View of the Black Bayou
Shopping mall parking lots are full, store lines are long and FedEx delivery men are working overtime. Americans are by and large incredibly generous and thoughtful people and the Christmas season provides an outlet for that expression. Still, I can’t help but think that most of the fruitcakes, holiday sweaters and video games being wrapped up and put under trees over the next few days will only provide temporary happiness for their new owners after this holiday season has come and gone.
Maybe for a change this year, we should resolve to give gifts that keep on giving.
And as luck would have it, those of us who care deeply about this beautiful country and its natural wonders have a way of doing just that – the Federal Duck Stamp.
Created in 1934 as a hunting license, the Duck Stamp has come to symbolize much more. For just $15 per stamp, this collector stamp provides a way for each and every one of us to own and protect a little piece of this amazing world we live in.
That’s because 98 cents out of every dollar collected from the purchase of Duck Stamps goes to the National Wildlife Refuge System for the acquisition of new land. As a result of the stamp’s success, its sales have brought in more than $750 million for the purchase of 5.3 million acres of land over the last 75 years. In $15 increments – we have purchased land roughly the size of Massachusetts over the last three quarters of a century for the protection of endangered species, recreational hunting and fishing access, and outdoor education.
This amazing accomplishment that only begs the question – why couldn’t we be doing more?
What if this Christmas and every year after, we as a nation could double the sales of duck stamps each year? For just $15, we could help add acreage to places as diverse as Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana to Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge on the Maine/New Hampshire border.
Only in America would we think to set aside a few dollars every year as a down payment and investment on a gift that our children and grandchildren will cherish long after we’re gone. When you’re making a list and checking it twice this holiday season, buy a Federal Duck Stamp and put a few acres of beautiful open space and wildlife habitat in someone’s stocking.
The stamps may not taste good, won’t light up or make noise, and certainly can’t be worn -- but the land they purchase will be around long after those material things have gone out of style.
View of the Black Bayou. Photo by Alan Rowsome.
Federal Duck Stamp, 2004. Courtesy Fish and Wildlife Service.
Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Trust for Public Land.