By Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta County)
As Co-Chair of the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, along with my fellow Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds, we are proud to celebrate the 45th National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, September 23rd. We join like-minded sportsmen-legislators from our 48-state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses network to recognize the time-honored traditions and conservation work of hunters and anglers in supporting sound, science-based fish and wildlife conservation.
Through purchasing licenses, tags and waterfowl stamps, and by paying excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other hunting and fishing equipment, sportsmen and sportswomen drive conservation funding in the United States. Collectively, these funding sources constitute the American System of Conservation Funding, a unique “user pays-public benefits” system, which this year is celebrating its 80th anniversary.
Via passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act, the Dingell-Johnson Act, and the Wallop-Breaux Amendment, this excise tax revenue is apportioned back to state fish and wildlife agencies, including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). Last year alone, Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson combined contributed $17,720,039, while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $17,720,039 to fund conservation efforts in the state.
All Virginians benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting facilities, improved water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research (game and non-game), private and public habitat management, hunter education, angler access area construction, and numerous other VDGIF projects funded through this System.
The Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus recognizes the contributions of sportsmen and sportswomen to conservation; without them, Virginia’s fish and wildlife would not be nearly as abundant, nor would our economy be as vibrant. Funds generated by sportsmen and sportswomen help support the VDGIF’s management of 41 Wildlife Management Areas across the state for public hunting and fishing as well as over 220 boating access sites on lakes, rivers, and coastal waters for boaters and anglers.
On behalf of the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, we thank the VDGIF for their tireless efforts to support hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. Today we celebrate the many and varied benefits that hunting and angling provide for the Commonwealth. The outdoor traditions of hunting and angling should not be taken for granted and opportunities to hunt and fish should continue to be abundantly available for future generations.
To learn more about the National Hunting and Fishing Day check out www.NHFDay.org.