Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke releases $1.1 billion in funds for state wildlife, fish restoration – The Denver Post

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday he would be releasing $1.1 billion in funds collected for state fish and wildlife restoration efforts, including $28 million for Colorado.

Zinke in April ordered the delay and review of all grants larger than $100,000, threatening state fish and wildlife agencies that rely on taxes collected on the sales of hunting, fishing, boating and shooting equipment. Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives about 20 percent of its funding — nearly $30 million — from federal grant programs, including the venerable Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds that support fish and wildlife restoration.

Colorado will receive a total of $28 million, including $9 million for sport fish restoration and $19 million for wildlife restoration programs.

State wildlife agencies across the country were concerned about the sudden blockage of federal funding, especially if short-term funding to cover the gap was not reimbursed. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in May urged Zinke to fast track the review of grants, citing the more than $1 billion in excise tax revenue from hunting and fishing equipment sales that supported wildlife and fish restoration in fiscal 2016.

Last year Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported $30.8 million in funding from federal and state grants and loans.

In 2015, the agency reported the Pittman-Robertson funds had “dramatically increased in recent years” following increased sales of guns and ammunition while Dingell-Johnson funding was keeping pace with inflation. That year, the agency reported about $28 million from both those federal programs.

“This is on par with what we usually receive,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Lauren Truitt. “The financial component that is missing is the State Wildlife Grants. We are still waiting to hear on those, which is about $900,000.”