We’ve arrived once again at the formidable April 15, day of tax collection and postal service misery. While I hope you and yours have enjoyed a hassle-free tax season, there’s no getting around the fact that the payment of income tax is not the most satisfying of experiences–especially in our current bail-out culture when it’s hard to feel confident about where our money is headed.

While speaking of citizen’s contributions to the greater good of the country (we hope), I thought it a perfect time to take pride in a similar system–sportsmen’s contributions to the greater good of our natural resources. Bothered by the sense that my tax dollars are being sent off into the ether, I tried to at least learn more about the tangible results of my duck stamp dollars and sporting good manufacturer excise taxes.

First I took a look at the Federal Duck Stamp Program. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, since 1934 Federal Duck Stamp sales have raised a total of over $700 million that’s been used to acquire over 5.2 million acres of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. If you want to see where your duck dollars are going, you might check out this state-by-state breakdown on the FWS Web site of the programs that have benefited from stamp sales. Using Arkansas as an example, the FWS lists seven national wildlife refuges that have received funding from the sale of 2.83 million Federal Duck Stamps in that state since 1934.

In addition to Duck Stamps, I did a little searching for the tangible contributions that taxes paid by the firearms industry have made. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, since 1991 manufacturers contributed over $3 billion to wildlife conservation through the payment of the federal excise tax. Since the excise tax was begun in 1937, over $5.5 billion have been collected.

I certainly hope my federal income tax dollars this April 15 are also being put to good use. But for those of us who need a little assurance about what we’re paying into these days, hopefully we have some preserved acres and well-populated fly-ways as our answer. -K.H.