The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

March 10, 2013

Sequester impacting hunting, fishing industries

A news release from Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) Communications came across my desk this week, and I felt the information was worth sharing. B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing for more than 45 years.

If the federal government’s sequestration scheme to reduce spending continues as originally planned, millions of dollars will be withheld from states for managing fish and wildlife.

“I’m very sad that this is happening, and I’m disappointed that leaders in our government can’t work together to fix this,” said Noreen Clough, national conservation director for B.A.S.S. and former Southeast Region director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It is going to hurt resource management by limiting what the state and federal agencies can do.”

The current version of sequestration, which imposes about $85 billion dollars in across-the-board federal spending cuts, went into effect March 1.

State fisheries programs are being impacted, not because of federal spending cuts but because apportionments from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program will be withheld, courtesy of poorly written legislation, Clough noted.

“It’s a quirk in the language,” she explained. “The money is protected from being diverted, but there’s no protection from limiting apportionments.”

Although the funds are available, having been collected from excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel and pledged to the states for fish and wildlife management, 5.1 percent of it will be held back. That amounts to $46.2 million.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is working to free those funds for the states. “Please know that we continue to pursue an exemption for the trust funds,” Jen Mock Schaeffer, government affairs director, told state fish and wildlife directors.

As of right now, Texas looks to be the hardest hit, losing $2.2 million. Alaska will be denied $2.1 million, and California $1.9 million. Every state will lose at least $300,000.

Additionally, sequestration’s cut to the rate of growth for environmental programs could result in states losing more than $100 million in grants and other assistance for protecting water and air from hazardous wastes, pesticides and other pollutants. California and New York each could be deprived of more than $12 million.

“I’m really disappointed that people haven’t picked up on the fact that what’s happening will impact resource management,” Clough said. “The tentacles of sequestration go way beyond what’s reported in the news.”

An e-mail to Bret Preston, WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section, provided this piece of information on the subject from a local perspective:

“Wildlife Restoration Program (Pittman-Robertson Act) funding is based on an excise tax on firearms and ammunition, and these funds are up significantly. Therefore, we do not expect any immediate impact to agency programs funded under this Act.

“Sport Fish Restoration Program (Dingell-Johnson Act) funding is based on an excise tax on sport fishing equipment, import duties on fishing tackle, yachts and pleasure craft, and has not realized the same increase in funding as the Wildlife Restoration Program. Therefore, we will need to make some adjustments to our budget after we receive additional information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

While the initial financial impacts of sequestration remain uncertain, the greater concern is the withholding of these funds from states for their intended purposes of fisheries and wildlife research, management and fishing and boating access as entrusted by sportsmen and women and industries that pay the money to support these critical state programs.

From B.A.S.S. to WVDNR, wildlife and conservation organizations are keeping close tabs on the new federal budget sequestration and how it will affect our cherished natural resources and West Virginia sportsmen’s favorite pastime — hunting and fishing.

Here’s hoping the weather clears and fish are hungry when it does.

1
Text Only
Outdoors
  • The cure for the summertime blues: Go camping

    In case you haven’t noticed we are looking right down the gun barrel at winding down on another summer.

    July 26, 2014

  • 071714 Coda and Callie.jpg Coda and Callie’s excellent adventure

    How is it something that you profess to love so much can cause you so much anxiety and grief? No, I’m not talking about dealing with your children (or your spouse). This is worse. This is about dogs. More specifically, hunting dogs. 

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314 Chris Ellis.jpg DNR’s ‘outdoor summer school’

    Attention all West Virginia hunters and trappers. It is once again time for outdoor summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

    Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

    July 13, 2014

  • July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

    It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

    July 13, 2014

  • Shotgun 101: Shoot more and live better

    “God is not on the side of big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”
    — Voltaire

    July 9, 2014

  • Fireflies are living lights

    At recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, spectators squealed with delight at the annual spectacle that illuminated the night sky. And I’m sure more than a few compared the spectacular pyrotechnics to the subtler displays of fireflies that punctuate backyards, parks, and campgrounds all summer long. We call these displays “nature’s fireworks.”

    July 5, 2014

  • Get on up, or you’ll get left behind

    “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” —
    William Shakespeare

    July 3, 2014

  • Catfish, it's whats for dinner

    I think for far too long the catfish has had an image problem. They seemed to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the fish world. You know, they got no respect. Fortunately though (maybe unfortunately if you are a catfish), that seems to be in the past. They are a fish whose time has come.

    June 28, 2014

  • It’s more than a boat, it’s an adventure

    Growing up on Elk River, I couldn’t help being connected to the river and its waters. It is where I caught my first fish, learned to swim, paddle a canoe, to read water and throw a buzz bait, killed my first duck, gigged frogs and spent many a Saturday night fishing for catfish. We lived in a river bank community, and the Elk provided us with everything from water for our homes to all the recreation a young boy would need to fill his youthful requirements for adventure.

    June 28, 2014