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Massachusetts to Lose Federal Dollars
Over Wildlife Budget Raid


(Columbus) – Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s plan to divert monies dedicated for wildlife conservation to the general budget could cost the state millions in federal matching funds. Sportsmen are urged to ask state legislators to reconsider the state’s budget plan and protect fish, wildlife and conservation efforts in the state.

In a letter sent by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to Wayne MacCallum, Director of the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife, Robert J. Sousa, Chief of the USFWS Division of Federal Aid, states that unless corrective steps are taken within 30 days, “Massachusetts is no longer eligible to participate in the Federal Aid Program. In addition…Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration apportionments to Massachusetts totaling $4,696,755 are in jeopardy.”

In 2003, the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife had a $12.6 million budget, obtained mainly through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. It expected to receive $4.6 million of that budget from Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Programs, commonly called Pittman-Robertson (PR) and Dingell-Johnson (DJ) funds. These are federal taxes collected on purchases of outdoor equipment such as firearms, ammunition, and fishing tackle.

To receive the Wildlife Restoration dollars, the federal government requires that a state’s hunting and fishing license revenue be spent exclusively on fish and wildlife programs. According to Romney’s budget, $6.8 million has been dedicated to conservation, but the balance can be used for non-conservation purposes, including the state’s budget stabilization fund, which is used to offset any future state budget deficits.

“The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance maintains that Governor Romney’s budget plan is a diversion of sportsmen’s dollars,” said U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Vice President for Government Affairs Rob Sexton. “The governor’s actions demonstrate that he intends to use the funds for other purposes. We are confident that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will rule that the state of Massachusetts is out of compliance with federal regulations.”

Over the course of Romney’s administration, his plan could cost Massachusetts conservation programs up to $15.3 million in federal funding.

The cuts to the Division’s budget are already impacting wildlife programs. The Division has been forced to close two trout hatcheries, one in Sandwich and the other in Montague, Massachusetts. These closures shut down one-fourth of the hatcheries in the state. Of the one million anglers in Massachusetts, an estimated 50 percent of those are trout fishermen who are directly impacted by these closures.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance urges Massachusetts sportsmen to contact their legislators and ask them to prevent federal cuts in Massachusetts fish and wildlife programs. Tell them that the taxes paid by Massachusetts sportsmen should benefit conservation programs in the state. To find your legislator and for contact information, call (617) 727-2828 or use the Legislative Action Center at www.ussportsmen.org.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers nationally in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.
 

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Here in Okla. we have good funds and plenty for wildlife dept to purchase lands. There are a few state representives that sure would like to get there hands on that money. Are state economy is not in great shape and this has been brought to table more than once.
 
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