U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



February 15, 1996

Hugh Vickery 202-208-5634
Michael Smith 303-236-7905


State wildlife agencies will receive their share of the $399.5 million collected from Federal excise taxes paid by anglers, hunters, and recreational shooters to support fish and wildlife restoration and recreation projects in 1996.

The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute the funds under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration programs, helping to pay for thousands of wildlife conservation and recreation projects throughout the United States and its territories.

"Many Americans don't realize what an enormous contribution hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters make to conservation of our natural resources," Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said. "In fact, these individuals are among the Nation's foremost conservationists, contributing their time, money, and other resources to ensuring the future of wildlife and its habitat. Under the Federal Aid program alone, a total of more than $5 billion in excise taxes has been generated to support state conservation programs."

Since the 1930s, Federal Aid excise taxes have been largely responsible for funding the recovery of popular species of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wood ducks, and wild turkeys, and the restoration of fisheries and aquatic ecosystems.

In addition, the funds have helped pay for hunter education programs, aquatic resource education programs, and boating access to rivers and lakes. "These programs touch every man, woman, and child in the United States, making it possible for state wildlife agencies to undertake conservation efforts in communities across America," said Acting Service Director John Rogers. "When you see a flock of geese or ducks in the autumn sky, Federal Aid is a big reason they are there."

A total of $202.4 million will be apportioned to the states under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson program after its Congressional sponsors. This compares to $211 million in 1995, when larger-than-normal collections resulted from enhanced enforcement of the manufacturers excise tax as well as collection of back taxes.

The money is derived from an 11-percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, a 10-percent tax on pistols and revolvers, and an 11-percent tax on certain archery equipment. One-half of the tax on handguns and archery equipment is made available for state hunter education programs.

Projects include acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, research on wildlife problems, surveys and inventories of wildlife, acquisition and development of wildlife-related recreational facilities, and hunter education programs, including construction and operation of public shooting ranges.

Another $197.1 million will be passed along under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, often called the Dingell- Johnson/Wallop-Breaux program. This compares to $199.9 million in FY 1995.

This funding results from a 10-percent excise tax on fishing equipment and a 3-percent tax on electric trolling motors and sonar fish finders. The Wallop-Breaux legislation of 1984 increased the tax base for sport fish restoration to include a portion of the Federal motorboat fuels tax and import duties on fishing tackle and pleasure boats.

Projects funded under this program include acquisition and improvement of sport fish habitat; stocking of fish; research into fishery resource problems; surveys and inventories of sport fish populations; and acquisition and development of boat ramps, fishing piers, and other recreational facilities. Up to 10 percent of each state's apportionment may be used for aquatic resource education.

Distribution of sport fish restoration funds to the states is based on the land and water area and the number of fishing license holders in each state. Wildlife restoration funds are made available based on land area and the number of hunting license holders in each state. Distribution of hunter education funds is based on the relative population of each state.

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