To amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, to provide parity for United States territories and the District of Columbia, to make technical corrections to such Acts and related laws
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
PREPARED FOR THE HOUSE NATURAL COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FEDERAL LANDS HEARING ON
H.R. 5875, TO AMEND THE PITTMAN-ROBERTSON WILDLIFE RESTORATION ACT AND THE
DINGELL-JOHNSON FEDERAL AID IN SPORT FISH RESTORATION ACT
May 22, 2018
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (P-R Act), passed in 1937, along with the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act (D-J Act), passed in 1950, authorize grant programs that provide critically important funding to States and territories for administering State fish and wildlife programs and for implementing on-the-ground wildlife and sport fish conservation. Revenues for the Wildlife Restoration Program are derived from excise taxes on firearms, ammunitions, archery equipment, and arrow components. Revenues for the Sport Fish Restoration program are derived from excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, and import duties. The source of funding creates a “user-pay-user-benefit” cycle of success.
The U.S. Department of the Interior (Department), through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, apportioned approximately $1.1 billion in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grants to all 50 States and 6 U.S. Territories in fiscal year 2017. These grants provided essential support for State agencies to conserve fish and wildlife species and their habitats, and to enhance opportunities for boating, angling, hunting, and recreational shooting. Through the funding that has been distributed, nearly 10 million students have been trained in hunter education and over 7 million hours have been contributed by volunteers to hunter education and safety training. In addition, through this funding, 455 million acres are maintained for wildlife restoration and wildlife recreation nationwide, and habitat improvements have been made on 2 million surface acres of reservoirs and lakes.
If enacted, H.R. 5875 would amend the P-R Act to establish an apportionment for the District of Columbia and remove the apportionment caps of one-half of one per centum for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and one-sixth of one per centum for Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to establish apportionment parity with the States for one-half the revenues accruing from taxes imposed on pistols, revolvers, bows, and arrows and to increase apportionments for Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the Wildlife and Conservation Restoration Account. Additionally, it would amend the D-J Act to remove the per centum apportionment caps for the Territories and the District.
The Department is committed to its mission of restoring trust and fulfilling insular responsibilities, and recognizes the importance of their respective natural resources. We are analyzing the proposed amendments to the P-R and D-J Act and how the overall apportionments to states and territories would be affected under H.R 5875. We would be happy to provide an analysis to the Committee, detailing the bill’s impacts to the WSFR program, to inform further consideration.
As the Committee considers H.R. 5875, the Department would like bring the Committee’s attention to a challenge in the administration of these Acts. The Fish and Wildlife Programs Improvement and National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Act of 2000 (“Act”) (Pub. Law 106-408, Nov. 1, 2000), Section 9 (a)(2) provides that:
…administrative funds may be used only for expenses for administration that directly support the implementation of this
Act that consist of (2) personnel costs of employees who directly administer this Act on a part-time basis for at least 20
hours each week, not to exceed the portion of those costs incurred with respect to the work hours of the employee
during which the employee directly administers this Act, as those hours are certified by the supervisor of the employee.
emphasis added; 114 Stat. 1764)
FWS WSFR staff possesses expertise in managing financial assistance programs, and are experienced in applying best business practices, fiscal efficiencies, and fair resource allocation to each activity. However, WSFR staff work on a myriad of programs causing difficulty in meeting the requirements of Section 9(a)(2). We would like to work with the Committee on finding a solution to this issue.