Anglers ask for Salazar's help

Members of the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council (SFBPC) have petitioned U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to help stop the withholding of funds that provide for the nation's fish and wildlife resources.

On Nov. 20, Thomas J. Dammrich, chairman of the SFBPC, sent this letter on behalf of the organization to Salazar's office. In it, he and the SFBPC members request that Salazar urge the Office of Management and Budget to exempt these funds from sequestration and to work with Congress to amend a provision that would exempt payments into as well as disbursements from these funds from sequestration.

The funds are those in the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFR) and the Wildlife Restoration Account (WR), which anglers and hunters pay into when they purchase fishing tackle, boat fuel or firearms. Both funds are what are referred to as 'user-pays, user-benefits' programs, meaning the people who purchase the products and pay the excise tax are the ones who benefit from fisheries and wildlife management. The funds are apportioned to states for the management of natural resources.

The SFR and WR funds are at risk, though, because of federal spending caps meant to control the national deficit. Millions of dollars from those funds are at risk of being 'sequestered' and not sent to states as promised by the federal government 60 years ago.

"The states will be way up a creek without some relief on this," said Dave Precht, vice president of publications at B.A.S.S. Precht recentrly wrote this column about this subject, calling for action from anglers across the country.

Jerry McKinnis, a co-owner of B.A.S.S., is a member of the SFBPC, with Noreen Clough, B.A.S.S. national conservation director, as his alternate.

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