Outdoors proves to be great economic driver in Colorado

No matter the size of boat or species of fish, anglers such as these at Harvey Gap Reservoir pay federal excise taxes as part of the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act. The excise tax is collected on licenses, angling equipment and fuel for their boats.

Colorado is set to receive more than $21.8 million as its share of federal excise taxes paid last year by hunters, anglers and motorboat operators.

The funds, generated through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs, help support fish and wildlife conservation and recreation efforts across the state.

More than $884.2 million was raised nationwide last year through these taxes, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Colorado will see more than $13.1 million from the Pittman-Robertson fund, an 11 percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and archery equipment and 10 percent excise tax on handguns.

Also, the state will receive more than $8.75 million from the Dingell-Johnson fund, a 10 percent tax on fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors.

Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

The latter fund was named after former Colorado Sen. Edwin Johnson, one of the sponsors of the enabling legislation.

“These funds are one of the ways Colorado Parks and Wildlife can work with local governments and local groups to make it possible for more people to enjoy the real Colorado,” said Rick Cables, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Outdoor recreation is a powerful driver for local economies, and cooperative projects built using these funds are a win-win for everyone.”

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.

“The sporting community has provided the financial and spiritual foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said. “Through these programs, hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters continue to fund vital fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and hunter and aquatic education programs.”

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 62 percent of the P-R funds available to the states is used to buy, develop, maintain and operate wildlife management areas.

More than 4 million acres have been purchased outright since the program began, and nearly 40 million acres are managed for wildlife under agreements with other landowners.

Although Pittman-Robertson is financed wholly by firearms users and archery enthusiasts, its benefits cover many more people who aren’t hunters but enjoy wildlife pastimes such as birdwatching, nature photography, painting and sketching, and a wide variety of other outdoor pursuits.

Almost all of the lands purchased with P-R money are managed for wildlife production and for other public uses.

The Dingell-Johnson Act, also known as the Wallop-Breaux Act after a later amendment expanding the tax and increasing the money available to the states, was adopted in 1950 and was modeled after the highly successful Pittman-Robertson program.

Funding from both funds goes to all 50 states, the commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Allocations are based on land area and total number of license holders.


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