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Bob Wise, Governor
Ed Hamrick, Director

News Release
For release: September 16, 2003

Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer (304) 558-3380
Contact: Lt. Tim Coleman, Law Enforcement Section (304) 558-2784

Contact: Jodi Valenta, National Shooting Sports Foundation (203) 426-1320


West Virginia Receives $14,000 Grant From Hunting Heritage Partnership Funds Earmarked for Challenged Hunter Program


NEWTOWN , Conn. - The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has awarded the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources a $14,000 grant from its Hunting Heritage Partnership for funding of the Challenged Hunter Program.


  Announcement of the grant award was made at the International Association of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting. A total of 18 state agencies received more than $500,000 in grant awards from NSSF.


  West Virginia will use the funds to recruit and retain physically challenged hunters through the purchase and use of special adaptive equipment. Additionally, the state will develop a group of instructors with special skills to assist the state's physically challenged residents through the hunter education system and out into the field on hunts.


  "We continually look for alternative groups to introduce to the shooting sports. The physically challenged is a group that normally does not participate in shooting sports such as hunting, or have decided, because of their disability, they can no longer participate. This money will be used to buy adaptive equipment and provide them opportunities to try it and decide for themselves if they would like to participate in the sport of hunting," said Lt. Tim Coleman, WV Hunter Education Coordinator and program coordinator.


  The Hunting Heritage Partnership was established by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearm industry, to provide much needed direct funding to state wildlife agencies to help them with programs that provide opportunities for, and remove barriers to, hunter participation.  


  "Officials with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have designed a unique and dynamic recruitment tool and this grant recognizes their successful efforts and helps build on them. This is exactly the kind of creative approach that agencies in other states can look to as a model to help preserve our hunting and conservation traditions," said Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


  West Virginia 's 318,000 anglers and 284,000 hunters spent $340 million in West Virginia last year in pursuit of their pastime, which supported 5,900 jobs in the state. Efforts to expand hunting, such as a challenged hunter program, help boost the economy in a state where one of every four West Virginia residents hunt or fish, generating $26 million in state tax revenue.


  "When more hunters go afield, everyone benefits. The contributions hunters and anglers make in dedicated, unique taxes paid and the fees collected fund conservation efforts for all West Virginia residents to enjoy," said Steve Williams, director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


  Applications from 36 states were submitted to the Hunting Heritage Partnership and more than $500,000 in grants were awarded to 18 states for programs focusing on issues from recruitment and retention of hunters to increasing access to hunting lands. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is working with the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and members of Congress on behalf of America 's 18 million hunters to provide states with additional funding opportunities through the Hunting Heritage Partnership.






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