The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program turns 75 this September. It is likely you haven't even heard of this program, but people everywhere who care about fish and wildlife conservation should be celebrating this anniversary. Without question, this is one of the most highly successful user-funded/public-benefit conservation programs in our nation's history.
It all began back in 1937 when hunters, joining with vendors of hunting equipment, approached the U.S. Congress to collect revenue from the sale of outdoor equipment and products to be used solely for the enhancement of wildlife conservation.
Wildlife Restoration funds have been critical to establishing healthy populations and habitats for many wildlife species, including the wild turkey, white-tailed deer and black bear just to name a few. These funds are essential to providing broader access and opportunities for public hunting and wildlife viewing, monitoring wildlife populations, conducting practical wildlife research, providing hunter education, acquiring key wildlife habitats and developing public shooting ranges.
Sport Fish Restoration funds are used to provide broader access for public fishing and boating by constructing boat ramps, docks and fishing piers, conducting key fisheries research, restoring critical fisheries habitat, and delivering educational programs targeting conservation of fisheries and their habitats.?Not only is September the 75th anniversary of the Restoration Fund, but September 1 is also one of our saltwater license-free fishing days. What a great opportunity to introduce a non-angler to the sport of saltwater fishing. Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is proud to be partners with all of the sportsmen, businesses and government agencies that help keep it that way.
As we enjoy the benefits flowing from hunters and anglers and the outdoor industry to fish and wildlife conservation and then back to everyone who enjoys our plentiful fish and wildlife resources, let's all remember that forward-thinking pioneers established the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. It indeed forms a strong circle of stewardship and support around fish and wildlife unrivaled by any other conservation program in the world.
So, if you are out enjoying a day in the field or on the water, or just observing wildlife, and you come across a hunter or angler offer your thanks for their leading role in conservation. They deserve major credit for the rich diversity of fish and wildlife resources we enjoy today.
Chairman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission