WASHINGTON – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a record $1.5 billion in annual funding through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program to support state and local outdoor recreational opportunities, and wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. The WSFR Program contains two funding sources: the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which was reauthorized as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Wildlife Restoration Program.
“Hunters, anglers, and sportsmen and women have some of the deepest connections to nature. For 85 years, this program has been foundational to wildlife and habitat conservation and outdoor recreation throughout the country,” said Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau, who will highlight the historic disbursements in remarks at the Mule Deer Foundation’s Inaugural Summit today. “With the historic investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and opportunities through the Great American Outdoors Act, these grants will make significant progress in our work to protect our cherished wild treasures.”
The WSFR Program, also known as Pittman-Robertson Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux, apportions excise taxes on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment, and boat fuel to all 50 states and U.S. territories. The core value of all WSFR Programs is fostering cooperative partnerships between federal and state agencies, working alongside hunters, anglers, and other outdoor interests, to enhance recreational opportunities while advancing sustainable resource goals.
These goals are consistent with President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative to support locally led efforts to conserve and restore our nation’s lands, waters, and wildlife. The initiative’s inclusive approach recognizes that hunters, fishers, private landowners, ranchers, farmers, Tribes, traditional land users, and everyone has a role to play in conservation to conserve America’s lands and waters for future generations.
The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund is funded in part by the federal excise tax on fishing equipment and is the backbone of state-based fish conservation, benefiting all U.S. states and territories. The Wildlife Restoration Program, funded by the federal excise tax on guns, ammunition, and archery sales, provides grant funds to states and insular areas’ fish and wildlife agencies for projects to restore, conserve, manage and enhance wild birds and mammals and their habitats. Projects include providing public use and access to wildlife resources, hunter education and development and management of shooting ranges.
“Many Americans are unaware of the remarkable conservation impact of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. “State wildlife agencies dedicate WSFR funds to a variety of conservation projects and programs such as hunting and fishing education, fish and wildlife management, scientific research, habitat restoration and protection, land and water rights acquisition, and hunting and boating access. Everyone benefits from these investments, which have ensured a legacy of wildlife and outdoor opportunities for all.”
Congress authorizes the WSFR disbursements through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. To date, the Service has distributed more than $25.5 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $8.5 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
Eligible states receive WSFR funds through formula-based permanent appropriations. The distribution formulas are based primarily on land and water area and the number of paid recreational hunting and fishing license holders in each state. State fish and wildlife agencies make their own management decisions about how the funds are used. The WSFR dollars typically fund up to 75% of project costs. Most states must provide a matching share of up to 25%, usually from state hunting and fishing license revenues.
State-by-state listing of the Service’s final apportionment of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program funds for Fiscal Year 2022 can be found on the WSFR webpage.