Money makes the world go round.
You might like to think this isn’t true concerning conservation, but it absolutely is. If we, as Americans, hope to continue our conservation legacy and our traditions of outdoor enjoyment, our resources and those who manage them are going to need significantly more funding.
Thankfully, a very impressive collection of conservationists have a plan.
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, a 28-member collaboration between leaders in wildlife conservation, industry and government, recently released its recommendation that Congress dedicate $1.3 billion annually in existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to state-based fish and wildlife conservation.
The panel was convened to “evaluate and recommend a more sustainable funding approach to avert a fish and wildlife conservation crisis.” Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Dave Freudenthal, a former Wyoming governor, co-chaired the panel.
In a statement discussing the panel’s recommendations, Johnny Morris, said, “Conservation means balancing the sustainability of fish and wildlife resources with the many needs of humans for clean air and water, land, food and fiber, dependable energy, economic development and recreation. It is our responsibility to lead the way so our state fish and wildlife agencies have the resources they need to conserve species and manage our natural resources. The future of our industry and the outdoor sports we love depend on this investment.”
The Pittman-Robertson Act was established in 1937 to fund wildlife conservation through a tax on hunting and shooting equipment. The success of this funding model was used to pass the Dingell-Johnson Act in 1950, which supports sport fishing. These two acts have supported state-based conservation for more than half a century, but the time has come to significantly expand funding for conservation across the country.
Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson put the responsibility of funding conservation squarely on the shoulders of sportsmen. As a sportsman myself, I am proud to pay these taxes and to contribute to funding conservation. However, sportsmen can’t be responsible for funding the future of conservation on our own. We need the financial support of all outdoor enthusiasts.
In a release from the National Wildlife Federation, Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer, said, “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save thousands of at-risk wildlife species by investing in proactive, collaborative conservation. By modernizing how we fund conservation of nongame species, we will bolster our natural resources, strengthen our outdoor recreation economy, reduce regulatory uncertainty, improve public health and bolster community resilience.”
Now we have to rely on Congress to make the right decision and to support the Panel’s recommendation. This means a strategy must be developed and implemented for Congressional outreach to convince members from across the country that this $1.3 billion dollar plan must become a reality.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears occasionally
in The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].