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Program Recognizes 75 Years of Wildlife Conservation and Partnership Success

February 09, 2012

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) to announce the start of a yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history. 
 
The “WSFR 75 – It’s Your Nature” celebration brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to mark a milestone of partnership success that has led to 75 years of quality hunting, fishing, shooting, boating and wildlife-related recreation. The occasion also marks the beginning of a new era in wildlife conservation, during which the partners will establish new goals for fostering and maintaining partnerships to continue conservation and outdoor recreation into the next 75 years and beyond.   
 
“The Service is proud to join our partners in recognizing more than seven decades of wildlife conservation and quality outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “With our nation’s support and our partnership’s renewed commitment, WSFR will help more Americans enjoy wildlife and our great outdoors for many years to come.”
 
Through the WSFR program, several innovative and foundational fish and wildlife conservation programs are administered. The first was created on September 2, 1937, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which raises funds through a dedicated federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, bows and arrows.
 
In 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted and added to the WSFR program. Through this law, funds are provided for fish conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each state through a federal excise tax placed on certain fishing and boating equipment and fuels. 
 
Fred Harders, acting director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, says the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program is an excellent example of “user pay-user plays.” “This program has provided millions of dollars for Alabama’s natural resources over the years,” he said. These funds, administered by the Service, are combined with hunting and fishing license dollars in each state to fund important state wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing programs. “This is how our Department is funded,” Harders said. “We don’t receive any money from Alabama’s General Fund.”
 
“The 75th anniversary of the WSFR program is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the conservation victories that have been made possible because of this innovative funding approach,” said Jonathan Gassett, PhD, president, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “WSFR has made the difference for the survival and abundance of some species, and because of it, many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today.”  Industry and agency partnerships have helped to the successes of the WSFR program to become what it is today.  
 
According to surveys conducted by the Service, the economic impact of hunting, freshwater fishing and wildlife watching to Alabama is $3.2 billion per year.
 
The WSFR 75th anniversary will include participation in various fish and wildlife conservation events and conferences throughout the year, to culminate with National Hunting and Fishing Day in September 2012.
For more information about the WSFR program and its 75th Anniversary in 2012, visit www.wsfr75.com.
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .
 
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