New federal funds amounting to nearly $1.1 million will flow into Montana as its 2004 share of State Wildlife Grants, a national program aimed at funding state fish and wildlife efforts to manage species in the greatest need of conservation.
“We’re grateful for the efforts of our Congressional delegation and our many supporters in securing this important fish and wildlife funding during these difficult budget times,” said FWP Director Jeff Hagener. “It’s much cheaper, and our chances of success are much better, if we work now to prevent fish and wildlife from becoming endangered than it is to bring a species back from the brink of extinction. This funding will help us meet those types of fish and wildlife conservation needs.”
The funding is within the Interior Appropriations Bill, signed by President George Bush on Nov. 10. Congress awarded $70 million to State Wildlife Grants, $5 million above the 2003 allocation.
Sen. Conrad Burns, chairman of the U.S. Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, played a significant role in assuring this year’s increase. In addition, Sen. Max Baucus joined 33 of his Senate colleagues in signing a letter that sought substantial increases in funding and Rep. Denny Rehberg voted for the funding.
Like most states, FWP has been funded chiefly through sportsmen and -women’s dollars with hunting and fishing license sales providing a match for and federal excise taxes on gear. SWG similarly requires match to further stretch federal dollars. Hagener said the future of the program depends on Montanans coming together to help to provide the needed matching funds for species not typically managed by the states.
FWP is collaborating with other agencies and private groups to complete a comprehensive fish and wildlife plan to direct future SWG funding, and to identify possible sources of matching funds, Hagener said.
In Montana, SWG-funded programs include prairie fish surveys, native Arctic grayling and cutthroat trout restoration; loon research, wolf and grizzly bear recovery and management planning; inventories of small mammals and reptiles in and near sagebrush habitats, and more.
For information contact, T.O Smith, FWP's comprehensive fish and wildlife plan coordinator, at 406-444-3889, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.