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Duck Stamps Pay Off

Hunting license fees add 126 acres to ­Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Conservationists have reason to celebrate at funding for Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge’s growth by 126 acres.
    Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore, is home to one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, earning its ranking as a Wetland of International Importance.
    As well as marsh, it has two more major habitats, forest and shallow water. A sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, it fills each autumn with Canada and snow geese, tundra swans and a couple dozen species of ducks. Breeding bald eagles concentrate more densely there than any other East Coast spot except Florida. Eaglets are just now starting to fledge.
    “Conservation of key habitats is critical not only for our endangered species populations, but for the Chesapeake Bay — and the millions of Marylanders who rely on it for their livelihoods,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, who helped secure $415,900 for Blackwater as part of $7.8 million going to refuges nationwide for wildlife conservation.
    The funds were raised largely through the sale of federal Duck Stamps licensing hunters. Public recreation, including fishing, hunting and wildlife observation, is part of the mission of Blackwater and America’s other wildlife refuges, with at least one in every state and territory.
    “The expansion of the refuge,” said Maryland junior senator Chris VanHollen, “supports jobs, economic development and will allow even more Marylanders to connect with the great outdoors.”