Back in June I explained how states get federal funding for hunting and fishing programs through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson acts. Excise taxes imposed on hunting and fishing gear are returned to each state based on its land area and the number of hunting and fishing licenses sold.
P-R and D-J tax dollars supplement the fees states collect for hunting and fishing licenses. But these are just two of many federal laws and policies that benefit wildlife.
A complete review of federal conservation law is far beyond the scope of this column, but I want to mention a few pieces of federal legislation that have been critical to the success of wildlife conservation in America.
Federal wildlife law began with the Lacey Act in 1900. It curbed market hunting by outlawing the interstate transportation of illegally killed game species
The Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (1934) created funding to acquire and maintain national wildlife refuges. The money came from the sale of federal migratory bird hunting licenses -- "duck stamps." Though only waterfowl hunters are required to buy these stamps, the refuges provide critical habitat for myriad forms of wildlife.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (1964) insured that all citizens have access to outdoor recreation. Its funding came from user fees, an excise tax on motorboat fuels, and Outer Continental Shelf oil revenues. Funds can be used to acquire and develop land for national and state parks.
The Wilderness Act (1964) established a National Wilderness Preservation System to protect wild lands in their natural state. It defined wilderness, in part, as an area where, "man himself is a visitor and does not remain."
And the most influential piece of federal wildlife legislation may be one that never even used the term "wildlife." The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 established broad principles that recognized the profound impact of man's activity on the interrelationships of all components of the natural environment. NEPA also created the Council on Environmental Quality in the executive office of the President.
Among many other mandates, NEPA requires all federal agencies to prepare detailed environmental impact statements for, "all proposals for legislation and other major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." In these cases, wildlife usually wins.
Biologist, author and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 9-11 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 AM WVLY (Wheeling), and noon-2 p.m. Sundays on 1360 AM WMNY (Pittsburgh). He can be reached at http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com, and 2222 Fish Ridge Rd., Cameron, WV 26033.