Midwest States Get $146 Million for Fish, Wildlife Restoration

WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2009 (ENS) – Eight Midwestern states will receive more than $146 million to fund fish and wildlife conservation, boater access to public waters, and hunter and aquatic education, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday.

Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin will receive a total of more than $78.5 million for sport fish restoration and more than $67.8 million to benefit wildlife and hunter education.

These Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, sportfishing equipment, electric outboard motors, and fuel taxes attributable to motorboats and small engines.

“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,” Salazar said. “These investments, which help create jobs while protecting our nation’s natural treasures, are particularly important in these tough economic times.”

“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.”

More than $740.9 million in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds will be distributed to the fish and wildlife agencies of the 50 states, commonwealths, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.

The Wildlife Restoration apportionment for 2009 totals nearly $336 million, with more than $64.7 million marked for hunter education and firearm and archery range programs. The Sport Fish Restoration apportionment for 2009 totals more than $404 million.

“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,” said Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “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.”

Fishing on the Mississippi River at Coon Rapids, Minnesota (Photo by Lee Stababee)

Tom Melius, Midwest regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said, “In the Midwest, this program is a true cycle of success in conservation, management, partnership, and outdoor recreation. When a child purchases his or her first fishing pole, or when a bow and arrow distributor makes a sale, money is being set aside to fund on-the-ground projects that conserve and protect species and habitat, and sustain outdoor recreation as part of the Midwestern lifestyle.”

More than 62 percent of Wildlife Restoration funds are used to buy, develop, maintain, and operate wildlife management areas.

Numerous species including the wild turkey, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, American elk, and black bear have increased in population due to improved research and habitat management funded by Wildlife Restoration, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service officials.

Projects and programs funded by Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grants in the Midwest include an international target archery program in Ohio public schools, fish hatchery expansion in Wisconsin, habitat development in Illinois, boating access in Indiana, urban fishing access in Iowa, and fishery management research in Michigan.

Private landowners also benefit from these funds.

Since 2004, the Missouri Department of Conservation has received Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grants totaling $2.66 million through the Landowner Incentive Program. Landowners who are willing to partner with states and tribes to maintain and enhance habitat for at-risk species receive technical and financial assistance.

The incentives have helped Missouri grassland birds, including the federally endangered greater prairie chicken. Landowner partnerships have helped stop sedimentation of streams entering karst areas inhabited by the endangered Ozark cave snail.

In Minnesota last year, more than 6,500 private landowners and agency staffers learned more about habitat restoration from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds also contributed to the management of more than 440,000 acres of wetlands, farmland and forest lands throughout the state.

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