Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act signed into law!

H.R. 877, Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act was detailed in the Department of Interior’s budget bill that was included in a larger omnibus appropriations package (H.R. 1865) and signed into law on December 20, 2019. This move law helps ensure that the money brought in through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax will continue to have an impact on wildlife and conservation efforts across the country.

What is the Pittman-Robertson Act?

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (P-R) imposes a 10-11% excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to help fund wildlife conservation throughout the United States. Since distributions began in 1939, it has provided $18.8 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies, all funded by hunters and recreational shooters.

How are Pittman-Robertson Funds distributed to states?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deposits P-R revenue into a special account called the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. A portion of the funds are distributed nationwide for hunter education programs. The remainder of the trust fund is divided in half, with 50 percent apportioned to states based on the land area and the remaining 50 percent apportioned based on the number of individual paid hunting license holders in the state.

What types of projects are funded by Pittman-Robertson?

States use their P-R funds to restore, manage, and enhance habitat. P-R projects also include providing public access to wildlife resources, Hunter Education, and development and management of shooting ranges. When the act was passed in 1937, states were prohibited from using funds for marketing and outreach efforts because Congress wanted to ensure as much of the funding as possible was committed to conservation. It is important to note that Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, which grants new authority on how to spend funds, will not negatively impact P-R funding dedicated wildlife conservation.

Why is modernizing Pittman-Robertson an awesome move for conservation?

Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act updated this vital conservation program and gives state agencies flexibility to address new challenges. The number of hunters nationwide has declined from 14.1 million hunters in 1991 to 11.5 million by 2016. Projections forecast that number will continue to drop as our national demographics become older and more concentrated in urban areas. The modernization of the Pittman-Robertson act authorizes states to direct funds to outreach and communication efforts in the recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters. This move will help states speak to adults from non-hunting backgrounds, reach a more diverse demographic and reverse the current decline of participation–and therefore conservation dollars.