State Fish And Wildlife Agencies To Share In More Than $464 Million
State fish and wildlife agencies will share more than $464 million in excise taxes paid by America’s hunters, anglers and boaters to support fish and wildlife conservation and education programs.
The agencies will use the money to support conservation programs such as fish and wildlife monitoring, habitat improvement, land acquisition, research, education, and other programs. The funds also will help pay for hunter safety and aquatic education and fish- and wildlife-related recreation projects. The funds are apportioned by formula under two Federal Assistance programs administered by the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The wildlife restoration apportionment for 2004 totals nearly $204 million, with $38 million apportioned for hunter education.The apportionment for sport fish restoration for 2004 totals nearly $261 million.
The funds from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, enacted in 1937, are made available to states based on land area (plus inland waters, such as lakes and large rivers) and the number of hunting license holders in each state. Distribution of hunter education funds is based on the relative population of each state. The Service distributes sport fish restoration funds to the states based on the land and water area (land plus inland water, the Great Lakes and marine coastal areas) and the number of fishing license holders in each state.
Federal assistance funds pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of each project while the states contribute at least 25 percent.
The wildlife restoration money is derived from an 11 percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, a 10 percent tax on pistols and revolvers, and an 11 percent tax on certain archery equipment. Half of the tax on handguns and archery equipment is made available for state hunter education and safety programs.States use Wildlife Restoration Program funds to manage wildlife populations, habitat, research, surveys and inventories and to administer hunter education programs.
The funding from the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, enacted in 1950, comes from a 10-percent excise tax on fishing equipment and a 3-percent tax on electric trolling motors and sonar fish finders. The 1984 Wallop-Breaux amendments to the Dingell-Johnson program increased the size of the sport fish restoration trust fund by including a portion of the federal fuels tax attributable to motor boats fuel and the addition of import duties on fishing tackle and pleasure boats.
States use Sport Fish Restoration Program funds to stock fish; acquire and improve sport fish habitat; provide aquatic resource education opportunities; conduct fisheries research; and build boat ramps, fishing piers and other facilities necessary to provide recreational boating access.
Florida, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Vermont have used the Sport Fish Restoration Program funds to complete or continue the following projects:
— The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Marine Institute have developed health profiles for marine sport fish being cultivated for stock enhancement at the Stock Enhancement Research Facility to ensure fish are healthy when released. Responses are provided to recreational angler concerns and to fish kills or disease events in the wild. The fish health data collected is used to develop species-specific health criteria for profiles to be included in a statewide marine fish stocking policy. This ensures that fish to be released are healthy. The profiles help the State maximize production by reduction of expensive treatments and make fish production more cost-effective.
— A portion of Wisconsin’s Baraboo River has been transformed from a series of sluggish mill ponds to a free-flowing waterway due to the removal of four dams along the river. Following the dam removal, the Department restored and enhanced the riverine fish habitat, and began a long-term evaluation of both habitat and aquatic species recovery patterns. There has been rapid improvement in the rivers fishery and canoeing opportunities, and the rivers restoration has become an integral part of the city of Baraboos long-term downtown redevelopment plans. This project received the 2003 Sport Fishery and Development Project of the Year Award from the American Fisheries Society (the U.S.s largest society for professional fisheries biologists).
–The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has created an experimental program to restore and enhance lake trout and Atlantic salmon fisheries in Lake Champlain. Sea lamprey control met or exceeded the majority of pre-established standards, with benefits accruing to fish populations, recreational fisheries and the economy. Economic benefits during an eight-year period were estimated at $29.4 million compared to costs of $8.8 million.
–The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory recently received the 2003 Sport Fish Restoration Project of the Year Award from the American Fisheries Society for their cooperative research project on sargassumn. This is one of the nation’s top fisheries research awards. Sargassum is a bright gold algae that provides critical habitat for the larvae and juveniles of many species of saltwater sport fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In turn, these sport fisheries provide a significant economic benefit to the states. According to the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, anglers in Mississippi spent $26.4 million during their saltwater fishing trips in that year.