As proud members of the leadership of the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, and the larger National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses network, we are proud to join like-minded legislators from across the nation in celebrating the 42nd National Hunting and Fishing Day. Today, we will recognize the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling, as well as the historical and current contributions of the original conservationists – hunters and anglers – in supporting sound, science-based wildlife management through license sales, excise taxes on outdoor gear, and sustainable use models.
Purchases of licenses, duck stamps, guns, ammunition, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other items used by sportsmen and women drive conservation funding in the United States. Together, these funding sources create the American System of Conservation Funding, a unique user-pays, public-benefits model. Authorized in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act, and later the Dingell-Johnson Act in 1950 and the Wallop-Breaux Amendments in 1984, provide funds from excise tax revenue to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
This year, Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson combined to give back $23.9 million in Wildlife Restoration Funds and Sport Fish Restoration Funds to Oklahoma’s conservation efforts. Hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $17.2 million to conservation and education efforts in 2013.
All Oklahomans benefit through these monies from improved access to public lands, public shooting facilities, improved water quality, habitat restoration, and numerous other department projects funded through this system.
Oklahoma’s fish and wildlife resources would not be nearly as abundant without our sportsmen and women, nor would our state’s economy be as vibrant. Sportsmen and women spent $1.5 billion on hunting and fishing in Oklahoma in 2011 – more than the combined receipts for all crops in the state that year. Hunters and anglers support more jobs in Oklahoma than the combined employment of Integris Baptist Medical Center and American Airlines, Inc., two of the state’s largest employers. Spending by sportsmen and women in Oklahoma generated $143 million in state and local taxes in 2011 – that’s enough to support the average salaries of 3,710 police and sheriff’s patrol officers.
The Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus recognizes the contributions of sportsmen and women for conservation and the economy, and thanks the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for their tireless efforts promoting the outdoor recreational pursuits in our great state.
Enjoy this special occasion and the vast opportunities to hunt and fish in Oklahoma. The outdoor traditions of hunting and angling should not be taken for granted and should continue to be preserved for future generations. More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at http://www.nhfday.org/.
Sen. Schulz and Sen. Sparks are co-chairs of the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus