America’s sportsmen and sportswomen generated nearly $1 billion in excise taxes during 2019 to support state conservation programs. Those funds, from excise taxes on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment and boat fuel, are being distributed in 2020 to all 50 states and U.S. territories by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
To date, the Service has distributed more than $22.9 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $7.6 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
Authorized by Congress through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, these funds support critical state conservation and outdoor recreation projects. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, which the Service administers, has long been considered the foundation of fish and wildlife conservation in the United States.
“Our conservation model is funded and supported by America’s hunters, shooters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts. These stewards of conservation generated nearly a billion dollars last year alone and make our country's conservation legacy the envy of the world,” said David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior.
According to Aurelia Skipwith, USFW Service Director, “As the administrator of these grants, the Fish and Wildlife Service is the linchpin in the circle of funding that arcs from the hunters and anglers generating these dollars as consumers, through the states as conservation managers, and back to hunters, anglers, and recreational users as beneficiaries, for improved hunting, fishing and conservation opportunities. It is a role we are honored to play.”
State-by-state listings of the Service’s final apportionments of Wildlife Restoration, Sport Fish Restoration and State Wildlife Grant funds for the Fiscal Year 2020 and more information about the WSFR program can be found here.
“The firearm and ammunition industry is a longtime and proud contributor to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Our industry, in partnership with the Department of the Interior, plays a critical role in sustaining the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.
“That partnership demonstrates that investment in our wild animals and the habitats where they thrive pays dividends for tomorrow’s outdoorsmen and women. Firearm and ammunition makers had the foresight more than 80 years ago to recognize the importance of industry partnering with government, which has resulted in over $12.5 billion contributed to wildlife restoration since 1937.
“This has restored ducks to our skies and marshes, antelope to our plains, whitetail deer to our woods, opened millions of acres for public access for hunters and anglers and inspired conservationists for generations to come,” he added.
In a related announcement, the Service is awarding $6.4 million in grants through its Competitive State Wildlife Grant (C-SWG) program. The funds help conserve and protect Species of Greatest Conservation Need and this year will be distributed to nine state fish and wildlife agencies. Several projects involve additional state fish and wildlife agencies working in partnership with nine states.
“State fish and wildlife agencies play a crucial role in the conservation of America’s fish and wildlife and in delivering the promise of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” said Kelly Hepler, Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
“Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds, coupled with sporting licenses, are the lifeblood of state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Jeff Crane, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation president.
“These funds—generated solely by sportsmen and women—often account for 80% or more of state fish and wildlife agency revenue and are critically important to ensuring the completion of on-the-ground conservation, research and access projects. CSF applauds the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for promptly distributing these ‘user pays-public benefits’ funds in a timely manner,” he said.