Rep. Austin Scott Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Modernize Wildlife Conservation Funds, Expand Promotion of Sportsmen’s Activities
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), House Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC), released the below statement upon reintroducing his bipartisan legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (PR), which collects an excise tax on sporting goods sales to fund wildlife conservation projects. Joining Rep. Scott as original co-sponsors of the bill were fellow CSC House Co-Chair Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33) and CSC Vice-Chairs Reps. Richard Hudson (NC-08) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12).
“With a national decline in hunting and participation in sportsmen activities, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering. Yesterday, I reintroduced my legislation to give states more flexibility in how they use their PR funds and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process,” said Rep. Scott. “I am very pleased with the bipartisan and industry support for this legislation, and I look forward to advancing this legislation with my colleagues until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding receives the critical updates it deserves.”
“Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leadership has made this important legislation a priority by introducing it in the first month of the 116th Congress. Providing more flexibility to state agencies to use Pittman-Robertson dollars for recruitment and retention of hunters and recreational shooters is an important step to ensure the future of state-based conservation funding,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane.
“Updating the P-R Fund would allow flexibility for state fish and wildlife agencies to use their monies for the recruitment of sportsmen and women, thereby ensuring conservation funding in the future,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “This bill, if passed, will help ensure that funding for wildlife conservation will keep pace with the demands of our citizens and our communities, while still continuing to meet our traditional wildlife conservation objectives.”
“Ensuring a future where wildlife thrive depends not only upon our ability to restore habitat and confront threats like invasive species and disease, but equally upon our ability to engage more and diverse participants in our outdoor heritage. The National Wildlife Federation enthusiastically supports Rep. Scott, Rep. Veasey, Rep. Duncan, and Rep. Dingell’s bipartisan efforts to advance both of these critical conservation goals and urge swift passage of the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
“The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports applauds Rep. Scott for introducing the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act (H.R. 877) in the 116th Congress and appreciates the strong bipartisan support it has already received,” said Cyrus Baird, Programs Director at the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports. “By allowing state fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility to better recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and recreational target shooters, it will ensure our American system of conservation funding remains strong for generations to come.”
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 grant state fish and wildlife agencies additional flexibility to use these funds for outreach and communication with the public to promote hunting and recreational shooting activities as well as hunter safety programs and sound conservation practices. By expanding the ways in which PR funds can be used, sportsmen and women will see their tax dollars at work. In addition to providing new avenues for which to apportion Pittman-Robertson funds, this legislation would establish additional 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.
The legislation is supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the National Wildlife Federation, the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, and Ducks Unlimited, among others.