Saturday, September 28 marks our nation’s 47th Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD). Formalized by Congress in 1971 and signed as an official Presidential Proclamation by President Richard Nixon in 1972, NHFD is a great opportunity to come together and recognize the historical and ongoing contributions of the original conservationists – hunters and anglers.

As Co-Chairs of the Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and as a member of the 49 state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, we and our fellow Caucus Co-Chair Senator Michelle Stennett are proud to take time to celebrate the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling. On this day, we ask our fellow Idahoans to join us in recognizing the tremendous dedication that our state’s sportsmen and women bring to the conservation of our natural resources.

Idaho’s hunters and anglers are the primary source of conservation funding for the Gem State. Through the purchase of licenses, tags and permits, and by paying self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other equipment, hunters and anglers drive conservation funding in Idaho and the United States, through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays-public benefits” program.

Last year alone, contributions through the ASCF generated $21.85 million, while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $38 million to fund state conservation efforts through Idaho Department of Fish and Game. All Idahoans benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting ranges, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research and management, hunter education, fishing and boating access and many other Idaho Department of Fish and Game projects funded through this program. Additionally, through the accomplishments of our Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho is proud to have elevated its efforts in providing a variety of access opportunities. Included in this is the expansion of Idaho’s traditional Access Yes! program, adding nearly 50,000 additional acres of access to private land or access through private land to public lands beyond. IDFG also signed an agreement with Idaho Department of Lands to ensure continued access to 2.3 million acres of state endowment lands. To top things off, IDFG negotiated agreements with corporate timber land partners, including PotlatchDeltic, Stimson Lumber Company and others, to provide access to over 900,000 acres of private land.

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Hunting and angling are also a significant economic driver for our state. Idaho’s sportsmen and women spend over $1.02 billion per year on their outdoor pursuits, supporting 15,261 jobs in the state and contributing $202 million in state and local taxes. The Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus has supported these goals through policy that encourages the allowance of public access on private lands by limiting the liability of landowners who make their land and water areas available to the public without charge, and by supporting the appropriation of an additional $1,825,100 to the Fisheries Program, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, for habitat improvement projects.

Hunting and fishing produce countless benefits for our state’s conservation funding and economy; therefore, it is important that Idaho’s sportsmen and women invest time and effort to encourage future participation in these time-honored traditions. Our hunting and angling heritage should not be taken for granted, and getting the next generation of Idaho’s sportsmen and women involved in the outdoors will help ensure the conservation of our abundant natural resources for the future.

More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at www.NHFDay.org or on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website at www.congressionalsportsmen.org/policies/state/national-hunting-and-fishing-day.

Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding, holds House Seat B in District 26. Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, is from District 24.

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