By Mark Horobetz, Ducks Unlimited Manager of Youth and Education Programs
Ducks Unlimited (DU) was founded in 1937 by a group of sportsmen who were concerned about the future of waterfowl and the habitats needed to ensure healthy populations for generations to come. Ducks Unlimited restores and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. The impact DU has had on the landscape can be measured by the 14 million acres conserved that has benefited hunters and non-hunters with habitat protection of over 900-plus species, clean water, flood mitigation, and coastal restoration.
As a non-profit organization, funding for DU comes in a variety of ways; our event fundraising program fueled by over 55,000 volunteers, paired with DU’s ability to match state and federal funds is a critical component to DU’s ability to put habitat on the ground.
You may be asking yourself, “how do shooting sports leagues play a role in supporting wetland conservation?” It comes down to how conservation work is primarily funded through excise taxes and license sales, both of which League athletes play a critical role.
An important funding mechanism for DU’s conservation work stems from a federally regulated tax program called the Pittman-Robertson Act. This is where League athletes and families play a major role in contributing to the overall financial stability of our landscapes.
Through the purchase of firearms and ammunition, an 11% excise tax is generated and given to the Secretary of the Interior to then be distributed to the states for conservation work. League athletes generate millions in Pittman-Robertson conservation dollars each year—over $4 million in Pittman-Robertson funds are expected to be generated by League athletes next year alone.
Additionally, increased hunter numbers correlate to increased license and duck stamp sales (both are required to legally hunt waterfowl), which have a direct impact on funds available for conservation. For every dollar you spend on Federal Ducks Stamps, 98 cents go directly to purchase vital habitat or acquire conservation easements for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The League’s engagement of youth in shooting sports has a direct impact on bringing new hunters to the sport, and in rekindling the waterfowl-hunting interests of their parents and grandparents.
DU is proud to partner with the USA Clay Target League in 2020 and we anticipate a long-term relationship that will benefit youth shooting sports and conservation efforts for generations.