Bob Hines has likely put his brush down, leaned back from the easel, and with his arms folded in satisfaction, coaxed a wry smile across his face.
A renowned wildlife artist who spent his formative years in Fremont, hunting, fishing, and camping along the Sandusky River, the late Hines has to be button-bursting proud to see the Federal Duck Stamp Art Competition is coming to the area this fall.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge & Conference Center in Oregon as the host site for the prestigious event, which will be held September 27-28. The “Hines factor” played a significant role in the decision to award the competition to northwest Ohio.
“The Midwest has large conservation and art communities,” said Tom Melius, the USF&WS regional director, adding that the selection of Maumee Bay to host the gathering provides “an opportunity to celebrate and honor both traditions.”
Maumee Bay State Park, situated along the shore of Lake Erie, has a boardwalk, nature center, and a large convention facility. It is the hub for much of the activity each May when the region plays host to “The Biggest Week in American Birding,” a 10-day festival of workshops, tours, and lectures.
The selection of Maumee Bay as the host site for the Duck Stamp Competition, which will determine the design for the 2014-15 Federal Duck Stamp, puts the event in close proximity to the Lake Erie marshes, a home or stopover point for thousands of ducks, other waterfowl, migrating warblers, and a wide range of wildlife.
Ohio Division of Wildlife chief Scott Zody said the “quality marshes and wetlands along the shores of Lake Erie make the committee’s choice” of Maumee Bay an ideal venue for the event. “In addition to great natural resources, the region boasts some of the most dedicated and passionate waterfowl conservationists in the Midwest,” Zody said.
The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is just minutes east of the park, and the gallery inside the visitors center at the refuge is named for Hines, who designed the 1947 Federal Duck Stamp and illustrated more than 50 books. There were more than 2 million copies printed of his “Ducks at a Distance” identification guide.
Hines, who was born in Columbus, worked as an artist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife for many years and worked for the USF&WS.
"It's a great opportunity for our region to showcase its commitment not only to conservation, but also to the arts," said U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. "Our Lake Erie region forms the perfect backdrop for this iconic competition.”
The Duck Stamp Contest, the only federally legislated art competition, is essentially the point where art meets the outdoors, and man or woman attempts to recreate nature’s beauty with paints and a canvas. The winning design graces the following year’s stamp, which is required for all waterfowl hunters, in addition to the purchase of a state hunting license.
The duck stamp is arguably one of the most successful conservation programs in the world. The stamps are purchased by art and stamp collectors, as well as by birdwatchers, conservationists and hunters.
It is easy to make the connection between the stamps and ducks, since 98 cents of every dollar from the sales of duck stamps goes to the purchase or lease of wetlands. USF&WS estimates that one-third of our threatened species use wetlands as their primary habitat.
“It’s a small investment that brings American families long-term recreational and conservation returns,” said the USF&WS’s Melius.
At the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first duck stamp was designed in 1934 by artist Jay “Ding” Darling.
In 1949, the duck stamp design became an annual competition, with 88 design entries submitted that year. There were 192 entries last year, and the competition to design the 2013-14 Federal Duck Stamp was won by California artist Robert Steiner with his acrylic painting of a common goldeneye. Those stamps will go on sale in late June.
During the life of the Duck Stamp program, more than $800 million has been raised to protect more than six million acres of wetlands and vital habitat throughout the U.S. and its territories.
Each year, the USF&WS selects five species for the artists to choose from for their entries in the competition. This year the eligible subject species are mallard, canvasback, gadwall, cinnamon teal, and blue-winged teal.
A panel of artists, waterfowl experts, and philatelic authorities will judge the entries over the two-day period in September. The event is free and open to the public and will also be streamed live over the Web. The winning artist in the prestigious competition will receive a pane of stamps of their winning design, but no prize money is awarded.
The winning duck stamp designs from throughout the history of the program can be viewed at fws.gov/duckstamps/federal/stamps/fedimages.htm.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6068.