Federal PR and DJ Funds Explained

Many sportsmen and women are familiar with the term “Pittman-Robertson” or “PR Funds”. For those that are not, it is the landmark federal act that was passed in 1937 to provide a “user pay-user benefit” source of funding for wildlife conservation. The Pittman-Robertson Act turns 75 years old this year, just like MUCC.

Since its inception in 1937, Michigan has received funding from Pittman-Robertson totaling $249 million, all restricted and designated for wildlife restoration efforts. The federal fund earns its revenue from excise taxes on manufacturers, 11% from firearms and ammunition, 10% from handgun and revolver purchases and 11% from archery and arrow components. Money earned from the excise tax is matched with state fees from the sale of hunting licenses at a ratio of 3:1; meaning for every state license dollar we put towards PR programs, we get $3 from the federal government (up to our allocated amount determined by a formula based on the number of individual hunters and the land area of Michigan). The Pittman-Robertson fund has contributed $6.8 billion nationwide as of fiscal year 2011.

The funds brought in through the excise tax are then allocated to the state’s fish and wildlife agency. Michigan was allotted $12.8 million in 2011, the majority of which ($10.5 million) went toward the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division and the remaining $2.3 million was designated for hunter education programs.

In 1950, the Dingell-Johnson Act passed that provided a similar mechanism for funding sport fishing restoration. Revenues are earned through taxes and duties which include an excise tax of 10% on fishing equipment and 3% on electric trolling motors, motorboat and small engine fuel taxes, and import duties on tackle, pleasure boats and yachts. Money earned from taxes and duties are matched with state fees from the sale of fishing licenses, again at a 3:1 ratio.

The Dingell-Johnson fund has since earned $7 billion, $244 million of which has been allocated to the State of Michigan for its fisheries resources. In fiscal year 2011, Michigan was awarded $11.7 million, the majority of which ($10.7 million) went to the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division. The remaining money was designated for boating access.

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