VIDEO: America’s Conservation Heroes: Who Really Pays for our land and wildlife conservation

America has some of the most pristine land and wildlife in the world. But many Americans are unaware of who is responsible for funding our conservation efforts. In this ALEC TV livestream, we talk with sportsmen and women who help us understand who is paying for this and how states can benefit.

This week on ALEC TV Livestream, Catherine Mortensen, ALEC Public Affairs Director, Lee Schalk, ALEC Vice President of Policy, and  Joe Trotter, ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Director, spoke with Mark Oliva, Managing Director of Public Affairs of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Mia Anstine, founder and host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast about wildlife conservation and where the funds are coming from.

Catherine Mortensen: America has some of the most pristine wildlife in the world and the questions we’re going to talk about today are – how do we fund that? who who’s paying to preserve and conserve all the great parks and wildlife all over the country?

Lee Schalk: A lot of Americans don’t realize how a lot of our wildlife and conservation efforts are being funded and so one of the things we want to talk about today is an excise tax at the federal level, the Pittman-Robertson excise tax, which is a tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Since it was implemented by FDR in the 30’s it has raised over $15 billion to go towards those efforts and so we’d like to talk a little bit more about that today. Joe can you talk about why this is so timely?

Joe Trotter: There are a couple of reasons but one one interesting part is that the vast majority of the money does wind up being handed down to the states for them to implement their own conservation programs; but actually earlier today, in the House of Representatives, they they passed a update to the law that would, if enacted into law, would take about 15% of those proceeds to helping essentially endangered or threatened species. So it’s particularly timely that we’re having this conversation today.

Catherine Mortensen: Mark why don’t you give us more of a background on NSSF and your organization’s role in in promoting outdoors and preserving lands.

Mark Oliva: Thanks Cat, I appreciate y’all having me on today. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the firearm industry trade association. We represent your manufacturers, your ranges, your retailers, all the way down to your mom-and-pop shop, and some endemic media and your outdoor riders. We represent their answers for a trade association like any other trade association; just happens to be our product is firearms and ammunition. We have our our hand in this space, especially with conservation, because of the excise tax that’s paid by manufacturers straight to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be able to pay for some of these conservation projects that we all get to enjoy, whether you hunt or not.

Catherine Mortensen: Mia what is your background? Tell us about your background and your relationship with the great outdoors.

Mia Anstine:  Thank you all for having me on with you as well. This is a great topic and it’s one that I actually teach. I’m a volunteer hunter education instructor and as you said, I encourage people to get outdoors and part of that is because in my teen years I was kind of pulled out of that dirt road and thrown into the middle of a metro area in San Diego. Being moved around like that, I realized just what you’re saying. A lot of people didn’t know about hunting, fishing and money that comes in to help them have habitat and wildlife to view.

Watch the full video here