In an effort to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects and preserve open spaces, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced that Rhode Island will receive $6.7 million for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) programs, including $3,598,719 through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program and $3,142,757 through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program.
"This critical funding will enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and help the state conserve and manage fish and wildlife resources. These programs are a smart way to invest in sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and preserve open spaces," said Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. In December, Senator Reed brought U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe to Rhode Island to tour Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.
These funds comes from excise taxes generated by the sale of hunting and fishing equipment and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines. WSFR is based on a "user pay/user benefit" principle and the taxes are collected from the outdoor industry by federal agencies and distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to state fish and wildlife agencies like the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) for on-the-ground conservation.
"Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Senator Jack Reed and our Congressional delegation, Rhode Island will benefit from this important federal funding for our fish and wildlife conservation, boating access, and land protection programs," said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "Fishing, hunting, camping, and boating play a big role in our state's economy, and we are thankful for Senator Reed's work to ensure that Rhode Island receives these critical funds to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and tourists alike."
Sport Fish Restoration funds are used by fish and wildlife agencies to pay for programs such as stocking fish; acquiring and improving sport fish habitat; providing aquatic resource education opportunities; conducting fisheries research; maintaining public access, and the construction at boat ramps, fishing piers, and other facilities for recreational boating access.
Wildlife Restoration Act funds are used by fish and wildlife agencies to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife lands and public access, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education, and construct and maintain shooting ranges.
Rhode Island's Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for operating and managing twenty-four wildlife management areas totaling over 46,000 acres. It also operates over 200 boat launching ramps and shore fishing areas located throughout the state.
Nationwide, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated a total of more than $15.3 billion since their inception -- the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program began in 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program started in 1950. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $5.1 billion.