Federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds to help DEM conserve open spaces and nature & maintain outdoor recreational areas across RI
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) announced that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is awarding the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) two grants totaling $8,248,826 through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, which helps states properly care for outdoor recreational areas, as well as over half a million dollars in federal State Wildlife Grants (SWG).
The Ocean State will receive $4,142,605 through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program, $4,106,221 through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, and $555,000 through the State Wildlife Grants. This federal funding will help state wildlife and conservation officials fund a variety of projects and programs, including fish and wildlife management, habitat restoration and protection, improving boating and hunting access, and other activities.
The federal funds are generated by the U.S. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program, which is designed to help states manage natural resources with grant programs that directly benefit fish and wildlife conservation.
“Protecting Rhode Island’s open spaces, waters, and fish and wildlife habitat is crucial to our environment, economy, and way of life. These funds help boost conservation and opportunities for outdoor recreation, while supporting Rhode Island’s economy. This is an investment in Rhode Island’s outdoor recreation economy, wildlife and habitat restoration, conservation, and infrastructure to preserve and maintain these natural resources now and in the future,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
WSFR funds come from fees generated by the sale of hunting and fishing equipment and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines. The taxes are collected from the outdoor industry by federal agencies and distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to state fish and wildlife agencies like the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for on-the-ground conservation.
In order to access the full amount of funds, DEM must provide a 25 percent match.
Sport Fish Restoration funds are used by fish and wildlife agencies to pay for programs such as stocking fish; acquiring and improving sport fish habitat; providing aquatic resource education opportunities; conducting fisheries research; maintaining public access; and constructing boat ramps, fishing piers, and other facilities for recreational boating access.
Wildlife Restoration Act funds are used by fish and wildlife agencies to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife lands and public access, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education, and construct and maintain shooting ranges.
State Wildlife Grants are targeted toward accelerating the recovery of threatened and endangered species and preventing other species from having to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. These federal funds are allocated by formula, based on population size and geographic area.
DEM is responsible for managing more than 60,000 acres of state land, including 25 state management areas, 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, 200 fishing spots, and over 200 public boat ramps in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island’s outdoor recreation industry helps support thousands of jobs and generates $293 million annually in state and local tax revenue, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
Last summer, Senator Reed helped pass the Great American Outdoors Act, fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and helping to address the maintenance backlog on federal parks and public lands. Rhode Island received over $2.8 million in LWCF funding for fiscal year 2021.