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Senate Committee Approves Important Waterfowl and Wetlands Measures (Really)

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August 08, 2012

Senate Committee Approves Important Waterfowl and Wetlands Measures (Really)

By Bob Marshall

Hooray for the Senate! Both parties!

No, that's not a mistake. I know this space spends more time slapping Congress in the face rather than on the back. But the entire membership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee deserves a big fat "Attaboy!" for sending three important wetlands and waterfowl conservation measures to the chamber's floor without opposition. They are:

- S. 2282, which reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA)  through 2017.

As Ducks Unlimited points out, since 1989 NAWCA has leverage $1 billion in federal grants with $3 billion in matching and non-matching fund to conserve more than 25 million acres of habitat on the continent. NAWCA has been a prime target of GOP budget cutters in the House even to the point of elimination for almost two years. But this bi-partisan support from the Senate gives it muscle to survive.

- S. 2156, which would move authority over the price of ducks stamps from Congress to the Secretary of Interior. This would clear the way for a fee raise from the $15 it has been since 1991 to the $25 that sportsmen's groups have urged for several years. Changes would have to be made in consultation with the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, consisting of the secretaries of Interior, Agriculture the head of the EPA, and two members each from the Senate and the House.

Ducks stamp funds have been the most effective in protecting waterfowl habitat because 98 percent of each dollar goes to purchasing fee title to prime habitat. Since its inception 77 years ago, 5.3 million acres of waterfowl lands have been set aside permanently. Sportsmen have long supported this fee hike because the steady increase in the cost of land has reduced the purchasing power of duck stamps to 36 percent of what it was 20 years ago.

Opposition to the increase has come mainly from congresspeople who are opposed either to any increase in federal fees (even if those who pay the fee approve) and others who oppose public ownership of lands.

While this committee action is seen as a big step in the right direction, sportsmen are urged to contact their senators and House members to urge support of final passage.

- S. 2071, which would make online purchase of duck stamps a permanent option. Physical stamps would still be available, but using today's technology would make it even easier for sportsmen to stay legal.

It's all good. Three cheers for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Comments (9)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Im torn on the increased price on duck stamps... yea its good for the enviroment, but not everyone can afford the extra 10 bucks for the stamp

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from TM wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Josh,

I agree. It is increasingly expensive. Gun, decoys, waders, camo, steel shot, calls, license, fed stamp, (maybe) state stamp, gas. Conservatively, if you have work and family commitments and can only hunt 3 times per season, the cost of each outing approaches $100. If you're brand new and considering getting into duck hunting and own only a shotgun, you probably need to spend a minimum of $300 (waders, steel, licenses and duck stamps, maybe a call).

We're pricing out our sportsmen. How can you convince junior to become a hunter at those prices? What happens when fewer young people hunt? What happens when there are more antis than sportsmen? The economic threat is real.

And there are other environmental costs that never get any attention. Around me, I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Canada goose. While I appreciate duck and goose habitat and the dangers of lead in the marsh, who will be able to afford to hunt in the future? What does it do to sporting traditions?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mocull wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Waders & Decoys are something you can get a couple seasons out of. The price increase of 10 bucks is very minimal compared to other cost. Even if you hunt 3 days a year its only a increase of $3.33 each outing if you look at it that way. I myself would be fine with paying 10 extra bucks knowing it is going to a good cause as in habitat protection.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from gundogco wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

There's no doubt waterfowl hunting can get expensive but for me it is worth it. Plus, I suck at golf and most other hobbies.

98 cents on the dollar ain't too bad either. I don't mind the increase when I know 98% is going to conservation

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Just gotta take it in stride. The increase is worth it. Get that $10 back in other ways. You'd be amazed how much money we waste. I RARELY run my A/C in the summer and only wash laundry in cold water in my house. That alone saves me hundreds each year. I brown bag it to work, stopped buying soda and bottled water etc.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I'm with Josh and TM. I am one of those hunters who finds it hard to part with an an extra $10. I know that the money goes to conservation which I am in favor of, but I guess with the high price of every other license I am a little underfunded. I can't afford decoys, I use a call (yes singular) that was given to me, and bought all the rest of my gear used except for my shotgun which I bought 10 years ago. I budget all my hunts and licenses, and I live almost as frugally as RealGoodMan(love me some pop). Anyway the point is You're going to push more hunters away from the sport, everyone has their pricing points, and I am sure that they've run some sort of analysis to be sure that they'll make more revenue than they'll lose.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I can't see how a $10 price increase will push people away. As for the rest of all that gear. Well, decoys and all are very fashionable I guess. Are they really necessary?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I believe the estimate of purchasing power as “36% of what it was 20 years ago” is very conservative. Just in the last couple years there has been an explosion in cropland values. With relatively cheap drainage tile and the GPS and installation technology readily available on every farm, the wetland/grassland/cropland duck habitats that were considered wasteland a few years ago are soon to be prime farmland. Direct farm bill payments switching to crop insurance payments with no conservation compliance in the new farm bill will GREATLY exacerbate the issue of no farmer interest in conservation easements or selling farmland for Waterfowl Production Areas. Like it or not, hunters are going to have to step up and pitch in a little more to keep habitat on the landscape. We have done it before and we will do it again. We are not the type to wait around and hope someone else will conserve our passion. There is a record migration this fall, but unless something changes in the favor of conservation of millions of acres of wetlands and grassland in the great plains, this season will be a faint memory in the far back of our minds as “the good old days”. How will you spend your time on those crisp fall days when there are no places to hunt and no game to be found? What avocation and values will you instill in your children that could replace the knowledge, skills, abilities and memories that could be gained from hunting?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

98% of funds going to habitat restoration is a great value! I am a very strong supporter (putting it mildly) of a couple different nonprofit conservation organizations. The work they do is invaluable; it has literally changed the face of the land, wildlife conservation and hunting in this country. But in even the best groups, as committed and efficient as they are, only 91% of the dollars they raise go to habitat restoration. They have buildings to heat and rent to pay. Buy a stamp, buy two! Buy one for your wife and all your kids. Encourage bird watchers to buy one. Encourage pheasant hunters to buy one. These habitats are productive for hundreds of species of wildlife. As far as the federal ownership of land, I believe there are some lands under federal ownership that should be privatized. I believe other federal lands could be better managed by states. They are poor habitat and cost taxpayers more than they bring in. However, the wetland/grassland complexes bought with duck stamp dollars are some of the most productive habitats in the world. They are good property to own, and rapidly increasing in value. When landowners are willing to conserve, that may be the only shot at conservation on that property for a long, long time. If the price of the duck stamp kept pace with Midwest farmland value inflation over the last 20 years we would be paying well over $150.00 for a duck stamp. People spend their money on things they value. How much do you value wild animals and wild places?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Just gotta take it in stride. The increase is worth it. Get that $10 back in other ways. You'd be amazed how much money we waste. I RARELY run my A/C in the summer and only wash laundry in cold water in my house. That alone saves me hundreds each year. I brown bag it to work, stopped buying soda and bottled water etc.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Im torn on the increased price on duck stamps... yea its good for the enviroment, but not everyone can afford the extra 10 bucks for the stamp

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from TM wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Josh,

I agree. It is increasingly expensive. Gun, decoys, waders, camo, steel shot, calls, license, fed stamp, (maybe) state stamp, gas. Conservatively, if you have work and family commitments and can only hunt 3 times per season, the cost of each outing approaches $100. If you're brand new and considering getting into duck hunting and own only a shotgun, you probably need to spend a minimum of $300 (waders, steel, licenses and duck stamps, maybe a call).

We're pricing out our sportsmen. How can you convince junior to become a hunter at those prices? What happens when fewer young people hunt? What happens when there are more antis than sportsmen? The economic threat is real.

And there are other environmental costs that never get any attention. Around me, I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Canada goose. While I appreciate duck and goose habitat and the dangers of lead in the marsh, who will be able to afford to hunt in the future? What does it do to sporting traditions?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mocull wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Waders & Decoys are something you can get a couple seasons out of. The price increase of 10 bucks is very minimal compared to other cost. Even if you hunt 3 days a year its only a increase of $3.33 each outing if you look at it that way. I myself would be fine with paying 10 extra bucks knowing it is going to a good cause as in habitat protection.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from gundogco wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

There's no doubt waterfowl hunting can get expensive but for me it is worth it. Plus, I suck at golf and most other hobbies.

98 cents on the dollar ain't too bad either. I don't mind the increase when I know 98% is going to conservation

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I'm with Josh and TM. I am one of those hunters who finds it hard to part with an an extra $10. I know that the money goes to conservation which I am in favor of, but I guess with the high price of every other license I am a little underfunded. I can't afford decoys, I use a call (yes singular) that was given to me, and bought all the rest of my gear used except for my shotgun which I bought 10 years ago. I budget all my hunts and licenses, and I live almost as frugally as RealGoodMan(love me some pop). Anyway the point is You're going to push more hunters away from the sport, everyone has their pricing points, and I am sure that they've run some sort of analysis to be sure that they'll make more revenue than they'll lose.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I can't see how a $10 price increase will push people away. As for the rest of all that gear. Well, decoys and all are very fashionable I guess. Are they really necessary?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

I believe the estimate of purchasing power as “36% of what it was 20 years ago” is very conservative. Just in the last couple years there has been an explosion in cropland values. With relatively cheap drainage tile and the GPS and installation technology readily available on every farm, the wetland/grassland/cropland duck habitats that were considered wasteland a few years ago are soon to be prime farmland. Direct farm bill payments switching to crop insurance payments with no conservation compliance in the new farm bill will GREATLY exacerbate the issue of no farmer interest in conservation easements or selling farmland for Waterfowl Production Areas. Like it or not, hunters are going to have to step up and pitch in a little more to keep habitat on the landscape. We have done it before and we will do it again. We are not the type to wait around and hope someone else will conserve our passion. There is a record migration this fall, but unless something changes in the favor of conservation of millions of acres of wetlands and grassland in the great plains, this season will be a faint memory in the far back of our minds as “the good old days”. How will you spend your time on those crisp fall days when there are no places to hunt and no game to be found? What avocation and values will you instill in your children that could replace the knowledge, skills, abilities and memories that could be gained from hunting?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

98% of funds going to habitat restoration is a great value! I am a very strong supporter (putting it mildly) of a couple different nonprofit conservation organizations. The work they do is invaluable; it has literally changed the face of the land, wildlife conservation and hunting in this country. But in even the best groups, as committed and efficient as they are, only 91% of the dollars they raise go to habitat restoration. They have buildings to heat and rent to pay. Buy a stamp, buy two! Buy one for your wife and all your kids. Encourage bird watchers to buy one. Encourage pheasant hunters to buy one. These habitats are productive for hundreds of species of wildlife. As far as the federal ownership of land, I believe there are some lands under federal ownership that should be privatized. I believe other federal lands could be better managed by states. They are poor habitat and cost taxpayers more than they bring in. However, the wetland/grassland complexes bought with duck stamp dollars are some of the most productive habitats in the world. They are good property to own, and rapidly increasing in value. When landowners are willing to conserve, that may be the only shot at conservation on that property for a long, long time. If the price of the duck stamp kept pace with Midwest farmland value inflation over the last 20 years we would be paying well over $150.00 for a duck stamp. People spend their money on things they value. How much do you value wild animals and wild places?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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