Updated on April 25, 2022
Anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors is likely a conservationist in some way, but many of the dedicated efforts to restore animal populations or habitats are done by organizations with funding and teams. Conservation is critical to outdoor recreation because it ensures that these opportunities will continue to be around by minimizing and reversing degradation. As humans, we wear out frequently used landscapes but thanks to conservation we also mend them.
There are endless conservation organizations that do great work improving the environment with the most prominent examples being the parks and wildlife agencies in each state. At a glance, the law enforcement side is the most visible but environmental research studies, clean up, restoration, and protection through regulations are also key parts of these state agencies.
Funding for these agencies can come from a variety of sources depending on each state. Using Texas Park and Wildlife Fish, Game, and Water Safety department as an example, the funding comes from license fees, a tax on sporting goods, and boat registrations with only a small amount of money coming from federal funds. While the cost of hunting and fishing licenses or the tax on outdoor recreation equipment might be irritating at the moment, this money is solely used to benefit the environment and wildlife.
In Texas, approximately 30 percent of the total parks and wildlife budget comes from hunting and fishing licenses but these funds are placed into the Fish, Game, and Water Safety Account(009) where they account for over 50 percent of the money.
According to the TPWD website “ This fund pays for the operational activities and capital projects of the Inland Fisheries, Coastal Fisheries, Wildlife, and Law Enforcement divisions as well as some support services of the administrative and support divisions.” With this account dedicated to wildlife, fisheries, and law enforcement, it’s clear that the money is used to benefit the people who use the outdoors.
Across the U.S. conservation organizations have been working to help or improve the environment. Each organization has slightly different goals which can range from restoring habitat to increasing public access but in the end, it’s good for hunters and anglers. Over the years conservation efforts have helped everywhere from restoring the redfish population on the southern and eastern coasts, to the elk population in the Rocky Mountains.
While buying licenses, gear, and paying registration and entrance fees is a huge contribution to conservation efforts in your area there are other ways to be more involved. Oftentimes local organizations will host river, lake, park, and public land clean-up events where volunteers work to pick up trash and improve the area. On a bigger scale, state and regional organizations usually have many of these clean-up days across the area. These larger organizations will also host fundraising events and raise awareness which gives you plenty of opportunities to get involved. The outdoors are a big part of our lives and we must continue to push for conservation to make sure that future generations have the same or even better opportunities to interact with nature.