A Celebration of America’s Original Conservationists

By Senator Robin Webb (KY), President, National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses Executive Council

Hunting and angling are undoubtedly time-honored traditions, and are a large part of our American heritage. These pursuits provide countless contributions from the original conservationists – hunters and anglers – through substantial economic output and the sound, science-based management of our fish and wildlife resources.

It is for this reason that Congress created National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1972, and as President of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC), I am proud to join like-minded sportsmen-legislators and Governors from across the country in celebrating the 43rd Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, September 26.

In the most recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study, it was documented that in 2011 alone, 37 million sportsmen and women spent over $90 billion in hunting and angling related expenditures. The $90 billion dollars spent in 2011, relative to for-profit companies, would place them in the top 25 of the Fortune 500 list. The participation numbers in 2011 are equally as staggering and show that annually there are 14 million hunters and 33 million anglers, with 9.4 million participants involved in both activities. These hunters and anglers were in the great outdoors for a cumulative 836 million days that same year and, of those days, 554 million were spent fishing while 282 million were spent hunting.

Additionally, hunters and anglers contribute significantly to state-based fish and wildlife management through federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, marine electronics and motorboat fuel, as well as state licenses and tags. Collectively, these funding sources create the American System of Conservation Funding, a unique “user-pays, public-benefits” model that was originally created in 1937 with the Pittman-Robertson Act, and later expanded with the Dingell-Johnson Act in 1950 and the Wallop-Breaux Amendment in 1984.

The American System of Conservation Funding has now produced nearly $57 billion, and represents the lifeblood of state fish and wildlife agencies across the country, providing 80% of all funding. These sportsmen-generated dollars are used to administer hunter and boater safety education; improve access to public lands and waterways; enhance wetlands protection, resulting in associated water filtration and flood retention benefits; and, improved soil and water conservation - all which benefit the American public as a whole.

Today, we celebrate the many and varied benefits that hunting and angling provide for the nation, consumptive and non-consumptive users alike. Enjoy this special occasion, and take advantage of the numerous opportunities to hunt and fish throughout the country. The outdoor traditions of hunting and angling should not be taken for granted, and opportunities to hunt and fish should continue to be abundantly available for future generations. More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at www.nhfday.org.        

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