By Sean Eberhart

On Saturday, the nation will celebrate the 45th National Hunting and Fishing Day. This day recognizes the heritage and tradition of hunting and angling, as well as the historical and current contributions supporting sound, science-based fish and wildlife conservation.

Through purchasing licenses, tags and waterfowl stamps, and by paying excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel and other hunting and fishing equipment, sportsmen and women drive conservation funding in the United States. Collectively, these funding sources constitute the American System of Conservation Funding, a unique “user pays-public benefits” system, which this year is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

Via passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act, the Dingell-Johnson Act and the Wallop-Breaux Amendment, this excise tax revenue is apportioned back to state fish and wildlife agencies, including the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Last year, Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson combined contributed $16.5 million, while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $19 million to fund conservation efforts in the state.

All Hoosiers benefit from these monies through improved access to public lands, public shooting facilities, improved water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research, private and public habitat management, hunter education and numerous other DNR projects funded through this system.

As chair of both the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Indiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, I want to take the time to recognize the many contributions made to conservation by sportsmen and women. Without these individuals, Indiana’s fish and wildlife would not be nearly as abundant, nor would our economy be as strong. Hunters and anglers have made it possible to open 350 public boating and fishing access sites, conserve almost 200,000 acres of public land and fund wildlife conservation efforts like bobcat monitoring programs, avian influenza research and the dramatically successful bald eagle reintroduction program.

In addition, the Indiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus thanks the DNR for its tireless effort to support hunting, angling and recreational shooting and trapping in our great state.

Join in on the celebration of the many varied benefits that hunting and angling provide for the Hoosier state. Enjoy this special occasion and the vast opportunities to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors in Indiana.

More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at NHFDay.org or on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website at sportsmenslink.org/policies/federal/ascf.

State Rep. Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, represents Shelby County and portions of Bartholomew and Hancock counties as the District 57 representative.