MDC, USFWS tour of Fiocchi and Dalton Range highlights role federal funding plays in conservation

News from the region
Published Date

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – What does the Niangua darter – an endangered fish found only in a few streams in Missouri – have in common with the state’s hunter education program and Missouri's elk population? All three benefit from federal funding and are examples of the important roles federal excise taxes dedicated for conservation play in connecting Missourians with nature.

The assistance that federal dollars provide to a variety of Missouri’s conservation programs was highlighted June 24 when staff from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Fiocchi toured Fiocchi of America Inc. near Ozark and MDC’s Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center near Ash Grove. This tour was to promote the USFWS’ Partner with a Payer program. Information about this initiative can be found at This initiative emphasizes the conservation benefits that are products of the partnerships between manufacturers who pay excise taxes through the USFWS’ Wildlife Sport and Fish restoration program and state conservation agencies that are on the receiving end of these funds.

“These funds are a critical source of funding for the Missouri Department of Conservation and for every state fish and wildlife agency in the country,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “They provide critical funding for research efforts. They also provide critical funding for restoration efforts. They provide funding for educational efforts like our hunter education program.”

A major component of the USFWS’ Wildlife Sport and Fish Restoration program is the Wildlife Restoration Act – frequently referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act. This federal excise tax, enacted in 1937, is collected from manufacturers in the hunting, shooting, and archery industries. This tax revenue is then apportioned to state fish and wildlife agencies which, in turn, use this money for wildlife management and hunter education.

A similar excise tax, the Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act (commonly called the Dingell-Johnson Act), was enacted in the 1950s. This excise tax is collected from manufacturers on the sales of specified fishing equipment.

Together, these acts provide more than $1 billion a year to support fish and wildlife programs throughout the United States. Missouri receives approximately $29 million annually from federal excise taxes. This makes up approximately 17 percent of MDC’s annual budget. In Missouri, these federal excise taxes play a critical role in MDC’s ongoing efforts to restore native species such as elk, Niangua darters, lake sturgeon, Topeka shiners, ruffed grouse and they also provide key funding to manage the habitats they depend on.

It’s a funding model that has benefited outdoors recreation of all types according to Kyle Daly, a USFWS fish and wildlife biologist who works directly with the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program.

“The Wildlife Restoration Act is the foundation of wildlife conservation in this country,” he said and added that, though the excise tax is paid by ammunition and firearm manufacturers and, thus, indirectly, their consumers; everyone reaps the rewards. “Everyone benefits from the act. Whether it’s clean water or clean air or if you like to bird watch or view wildlife, you are directly consuming the products of this act.”

The first portion of the June 24 tour was focused on Fiocchi, an ammunition manufacturer that began in Italy and has been in business for nearly 150 years. The tour of the plant near Ozark was an opportunity for Fiocchi staff to not only talk about the products the company supplies to hunters and recreational shooters, but also the benefits this production provides to everyone. The tour also highlighted some of the quail habitat work and stream riparian buffers being established on the facility’s 300-acre property.

“If there aren’t game species to hunt, we’re going to lose hunters,” said Fiocchi General Manager Jared Smith. “If there are not public lands where people can go recreate on and watch wildlife, they’re going to lose interest and we’re going to have a generation that can’t connect with nature.

“We’re putting money back into those conservation efforts,” he continued. “The Missouri Department of Conservation has one of the leading programs in the U.S. on conserving our lands, protecting our streams, ensuring that we have wild places to go and be in connection with nature.”

The second stop of the June 24 tour was MDC’s Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center, a site that also has significance in the USFWS’ Partner with a Payer initiative. Federal excise taxes provide a portion of the funds used for the maintenance of existing shooting ranges and can also be used for the construction of new ranges. Personnel at MDC’s staffed shooting ranges throughout the state have also long been associated with the implementation of the state’s MDC-administrated hunter education program and, thus, provide another connection with federal excise taxes. Missouri’s hunter education, Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP), and MDC’s outdoor skills programs all receive funding from federal excise taxes.

“I want folks here in Missouri, which is such a great state for outdoor opportunities, to understand that we, the Missouri Department of Conservation, do not do this alone,” Pauley said. “But for the great partnership with our manufacturers and the excise taxes they pay into wildlife restoration dollars, we wouldn’t have the opportunities we have today. We’re very grateful for this partnership.”