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Outdoors Notebook: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allocates federal conservation funds, Grant funds Audubon Dakota grazing habitat program etc.

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Minnesota received more than $30.9 million and North Dakota more than $12.8 million in Sportfish Restoration and Wildlife Restoration funds, the Department of Interior said Thursday in announcing the allocation of nearly $1 billion nationally in conservation funds generated through excise taxes in 2019.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on Thursday announced the disbursement of the funds, generated through excise taxes on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment and boat fuel to all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The money comes from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, which Congress approved in 1937, and the Federal Aid and Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as the Dingell-Johnson Act, which Congress passed in 1950.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allocates the funds and has distributed more than $22.9 billion to date in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched the funds with approximately $7.6 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.

“Our conservation model is funded and supported by America’s hunters, shooters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts,” Bernhardt said in a statement. “These stewards of conservation generated nearly $1 billion last year alone and make our country’s conservation legacy the envy of the world.”

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program, which the FWS administers, has long been considered the foundation of fish and wildlife conservation in the United States.

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“These grants are the epitome of the great things that can happen when industry, hunters and anglers, and state and federal governments work together,” Aurelia Skipwith, FWS director, said in a statement. “As the administrator of these grants, the Fish and Wildlife Service is the linchpin in the circle of funding that arcs from the hunters and anglers generating these dollars as consumers, through the states as conservation managers, and back to hunters, anglers, and recreational users as beneficiaries, for improved hunting, fishing and conservation opportunities. It is a role we are honored to play.”

— Brad Dokken

Audubon Dakota receives OHF grant

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has awarded a $78,730 Outdoor Heritage Fund grant to Audubon Dakota. The Outdoor Heritage Fund grant will assist cattle producers in Grand Forks, Eddy, Foster and Nelson counties to establish grazing systems to benefit cattle, wildlife and grassland habitat.

Established in 2013, the Outdoor Heritage Fund uses a small portion of oil and gas production tax revenue to provide grants for conservation and other projects that enhance outdoor recreation.

Formally known as the Grand Forks Area Prairie Management Toolbox Phase II, the latest OHF grant to Audubon will build on the success of Grand Forks County Prairie Management Toolbox Phase I by expanding its reach to three additional counties in addition to Grand Forks County.

OHF funded the initial grant in 2017.

Audubon Dakota will collaborate with private landowners interested in financial and technical support for boundary and cross fencing, as well as water development, according to Sarah Hewitt, conservation programs manager for Audubon Dakota.

“We had the pleasure to work with many great landowners through the first phase of the (Prairie Management Toolbox), so we’re excited to have the opportunity to continue assisting local producers to improve their grasslands for cattle and wildlife alike,” Hewitt said.

Audubon Dakota provides financial assistance through similar Prairie Management Toolbox programs for Burleigh, Mclean, Sheridan and Stutsman counties.

More info: www.dakota.audubon.org.

— Herald staff report

NRA launches free safety course

The National Rifle Association has launched an Experienced Hunter Education Course. The course is an online review of everything an experienced hunter should know, including a review of firearm safety and safe hunting practices.

Though not a substitute for state-mandated hunter safety requirements, the course will provide a solid foundation of the fundamentals, the NRA said.

“The NRA is dedicated to providing our members and supporters with the best safety training possible,” Elizabeth Bush, managing director of NRA Community Engagement, said in a news release. “Our Experienced Hunter Education Course is a wonderful addition to that commitment.

“Best of all, we’re offering this service completely free of charge.”

For more information, visit https://nra.yourlearningportal.com/Courses/NRA-Experienced-Hunter-Education.

— Herald staff report

DNR still wants your deer input

Public meetings have been canceled or postponed, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said it still wants to hear from hunters about deer populations in their particular areas.

Having those conversations is as simple as calling or emailing a local wildlife manager.

Public engagement on issues such as deer management is a top priority, the DNR said, but a series of deer workshops that were scheduled for this month were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing the need to have those conversations from a distance.

Anyone wanting to comment on deer hunting or deer management issues should reach out to their local wildlife manager by Wednesday, April 1.

A listing of statewide DNR offices is available at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/contact/locator.html.

— Herald staff report



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