OLYMPIA -- A national proposal to fund wildlife education, outdoor recreation
and conservation programs through a new excise tax on outdoor equipment has won
the support of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The commission has voted to endorse the national Teaming With Wildlife
campaign, which proposes federal legislation to create a new dedicated trust fund for
state-level wildlife programs.
"The Teaming With Wildlife program is an investment in the future," said Lisa
Pelly, chair of the commission. "People who enjoy the out-of-doors can make that
investment by simply doing what they enjoy."
If passed by Congress, the TWW legislation would create a funding source
similar to the Pittman-Robertson and Wallop-Breaux programs which fund traditional
game fish and wildlife management programs through excise taxes on fishing and
hunting equipment. The TWW proposal calls for imposing a surcharge on the purchase
of outdoor recreation equipment such as bird-feeding equipment, backpacks, tents and
binoculars to generate some $350 million for recreation, education and conservation
programs. Washington's annual share of the revenue is projected to be up to $10
million. The funds would be used to build trails and wildlife viewing facilities for outdoor
enthusiasts, fund habitat protection and restoration efforts and develop interpretive
signs and wildlife education materials.
In voting to endorse the Teaming With Wildlife proposal, the state commission
lends its voice to a coalition of over 2,000 conservation and recreation organizations
nationwide which support the measure. A recently formed state coalition for Teaming
With Wildlife has attracted the support of nearly 40 state conservation and recreation
groups and related businesses.