Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hagerman NWR Established 66 Years Ago

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge turns 66 years old this month! The Refuge was established in 1946 with the primary mission of protecting and providing for migratory waterfowl. Acknowledging the anniversary, today we take a look back in history just over a decade before Hagerman was dedicated, thanks to this article adapted from a post by the National Conservation Training Center of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on the Conservation History webpage.

. “Blown out Dust Bowl farmers were not the only victims of the ‘Dirty Thirties.’ Migratory waterfowl also suffered from the harsh climate conditions. As the wheat fields of North America dried up and blew away so did many of the wetlands necessary for the breeding of migratory waterfowl. By the early 1930s the winds were bringing hunters more dust than ducks and drastic measures were required; President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a special presidential committee in January 1934 to discover a means to conserve migratory waterfowl--a New Deal for Ducks. The committee was headed by Thomas Beck, editor of Collier's magazine, and eventually included Aldo Leopold and Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. The "Beck Committee" urgently requested more funds and better management of the nation's waterfowl. With surprising swiftness both occurred in March as Darling was made the new Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey and Roosevelt signed the first Duck Stamp Act. These two momentous changes came together as the cartoonist Darling designed the first duck stamp of two mallards landing in a lush wetland, a scene ironically rare in North America during this period. Six hundred and thirty five thousand of the stamps were sold at $1 apiece and the program was instrumental in providing a solid financial & foundation for migratory waterfowl protection.

Cyclical drought and ever increasing development have served to increase the importance of the wetlands and conservation of migratory waterfowl at refuges throughout the U.S. Visits to the Hagerman and other refuges not only bring enjoyment but also understanding and support for this important work. The Friends of Hagerman NWR are grateful for the opportunity to support these efforts and Hagerman NWR.

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