Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced last week the distribution of more than $749 million in excise tax revenues generated by sportsmen and women to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration and Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration programs.
The annual distribution for fiscal year 2011 includes nearly $64 million for the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
“Hunters and anglers have provided the foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years. They continue to provide dedicated, critical funding for fish and wildlife agencies across the nation, especially at a time when many state budgets are under pressure,” said Salazar. “These funds will support important fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and hunter and aquatic education programs.”
Program funds come from excise taxes paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals more than $384 million, of which more than $79 million is for hunter education and safety programs. The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals nearly $365 million, of which nearly $55 million is for recreational boating access facilities.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project while state fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-federal match.
The 2011 distribution includes:
-- Idaho, sport fish, $6,334,404, wildlife and gun training, $7,218,764;
-- Montana sport fish, $8,625,634, wildlife and gun training, $10,162,996;
-- Oregon sport fish, $8,300,291, wildlife and gun training $8,728,731,
-- Washington sport fish, $7,773,584, wildlife and gun training $7,502,342.
“Our partnership with America’s hunting, fishing and boating community through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs is the cornerstone for funding fish and wildlife conservation,” said Curtis Taylor, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Section. “Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and restored through science-based management and this year’s apportionment is critical in order for state fish and wildlife agencies to continue their work on behalf of everyone who values our nation’s natural resources.”
Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Web site at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/ for more information on the goals and accomplishments of these programs and for individual state, Commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations.
Among the projects to be funded through the sport fish program is Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife work to identify sturgeon population limiting factors, develop responsive management strategies, and define pertinent monitoring and evaluation activities as part of management plan development. The agency will also measure juvenile recruitment through young-of-the-year sampling in the lower Columbia River and carry out a pilot study of set line sampling for adult and sub-adult white sturgeon. Sampling for young-of-year white sturgeon will increase the effects of environmental stressors on the population. A supplementary benefit of this task is the opportunity to collect DNA tissue samples that represent fish in a single year’s recruitment. DNA samples will be available for future characterization of effective spawning population size and for genetic stock comparisons with fish collected outside the Columbia River.
Much of the distributions from the sport fish and wildlife restoration programs are used for ongoing projects, according to Steve Barton, chief of the USFWS’ Division of Administration and Information Management for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. The states submit project grant applications each year that are judged by the federal agencies for scientific soundness and assure that the projects produce outcomes in line with the goals of the programs.
In Idaho, an ongoing project employing wildlife funds aims to evaluate harvest patterns, seasonal movements, distribution, and habitat use of big game (elk, mule deer, whitetailed deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, antelope, mountain lion, black bear), upland game, waterfowl, and furbearers to provide management recommendations; to reintroduce and translocate selected species to enhance populations and their distributions; and to determine hunter success, hunter opinions, and harvest.
The surveys and inventories produced by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game provide information on which to base management decisions; hunter surveys provide information regarding harvest and hunter attitudes which help maintain hunter participation and satisfaction; and information provided by this grant will result in effective management of wildlife
An Idaho sport fish grant has been used to help fund the Anadromous Fisheries Management Program, which provides technical and policy input to intergovernmental Columbia River forums that set management direction, resolve management issues, and implement recovery measures affecting Idaho's salmon and steelhead resources and fisheries; to provide management direction and oversight for Idaho steelhead and salmon hatchery and management programs; coordinate Idaho fish management planning processes with state, federal and tribal managers; and to educate the public and policy makers regarding the importance of an anadromous fish resources to Idaho, and their management issues.
A grant received by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been used for such things as its Anadromous Sport Fish Management program. The objectives is to investigate the status of white sturgeon and the sturgeon fishery in the Columbia River; to investigate the status of green sturgeon in the Lower Columbia River, Willapa Bay, and Greys Harbor; to evaluate the productivity and survival of wild salmon stocks; to develop, refine, and implement mass marking techniques for salmon and steelhead; and to provide biometrics support to research and management projects. All of the projects provide basic information needed to manage recreational fisheries. The sturgeon project is complementary to work done by ODFW; these efforts by the two states enable sustainable management of the sturgeon resource held in common by Oregon and Washington.
Without mass marking of hatchery salmon and steelhead, and the natural production monitoring and fishery evaluations funded in the grant and from other sources, angler access to salmon and steelhead would be greatly restricted due to Endangered Species Act concerns.
The wildlife grants help to fund the Montana Wildlife Program. The grants are used is to obligate funds for future land acquisitions or conservation easements. The objective of this program is to conserve and protect priority lands in Montana to fulfill the agency's statutory responsibilities for stewardship of these resources, and meeting the public's desire and demand for recreational opportunities associated with those resources.
Suitable projects serve as mechanisms to protect areas that provide significant habitat and wildlife-related recreational values throughout the state.
Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program funding is available to all 50 states, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. One-half of the 11 percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and archery equipment and 10 percent excise tax on handguns, pistols, and revolvers make up the funding for hunter education programs. The other one-half of the excise tax are for wildlife restoration purposes, including the 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition.
Each state or territory receives a Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment derived from a formula that incorporates its total land area and number of paid hunting license holders. Each state or territory may not receive more than 5 percent or less than one-half of 1 percent of the total apportionment. Fish and wildlife agencies use these funds to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife habitat, enhance wildlife habitat, and public hunting access, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education programs, and construct and maintain shooting and archery ranges.
The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program funding is also available to the states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. States receive funds through a formula based on the land and water area of the state or territory and its total number of paid fishing license holders. Sport Fish Restoration funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sport fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, and pleasure boats. No state may receive more than 5 percent or less than one-third of 1 percent of the total apportionment.
Fish and wildlife agencies use the funds to pay for stocking sport fish; acquiring and improving sport fish habitat; providing aquatic resource education opportunities; conducting fisheries research; maintaining public fishing access, administering the aquatic resource education program, and constructing boat ramps, fishing piers, and other facilities for recreational boating access.
The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs have generated a total of more than $13.7 billion since their inception – in 1937 in the case of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, and 1950 for the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $3.4 billion.