On October 3, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) Members joined representatives from the sportsmen's conservation community on Capitol Hill to promote Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act of 2017 (H.R. 2591/S. 1613) at a Breakfast Briefing hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF).
H.R. 2591 was introduced in the House in May by CSC leadership, including Congressmen Austin Scott (GA), Jeff Duncan (SC), Gene Green (TX), and Marc Veasey (TX). S. 1613 was introduced in the Senate in July by Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND).
This legislation would clarify that one of the purposes of the Pittman-Robertson Fund is to extend technical and financial assistance to the states for the promotion of hunting and recreational shooting by creating flexibility for state fish and wildlife agencies to use their funds for the recruitment of sportsmen and women. This bill would also place a cap on the amount of funds used for hunter and shooter recruitment in order to ensure that wildlife conservation remains the primary focus.
"Sportsmen and women are the primary funders of fish and wildlife conservation projects in the U.S., contributing 80 percent of funding received by state fish and wildlife agencies through the Pittman-Robertson Fund," said CSF President Jeff Crane. "Updating this fund to allow for recruitment and retention efforts is critical to ensuring increased participation of new sportsmen and women and thereby ensuring conservation funding in the future."
"We are facing increasing urbanization of our population, which makes it more difficult for the public to participate in hunting and recreational shooting than it was when the Pittman-Robertson Act was enacted 80 years ago," said Rep. Scott, lead sponsor of H.R. 2591.
The Breakfast Briefing was sponsored by Archery Trade Association (ATA) and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), which were represented by ATA Director of Government Affairs Dan Forster, and AFWA's immediate past President Nick Wiley of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
"Recent surveys of participation and demographics substantiate the need for more active programs to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and recreational shooters," Wiley observed. "HR 2591 will provide the authorization for R3 activities and also clarify that shooting range development, construction, and maintenance are eligible activities for P-R expenditures."
"One of the most significant national legislative efforts for the Archery Trade Association and our state wildlife agency partners is the modernization of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, originally developed in 1937," said Forster. "It is beyond time that we modernize strategic elements of this incredibly successful conservation program by allowing a portion of funds to be used for critical activities specifically designed to increase hunting and shooting sports participation."
H.R. 2591 has been referred to House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands, and S. 1613 has been referred to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.