In the United States, two principle funding sources emerged in the early and mid-20th century that have been the bedrock for funding conservation and connecting people with nature— the Wildlife Restoration Act and the Sport Fish Restoration Act. This system has been referred to as the American System of Conservation funding and it combines manufacturer excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery, and angling equipment, and fuel, with license, permit and stamp fees paid by the public who hunt, fish, trap, target shoot or other select activities. These funds collectively are designated for the administration of state fish and wildlife agency programs and provide funding for various types of conservation, public access, safety, education, and habitat initiatives. This web page provides funding data related to these two conservation Acts, that to date have provided over $71 billion in funding to state fish and wildlife agencies. Other important grant programs exist, but none have the same longevity, consistency, and significance of these two programs.
State and territorial fish and wildlife agencies are allocated funding annually, the amounts apportioned per statutory formulas as follows: Wildlife Restoration funds are formulated on the geographic size of the state or territory (50 percent of square miles and inland waters) and their number of hunting licenses sold compared to the total nationally.
Sport Fish Restoration funds are formulated on 40 percent of the state’s size in square miles and 60 percent on the number of fishing licenses sold. No state or territory receives more than five percent, nor less that one to one-half of one percent of the total funds available nationally.
State and territory fish and wildlife agencies apply to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for grants for eligible activities under the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and the Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson) and associated regulations governing use of the funds. Historic apportionment data are available in the dashboard by year, by state or territory, and by nominal or inflation-adjusted dollars.
The State Wildlife Grant Program funds apportionment is based on the formula specified in annual appropriations acts. One-third of the formula is based on each State’s land area as a proportion of the land area of all States. Two-thirds of the formula is based on each State’s population as a proportion of the population of all States. Annual appropriations acts also specify the following: the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico receive not more than one-half of one percent of the total program funding.
View and download current and historic apportionment data from the Partner with a Payer website at https://partnerwithapayer.org/funding-sources/
Hunting & Fishing Licenses Data
State fish and wildlife agencies require licenses to fish or hunt. Those licenses must meet a minimum cost per statutory formula to apportion funds in the Sport Fish Restoration and the Wildlife Restoration programs. However, not everyone buys a license; depending on the state or territory, youth, seniors, handicapped, commercial charters, landowners, and military veterans may be exempt. Thus, the dashboard of historic fishing and hunting license data does not represent the entirety of those who fished or hunted in a particular year. Moreover, some hunters and anglers buy licenses in multiple states and not every license buyer goes afield.
View and download current and historic license data from the Partner with a Payer website at https://partnerwithapayer.org/funding-sources/