On December 4, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which included a provision reauthorizing the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Trust Fund) through 2020. Reauthorizing the Trust Fund was a priority for the nation’s boating and angling communities, and many bipartisan Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus worked to ensure the inclusion of the Trust Fund’s reauthorization in the bill.
The Trust Fund, a part of the American System of Conservation Funding, utilizes the “user-pays, public-benefits” model, in which excise taxes collected from the sale of motorboat fuel and other boating and fishing equipment are allocated to state conservation efforts to protect fish and wildlife habitats, develop better boating infrastructure and enhance boater safety, increase access for angling and boating, and fund state fish and wildlife agencies. Since the Trust Fund’s establishment in 1984, over $7.5 billion has been collected and allocated to the states.
Specifically, the Trust Fund authorizes annual funding for the: Sport Fish Restoration Program; Multistate Conservation Grant Program; Atlantic Conservation Grant Program; Atlantic, Gulf, Pacific, and Great Lakes States Fisheries Commissions; and the Sport Fish and Boating Partnership Council. The funds are also partially allocated to support the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act; Boating Safety program; Clean Vessel Act; Boating Infrastructure program; Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?