Out of greed or indifference, almost from the moment people discovered how unusual and beautiful America was, some sought to develop it, disfigure it, destroy its lands and waters, and wipe out wildlife. .
It was almost miraculous that far-sighted individuals successfully fought for the kind of preservation and protection that saved us from national parks and wildlife refuges.
The most impactful government legislation ever enacted to help generations repair what other thoughtless generations had damaged was the 1937 approval of the Federal Wildlife Restoration Assistance Bill, also known as the name Pittman-Robertson law.
Smooth-working and popular, with a huge success story, now a malicious flake of a Georgia congressman wants to repeal it.
The law created a tax on firearms and ammunition at a rate of approximately 11%. Since 1939, when the federal government’s distribution of collected money began to be shared, Indiana alone has received about $261 million. In fiscal year 2022, Pittman-Robertson distributed $15 billion to U.S. states and territories, an increase of $1 billion in a single year.
The money received enabled Hoosier State to acquire and manage 186,000 acres of land for public recreation and enjoyment, fund shooting ranges, hunter education programs, monitor the changing animal populations and assisting in habitat management and research. In Indiana, as well as other states, Pittman-Robertson is essentially the most valuable source of conservation funding.
It is not a case where money is taken from specific users and given to others. Targeted funding programs benefit those who pay the tax.
Pittman-Robertson has got to be one of the best working US government programs. And yet he is now under attack from US Representative Andrew Clyde, R-Georgia. Clyde mustered 57 co-sponsors to besiege Pittman-Robertson.
Clyde says the law should be scrapped because taxing gun purchases is unconstitutional. The tax, he says, violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms. That seems like an absurd reach.
Pittman-Robertson has long been an accepted cross-law where hunters and conservationists from groups like the Sierra Club and others meet in the middle. Hunters, who value the experience of the natural forest as much as hikers, and like having places to hunt, have understood the logic of their gun and ammunition taxes funding their activity. If woods, rivers and lakes are paved and built for high-rise suburbs, habitat for hunters disappears.
Even the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the representative of the firearms industry, does not support this repeal effort, even though it tries to inject money as a replacement for oil and gas funds. The Foundation called the plan “misguided”.
In Indiana, officials point to how much Pittman-Robertson has accomplished.
“Those of us who are involved in wildlife restoration would not be in favor of this,” Muscatatuck Wildlife Refuge National Park Ranger Donna Stanley said of the new bill. “It (Pittman-Robertson) funded so much good.”
And there was a lot of funding. In 2022, Indiana receives $5,183,733 from Pittman-Robertson. This is similar to the $5,351,752 received in 2021. These payments reflect larger shares than previous years. In 2000, the amount for Indiana was $3,820,091. In 1990, the figure was $2,738,980.
The dollar figure is determined by a formula built around a state’s population, size and license sales, said Cindy Stites, INDR’s wildlife recreation program manager.
IDNR properties purchased with Pittman-Robertson money include Deer Creek, Goose Pond, Pigeon River, Atterbury, and Sugar Ridge.
“It’s important for conservation in our state,” Stites said. “It’s statewide. It’s for everyone.
Everybody. People who want to take bird photos, hunt deer, or soak up nature on a hike in the woods all benefit. Anyone who is a conservationist at heart should team up with state wildlife agencies on this.
On the outside, America still needs protectors.