Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why It Matters: States without a dedicated conservation funding mechanism leave millions of dollars on the table every year because they cannot provide the funding to qualify for federal conservation programs. For example, funding is available through Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Acts that match state dollars at a 3:1 ratio. States could also leverage funds for habitat work through Farm Bill programs which provide $6 billion annually for conservation on private lands across the United States.
Diversion of sales tax monies could provide millions of additional dollars per year in funding for wildlife conservation projects. Diverting a portion of pre-existing sales tax would also mean that there would be no increase in hunting and fishing license fees or new taxes levied on Mississippians.
The Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Coalition reports that 75% of registered voters in the state of Mississippi support dedicated conservation funding through a diversion of the existing sales tax on sporting good items.
Dedicated conservation funding has been a priority for the Caucus over the past year. Last year Representative Scott Bounds introduced legislation to establish the Fund. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 117-2 but ultimately died in conference. Dedicated conservation funding was also front and center during the Caucus Sporting Clays Classic in November.
Investing in conservation is important for supporting Mississippi’s 782,000 sportsmen and women who contribute more than $3.02 billion to the state’s economy, spend more than $2.2 billion, and support more than 33,580 jobs. In 2020, Mississippi’s sportsmen and women contributed $31.74 million to conservation funding generated through hunting and fishing licenses and excise taxes on sporting related goods, the “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with the Caucus as well as in-state and national partners to support establishing dedicated conservation funding in Mississippi.
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?