I came across this press release (http://www.anr.state.vt.us/site/cfm/PressRel/Detail.CFM?ID=2167) from ANR about support for the non-game donation on our tax forms.
While I believe that we should all check the box, it also brought to mind a conversation we started a couple years ago about the idea of a non-extractive user stamp for Vermont.
For those who weren't on the list then, the concept was this --
• Fish and Wildlife depends on license proceeds for the some of the work it does -- and from which we all of us (hunters or not) benefit when we enjoy to outdoors and wildlife in our State
• Specific to birds, waterfowl hunters are required to buy the state duck stamp which supports the migratory waterfowl fund (http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/support_migratory.cfm)
• The manner in which these F&W funds are raised (from license and stamp purchases) means that F&W and the legislature recognize the economic contributions of the population that buys the licenses -- and has neither a way to understand the breadth of interest, nor a revenue stream from those who enjoy Vermont's wild places, plants and animals in non-hunting ways. (This is in no way critical of hunters. It is a call for broader support from and inclusive recognition for a major group of "users" of the outdoors who currently don't contribute directly, and therefore are not correspondingly recognized)
• A separate non-extractive or "conservation" stamp would allow those who use and enjoy the resources to express their support financially, and would add their voice to the political, policy and program decision-making.
• And most of all the State would receive a new stream of funding for conservation.
10000birds.com has been promoting this idea on the national level to help with the wildlife refuges. (http://10000birds.com/the-wildlife-conservation-stamp-an-additional-income-stream-for-our-national-wildlife-refuges.htm)
Perhaps we, and the many organizations we belong to, should consider whether something like this might be of benefit to Vermont.
I offer this up for discussion -- not as a proposal.