The Washington Times - July 30, 2009, 06:52AM

Ducks Unlimited, the million-plus-member conservation/hunter organization is in favor of raising the current price of the migratory bird stamp (annually required by all waterfowl hunters) from the current $15 to $25.

Is it really necessary? After all, the average American who likes to wade though marshlands and potholes, sit in wind, rain, sleet and snow — all for the privilege of perhaps returning home with a couple ducks or geese — is already being taken to the cleaners every day.

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Sporting guns are more expensive these days, so is quality clothing, food for the family, and have you checked lately what it costs to heat or cool your house? I live in a very rural section of Maryland and use propane to fire up the cooking stove in the kitchen and keep the family water heater hot. I recently required a fresh supply of the precious gas. Two 100-gallon tanks were filled. Hold on to a chair or something else because you might faint when you see what I had to pay: The bill was two dollars shy of $800.

I’m talking about gas that costs just under $4 per gallon.

What I’m saying is this: why is everybody continuously trying to get into my — and your — pocket? Openly supporting the increase in the price of a duck stamp, the Ducks Unlimited (DU) group proudly said, “Waterfowl habitat conservation is moving closer to keeping pace with the skyrocketing land values of the past several years today, as the House Natural Resources Committee passed the Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act, sending the bill to the House floor.

“This is an important step for conservation,” said Scott Sutherland, Director of Governmental Affairs for DU. “The diminished buying power of the duck stamp is hamstringing the efforts of millions of conservationists that are investing in the program to protect waterfowl habitat.”

DU said the current price of $15 was set in 1991 and that the money collected annually from the sales of the stamp wasn’t enough and that it has severely hampered the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s ability to purchase land. So if the bill goes through and the stamp price is increased to $25 (after July 2010) the DU people figure new lands and marshes can be purchased to increase habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

More than 1.5 million people purchase duck stamps each year, and over 95 percent of them are waterfowlers. DU also said that stamp collectors, as well as other bird and wildlife enthusiasts also purchase the stamps, either for their own collections or for the free access to National Wildlife Refuges that the stamp allows.

DU said the U.S. has has lost more than half of its original wetlands and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.

I have an idea. All that money that the government currently offers to buy a new car (up to $4,500 per purchase) if you dump an older vehicle that gets poor gas mileage, why not change the playing rules a little.

I understand that anybody who is willing to do just that can even buy a foreign car. It doesn’t have to be made in America by an American company. Imagine, people receiving American taxpayers’ greenbacks to support foreign economies. Think about that for a moment. We’re spending our hard-earned money to perk up Asian and European businesses.

So why can’t the government simply say the car you buy must be American and the money we will NOT give to folks whose heart is set on purchasing a foreign puddle jumper will be used to buy wetlands for our American waterfowl. It could generate tons of new dollars for conservation.

And what about the bailout money the government was so willing to hand out to companies who, almost immediately after getting it, provided fat bonuses for their executives? How about bailing out American wildlife with some of those billions of dollars.