The California State Duck Stamp (CSDS) was created by legislation in 1971 (Fish and Game Code §3702). The stamp is required when hunting waterfowl and purchased by stamp collectors. All funds generated by the sale of stamps are deposited in the State Duck Stamp Account. The funds can only be used for projects approved by the Fish and Game Commission (FGC) for the purpose of protecting, preserving, restoring, enhancing, and developing migratory waterfowl breeding and wintering habitat, evaluating habitat projects, and conducting waterfowl resource assessments and other waterfowl related research. These funds also may be used to reimburse nonprofit organizations for completed habitat projects.
During winter, wetlands and agricultural habitats in California, especially the Central Valley, support the largest single concentration of waterfowl (currently three to four million) in North America. This concentration represents more than 60 percent of all waterfowl wintering in the Pacific Flyway and more than 20 percent of all waterfowl wintering in North America. These birds are almost entirely dependent on water and habitat provided through human activities due to the significant loss of wetlands in California.
Since 1971, when adult hunters in California were first required to purchase a State Duck Stamp for waterfowl hunting, nearly $22 million has been spent to enhance wetland habitats. These funds, and additional contributions from non profit conservation groups and federal agencies, have been used to enhance about 50,000 acres of wetland habitat in California on state and federal lands. An additional $5 million raised from the sale of State Duck Stamps has been expended to improve waterfowl habitat in the production areas in Canada that contribute waterfowl to the wintering populations in California.
The goals of the CSDS, as described in legislation, are to protect, preserve, restore, enhance, and develop migratory waterfowl breeding and wintering habitat, evaluate habitat projects, and conduct waterfowl resource assessments and other waterfowl related research. To achieve these goals the program has adopted the following four objectives:
- Identify activities which are needed for the preservation and maintenance of California's waterfowl habitat on public land.
- Develop and fund project-specific strategies to protect, enhance, maintain or restore significant waterfowl habitat on public land.
- Develop and fund project-specific strategies to conserve waterfowl populations.
- Develop, administer, and fund a grants program for waterfowl conservation.
The CSDSP is funded by State Duck Stamp funds. §3703. Before the FGC may consider any project proposal, the department shall analyze such project and provide the FGC with recommendations as to the project's feasibility and need. Two dollars and twenty-five cents ($2.25) of the amount collected by the department for each state duck stamp sold shall be allocated by the FGC for the purposes of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in those areas of Canada from which come substantial numbers of waterfowl migrating to, or through, California.
This program requires a maximum of 6 percent overhead charged by grantees (or contractors). In addition, a mandated amount of funds must go to a habitat project in Canada. The CSDSP has up to $1,287,843 allocated for projects on a Fiscal Year (FY) basis.
To accomplish the Program's objectives, while maximizing available public funds, the CDFW is authorized to award grants (and contracts where necessary) for waterfowl conservation purposes (acquisition, restoration, enhancement, creation and research) to nonprofit organizations, local government agencies, state departments and federal agencies. The above organizations must have the specific capacity (waterfowl habitat enhancement, restoration, creation and or research experience to deliver the objectives).
Examples of eligible projects for the Program include, but are not limited to:
- Enhance/restore/maintain nesting habitat for CA species
- Restoring or creating brood ponds/summer water
- Enhancing or restoring uplands for goose forage
- Establishing islands and swales
- Levee repair, replacement of water control structures, pump repair and installation
- Fence installation to control and/or manage livestock or wildlife and/or to enhance upland habitat for waterfowl nesting and goose forage
- Roost areas and grit sites for geese
- Removal of nonnative invasive plant species and restoration (active or passive) of native and other desirable wetland or upland vegetation
- Population parameters of species or subspecies
- Investigations of limited resources for specific species or subspecies such as eelgrass for Black brant
- Habitat projects in Alberta or Saskatchewan, Canada can include: conservation easements and agreements, land purchases, and wetland and upland restoration. Projects should target areas outlined in the pintail action plan and be adjacent to other completed habitat projects.