ATA’s Forster Aids Rep. Austin Scott Bill to Modernize Wildlife Conservation Funding, Get More Americans Outdoors Passes House
Through modernizing the Pittman–Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, legislation would help to get more sportsmen and women back in the outdoors while generating more funds for wildlife conservation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), House Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, released the following statement on Sept. 12 upon the House of Representatives passing the 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:
“With a national decline in outdoor recreational activities, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I have been fighting 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 the House passed my PR modernization bill, and I thank Chairman Rob Bishop for his commitment to this legislation as well as to sportsmen and women across the country. As this bill heads to be considered in the Senate, I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding model 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 national base of sportsmen and women declines, so do PR wildlife conservation funds.
Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, met with Rep. Scott and others on multiple occasions to strategize the collective approach for the bill. He also gave several presentations regarding this effort to other partner groups, including the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agency, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports and others.
In addition, Forster and Jay McAninch, ATA’s former president/CEO, were fundamental in creating CAHSS, which is eligible to apply for monies through the Pittman-Robertson multi-state grant administered by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agency as part of this effort. These funds are in part generated by the federal excise tax on archery equipment, and therefore would be available for use in regional and national recruitment, retention and reactivation programs.
ATA’s President/CEO Matt Kormann said:
“While there’s still a long way to go, this is a critical achievement. We’re incredibly grateful to Representative Austin Scott, his team, and our outdoor industry and conservation partners who’ve been instrumental in ensuring state agencies have the flexibility they need to recruit, retain, and reactivate bowhunters. While dozens of key folks have worked hard to get PR Modernization to this point, none have been more valuable than Dan Forster. His tenacity in ensuring HR 2591 remained in the forefront is to be commended.”
Rep. Scott’s bill, Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (H.R. 2591), would remove the existing prohibition on Pittman-Robertson funds being used for “public relations” while also permitting fish and wildlife agencies to use PR 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. To ensure that conservation remains the primary focus of Pittman-Robertson, the legislation caps the percentage of funds that can be used for public relations and recruitment.
In addition to providing new avenues for which to apportion Pittman-Robertson funds, this legislation will 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.
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About the Archery Trade Association
The Archery Trade Association is the organization for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, sales representatives and others working in the archery and bowhunting industry. The ATA has served its members since 1953. It is dedicated to making the industry profitable by decreasing business overhead, reducing taxes and government regulation, and increasing participation in archery and bowhunting. The organization also owns and operates the ATA Trade Show, the archery and bowhunting industry’s largest and longest-running trade show worldwide. For more information, like the ATA Trade Show on Facebook, follow @ATATradeShow on Twitter, or learn more about archery and bowhunting at Archery360.com and Bowhunting360.com.