The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is announcing a new way to directly fund the conservation of open spaces and wildlife habitat in Vermont. Fashioned on the success of the federal duck stamp, Vermont is releasing the new Habitat Stamp, a voluntary way to donate to protecting wild places in the state. Donations start at $10.
“We’re very excited about this new conservation initiative,” said Commissioner Louis Porter. “For years, our vision of conserving wild spaces for a variety of species has been funded primarily by hunters and anglers. However, bird watchers, plant lovers, paddlers, and other outdoor enthusiasts often ask us how they can join in on this effort.”
The Habitat Stamp’s proceeds will be used to acquire and manage wildlife management areas throughout Vermont. One of the first such sites is the Lemon Fair Wildlife Management Area in Bridport. Thanks in part to the new stamp, Fish & Wildlife will expand Lemon Fair to include three new acquisitions that contain excellent bat habitat and deer wintering areas, and also provides roadside public access. The acquisitions also include a large wetland complex that will be restored for waterfowl and shorebirds.
“One of the nice things about land conservation is that it is not exclusive to one type of species or user group,” said Porter. “The same parcel of conserved land can provide a home for endangered bats and for turkeys and grouse, while providing access to hunters, anglers and birders alike.”
Future department conservation projects throughout Vermont will follow this model of conserving and improving habitat for a variety of wildlife, as well as providing the public with access to conserved open spaces.
The stamp is available for purchase on the Fish & Wildlife Department’s newly redesigned website at www.vtfishandwildlife.com/get_involved/donate. The stamp is also available as an add-on to 2015 hunting or fishing licenses when purchased online.
“From time to time sportsmen and sportswomen have asked us to add a small voluntary fee to license purchases that would go directly into improving habitat and providing access to lands,” said Porter. “This optional donation will provide hunters, anglers and other outdoor-enthusiasts an opportunity to ensure for future generations that there are lands in Vermont that remain open and accessible to the public.”
The Habitat Stamp is being released to widespread support following a survey by Fish & Wildlife Department of more than 900 Vermonters, 90 percent of whom supported its creation. One third of self-reported birdwatchers said they would be willing to contribute between $25 and $100, indicating that this group in particular has a strong interest in conserving habitat for wildlife.
“As forests and fields in Vermont yield to development, the Habitat Stamp will allow us to continue to purchase and manage critical open spaces that Vermonters can enjoy,” said Porter. “This ‘all in’ model gives everyone a chance to make a difference for conservation, so that we can save these special Vermont places for our children and grandchildren.”