MADISON, Wis. – April 25, 2022 – Wisconsin Ducks Unlimited recently recognized three state legislators who led crucial efforts to improve wetlands habitat for wildlife and water quality. For their tireless efforts and commitment to wetland conservation, the 2021 Friends of the Ducks Award recipients are Sen. Patrick Testin, Rep. Mark Born and Rep. Ken Skowronski.
Since 1937, Ducks Unlimited has been the world leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation, conserving over 15 million acres across North America, including 131,000 acres in Wisconsin. These conservation accomplishments, which support wildlife, clean water and outdoor recreation, are possible because of partnerships and collaboration. One of the most important partnerships for Ducks Unlimited in Wisconsin is with the state legislature, which has tremendous influence over natural resource conservation throughout the state.
The 2021 budget year marked a significant step forward for Wisconsin wetland conservation with the passage of the FY21-23 State Biennial Budget that included a crucial state waterfowl stamp fee adjustment. The waterfowl stamp fee had not been adjusted since 1997, meaning the conservation buying power of stamp fee revenue has declined. The $5 adjustment will generate nearly $400,000 of additional dedicated funds per year for wetland restoration across Wisconsin.
Final passage of this fee change would not have been possible were it not for Sen. Testin and Reps. Born and Skowronski, champions for waterfowl and wetlands conservation.
“Our Wisconsin volunteers and members have spent a decade educating lawmakers about the importance of the state duck stamp funding mechanism and the need to adjust its fee structure periodically to account for inflation,” said Nels Swenson, volunteer state policy chair for Ducks Unlimited in Wisconsin. “We are proud to honor these three legislators, who listened to the Wisconsin waterfowl hunting community and stepped up to advocate for a fee adjustment.”
The Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp was first created in 1978 and sales revenue has served as a primary funding source for wetland conservation work throughout the state. To date, sales have generated and invested more than $14 million into Wisconsin’s wetland resources. These state-derived dollars serve as critical matching funds for private philanthropic investments by Ducks Unlimited and other nonprofit partners, as well as for federal grant programs like those created by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
“Duck hunting is a valued tradition that draws people from around the country to Wisconsin,” said Sen. Testin. “I’m proud to work with hunters to invest in improving wetland habitats so that the next generation can continue to enjoy great hunting opportunities in our state.”
“I am grateful to receive this award from Ducks Unlimited, and I appreciate their partnership in supporting our state’s strong history of sporting heritage. I am proud of our work to modestly increase the Waterfowl Stamp fee, to support the preservation and management of critical habitat in our state,” said Rep. Born.
“As a longtime Ducks Unlimited supporter and volunteer, I know how important conservation funds from the waterfowl stamp are to putting more duck habitat on the ground. Passing this fee change legislatively has been a personal priority of mine for many years and I am incredibly proud to have finally brought this issue to a successful end,” said Rep. Skowronski.
For details on Ducks Unlimited projects and efforts across Wisconsin, visit www.ducks.org/Wisconsin.