One conservation group is pushing for a mandatory stamp that would fund upland habitat conservation measures.
Outdoor columnist Christine Cunningham and Ultimate Upland founder Brian Koch announced their support for an upland bird stamp in their joint article, "It's Time For The Federal Upland Stamp." They cite the Federal Duck Stamp as a driving financial force behind waterfowl conservation in the last century, and they believe an upland stamp will result in similar successes.
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The majority of stamps are purchased by hunters, providing hunters with recognition for supplying funds that support a natural resource that is enjoyed by all. It is a living example of stewardship and demonstrates the responsibility hunters take for the birds we pursue. [...] It's a pattern for success that bird hunters and bird enthusiasts can replicate for upland species.
Koch and Cunningham plan to survey wildlife enthusiasts regarding stamp costs and fund management, which would be administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Using that survey information, they want to begin discussions around the proposed stamp and the future of upland species conservation.
Cunningham says habitat loss is the biggest conservation issue of this generation.
"Grassland bird species have suffered steep declines over the last 50 years," she told the Outdoor Insider blog.
"Recent listings and the nationwide scope of the problem make conservation a priority. An upland stamp does not just provide funds toward conservation, it will highlight the value of upland birds to a wider audience."
Duck Stamps, officially known as Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, were created in 1934 to conserve vital wetland areas and purchase land for the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). Ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated from the program helps fund the NWRS.
Anyone may purchase a Duck Stamp, but waterfowl hunters are required to purchase the stamp to validate their hunting license. No other group is required to purchase the stamp. The Duck Stamp has generated millions of dollars for critical habitat conservation in the last seventy years. But license and tag numbers are on the decline nationwide, and the stamp model may not be the sustainable (or equitable) source of conservation funding that upland birds desperately need.