Congress must act to save funds that maintain our natural resources

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Many Pennsylvanians don't realize that their purchase of fishing and boating equipment and motorboat fuel directly supports aquatic resources. They also may not realize that this long-standing, highly successful system is in jeopardy unless Congress acts before the year's end.

I have worked, lived and boated on the Allegheny River for 40 years and have witnessed firsthand the impact of the Fish and Boat Commission along with help from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety funds. I am part of the growing chorus across the country asking Congress to exempt the funds from federal budget sequestration.

The recreational boating community willingly pays excise taxes into these effective federal programs. Funds are then passed back to state natural resource agencies. This user pays/public benefits model invests over $11 million annually into the commonwealth for the management of our aquatic resources, public access to waterways and boating safety.

More fishing licenses are sold and more boats are registered in Allegheny County than anywhere else in Pennsylvania. Western Pennsylvania counties combined account for more than one-third of all fishing licenses and boat registrations.

In addition to benefitting the users themselves, businesses that serve anglers and boaters who rely on safe access to our region's waters simply could not exist without the work funded by these user-driven programs.

Congress should act now to maintain the integrity of the trust funds and ensure that the hard-earned dollars of anglers and boaters are used for their intended purposes.

ANDY TALENTO
Boating Advisory Board
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Verona


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