Celebrating Over 75 Years of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration

The CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife joins hundreds of state-level fish and wildlife agencies and conservation organizations throughout the nation in celebrating the success of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs (WSFR) and recognizing the huge impact these remarkable programs have had in protecting and conserving the nation's fish and wildlife stocks and in engaging the public in the enjoyment of our natural wildlife and aquatic resources.

2012 marked 75 years since the birth of WSFR. Arguably the most successful effort to conserve fish and wildlife in the world, this collaborative effort between federal and local fish and wildlife agencies and hunters and anglers is a key component of our conservation efforts here in our Commonwealth. WSFR provides the majority of our funding for the management of our wildlife and fish resources. Hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife-related recreational opportunities are all supported and enhanced through WSFR.

WSFR came about in response to the alarming destruction of habitat and the loss of many fish and wildlife species in the United States by the turn of the last century - a situtation that has repeated itself here since the Commonwealth was established in the 1970s. In both cases, it was the blind rush of development that led to dire environmental consequences. Also in both cases, WSFR became the means to slow, stop and sometimes even reverse the damage.

WSFR began with the Wildlife Restoration Act, now called the Pittman-Robertson Wildlfe Restoration Act, that was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 at the urging of the nation's sportsmen who selflessly convinced Congress to tax them to fund conservation. Through the Act, an excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment is apportioned to state fish and wildlife agencies for wildlife conservation. It was expanded with the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, passed in 1950, that put a tax on fishing and boating equipment and boating fuel to be used for sport fish conservation.

WSFR creates a "Cycle of Success" in which the purchase of hunting equipment and boating fuel by hunters and anglers leads to funding for fish and wildlife agency conservation efforts that lead to better fishing, boating, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation, that then encourages more fishing, hunting, boating, starting the cycle again. It is a collaborative cycle that starts and ends with people who love the great outdoors and want to protect it. Through their actions, and with the support of both federal and state-level fish and wildlife agencies, we all enjoy the "quality of life" benefits of conservation.