is proud pf the fact that for every $1 spent by a purchaser of a Duck Stamp $.98 goes directly toward acquiring and protecting waterfowl habitat. The Federal Duck Stamp fee is $25.00 and Junior duck stamp $5.00.

Duck stamp financial proceeds have supplemented federal and local funds and public-private habitat contributions to acquire and preserve additional acreages of wetland habitat. Considerable energy and success can be attributed to the successful and supportive Ducks Unlimited (DU) waterfowl organization. DU was formed in 1937 by interested conservationist and waterfowl hunters. The membership has grown from within both the United States and from Canada, where much of the North American continent waterfowl nesting occurs each spring.

The Junior Duck Stamp program was established in 1993 and organized by the Service and public interests around a yearlong national art competition approach for youth. It has produced over $1.M income in this 28 years period. Even more significantly, the program has successfully spread the story of waterfowl and bird habitat needs through the school classroom and through youth outdoors and nature organizations.

Judging objectives are focused on both how much youth contenders have learned about waterfowl species and importance of natural habitat, but also the quality of a competition youth’s “visual term paper” product, which is the competing sketch or drawing of the waterfowl specie that will adorn the Junior Duck Stamp.

The colorful 20-21 Federal Duck Stamp is a lesser scaup drake, the result of skillful sketch work by Richard Clifton 0f Milton, Delaware. The Junior Duck Stamp 20-21 depicts colorful hooded mergansers, the successful artwork of Margaret McMullan of Kansas.

Both stamps are on sale at many Front Range sporting goods outlets, U.S. Post Offices, our local Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Competition for the coming 2022-2023 Federal Duck Stamp and the youth Junior Duck Stamp takes place September 24 and 25. Interested readers can gather more history on the Stamp programs at www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp.php.

Outdoorsman and Westminster resident Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch Comcast.net.

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