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STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES TO SHARE RECORD $439 MILLION (fwd)




---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 03 Apr 97 23:18:29 MST
From: RICH_GREENWOOD@mail.fws.gov
To: cratza@glc.org, holland.karen@epamail.epa.gov


April 1, 1997                          Hugh Vickery  202-208-5634

             STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES TO SHARE RECORD
           $439 MILLION FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE PROJECTS

State wildlife agencies will receive a record $439 million
collected from Federal excise taxes paid by anglers, hunters, and
recreational shooters to support fish and wildlife restoration
and recreation projects in 1997.

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.

"This is outstanding news for anyone who cherishes our Nation's
natural heritage," Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said.  "As we
mark the 60th anniversary of the Federal Aid program, we can
thank hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters who have made
it possible for states to have effective fish and wildlife
conservation programs.  The record amount collected in 1996 under
the Federal Aid program will continue this long tradition and
help improve conservation in every part of our country."

The Federal Aid program began in 1937 when a group of hunters
lobbied Congress to dedicate an excise tax on firearms and
ammunition to state conservation projects and programs.  This was
in response to sharp wildlife population declines caused in large
part by the "Dust Bowl" drought.  Since then, these taxes have
helped recover many popular species including white-tailed deer,
wood ducks, and wild turkeys.  In 1950, Congress created the
parallel Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration to promote
conservation in the Nation's lakes, rivers, and other waterways
and to expand recreational opportunities for boaters and anglers. 
In the past 60 years, the two Federal Aid programs have raised
more than $5 billion.

"We have reason to be proud as we celebrate the 60th anniversary
of the program," said Acting Service Director John Rogers. 
"Federal Aid is a model of partnership among the Federal
Government, state governments, and the sportsmen and -women who
contribute funds to conservation through the excise taxes."  The
$439 million collected in 1996 surpasses the previous record of
$411 million collected in 1994.

A total of $165.2 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 $202.4 million in 1996.  The decrease is due to
a return to a normal sales pattern for firearms and ammunition
after a brief spurt in 1994 and 1995.

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 $273.2 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 $197.1 million
in FY 1996.  The increase is a result of $20 million held in
reserve in FY 1996 pending legislation that did not pass, thus
making the funds available in FY 1997, as well as a slight
increase in motorboat fuel receipts and improved excise tax
collection procedures. 

Federal Aid in Sport fish Restoration funding is made possible by
a 10-percent excise tax on fishing equipment, a 3-percent tax on
electric trolling motors and sonar fish finders, taxes on
motorboat fuels, 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.

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.

Tables showing the allocation of the final apportionment for
fiscal year 1997 are available from the Office of Media Services
(202) 208-5634.

                              -FWS-



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Subject:  STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES TO SHARE RECORD $439 MILLION 
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