Recently, Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Mat Erpelding and Senator Lee Heider penned an op-ed celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
Eighty years ago, the ASCF was initiated by the hunting community with the passage of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act). The Act directed excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to a dedicated fund to be used specifically for conservation purposes. Revenue from sportsmen’s licenses was also linked to conservation through the establishment of this program. The ASCF has expanded to include the fishing, boating and archery communities through the passage of subsequent legislation. The ASCF is a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, in which consumptive users of natural resources pay for conservation. As Representative Erpelding and Senator Heider noted, “Given how many billions of dollars this system has provided for conservation over the years, the ASCF should receive more recognition than it does.”
They further went on to add, “In 2016 alone, the sale of Idaho hunting and fishing licenses generated more than $32.5 million in revenue. Nearly $21.3 million was brought into the state from excise taxes collected from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment. All of this revenue goes to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to manage our fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Idahoans.” They highlighted several unique programs and projects funded by ASCF dollars in Idaho, including fishing and boating access sites, Chinook salmon conservation efforts, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Access Yes! Hunting and Fishing Access Program.
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?