Montana Receives Nearly $28 Million for Conservation

By Beacon Staff

Federal officials say wildlife and conservation programs in Montana will receive nearly $28 million this year.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says the money comes from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and electric outboard boat motors. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is dividing $1.1 billion among states.

Federal officials announced last week the distribution that’s part of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

“People who enjoy hunting, fishing, boating and recreational shooting provide a strong foundation for conservation funding in this country,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. “The taxes they pay on equipment and boating fuel support critical fish and wildlife management and conservation efforts, create access for recreational boating, and underpin education programs that help get kids outdoors.”

The USFWS apportions the funds to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs.

The total distributions this year were $238.4 million higher than last year because of the inclusion of funds that were not distributed last year because of the government sequester and an increase in excise tax receipts from sales of firearms and ammunition in the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund.

The Pittman-Robertson apportionment for 2014 was a record $760.9 million, which includes $20 million that was sequestered from FY 2013 but subsequently returned to the trust fund.

The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2014 equaled $325.7 million, which includes $18.5 million that was sequestered from FY 2013 but subsequently returned to the Sport Fish Restoration Trust Fund. The FY 2014 Sport Fish Restoration apportionment is $34.1 million lower than FY 2013 due to lower domestic fishing equipment excise tax receipts.

“Anyone who enjoys our nation’s outdoor heritage should thank hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, these individuals have created a 75-year legacy for conservation of critical wildlife habitat and improved access to the outdoors for everyone.”

Montana officials tell the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks depends on the money for about a fifth of its annual budget.

The state agency receives about $18 million a year from the program based on the size of the state and number of resident licensed hunters.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.