On September 12, in a win for the sportsmen’s conservation community, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2591, the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act of 2017, on a voice vote.
Introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Vice-Chair Congressman Austin Scott (GA), along with fellow CSC leadership, Congressmen Jeff Duncan (SC), Gene Green (TX), and Marc Veasey (TX), advancing this important legislation has been a priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and CSC leadership during this Congress.
This bill would increase flexibility for state wildlife agencies by allowing the use of Pittman-Robertson (P-R) funds for the recruitment of hunters and recreational shooters. This added flexibility is critical to ensuring the long-term viability of revenue sources that fund state-based fish and wildlife conservation across the country.
Without establishing new taxes or fees, H.R. 2591 would expand the Multistate Conservation Grant Program by providing an additional $5 million annually from archery-related excise taxes. This legislation would also place a cap on the amount of funds that can be spent on hunter and recreational shooter recruitment to ensure wildlife conservation remains the primary focus of P-R funds.
“Recruitment and retention of new hunters means more dollars in the Pittman-Robertson Fund, which directly benefits state-based conservation efforts across the United States,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “CSF will continue to work closely with CSC leadership in order to bring this important legislation to the President’s desk.”
“With a national decline in outdoor recreational activities, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I have been fighting to give states more flexibility in how they use their PR funds and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process,” said Rep. Scott. “I am very pleased the House passed my PR modernization bill, and I thank Chairman Rob Bishop for his commitment to this legislation as well as to sportsmen and women across the country. As this bill heads to be considered in the Senate, I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding model receives the critical updates it deserves.”
In May, H.R. 2591 passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on unanimous consent. The Senate companion bill, S. 1613, which is sponsored by all four CSC Senate leaders, Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), awaits a hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee.
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?