- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Montana will receive nearly $28 million from the federal government for wildlife and conservation programs.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute nearly $1.1 billion to states in excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Montana officials tell the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1fnHXJk) in a story on Thursday that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks depends on the money for about a fifth of its annual budget.

The state agency receives about $18 million a year from the program based on the size of the state and number of resident licensed hunters. Total distributions to the states this year are greater than last year partly because funds not released due to the government shutdown are being included.

“Anyone who enjoys our nation’s outdoor heritage should thank hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, these individuals have created a 75-year legacy for conservation of critical wildlife habitat and improved access to the outdoors for everyone.”

The money is collected under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish restoration programs. The Fish and Wildlife Service allocates the funds to all 50 states and territories through the two programs funded by excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

The money pays for up to 75 percent of wildlife project costs. Over the years, state fish and wildlife agencies have contributed more than $5 billion in matching funds.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated more than $15 billion after the creation of the Pittman-Robertson program in 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson program in 1950, officials say.

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Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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