The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation. More than $201 million dollars from the excise tax revenues will be allocated to the Service’s Midwest Region. The Midwest Region’s eight states receiving this funding through the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“Everyone benefits from this program whether or not they hunt, fish or boat,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “In many cases the parks where we watch birds, the public trails we hike on and the wildlife we observe would not exist without the funding provided by hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters. The Service’s Midwest Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program is leaving a lasting legacy for our nation’s outdoor heritage.”
Being a recipient of the user-generated funding for decades, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will receive $33.6 million from the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. These dollars will be entirely invested in restoring and conserving Minnesota’s fish and wildlife natural resources. Over the past several years, this funding has supported important projects for elk research, hunter education and fish recovery, which will have a significant impact on resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities. The 2016 Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration apportionments will support these and other conservation projects.
Listed below are examples of conservation projects currently funded through these dollars.
Elk movements and habitat use
A new research project on free-ranging, wild elk of northwestern Minnesota aims to improve understanding of elk movements and habitat use. The project is the first of its kind in Minnesota, where the goal is to improve understanding of the species and ultimately develop management programs that benefit elk and their habitat, while also minimizing conflicts with landowners. The study is being conducted by researchers from the Minnesota DNR and Minnesota State University-Mankato, running through June 2018. This project is in part funded through Wildlife Restoration dollars.
Furthering Minnesota’s hunting heritage
An all-inclusive, multi-session learn-to-hunt program for adults aims to continue Minnesota’s hunting heritage using Wildlife Restoration funds. The learn-to-hunt program appeals to a growing population of adults who want to learn to hunt to procure their own food, to live local and who care about the source and quality of their food.
Fishing for lake sturgeon
Comebacks staged by lake sturgeon in recent years are making new fishing opportunities possible, including a new catch-and-release fishing season that opened in most of Minnesota in 2015. Sturgeon numbers have increased because of improved water quality, dam removals, restorative stocking efforts and conservative regulations. The new catch-and-release season is a very positive outcome of recovery and was made possible through partners and Sport Fish Restoration funds.
The Service apportions the funds to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2016 totals $695 million. The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2016 totals $361 million.
The Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project, while state fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-federal match. For information on funding for each state, visit www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ref=service-distributes-$1.1-billion-to-state-wildlife-agencies-to-support-&_ID=35495. To learn more about the projects funded in the Service’s Midwest Region, visit www.fws.gov/midwest/news/WSFR2016.html.
To learn more about the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, please visit our website at wsfrprograms.fws.gov.