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Making history

By Staff
Washington adds a new chapter to its history next week when the inaugural North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition comes to the newly renovated Turnage Theater.
For the first time, a nationwide, public art competition will be conducted to select the winning artwork that will be used to produce the next North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. To many people, it’s known as the North Carolina duck stamp. The competition is set for Monday and Tuesday. It’s a prelude to the 2008 East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, which is organized and presented by the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild. The festival is slated for Feb. 8-10.
One of the appealing things about the competition is the public will be able to view the entries beginning at 11 a.m. Monday. At some point that afternoon, the competition will be closed to the public so judges will be able to judge the entries without being disturbed.
It makes sense to conduct the waterfowl-stamp competition in eastern North Carolina, home to hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl. Having the competition as a prelude to the 2008 East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships makes sense, too. The festival’s reputation for attracting top-notch wildlife artists, decoy carvers and waterfowl callers will enhance the waterfowl-stamp competition. In turn, the waterfowl-stamp competition will enhance the festival.
Why all the hoopla over the competition and waterfowl-conservation stamps?
Money raised by the sale of waterfowl stamps and prints is used to help North Carolina meet its financial obligations in implementing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement with goals to restore waterfowl populations on the North American continent, according to a brochure about the waterfowl stamp competition. Since 1983, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s waterfowl fund has received $4.2 million from revenues generated by the waterfowl stamp and print program.
That’s why waterfowl-conservation stamps and the competition are important. They not only raise awareness about waterfowl, but they also raise money to protect and preserve waterfowl.
The arrival of the waterfowl-conservation stamp competition in Washington next week isn’t occurring by chance.
In the summer of 2006, the guild approached and persuaded the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to let the guild sponsor a national competition as the way to choose the artwork that will be used to produce the state’s next waterfowl stamp, according to David Gossett, a guild member and chairman of its annual wildlife festival.
As of Thursday, about 50 entries had been submitted to the competition. Those entries include one from Mexico and from the United Arab Emirates. Entries have come from 25 of the 50 states.
Not only will Washington, Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina reap the benefits of having the waterfowl-conservation stamp competition at the Turnage Theater, but those hundreds of thousands of waterfowl that winter at Lake Mattamuskeet, Pocosin Lake and other waterways of the Outer Banks and Inner Banks also will benefit from waterfowl conservation efforts.
The duck-stamp competition and the organizations that are bringing it to Washington deserve a stamp of approval.