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Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, Vice-Chair of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC), is the first to sign a proclamation (see below) celebrating the American System of Conservation Funding. Seventy-five years ago America’s hunters set out on a noble venture, one that many Americans still don’t understand. They became the stewards of the wildlife and the environment they cherish by funding conservation efforts all over the country through excise taxes paid on firearms and ammunition. They supported the passage of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration of 1937, which is most often referred to as the “Pittman-Robertson Act.” The Pittman-Robertson Act was so successful that in 1950 a similar law was written that used a tax on fishing-related equipment that also goes to support fisheries conservation. This one was titled the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, but is more often referred to as the Dingell-Johnson Act. Governor Beebe, through signing this proclamation is celebrating the 75th anniversary of this profound and effective way to fund fish and wildlife conservation, and the incredible benefits to our fish and wildlife resources that have resulted from it.
“Sportsmen have always been leaders in Arkansas’s conservation efforts, and we continue to recognize the role that hunters, anglers and trappers play in maintaining and enhancing the natural resources we all enjoy,” said Governor Beebe. “This conservation helps ensure continued access to clean water, public lands and abundant wildlife.”
Collectively, these excise taxes, including taxes on motorboat fuel (Wallop-Breaux Amendment of 1984) and other revenue sources (i.e. funds from the sale of sporting licenses) are the foundation of the “user-pays, public-benefits” program known as the “American System of Conservation Funding.” The American System of Conservation Funding provides a permanent and dependable funding source that allows state fish and wildlife agencies to hire professional fish and wildlife managers, restore and enhance critical fish and wildlife habitat, and provide for sustainable enjoyment of our natural resources for the American public. Just as important, the states have used these funds to make sure that the public has ready and dependable access to these resources by purchasing public lands, creating lakes, building shooting ranges and boat ramps, and developing other access opportunities for the enjoyment of the public.
Never in history have specific taxes been so heralded—especially by the people paying the taxes. However, despite how this unique American System of Conservation Funding benefits everyone, few outside the sporting community know that hunters, anglers, shooters and trappers pay for the management of our natural resources that we all cherish. To let them know about this and more, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) developed this proclamation, as well as a resolution for state legislatures, in cooperation with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The CSF would like to thank Governor Beebe for this latest example of continued leadership in the sportsmen’s community and is asking members of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus to sign this proclamation commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs.
To view Governor Beebe’s proclamation, please click here.
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?