Stamp It Forward: Public Land Tees

We sat down with hunter and photographer Sam Soholt to learn more about his Public Land Tees Project, Stamp It Forward, and other conservation projects.

So What Is This Project, and Why Did You Start It? How Can People Get Involved?

We started Public Land Tees as a way to give back to the organizations that protect, improve, and increase access to public lands. In addition to that, we’ve used the platform to creatively raise money outside of the typical banquet, auction, or sweepstakes models. One of those projects that has been highly successful is Stamp It Forward

Stamp It Forward is a project founded in conservation. Starting in 2019, it has been a yearly effort each fall to raise as much money as possible, and all of it goes to funding wetland habitat and access. 

Stamp it Forward federal duck stamp

How it works

We ask individuals and companies to make donations and with 100% of the money raised, we buy Federal Duck Stamps. The reason we chose the Duck Stamp is because it is quite possibly the most efficient way to ensure the money goes directly to the ground based on the fact that by law, 98% of the purchase price of a duck stamp has to be spent on purchasing or improving more wetland habitat. This is so effective because it goes far beyond just benefiting migratory birds. 

If anyone would like to get involved and help us reach our goal this year of raising $100,000, they can do so by donating directly through our site.

founders of Stamp it Froward with the funds raised

What do we do with all the stamps? 

The really fun part of this project is what we do with all of the stamps that we buy following the fundraising efforts. After we get a huge stack, we begin to give the stamps away with every item ordered on our website. Since we give back $5 from every item sold to conservation, it’s a way to roll one fundraiser into another putting even more money back into the ground. 

In addition to giving stamps away with orders, we give stamps away to youth, new hunters, and veteran hunter organizations to help get more people into the outdoors and keep bringing people into the fold. This year specifically, if we can raise the $100,000 we’ll be giving 500 stamps to Ducks Unlimited, 500 to Delta Waterfowl, and 500 to those youth, new hunter, and veteran groups.

What Does the Duck Stamp Money Do? What’s the History of the Stamp?

The Federal Migratory Bird Conservation and Stamp Act—better known as the Duck Stamp Act—was passed in 1934. Every waterfowler over the age of 16 is required to purchase a federal Duck Stamp to legally hunt waterfowl. Since the inception of the duck stamp, over $1.1 billion dollars have been raised, and over six million acres of wetlands have been protected making it one of the greatest conservation tools over the course of the last 90 years. 

Originally, the stamp dollars went only to adding to the national refuge system, but over time the funds were spread to include the purchase of “small” parcels that hosted excellent breeding habitat for the birds that use the wetlands. 

parcels of land used as breeding habitat for waterfowl

The money from duck stamps gets distributed around the country to different easements, refuges, and wetland purchases. A large portion of the money, however, does get spent on the “Duck Factory.” The Prairie Pothole Region is responsible for more than 60% of the breeding population of waterfowl in North America. As more land is protected and improved, it creates more ducks in every flyway across the country. 

One of the greatest things about the duck stamp is how easy it is to get involved. You don’t need to be a member of an organization (although you should join one), you don’t need to have a hunter’s safety card, you don’t need any other license at all to simply purchase a stamp making the barrier to entry about as low as it comes to getting involved in conservation. 

What’s the Duck Ruck?

This year, we felt there needed to be a change to our original model of encouraging people to send money to help buy stamps. As a way to earn people’s donations, the 100 Mile Prairie Pothole Duck Ruck was born: a 100-mile hike over the course of three days through the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. It’s a way to put a spotlight on the region itself, Waterfowl Production Areas, and National Refuges all funded by duck stamp dollars. 

Duck ruck details

The goal of the hike was to raise $100,000 and spend 100% of that money to buy duck stamps, because ultimately $98,000 of those dollars would have to be spent on creating more habitat and by default, creating more animals whether that be ducks in the flyways, deer, elk, bears, grouse, or any of the other 700 species that rely on wetlands to survive. 

The ruck started at Witsel Waterfowl Production Area southwest of Fargo, North Dakota, for about 50 miles, then the route took us south and west, ultimately finishing across the South Dakota border along Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We rucked 33.33 miles per day and in that short stretch of time we raised just shy of $50,000 for the ducks. Short of the ultimate goal, but the project is not finished, and we’ll keep pushing that total up as we work to get more people to donate to the project. 

Can You Share Stats on Duck Stamps and Funds Contributed Over the Past Few Years? 

In 2019, we took $2,500 in cash and drove around to seven different post offices in order to buy the first 100 Duck Stamps in the inaugural Stamp It Forward project. Then we opened it up to the public to participate and donate, and that first fall we raised just over $25,000: enough to buy 1009 stamps. 

In 2020, we were a little more organized and worked with more brands to bolster donations and ended up buying 1,582 federal duck stamps, raising $39,550. In 2021 we backtracked a little and raised enough to buy 1,187 stamps for $29,675. 

When 2022 rolled around, rather than just leaving it open-ended to raise as much as possible, we put a goal on it to raise $50,000 to buy 2,000 stamps. And in December, we received a donation from Scheels Outdoors of $15,000 that put us over the top!

Currently, with the dollars raised for the 2023 Stamp It Forward project we have raised enough money since 2019 to buy 7,728 duck stamps totaling $193,215. At 98% going into wetland preservation or restoration, that means $189,350.70 of that will have to be spent directly on creating and protecting more habitat. 

Want to Learn More?

Sam wrote this blog for Savage Arms about the history of the duck stamp, and crafted this reel about the duck stamp for Vortex.  Read more about Stamp It Forward and the Public Land Tees Project here.


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Jess McGlothlin

Before coming to onX, Jess McGlothlin worked as a freelance photographer and writer in the fly-fishing and outdoor industries. While on assignment in the past few years she’s learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries, and eat all manner of unidentifiable food.