Why it matters: The funds that are being distributed by the Department of the Interior are generated entirely by sportsmen and women through the purchases of firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, and motorboat fuel. For over 80 years, sportsmen and women have played an integral and unique role in providing the vast majority of conservation funding in the United States through a “user pays — public benefits” structure in which those who consumptively use the resource pay for the privilege, and in some cases the right, to do so.
On February 11, the Department of the Interior announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be distributing a record $1.5 billion in funding generated entirely by hunters, recreational shooters, anglers, and boaters through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR).
For more than 80 years, sportsmen and women have played an integral and unique role in leading the nation in conservation through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). This system is unparalleled by any other conservation funding program in the world, including the United States. The funding that is being distributed by the Department of the Interior, which is generated solely by sportsmen and women, is the lifeblood of state fish and wildlife agencies, who use this funding for on-the-ground conservation, research, and access projects that directly benefits the things that sportsmen and women care about. Combined with the revenue generated from sporting license purchases, the WSFR funds has positioned the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to become recognized as the most successful conservation framework in history.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the Department of the Interior for quickly distributing these funds. CSF looks forward to working with the Department to increase access opportunities for sportsmen and women to expand their hunting, shooting, and fishing access opportunities to generate even more funding for the WSFR program in the future.
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?