Wildlife Commission Approves $658,640 in Wildlife Heritage Trust Expenditures
During its May 9 meeting in Reno, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners approved $658,640 in expenditures from the Wildlife Heritage Trust Account for 26 projects that will benefit wildlife and wildlife habitat.
This represents the largest single Wildlife Heritage allocation since the program’s inception in 1981. All funds are donated by sportsmen, either through auctions of game tags, second chance drawing in the general draw process, or from private gifts to the Wildlife Heritage Trust Account.
“The committee had a tough job with so many projects to consider. I am pleased with the number and quality of project proposals, and the manner in which this committee distributed funds,” said Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Ken Mayer. He added that he was also happy that outside groups stepped up to provide money to match Heritage funds, thereby leveraging funding for habitat and wildlife projects to over $2.5 million.
Clint Bentley, chairman of the Board of Wildlife Commissioners was also pleased with the end result. “The change to NRS (Nevada Revised Statutes) to allow us to use up to 75% of the previous year’s donations along with the interest gained on the principle has been a great benefit,” said Bentley. “There is a great need to restore wildlife and its habitat, and these projects show real promise.”
Heritage funds traditionally support big game capture, transplant, and monitoring projects, and this year was no different, with $124,178 allotted for this critically important activity. Big game transplant efforts in the state have allowed reintroduction of bighorn sheep into historic ranges, augmentation of antelope herds, and removal of animals from problem areas like northern Elko County where wild fires have destroyed thousands of acres of winter range.
A number of key projects that were funded:
• Disease monitoring for big game species: $50,000
• Wildfire impact migration and wildlife habitat restoration: $54,094
• Habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction in North Spring Valley: $30,000
• Hoover Dam bypass underpass monitoring for bighorn sheep: $35,000
• Virginia Range sage-grouse habitat study: $30,000
• Black bear research: $17,500
• Response of mule deer to manipulation of water: $30,000
• Rebuilding of helicopter N2FG for wildlife surveys: $80,000
• Characterizing mountain lion distribution, abundance and interactions with ungulate populations: $40,000
Commissioner Jim Jeffress, from Lovelock, noted that the wildlife habitat projects that were approved would benefit a diversity of species, and were submitted by a variety of groups including sportsmen’s groups, university researchers, and NDOW biologists. “These projects will benefit wildlife, but they will also build partnerships,” Jeffress said. “When a chukar organization and Audubon are working together to help fund a project, you have more leverage with the available money – these are the type of partnerships that make a difference for Nevada’s wildlife.”
The partners who committed additional funds to support Heritage Projects included: Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, National Park Service, California Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Waterfowl Association, Mule Deer Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nevada’s Question 1 Bond Initiative, and Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Reno, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Elko, Safari Club International, BLM, USGS, Nevada Chukar Foundation and the Carson Valley Chukar Club.
“With less than 5% of NDOW’s funding coming from general fund monies, it is particularly noteworthy that sportsmen and women continue to contribute to programs like the Heritage Trust beyond their annual license purchases,” commented Commissioner Jack Robb, of Reno.
The Wildlife Heritage Committee members are Clint Bentley, Jim Jeffress, Pete Mori, Jack Robb and Jelindo Tiberti.
The Wildlife Heritage Trust Fund Account was established as a special funding source to protect, propagate, restore, transplant, introduce and manage game fish, game mammals and furbearing mammals, and for the management and control of predatory wildlife. Heritage funds have been raised and distributed since 1981, when the program was initiated with its first-year donation of $20,475. Since then, the program has grown every year. In 2007, donations amounted to $543,501. Since 1981, a total of $5,946,034 has been raised by sportsmen and women for wildlife and habitat projects in Nevada.
Nevada Revised Statute 501.3575 provided guidelines for establishing the Wildlife Heritage Trust Account, and guides the administration of tag auctions, gifts and donations, and distribution of funds. Individual sportsmen’s groups raise Heritage Tag funds by auctioning game tags that have been specially allocated to them. Each year, about 14 game tags are auctioned, including tags for mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain elk, Desert Bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep, and wild turkey. The successful bidder may hunt statewide in any open unit during the hunting season.
In conjunction with the bid tags, the average hunter can apply for “Partnership in Wildlife” tags in the event they are unsuccessful during the regular draw. Those drawing these tags may hunt in any open unit during the hunting season. The tag programs are the nucleus of the funding for the Heritage Trust. Although anyone who enjoys the wildlife and fisheries is encouraged to contribute to this contribute to the Heritage Trust.
A complete list of approved Heritage Projects can be found online under Commission, Heritage Committee, at www.ndow.org.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.