Fish and wildlife projects receive $740 million in funding

WASHINGTON — More than $740 million in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds will be distributed in the U.S. to fund fish and wildlife conservation, boater access to public waters and hunter and aquatic education in 2009, Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said in a release Monday.

The funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, sportfishing equipment, electric outboard motors and fuel taxes from to motorboats and small engines, the department reported.

"The funds raised under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have helped conserve our fish and wildlife resources and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation for more than half a century. These investments, which help create jobs while protecting our nation's natural treasures, are particularly important in these tough economic times,” Salazar said. “All those who pay into this program — the hunting and fishing industries, boaters, hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters — should take pride in helping to conserve our land and its fish and wildlife and provide benefits to all Americans who cherish the natural world and outdoor recreation.”

The 2009 Wildlife Restoration apportionment totals nearly $336 million and the 2009 Sport Fish Restoration apportionment totals more than $404 million. The funds are available to states, commonwealths, and territories through a formula based on factors such as land and water area as well as the number of paid hunting and fishing license holders in the region, according to the department.

Agencies use the money to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education, stock fish and maintain boat ramps, among other things.

“This source of conservation funding is important not only measured by its dollar amount, but also by legislative safeguards preventing its diversion away from state fish and wildlife agencies,” Rowan Gould, acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. “For states working to ensure a future for fish and wildlife — and opportunities for people to enjoy them — precious few programs offer this level of support and reliability.”

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