Specialty license plates can raise significant funds for an organization that can be used to leverage and match additional federal and state dollars, such as those available in the proposed Great Lakes Initiative. Bills have been introduced in the Michigan Senate by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-17; SB 0234) and in the House by Representative Dale Zorn (R-56; HB4337) for 2013. This legislation would create a specialty license plate for Ducks Unlimited, Inc., a non-profit wetland habitat conservation organization, to generate funds for wetland habitat conservation in Michigan.
A WIN-WIN PROPOSITION
Michigan DU specialty license plates would yield the following benefits:
- Economic stimulus and more jobs in Michigan
- A cleaner, healthier Michigan environment
- More and better wetlands and wildlife habitat
- Increased recreational opportunities for Michigan residents and tourists
Michigan Ducks Unlimited (DU)
There are approximately 30,000 DU members in Michigan, distributed in every county, and who are coordinated in 130 committees that host 175 fundraising events annually. DU members in Michigan are passionately committed to wetland conservation, and own many vehicles, boats, trailers, campers and RVs. Our goal is to aggressively market the plate in many venues and sell at least 10,000 plates by the third year, generating $150,000 for wetland conservation in Michigan.
Contribution to Michigan's Economy
In 2011, Michigan residents spent a total of more than $2.3 billion on hunting; Migratory bird hunters in Michigan (~ 48,000) spent approximately $1.3 million. Wildlife watching participants spent over $1.5 billion in Michigan. Wetlands provide key places for hunters, fisherman and wildlife watchers to engage in their activities. DU hires local contractors to conduct restoration projects, creating local jobs and stimulating the economy. Michigan hunters and anglers spent $4.8 billion in 2011, more than the combined revenue for corn, dairy products and soybeans. These activities support approximately 73,000 jobs.
Michigan Habitat Accomplishments
DU's regional office in Ann Arbor employs 35 biologists, engineers, surveyors, technicians and support staff, and has completed more than 1,536 projects in Michigan. Since 1985, projects completed by DU and its partners have conserved more than 72,000 acres of wetlands and adjacent uplands, investing approximately $27 million. Our plans are to continue to grow, especially with the new Michigan Great Lakes Restoration Plan and availability of new federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.
Partnerships and Dollar Leveraging
DU works with a wide array of partners in Michigan, including the MI DNR, MI Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, other conservation organizations, and private landowners and agricultural producers. These partnerships, in conjunction with DU's work with private foundations and corporate sponsors, allow Ducks Unlimited to leverage every DU dollar at least four times for the cause of wetland conservation, including revenue generated from the sale of DU license plates – maximizing the returns for our Great Lakes state!
DU also has an extensive accounting system to track the numerous state, federal and private dollars we receive and would track the DU Michigan license plate revenue as a separate account. Ducks Unlimited has its books audited annually by an outside independent auditor. Throughout our entire 74-year history, external auditors have issued a clean opinion on our financial records. Furthermore, our public income is audited under the Federal A-133 guidelines to ensure that the revenues and expenses generated at DU are appropriate and within the terms of our various agreements with our federal partners.
Other State DU License Plate Experiences
To date, 17 other states have passed DU license plate legislation, including all states surrounding Michigan. Readily available data from Ohio (16,500 members), where they have sold 5,449 plates, has generated approximately $82,000 in income.
The mission of Ducks Unlimited is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated uplands for North American waterfowl, other wildlife and people.
For more information, contact the Ducks Unlimited Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office.
1220 Eisenhower Place
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
View these Michigan DU Specialty License Plate Facts in PDF format.