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The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act 

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act? If you haven’t, don’t despair. I was an avid outdoorsman for more than half my life before I learned about this law that plays such an important role in conservation, education, wildlife restoration and more. 

I heard the act mentioned one morning while purchasing a hunting license, but it wasn’t until I researched it for an article that I realized just how crucial the law has been for people who love the outdoors. 

Approved by Congress in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act taxes the sales of guns, ammo and archery equipment and distributes those funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. That money is used to support hunter education and safety, conservation programs and wildlife restoration. Wildlife restoration programs, which receive the biggest piece of the pie, use these funds to acquire land that is suitable or can be made suitable for wildlife habitat. These programs also maintain public access for outdoor opportunities for the public. 

The Pittman-Robertson Act is set up to appropriate funds based on the number of hunters in each state. When hunting license sales drop, so do the funds that a state receives through the act. This is an incentive to encourage and introduce more people to the outdoors and hunting. 

With all the firearms and hunting language in the act, one might assume it primarily benefits hunters. However, nonhunters contribute the most to the act through recreational shooting guns and ammo purchases, and the benefits are for everyone—even people who don’t hunt or shoot at all. 

Wildlife management and restoration projects create many outdoor opportunities, including hiking trails and wetland areas that give birdwatchers and photographers new places to explore. The restoration of native flora and fauna offers nature lovers a chance to get away and see Kentucky as it was. 

The Cumberland Forest Wildlife Management Area is a new wildlife management area in Kentucky, held by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, that was funded mostly through the Pittman-Robertson Act along with help from the the Kentucky General Assembly, The Nature Conservancy—Kentucky Chapter, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Through a permanent conservation easement held by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources the property is now permanently open to the public, offering hiking trails, excellent wildlife viewing and hunting. At 54,560 acres, it is the largest conservation easement in Kentucky history.

I encourage you to make a trip to southeast Kentucky to explore your new property. Be sure to read next month’s Great Outdoors column for more information on the Cumberland Forest Wildlife Management Area—and in the meantime, read up on all of the great outdoor opportunities that the Pittman-Robertson Act has contributed to.

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