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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service distributing $1.1 billion to state wildlife agencies

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service distributing $1.1 billion to state wildlife agencies

Funds raised from taxes on hunting and fishing industries to benefit outdoor recreationists, conservation, regional economies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recentlyannounced that it will distribute $1.1 billion in 2015 to critical fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects throughout the country. The funds come from Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act revenues, which tax sales on sporting firearms, ammunition, and archery and fishing equipment in all 50 states.

“These funds are the cornerstone of state-based efforts that are critical to the preservation of America’s wildlife and natural resources,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “But they are also the fuel for a massive financial engine that benefits outdoor recreationists, hunters, boaters and anglers, equipment manufacturers and retailers, and local and regional economies. Their value cannot be overstated in providing opportunities for the next generation of Americans to get outdoors, experience our wild places and learn the importance of conserving our natural heritage.”

Passed in 1937 during the Great Depression, the Pittman-Robertson Act was supported by the National Rifle Association and sportsmen who recognized the importance of wildlife management after many animals had been driven to near-extinction from overhunting or habitat degradation. Notable species that have returned to healthy population levels thanks to the act include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and wood ducks.

Since their creations, the Pittman Robertson-Dingell Johnson programs have combined to generate more than $15 billion for the support of hunting and fishing activities. Awarded funds reimburse up to 75% of a project's costs with the remaining 25% usually coming from the recipient State's hunting and fishing license revenues.

“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program provides critical funding for conservation projects and outdoor recreation activities across this great nation,” said Assistant Director Hannibal Bolton of the Service’s WSFR program. “I can’t stress enough that the key to the program’s success is through our dedicated partnerships with State agencies, non-government organizations and many others.”

Among projects that use Pittman-Robertson funds are hunter education, firearm safety, and range programs, as well as the construction, operation and maintenance of public target ranges.

The NRA Public Range Fund, a matching grant program for public range projects, accepts Pittman-Robertson-funded ventures.

Revenues generated through Pittman-Robertson have reached record highs in recent years due to the massive increase in gun and ammunition purchases. This year's funds mark a 44% increase over the $760 million apportioned in 2014.

A complete state-by-state listing of 2015 apportionments can be found on the USFWS website.

Source: Feds make ready $1.1 billion in gun taxes for state conservation

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