Wildlife Council Urges Support for Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act

Recently, the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council (WHHCC) wrote a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting that the Administration consider supporting legislation entitled the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (S. 2690 and H.R. 4818) that includes strategies to sustain conservation funding and participation levels in hunting  and recreational shooting.

Established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the WHHCC advises the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior on wildlife and habitat conservation and recreational hunting issues. CSF President Jeff Crane serves as an appointed member and Vice-President Gary Kania serves as an alternate.

Supported by 35 national sportsmen’s conservation organizations including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act would clarify that one of the purposes of the Pittman-Robertson Act is to extend financial and technical assistance to the states for the promotion of hunting and recreational shooting. The legislation would expand the definitions section of the Pittman-Robertson Act to include a definition of “hunter recruitment and recreational shooter recruitment” activities and projects and make clear that the Pittman-Robertson Act funds may be used for hunter recruitment and recreational shooter recruitment.  To ensure that traditional wildlife conservation remains the primary focus of these funds, the legislation would put a cap on the amount of funds that can be spent on hunter and recreational shooter recruitment. The discretion to determine the amount, if any, of Wildlife Restoration Fund monies spent on “hunter recruitment and recreational shooter recruitment” activities remains entirely under authority of the state fish and wildlife agency director. 

The legislation would also clarify, by removing an existing prohibition on “public relations,” that state spending for management of wildlife areas and resources may include spending for the promotion of hunting and recreational shooting. The legislation would clarify that the construction, operation and maintenance of public target ranges under the Basic Hunter Education funding is not restricted to ranges that include hunter safety programs.

Finally, the legislation would expand the Multistate Conservation Grant program by providing for an additional $5 million per year (from archery related excise tax collections) to be used for making hunter and recreational shooter recruitment project grants that promote a national hunting and shooting sport recruitment program and related communication and outreach activities. 

The WHHCC noted that its support for the legislation is consistent with its charter which focuses on issues associated with increasing public awareness of and support for the Wildlife Restoration Program; fostering wildlife and habitat conservation and ethics in hunting and shooting sports recreation; enhancing sportsmen and women’s participation in conservation and management of wildlife and habitat resources through outreach and education; and improving implementation of federal conservation programs that benefit wildlife, hunting and outdoor recreation on private lands.

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