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Guest Opinion: Minnesota's Sportsmen's Caucus celebrates National Hunting and Fishing Day

As Co-Chair of the Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, and as a member of the 48-state National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses network, my fellow Caucus Co-Chairs and I are proud to join like-minded sportsmen-legislators from across the nation in celebrating the 45th National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, September 23. In celebrating this day, we recognize the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling, as well as the historical and current contributions of the original conservationists—hunters and anglers—in 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 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Last year alone, Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson combined contributed $20,719,919 while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $62,545,175 to fund conservation efforts in the state.

All Minnesotans benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting facilities, improved water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research (game and non-game), private and public habitat management, hunter education, angler access area construction, and numerous other Minnesota Department of Natural Resources projects funded through this System.

The Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus recognizes the contributions of sportsmen and women to conservation; without them, Minnesota's fish and wildlife would not be nearly as abundant, nor would our economy be as vibrant. Minnesota's sportsmen and women have helped provide access to over 1.29 million acres of land in wildlife management areas and support more than 1,600 public boat launches.

In addition, the Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus thanks the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for their tireless efforts to support hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping in our great state.

Today we celebrate the many and varied benefits that hunting and angling provide for the North Star State. Enjoy this special occasion and the vast opportunities to hunt and fish in Minnesota. The outdoor traditions of hunting and angling should not be taken for granted and opportunities to hunt and fish should continue to be abundantly available for future generations.

Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, represents District 10 in the Minnesota Senate