Waterfowl Conservation


NAWCA: The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), passed in 1989, provides matching grants to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. As the last reauthorization of NAWCA expired in 2012, the Senate and the House have both introduced legislation to reauthorize NAWCA. WATERFOWL STAMP: Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps were established in 1934 and have provided conservation funding to six million acres of waterfowl habitat across the United States. The stamp’s price was raised in 1991 to $15, and in 2014 was raised to $25 with the passage of the Federal Duck Stamp Act. E-DUCK STAMP: Electronic duck stamps are convenient because they can be purchased from a personal computer as opposed to a brick-and-mortar distributor. Following a successful pilot program, support for electronic duck stamps has grown. In 2014, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp (H.R. 1206) passed, authorizing states to sell duck stamps online.



Enacted in 1989 to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan through cost-sharing, NAWCA provides partnership and challenge grants for conservation projects. The program requires every federal dollar provided through NAWCA to be matched by one dollar from non-federal sources; the program is often matched 3 to 1 by non-federal funding. Grants encourage public-private partnerships to restore wetlands, enhance water availability, reduce soil erosion, and often improve recreational opportunities. With $4 billion in grants and matching funds, NAWCA has joined over 5,000 landowners, industries, and state and local governments together, provided funding for 2,000 projects in 27 million acres across all 50 states, and supported 7,500 workers.

Recent Activity

The North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Representative Rob Wittman (VA) and CSC member Senator David Vitter (LA), reauthorizes NAWCA through fiscal year 2017. This language is also included as a provision in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 sponsored by CSC Co-Chair Senator Kay Hagan and CSC member Senator Lisa Murkowski.



Federal duck stamps are annual permits sold to hunt migratory birds and allow entrance to National Wildlife Refuges. Revenues are deposited in the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and later spent to secure wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Nearly one billion dollars has been collected since the federal duck stamp was first required in 1934. The Federal Duck Stamp Office reports that 98 percent of revenues from stamps are deposited in the Fund with the remaining 2 percent used to print and distribute stamps.

Beginning at a price of $1 in 1934, the cost of the federal duck stamp was increased in 1991 to $15, and most recently increased to $25 in 2014.

Recent Activity

The Federal Duck Stamp Act (H.R. 5069 and S. 2621) amends the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act to increase the price of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps from $15 to $25 to “fund the acquisition of conservation easements for migratory birds.” Sponsored by CSC members Senator David Vitter (LA) and Representative John Fleming (LA), these bills secure additional wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System by increasing Migratory Bird Conservation Fund revenues by $120 million from 2015-2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office.



Since 1934, every hunter over the age of 16 has been required to purchase a federal duck stamp in order to hunt migratory waterfowl. The Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2006 directed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a pilot program for electronic Federal migratory bird hunting stamps that can be purchased from a personal computer. Eight states were included in the pilot program and sold more than 3.5 million stamps electronically. A report submitted to Congress in 2011 concluded that the E-Stamp proved to be practical and suggested strong support for expanding the program.

Recent Activity

In December 2014, “Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp,” (H.R. 1206), was approved by Congress and signed into law by the President. This legislation, sponsored by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Congressman Rob Wittman (VA), allows the Department of Interior to authorize states to sell duck stamps online which can be used immediately after purchase, avoiding an unnecessary trip to the Post Office or sporting goods store. 

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