WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced that Rhode Island is receiving $7,739,248 this year to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects and preserve open spaces.  Senator Reed says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute the funds to the Ocean State for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) programs, including $3,610,771 through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program and $4,128,477 through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program.

“These funds will enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and help the state conserve and manage fish and wildlife resources.  These programs are a smart way to invest in sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and preserve open spaces,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “These programs are the result of our sportsmen and women, anglers, boaters, and others stepping up to support outdoor recreation, public access, and conservation.  Rhode Island's hunting and fishing communities deserve recognition and thanks for all they have done to protect habitats and public enjoyment of natural areas.  This program benefits all Rhode Islanders and the places that really matter to wildlife and people.”

These funds comes 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.  WSFR is based on a “user pay/user benefit” principle and 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 (DEM) for on-the-ground conservation.

“We appreciate the leadership of our Congressional delegation in bringing needed funding to Rhode Island to enhance outdoor recreation and support the conservation of wildlife habitat in our state,” said Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.  “Through this funding, critical investments have been made in boating infrastructure that support Rhode Islanders and visitors alike in enjoying our beautiful Narragansett Bay and local waterways.  This funding has also allowed us to protect lands that offer vital wildlife habitat and expand recreational opportunities across the state; these investments are so important to our economy, culture, and environment in Rhode Island.  And we are thankful to Senator Reed and our Congressional delegation for continuing to advocate for them.”

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 the construction at 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.

Rhode Island’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for operating and managing twenty-four wildlife management areas totaling over 46,000 acres.  It also operates over 200 boat launching ramps and shore fishing areas located throughout the state.

Nationwide, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated over $15 billion since their inception – the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program began in 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program started in 1950.  Over the years, the recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $5 billion.