In a surprise move, Senators did not work together recently to advance the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 to create an historic bill containing 17 provisions for fishermen, hunters, and fish and wildlife conservation. The vote was all but one Democrat in favor and all but one Republican against.
OK, I'm joking when I say that it was a surprise move. What did I expect from the wackos that we have in Congress today?
The bill was defeated because the Republicans did not like the procedure by which there would be an increase of $10 for a federal duck stamp, even though nearly 100 sportsmen's and conservation groups insisted on raising the federal duck stamp fee on themselves because they believe in a user-pay system that benefits their personal recreational activities.
When are these guys that we elected going to grow up and actually do something good for the country and especially for those who are volunteering to raise their own costs to support their hobbies? This is not a tax being forced down on all taxpayers. This is a user fee and the users know that it has been a long time since the fee was raised and they know that the duck stamp does a lot of good, not only for their sport, but for all of the other habitats and wildlife that benefit, including the non-game birds that people like to watch. Actually, good duck habitat in the Great Plains also replenishes water to the aquifer on which farmers and cities rely.
Adding more salt to the wound, the Congressional Budget Office also stated that overall, S 3525 would have reduced the nation's deficit by $5 million. Gov. Brownback touts the economic benefits of hunting and fishing in Kansas. He has participated in the annual Governor's Bird Hunt in the fall. Yet, I believe that his own state's Senators voted against this bill.
If you are a duck hunter, fisherman, or bird watcher in Kansas, you might want to give your Senator a call and give him a tongue lashing for voting against the bill. In this case, the political game has gone too far and they have potentially damaged the prospects for what could have been significant improvements in conservation. These are benefits that could have benefited Kansas.
Basically, federal duck stamps help pay for land acquisition and management, especially for lands that produce ducks and other waterfowl. Duck hunters are not stupid. They know that they have to protect duck habitat from agriculture and other development and they are willing to pay an extra $10 a year if it means more ducks.
Additionally, those federal duck stamps, which you can buy at the Post Office, are quite valuable as a stamp collection. They are really very beautiful art and the image is the result of a duck stamp art contest every year. The idea is so popular that people pay good money for a complete federal duck stamp collection.
Page 2 of 2 - It is so popular that the states also produce their own stamps. I have seen Kansas stamps for other birds, as well. It is all part of a user-pay system where hunters and bird watchers are willing to tax themselves to benefit their hobbies. I highly recommend that you look into these stamps and buy one or more every year to help support wildlife management in the U.S. You do not have to be a hunter to buy a stamp. Buy them just to collect them because they are pretty.
Surely this is just a terrible phase in American history where Congressmen will bite off their noses to spite their own faces just to hold the party line. I will be so glad when we get back to a reasonable Congress, but I am not holding my breath.
Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.