As co-chairs of the Montana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, itself a member of the 48-state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses network, we are proud to join like-minded sportsmen-legislators from across the nation in celebrating the 45th National Hunting and Fishing Day last Saturday, Sept. 23.

In celebrating this day, we recognize the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling, as well as the historical and current contributions of the original conservationists — hunters and anglers — in supporting sound, science-based fish and wildlife conservation.

Through purchasing licenses, tags and waterfowl stamps, and by paying excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other hunting and fishing equipment, sportsmen and women drive conservation funding in the United States. Collectively, these funding sources constitute the American System of Conservation Funding, a unique “user pays-public benefits” System, which this year is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

Via passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act, the Dingell-Johnson Act, and the Wallop-Breaux Amendment, this excise tax revenue is apportioned back to state fish and wildlife agencies, including Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Last year alone, Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson combined contributed $29 million, while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional, approximate $43 million to fund conservation efforts in the state.

All Montanans benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting facilities, improved water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research (game and non-game), private and public habitat management, hunter education, angler access area construction, and numerous other Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks projects funded through this system.

The Montana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus recognizes the contributions of sportsmen and women to conservation; without them, Montana’s fish and wildlife would not be nearly as abundant, nor would our economy be as vibrant. Whether chasing elk in the Missouri Breaks, casting flies for brown and rainbow trout on the Big Hole River, or glassing for mule deer in the high country, Montanans have ample opportunities to pursue their outdoor pastimes thanks to hunters and anglers.

Today we celebrate the many and varied benefits that hunting and angling provide for the Treasure State. Enjoy this special occasion and the vast opportunities to hunt and fish in Montana. The outdoor traditions of hunting and angling should not be taken for granted and opportunities to hunt and fish should continue to be abundantly available for future generations.

More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at www.NHFDay.org, on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website at sportsmenslink.org/policies/state/NHFD, or at http://fwp.mt.gov/.

Reps. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, and Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, are co-chairs of the Montana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.

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