Men and women who shoot, hunt, and fish will provide over $1 billion in conservation funding across the United States during fiscal year 2019 through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration and Federal Sport Fish Restoration Acts.

Better known as the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts, respectively, those programs fund fish and wildlife conservation efforts through excise taxes placed on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, and boating equipment.

Basically, every time any person buys a new gun, ammunition, bow, or fishing rod, they pay an excise tax that the Secretary of the Interior turns around and distributes back to the states each year to help pay for approved projects. Among other things, acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat, wildlife research, hunter education, wildlife reintroduction, and the construction of public shooting ranges are all approved uses of these funds.

Additionally, the aforementioned excise taxes generate "fenced" funds. This means the government is prohibited by law from diverting that money to other, nonwildlife uses. In fact, the law also specifies that any funds generated from those excise taxes that are not used within two years will be rolled over to the Migratory Bird Fund to acquire and protect waterfowl habitat.

To date, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration and Federal Sport Fish Restoration Acts have distributed over $21 billion for state conservation projects across the country. These funds are allocated to the various states using a formula based upon the total area of each state as well as the number of hunting and fishing license holders in the state.

However, each state must receive a minimum of 1% of the total amount apportioned, but cannot receive more than 3% (5% for Dingell-Johnson funds). Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia (Dingell-Johnson only) also receive funding through these programs, but have lower caps.

The U.S. Department of the Interior just released the official funding apportionments for fiscal year 2019. Considering the size of the state and the number of Texans that hunt and fish, it’s not surprising that Texas will receive the most funding through both programs this year with a grand total of $49,215,878: $18,269,837 in Dingell-Johnson funds and $30,946,041 in Pittman-Robertson funds.

In addition to Texas, Alaska, Pennsylvania, California, and Georgia round out the top 5 states receiving the most wildlife funding. Alaska, California, Minnesota, and Florida were also among the top five recipients of sport fish restoration funds.

On the other hand, the tiny states of Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont will each receive just over $4 million, which is the smallest amount of Pittman-Robertson funding allocated to an individual state in FY2019. Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia are all allocated the least Dingell-Johnson funds this year with each state receiving about $3.6 million.

As you can see, even the smallest states are receiving significant amounts of money to help ensure that future generations have access to high-quality hunting and fishing opportunities in the United States. Keep that in mind the next time you purchase a new gun or some ammo.