Friday, October 15, 2010

Duck Stamp art contest begins in Berkeley

Today marks the first time that the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest will take place on the Pacific Coast. That Bay Area bastion of liberalism, Berkeley, serves as the site for the two-day public event that focuses on a stamp that hunters must purchase each year to shoot legally.

During its 61-year history, sales of the federal Duck Stamp have generated more than $700 million to purchase at least 5 million acres of habitat throughout the United States. From the $15 purchase, 98 percent of the proceeds go to Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to purchase acreage for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The protected wetlands and grasslands benefit waterfowl and many other groups of birds enjoyed by birders around the country.

At the David Brower Center on Friday and Saturday, visitors can see the artwork submitted by 235 wildlife artists throughout the nation. The winning art will appear as the 2011-2012 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. Visitors to the center also can participate in a "Pick the Winner" contest and children's activities while observing a wood carving demonstration. With the center as a starting point on Friday, participants can join a bird walk on the U.C. Berkeley campus with Golden Gate Audubon Society or a two-hour bus tour of three restoration projects with Ducks Unlimited. (Seating is limited for the latter, so RSVP to

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Saturday's agenda includes more art viewing and judging, with a panel of art, waterfowl and philatelic experts serving as judges. The winner will be announced close to noon.

Before the announcement, visitors can join a bird walk at the Albany Mudflats and the Albany Bulb with Golden Gate Audubon Society or participate in a duck drawing workshop at Don Edwards NWR's Newark Slough Learning Center in Fremont.

Later events on Saturday will "Amazing Refuge Race II" at Don Edwards NWR Visitor Center in Fremont, where teams of five will use a GPS unit to reach sites with specific coordinates and perform certain tasks. Prior registration is required on Friday: 510-792-0222 ext. 363.

As part of National Wildlife Refuge Week, the schedule even offers a Sunday event: a birding picnic between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Sacramento NWR with Altacal Audubon Society. The 2010 Duck Stamp gives you free entry; otherwise, you get to pay $3 per car. More details are available from Mike at 530-624-4777.

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