Duck Stamp event to take flight at Maumee Bay

Matt Markey.
Matt Markey.

The Duck Stamp, that tiny piece of artwork with a sticky back, has been one of the best investments Americans have ever made.

Since its inception in 1934, the Duck Stamp, known formally as the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, has provided $750 million for the acquisition and protection of wetlands in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The selection of the art that will grace each year’s duck stamp is done at a national competition, and the 2013 contest will be held on the shores of Lake Erie at the Maumee Bay State Park Conference Center, which is located off Curtice Road, north of Cedar Point Road, in Oregon.

The Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, which is the only legislatively-mandated federal art competition in the U.S., is also one of the most prestigious contests of its kind anywhere in the world. There have been thousands of wildlife artists who have submitted their work for consideration since the initial open competition was held in 1949.

Tom Melius, the Midwest regional director for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service which oversees the competition, said Maumee Bay was a very practical choice to host this year’s event.

“The Midwest has large conservation and art communities. The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is an opportunity to celebrate and honor both traditions,” Melius said.

The finalists in this year’s Duck Stamp competition, which will select the artwork that will be used for the 2014-15 Duck Stamp, will have their creations reviewed by a select panel of art, waterfowl, and philatelic experts. The judging will take place on Friday and Saturday, with the winning artwork announced Saturday afternoon.

The judging, exhibitions, and accompanying events are all free and open to the public. The contest will also be streamed live over the web.

The proceeds from the sale of the Federal Duck Stamp, which cost $1 when it was first issued in 1934 and now sells for $15, have funded one of the most successful conservation programs in the world.

Ninety-eight cents of every dollar invested in the duck stamp program is used to secure permanent conservation of critical wildlife habitat. To date, the duck stamp funds have brought about the protection of more than 5.3 million acres of wetlands.

“The quality marshes and wetlands along the shores of Lake Erie make the committee’s choice of Northwest Ohio a great venue for the Federal Duck Stamp Contest,” said Scott Zody, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. “In addition to great natural resources, the region boasts some of the most dedicated and passionate waterfowl conservationists in the Midwest.”

The Duck Stamp is required for any waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older, and a current Federal Duck Stamp is also good for free admission into any national wildlife refuge. But hunters are not the only ones purchasing duck stamps and supporting the habitat work the stamp fund provides. Bird watchers, conservationists, other outdoor recreation enthusiasts, art and stamp collectors, and many other individuals invested in the stewardship of our wetlands also buy Federal Duck Stamps.

“It’s a small investment that brings American families long-term recreational and conservation returns,” Melius said about the Duck Stamp.

In conjunction with the Duck Stamp competition, the nearby Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will hold a dedication ceremony Thursday for the Bob Hines Ranger Station. Hines, a native of Ohio who spent his formative years in Fremont, hunting, fishing, and camping along the Sandusky River, designed the 1946 Duck Stamp.

Hines went on to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 33 years. The ranger station is expected to host hundreds of students each school year and help them make the connection between art and nature. The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center is currently home to a gallery that bears Hines’ name, an interpretive panel on Hines, and a permanent exhibit of one of his paintings.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.