Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Meet the Quiet Giant - The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

Do you fish or hunt? If the answer is yes, and you’ve purchased any related outdoor equipment, then
Lake sturgeon are raised at the Besadny Andonomous
Fish Hatchery in Kewaunee which is maintained through
Sport Fish Restoration dollars. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS.
you’ve probably supported conservation in your state, and connected one way or another with the quiet giant.

Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds are comprised of excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. Manufacturers pay the taxes on equipment upfront, and then the cost is incorporated on the sales tag of the item. These dollars are then filtered to our Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program where we work closely with the states to distribute the funding in the form of conservation apportionments. This is known as the cycle of success. The more people hunt, fish and purchase equipment, the more conservation is possible in their state.

These state apportionments and grants back many kinds of conservation activities including research, enhanced fish and wildlife species, habitat restoration, hunting, fishing, outdoor education and boating. This means, if you deer hunt on state land, fish for trout, participate in hunter or aquatic education or rely on boat marinas along the Mississippi river, you may have had an encounter with the quiet giant.

Whether or not you knew it at the time, the WSFR Program or quiet giant was and is vital in creating recreation and conservation opportunities like the ones listed above. The Midwest is a hub for Wildlife and Sport Fish related conservation projects. In other words, Midwesterners value outdoor recreation and purchase hunting and fishing equipment, which is reflected in the amount of funding our states receive.

Wildlife Restoration funding supported Otter Creek
Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Iowa where
 public hunting is allowed. Photo by Jessica Piispanen/USFWS.
This year, the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin) received over $210 million dollars for conservation. In fact, Minnesota and Michigan received over $35 million each, coming in 5th and 6th in the nation for funding, behind the nation’s largest states. More impressively, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota  and Missouri came in 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th place in receiving the highest amount of Wildlife Restoration funding, totaling over 91 million dollars.

Without excise taxes and the WSFR program, tangible conservation at the state level wouldn’t be possible. The quiet giant builds strong relationships with the states and touches fish and wildlife conservation work across the nation. With the help of hunters and anglers across the nation, states and tribes, the WSFR Program keeps conservation alive. That, is truly a giant cycle of success.

To learn more about on-the-ground examples of conservation funded in the Midwest Region this year, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/WSFRfunding.html