Rep. Austin Scott Bill to Modernize Wildlife Conservation Funding, Get More Americans Outdoors Passes Out of Committee
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), House Co-Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), today released the following statement upon the House Committee on Natural Resources favorably passing his bipartisan legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (PR):
“As the number of hunters in our country continues to decline, we are losing primary funders of America’s conservation efforts. Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking, and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I am pushing this legislation to give state wildlife agencies more flexibility in how they use their PR funds in order to get more Americans outdoors,” said Rep. Scott. “I am pleased the Committee favorably passed my PR modernization bill, and I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding system receives the critical updates it deserves.”
Enacted in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act provides federal aid to states for management and restoration of wildlife areas. Specifically, through a system of “user pay/public benefits,” Pittman-Robertson uses proceeds from an existing federal excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to fund wildlife conservation and hunter education grants for state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies. However, decades of migration to urban and suburban centers have made it more difficult for the public to participate in sportsmen’s activities. As the base of sportsmen and women declines, so do PR wildlife conservation funds.
Rep. Scott’s bill, Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act (H.R. 877), would remove the existing prohibition on PR funds being used for “public relations” and permit fish and wildlife agencies to use these funds for the construction, operation, and maintenance of public ranges. By expanding the ways in which PR funds can be used, sportsmen and women will see their tax dollars at work as state fish and wildlife agencies will be permitted to use modern forms of technology, such as social media and television spots, to recruit and retain both hunters and recreational shooters.
In addition to providing new avenues for which to apportion Pittman-Robertson funds, this legislation would establish new hunter recruitment and recreational shooter recruitment grants that promote a national hunting and shooting sport recruitment program available to states under PR, further conserving the user-pay funding of wildlife conservation.
Joining Rep. Scott as original cosponsors of the bill are fellow CSC House Co-Chair Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33) and CSC Vice-Chairs Reps. Richard Hudson (NC-08) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12). Additional cosponsors include Reps. Greg Gianforte (MT-AL), Alexander Mooney (WV-02), Roger Williams (TX-25), French Hill (AR-02), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Robert Latta (OH-05), Daniel Webster (FL-11), Paul Mitchell (MI-10), Liz Cheney (WY-AL), Tom Cole (OK-04), Robert Wittman (VA-01), Jody Hice (GA-10), Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-02), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Fred Upton (MI-06), David Kustoff (TN-08), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Kendra Horn (OK-05), TJ Cox (CA-21), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Steven Palazzo (MS-04), Ron Kind (WI-03), Collin Peterson (MN-07), and Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03).