One of the things I enjoy most about my position as Chief of the Bureau of Natural Resources are the many opportunities I have to meet with Connecticut sportsmen and conservation groups. These meetings are almost inevitably accompanied by questions on our budget and concerns that money spent on licenses, permits and stamps is not coming back to support conservation programs. I am hoping that the information presented here will answer most of your questions and address some of the more common misconceptions.
The Bureau of Natural Resources (BNR) is divided into four units: Inland Fisheries Division, Marine Fisheries Division, Forestry Division, and Wildlife Division. The pie charts provide a quick look at the sources of revenue for BNR programs and how it is allocated among different activities performed by the four units (for simplicity, spending on Administration has been combined and spending on freshwater and saltwater fisheries activities have been combined).
A few things immediately stand out. On the revenue side it’s clear that anglers and hunters provide approximately 85% of the funding for BNR conservation programs. A willingness to support on-the-ground conservation is a tradition that sportsmen should be very proud of. Through the purchase of licenses, permits, tags and stamps, along with the federal excise tax paid on the purchase of fishing and hunting equipment (Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Grants), sportsmen contribute over $13 million per year, clearly demonstrating a commitment to make long-term investments in conservation that benefit all Connecticut residents.
The spending side shows the array of programs necessary to provide a comprehensive and effective conservation effort that cuts across the Connecticut landscape and serves the diversity of Connecticut residents. These activities include the conservation of forest lands, fish & wildlife populations and their habitats, and elements as diverse as the management of marine commercial fisheries, trout and pheasant stocking, control of invasive species, providing technical assistance to the public, and conservation of non-game wildlife.
The questions on revenue from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, permits, tags and stamps coming back to support conservation programs are easy to answer. The federal government requires that each state pass a law, as a precondition of accepting U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service funds, ensuring that all such revenues are used exclusively to support fish & wildlife programs (see 26-15 of the Connecticut General Statutes). Connecticut sportsmen pay approximately $7.3 million annually for licenses and other fees. These revenues are equal to 49% of our BNR operating funds as shown in the chart below. A quick look at this chart confirms that all of the revenue from anglers and hunters does come back to BNR…plus some additional monies from the General Fund necessary to cover current expenses (~7%). In reality, all Connecticut taxpayers contribute to conservation via other State and Federal Funds that are used by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to support our State Parks, purchase land, and to regulate activities that have an impact on our natural environment. The bottom line is that all of us contribute, and sportsmen in particular have gone the extra mile and should be especially proud of what they’ve accomplished. We have built a solid foundation upon which to meet future conservation challenges.
William A. Hyatt
Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.