Barbara Sachau of Florham Park, N.J., writes: As I understand it, the [federal] Duck Stamp sale raised $60,000 this year. Chump change. ... This program has not saved any land in the last 30 or 40 years. It is not a self-sustaining program at all. It costs general taxpayers to run it. It is simply propaganda for killing ducks. That is who buys these stamps primarily - people who kill ducks. Why you fall for this [junk] is beyond the pale. ... Why don't you look into it?

Outdoors Girl replies: I assume you are writing because of the Oct. 18 Baltimore Sun article about the winner of the 2010-11 Duck Stamp competition, Maryland artist Robert Bealle.

For starters, it's not $60,000. Maryland hunters alone purchased more than 31,000 stamps last year. At $15 a pop, that's at least $465,000 generated in the nation's 19th-most populous state.

Ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated by Duck Stamp sales is used to purchase and lease land for national wildlife refuges and waterfowl conservation areas. Since its creation in 1934, revenue from the stamps has allowed the federal government to purchase more than 6 million acres of wetland habitat. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Duck Stamp money has been used to acquire more than 31,000 acres on 15 national wildlife refuges.

According to the staff for Congressman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), in 1991 the Fish and Wildlife Service bought 33,983 acres for the Refuge System at a cost of $17.22 million. In 2007, the agency bought 15,359 acres for $15.97 million.

It is likely Congress will increase the Duck Stamp fees from $15 to $25 in 2016 to help combat the rising cost of buying land. The last increase was in 1991.

- Candus Thomson

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