Conservation

ATA Supports Congressman Austin Scott’s Bipartisan Bill to Modernize Wildlife Conservation Funds

The P-R Modernization Act seeks to let state wildlife agencies use some FET money to boost recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in archery and bowhunting.
Photo Credit: John Hafner

Author: Cassie Scott

Archery Trade Association representatives are back on Capitol Hill in support of Congressman Austin Scott’s bipartisan legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. The bill (HR 2591), introduced on May 22, would expand financial and technical assistance to states and territories for the promotion of sportsmen’s activities, in turn allocating more P-R funds for conservation, research and hunter education programs.

The ATA supports the P-R Modernization Act because it would let state wildlife agencies use federal excise taxrevenues (which are paid by the archery/bowhunting industry) on public-outreach programs to promote bowhunting and recreational archery.

FET revenues generated by Pittman-Robertson come from sales of most firearms, ammunition, bows and arrows. The IRS collects the money and sends it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which distributes it to state wildlife agencies to fund state-based conservation work, such as habitat restoration, stocking efforts, public access efforts and other high-priority nationwide conservation projects.

The bill to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act will strengthen recruitment efforts in archery and bowhunting, a much-needed move after increases in urban and suburban centers have made it difficult for the public to participate in sportsmen’s activities. Photo Credit: John Hafner

States currently cannot use P-R money to promote hunting, even though similar programs promoting recreational fishing can be funded by the companion Dingell-Johnson Act. Further, the P-R Act lets states develop archery and shooting ranges, but only if they’re tied to hunter-education programs. States currently cannot use the money to build ranges whose primary purpose is recreational target shooting for archers and firearms enthusiasts.

The P-R Modernization Act seeks to let state wildlife agencies use some FET money to boost recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in archery and bowhunting.

In a press release, Rep. Scott said: “The sportsmen and women of America are the heart of wildlife conservation, and updating our nation’s system of conservation funding will ensure our recreational areas are open and available for folks to enjoy for generations to come. By modernizing Pittman-Robertson funds and reexamining how they can be used by states, we can introduce a whole new generation of Americans to the outdoors and educate them on how to be safe and responsible sportsmen.”

Dan Forster, ATA’s director of government relations, works to implement policies, strengthen relationships with state wildlife agencies and develop plans to expand archery and bowhunting nationwide. He understands the importance of this bill and its impact on ATA members.

Forster said, “Passage of the P-R Modernization Act would be of great benefit for ATA members since it would empower state fish & wildlife agencies to direct critical FET funds on activities designed to recruit, retain and reactivate bowhunters and recreational archers.  Facilitating strategic investments that grow archery participation is a critical need and would be a big win for both the archery industry and wildlife conservation.”

“At that time (when the P-R Act was developed in 1937), shooting was something you did in your backyard," said Dan Forster, ATA's director of government relations. "With urbanization, the playing field has changed. We need Capitol Hill to relieve some of the constraints states face." Photo Credit: John Hafner

The bill will strengthen recruitment efforts in archery and bowhunting, a much-needed move after increases in urban and suburban centers have made it difficult for the public to participate in sportsmen’s activities.

“When the P-R Act was developed in 1937, no one anticipated the declines we’ve experienced in hunting participation, or that we would one day need to develop public ranges for people to learn and practice shooting,” Forster said. “At that time, shooting was something you did in your backyard. With urbanization, the playing field has changed. We need Capitol Hill to relieve some of the constraints states face. We want to help state partners make shooting and bowhunting more accessible to Americans in suburbs and metropolitan areas.”

The legislation would improve the foundation for long-term growth of archery, hunting and recreational shooting. If it passes, states could spend their FET allotments in more strategic, coordinated ways across the country.  Forster anticipates that a companion bill will be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks.

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