Why it Matters: Sportsmen and women play an integral and unique role in providing the majority of state-level conservation funding in the United States through the American System of Conservation Funding. Since the inception of this System, state fish and wildlife agencies have received over $71 billion from sportsmen and women nationwide. As the primary funding source for state-based conservation, it is imperative that the next generation of sportsmen and women are successfully recruited and welcomed within our community. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s wildlife managers, political and business leaders, and members of conservation organizations. Students that learn about the important role of hunting and fishing in society will be essential to the long-term viability of the outdoor sporting community.
- On February 24, Senator David Wilson introduced Senate Bill 78 (SB 78) that would allow non-resident college students to obtain hunting, trapping, and/or angling licenses at the same price as state residents.
- Senator David Wilson, who also serves as an Executive Council member for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, introduced the bill to remove cost-prohibitive barriers faced by college students seeking to participate in outdoor pursuits.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), along with our partners at the Outdoor Heritage Foundation of Alaska, strongly supports SB 78, and will be advocating for its passage during the 2023 session.
The sportsmen’s community has a vested interest in ensuring that student-sportsmen remain engaged in our outdoor traditions while in school. Recognizing the need to foster the next generation of sportsmen and women, NASC Executive Council member and Alaska state Senator David Wilson has introduced Senate Bill 78 to address the cost-prohibitive nature of non-resident college student hunting and fishing license fees. Under SB 78, half-time and full-time nonresident college students would be allowed to purchase a hunting, fishing, or trapping license at the same price as a state resident. If passed, Alaska would become the 30th state to provide reduced hunting and fishing license fees for students.
For more than 85 years, sportsmen and women have been the primary funders of state-level conservation efforts through revenue derived from license sales and excise taxes on sporting-related goods in the unique “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). The funds collected through this program are the lifeblood of state fish and wildlife agencies, including the Alaska Department of Fish and Game – the primary manager of Alaska fish and wildlife resources. These critical funds support a variety of efforts including enhanced fish and wildlife habitat and populations, recreational access to public and private lands, and other conservation projects – all of which benefit the public at large, not just sportsmen and women.
Given the significant role played by the outdoor sporting community in funding these efforts, it’s imperative to recruit and retain the next generation of hunters and anglers, with college students being a key demographic to activate. Reduced license fees for half-time and full-time nonresident college students remove financial barriers and will encourage increased participation in the outdoors throughout the Last Frontier. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation strongly supports SB 78, along with similar efforts across the country, and will be advocating for its passage during the 2023 legislative session.