WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Rob Wittman (VA-1) today applauded the Senate passage of legislation Wittman authored to permanently make federal duck stamps available for purchase online, rather than requiring an in-person visit to a local Post Office. Wittman introduced the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act in the House of Representatives on March 14, 2013, and his bill passed the full House on June 3, 2013, by a vote of 401-0. After Monday’s passage in the Senate by unanimous consent, the bill is now cleared for the President’s signature.
“The federal duck stamp is a vital part of conserving waterfowl habitat across the nation,” Wittman said. “The sale and distribution of the duck stamp has provided hundreds of millions of dollars for the protection of wetlands and waterfowl habitat over the years. It is critical that this historic program be modernized so that it can continue to conserve our natural areas for the use and enjoyment of future generations.”
Wittman was joined in introducing the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act in the House by Rep. Ron Kind (WI-3). The Senate version (S. 738) was introduced by Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
“I appreciate Senator Wicker’s cooperation and dedication in getting this legislation through the Senate,” Wittman added. “This legislation may seem minor, but it is a tremendous step forward for waterfowl and wetlands conservation efforts. I am eager for the President to sign this into law as soon as possible.”
Since 1934, millions of Americans have strongly supported the federal Duck Stamp Program. Each year, hunters, bird watchers, stamp collectors and wildlife enthusiasts have traveled to their local Post Offices, National Wildlife Refuges and sporting goods stores to obtain their annual stamp. In fact, since 1934, more than 120 million federal duck stamps have been sold nationwide. Of that total, 1.25 million were purchased in Virginia. With the sale of these stamps, more than $800 million has been collected and deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. These monies have been used to purchase or lease over 5.3 million acres of vital wetlands and essential waterfowl habitat that have been incorporated within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Unlike many states, however, which allow consumers to obtain their annual fishing and hunting licenses online, there was no authority to purchase a federal duck stamp online. With the passage of the Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2005, the federal Duck Stamp Program took a technological step forward. This law established a three-year pilot program to allow individuals to purchase their stamps online, and the Fish and Wildlife Service was directed to evaluate the effectiveness of this new electronic program.
This legislation would make the online purchase of federal duck stamps a permanent feature of federal law. Just like the pilot program, the electronic proof of purchase will both fulfill the requirements for waterfowl hunters to possess the stamp and allow visitors free access to our nation’s 553 national wildlife refuges. After 45 days, the proof of purchase will expire and the purchasers must possess the traditional paper stamp to receive its full benefit.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the First District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee where he is the Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.
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