Agency offers grants for outdoor rec projects

Chris Matern of West Jordan, Utah, fishes Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Some of the matching grants being offered by Colorado Parks and Wildlife are funded by money from an excise tax on fishing equipment and motor boat fuel.

With up to $1.7 million up for grabs, outdoor recreation across Colorado may get a big boost in a time of shrinking dollars.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is making that money available in matching grants to qualified individuals, organizations and local governments to fund outdoor recreation activities in Colorado.

Matching grants are available for projects benefitting fishing, shooting ranges or motorized boating.

Some of the possible projects include those aimed to improve angler access, fish habitat and angling conditions and developing new or improve existing shooting ranges.

Also, the Motorboat Colorado program is looking for projects that open new waters to motor boats or improve facilities at lakes or reservoirs already allowing motorboat access.

The grant programs are partially funded by sportsmen-initiated federal excise taxes on the sale of boating, hunting and fishing equipment.

“These funds are one of the ways the new Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency can work with local governments and local groups to make it possible for more people to enjoy the real Colorado,” said Rick Cables, Parks and Wildlife director.

“Outdoor recreation is a powerful driver for local economies, and jointly building these projects is a win for everyone,” Cables said.

The federal tax revenues are returned to the states through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This program addresses the challenges of managing America’s natural resources through targeted grant programs aimed at benefitting fish and wildlife while capitalizing on recreational opportunities across the country.

The program this year celebrates its 75th anniversary dating from the 1937 passage of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.

The Pittman-Robertson Act enacts an 11 percent federal excise tax on sporting guns, ammunition and archery equipment.

The sport fish programs are funded by the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950. Funds are derived from a 10 percent federal excise tax on selected fishing tackle and equipment.

In 1984, the act was expanded to include the Wallop-Breaux Amendment by adding more tackle and sport fishing equipment under the excise tax and included federal fuel taxes on motor boats and small engines.

Tax funds are reimbursed to the states based on a formula accounting for both the area of the state and its number of licensed hunters.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that through these special taxes and license fees, America’s sportsmen contribute $3.5 million each day to wildlife conservation.

A 2008 study by BBC Research and Consulting found hunting and fishing recreation contribute $1.8 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Hunting and fishing revenues support 21,000 jobs across the state in industries that provide direct and indirect services to sportsmen and sportswomen.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife also offers nonmotorized trail grants and Off-Highway Vehicle trail grants on a separate funding cycle.

Applications for trails grants programs typically are available in August with the deadline for nonmotorized trail projects in early November.

Grant applications for OHV trail projects are due in early December.


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