The following press release is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it will distribute $50 million to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs.
Nearly $33 million will be for wildlife research and management, public access to wildlife resources, and hunter education programs and shooting ranges, a 12 percent increase from last year. More than $17 million will be for sport fish research and management, public access to waters for recreational boaters and sport anglers, angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation programs, and sport fish hatcheries.
“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs are the lifeblood of fish and wildlife conservation in Alaska and absolutely essential to the successful pursuit of our mission,” said Commissioner Sam Cotten. “Since the inception of these programs, the funds have allowed our biologists to manage the fish and game species in our state to provide sustainable food resources and recreational opportunities for generations to come. We are thankful to Alaska’s anglers, hunters, and trappers for contributing to conservation in such a significant manner.”
Pittman-Robertson funds are critical to Alaska’s wildlife management programs, supporting projects that range from estimating moose numbers to ensure sustainable populations and maximize hunting opportunities to the use of DNA methods for counting brown and black bears, deer and other wildlife. Wildlife habitat enhancement projects such as those currently underway on the Kenai Peninsula, Tanana Valley, and Matanuska-Susitna valleys are also largely paid for with Pittman-Robertson funds.
The recent reintroduction of wood bison to their former range in Interior Alaska could not have been done without Pittman-Robertson funds and the state’s Hunter Information and Training Program relies on these funds to provide its Basic Hunter Education, Bowhunter, and Muzzleloader certification courses and maintain public shooting ranges.
The Division of Sport Fish leverages their Dingell-Johnson funds to support a wide range of research and management projects from the Kenai River sonar that is used to count returning king salmon to sheefish and Arctic grayling projects in the Interior. Sport anglers in Southcentral and Interior Alaska benefit from the Division’s two state-of-the-art sport fish hatcheries that provide fish for stocking in over 290 freshwater lakes, streams, and saltwater locations.
The Division partners with communities across the state to provide or improve angler access like the replacement of the aging Homer boat ramp in 2016. In addition, the angler education program is supported with Dingell-Johnson funds. The program encourages kids and families to both learn and participate in sport fish activities, continuing a history of introducing new anglers to the joy of sport fishing.
“We are happy to partner with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on behalf of sportsmen and women,” said Greg Siekaniec, Alaska Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in Alaska. A lot of great work has been accomplished over the years. Just this past December, the Department’s Statewide Access program was awarded the national Boating Access Excellence Award. If you get out to the Susitna landing this summer, it is one great example of a boating access project that has been supported by Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program funds. The landing protects the stream bank, which helps keep the Susitna River healthy and the fish coming back and provides thousands of anglers access to hot fishing spots.”