Dedicated Lottery Funds for Conservation

Summary

Some states have sought additional methods of funding for conservation via proceeds from public lotteries. Dedicated funds from state lottery proceeds can compliment the successful American System of Conservation Funding, provided lottery funds are focused on natural resource management and providing access for hunters and anglers.

Introduction

For over 80 years, sportsmen and women have provided the vast majority of state-based conservation funding in the United States though a “user-pays, public-benefits” structure (via the successful American System of Conservation Funding – Page 32). Over the last few decades, rising costs for natural resource management and increased public utilization of these resources has led to some states to seek additional methods of funding for conservation. One such funding source involves dedicating lottery proceeds to assist with efforts such as increasing access to public lands, habitat and endangered species conservation, wildlife education, watershed restoration, and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities for the public.

Points of Interest

  • In 1990, Arizona became the first state to dedicate a portion of their lottery funds to conservation through a ballot initiative.The Arizona Legislature annually allocates up to $10 million from the state’s lottery proceeds to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Heritage Fund. The fund is used for environmental education, protecting endangered species, and expanding public access to natural resources. Since 1992, the Arizona Heritage Fund has been able to acquire and provide public access to over 18,000 acres for hunting and angling.
  • In 1992 and 1998, voters in Colorado and Oregon, respectively, approved constitutional amendments via ballot initiatives to dedicate a portion of their state lottery proceeds to go towards conservation. These initiatives were approved by a vast majority of voters in each state.
  • In FY 2016, the Great Outdoor Colorado Trust Fund received close to $64 million from lottery funds to conserve wildlife habitat, acquire and manage public lands, and otherwise expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the state. Since the fund’s first year of operations in FY 1994, over $1.1 billion has been granted to various qualifying recipients.
  • 15% of the proceeds from Oregon’s state lottery are annually granted to the Parks and Natural Resources Fund. These funds assist with projects such as watershed restoration and salmon conservation and management.

Language

  • Arizona: Summary of Proposition 200 (1990): “To provide for annual funding from state lottery revenues for the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Heritage Fund for the purposes of preserving, protecting, and enhancing Arizona's natural and scenic environment, historical and cultural heritage, biological diversity, state, regional and local parks for outdoor recreation and open space, wildlife and wildlife habitat, endangered and threatened species, urban wildlife, trails, and for environmental education; to establish definitions and guidelines for determining how such monies and interest earned from such monies shall be expended annually and for the administration of such programs by the Arizona State Parks Board and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.”
  • Colorado: “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution to create the Great Outdoors Colorado Program; to provide for the permanent dedication of net proceeds from every state-supervised lottery game for the program after payment of certain existing obligations; to specify that the program provide for the preservation, protection, enhancement, and management of the state's wildlife, park, river, trail, and open space heritage; to establish a board as an independent political subdivision of the state to oversee the program; and to create a trust fund for the program?”
  • Oregon: Summary of the Oregon Lottery Revenues for Parks and Conservation Act, or 1998 Ballot Measure 66: “Amends Constitution: Dedicates Some Lottery Funding To Parks, Beaches; Habitat, Watershed Protection.”

Moving Forward

If properly implemented, dedicated funds from state lottery proceeds can complement the highly successful American System of Conservation Funding in helping conserve our natural resources and expand hunter and angler access to these natural resources. As budgetary pressures increase for state fish and wildlife agencies, lottery proceeds can provide a considerable source of revenue, especially if safeguards are put into place to prevent these funds from being diverted into other accounts or uses. It is recommended that ballot language concerning establishing such lottery conservation funds include provisions that focus the revenue on natural resource management and on providing access for sportsmen and women.

Contact

For more information or sources on this issue, please contact Joel Hodgdon at jhodgdon@congressionalsportsmen.org.

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