Open Mic: Time To Buy Your Stamp!
by Nate Swick
AT THE MIC: Barbara Volkle
Barbara, currently of Northborough, Massachusetts, is founding President of the Friends of Assabet River NWR and former president of the Brookline Bird Club. She is the Secretary of the Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp.
There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of birds. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter. --Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) for 15 years, starting in 1936. Her writing reflects her love of the natural world and her zeal to help preserve it.
My life changed when I started birding. I began measuring time differently – time according to birds. In early winter we listen in the dead of night for owls to start courting. We go to the coast in winter, just after a good storm and in coldest of weather. The rhythm of spring and fall migrations becomes a time to be savored. The summer season is measured by nests and the sounds of fledglings.
Birding milestones run, like clockwork, with precision through the year. Right now, it is time to buy your Stamp.
June 29 is the first day of sale for the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, also known as the “Duck Stamp”. The stamp covers your entrance fee in to any National Wildlife Refuge that charges one, for the entire stamp year running from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. You can purchase a stamp at a refuge fee station or office, most post offices, from refuge Friends groups and over the web.
The story of the stamp is a great one. Since 1934, the sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated more than $750 million, which has been used to purchase or lease over 5.3 million acres of waterfowl/wetland habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System (www.fws.gov/refuges/). Ninety-eight cents of every dollar of the $15 cost goes to land protection.
Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the System has itself grown to more than 150 million acres, 556 national wildlife refuges. From J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge to Bosque del Apache to Arctic NWR, these lands are now protected in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System.
Some of the most diverse and wildlife-rich refuges in the nation, many of which are birding destinations, have been acquired with Stamp funds. Below is a list of familiar refuges and the percentage of each paid for by Stamp purchases:
Sacramento in California 99.6%
Parker River in Massachusetts 99.3%
Bosque del Apache in New Mexico 99.2%
Pea Island in North Carolina 99.2%
Quivira in Kansas 99.1%
Horicon in Wisconsin 98.7%
Muscatatuk in Indiana 98.9%
Monomoy in Massachusetts 97.8%
Bombay Hook in Delaware 95.1%
Santa Ana in Texas 94.9%
DeSoto in Iowa and Nebraska 90.8%
Anahuac in Texas 87.3%
Okefenokee in Georgia 86.2%
Laguna Atascosa in Texas 86.5%
Ottawa in Ohio 86.0%
Edwin B. Forsythe (Brigantine) in New Jersey 84.6%
Blackwater in Maryland 76.6%
The Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp has played a significant role in the growth of the system. Yet, in recent years, the stamp has faced flat or declining sales. With proposed severe cuts to the federal budget, including to the Refuge System budget and to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, land acquisition for the Refuge System may be all but eliminated. Funds from sales of the Stamp have become even more critical.
We’ve started a national Friends group to support the stamp, Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp, bringing together a diverse cross-section of those supporting the stamp and the system. We include birders, hunters and sportsman, educators, artists, photographers, and former FWS employees.
Join us and help promote awareness and sales of the Stamp. Mention Stamp sales at your next bird club meeting. Put an article in your bulletin or newsletter. Put the stamp in a holder on your binocs. Sell stamps at your next birding festival or run a raffle whose entry fee is the purchase of a stamp. Tell a friend, a family member, a neighbor. What’s your idea to help promote sales?
Birders, do your part. Time to buy your Stamp!