New Bill Would Gut Conservation Funding

Jul 6, 2022

Young male elk grazing a field.
Our conservation funding is under attack.

The 1937 Pittman-Robertson (PR) Wildlife Restoration and the 1952 Dingell-Johnson (DJ) Sport Fish Restoration Acts provide for a “user pays” American System of Conservation Funding.

They are the foundation of our country’s world-leading and highly successful fish and wildlife conservation model and have been responsible for the recovery of dozens of fish and wildlife species over the past 85 years.

The Acts, which direct funds generated from excise taxes on the sale of firearms, ammunition, archery, and fishing tackle and equipment, are a primary funding source for state fish and wildlife agencies who utilize the funds to undertake fish and wildlife restoration, provide for hunter and recreational shooter recruitment, public shooting range construction, and other conservation-related activities.

Recently introduced bill H.R.8167 by Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia (also known as the RETURN Act) would effectively gut the PR and DJ Acts’ funding mechanisms. This would result in a catastrophic cut for both fish and wildlife conservation and restoration dollars across Tennessee and the country. 

Tennessee Wildlife Federation strongly opposes this bill.

Last year alone, PR generated more than $1 billion, and DJ nearly $400 million in funding to assist state wildlife agencies in fulfilling their missions; Tennessee received $31M from PR and just over $8M from DJ. The project-based approach returns dollars generated by PR and DJ to each of our 50 state’s fish and wildlife agencies, after they provide a 10-25% match to these funds. The approach ensures that these dollars get to the ground and make an impact.

  • PR and DJ are the backbone of fish and wildlife management that ensures that fish and wildlife that are pursued by hunters and anglers flourish.
  • PR funds, while critical to wildlife restoration and conservation, are also vital to the building of sport-shooting ranges. Killing these funds hurts the sport-shooting and recreational shooting industries, as citizens need places to shoot.
  • These funds are key to programming in many states that are used to teach the next generations of hunters and anglers the skills necessary to get outdoors.
We urge you to email your congressman to oppose H.R. 8167.

H.R. 8167 (the RETURN Act of 2022):

  • Repeals excise taxes on firearms and ammunition
  • Repeals excise taxes on bows and arrows
  • Limits tax imposed on fishing rods and poles (shall not exceed $10)
  • Limits tax for electric outboard motors to 3% (down from 10 %)
  • Limits tax rate for tackle boxes (in the case of fishing tackle boxes to 3 % down from 10 %)
  • Appears to “cap” replacement offset funding at $800M

If the “user-pays” funding model for fish and wildlife restoration and conservation created by PR and DJ is repealed, it will strike a lethal blow to fish and wildlife across our nation. In turn, hunting and angling will follow suit.

Bill Could Strip Conservation Funding

Feature photo by Buddy Time

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