Financial Summary: Fiscal Year 2014

Where does VDGIF cash come from?

The Department receives cash from many different sources. These sources can be divided into five primary categories:

  1. License Sales
  2. Federal Grants
  3. Boat Registration and Titling
  4. Transfers of Watercraft Sales and Use Tax and sales tax based on HB 38 legislation
  5. Other items (includes lifetime licenses, magazine subscriptions, automobile "Wildlife Conservationist" license plate sales, donations, timber sales, interest on cash balances, etc.)

In fiscal year 2013, the agency received approximately $49,438,674 of cash from these sources associated with agency operations. This amount reflects total receipts minus HB38 and Watercraft Sales and Use Tax transfers.

License Sales

The Department sells licenses and permits required for the participation in hunting, fishing and trapping activities in the state. The Department currently sells some 60 annual license types. Lifetime licenses are not included in this figure. The cash receipts for the sale of lifetime licenses are deposited into a separate lifetime license account that is not utilized to fund annual operations.

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Federal Grants

The federal fund consists of revenues from various programs and grants. There currently are four major federal programs through which the agency receives consistent revenue streams.

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Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson)

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, popularly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act (PR program), was approved by Congress on September 2, 1937, and begin functioning July 1, 1938.

The purpose of this Act is to provide funding for the selection, restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of wildlife habitat, wildlife management research, and the distribution of information produced by the projects. The Act was amended October 23, 1970, to include funding for hunter training programs and the development, operation and maintenance of public target ranges.

Funds are derived from an 11 percent Federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment, and a 10 percent tax on handguns. These funds are collected from the manufacturers by the Department of the Treasury and are apportioned each year to the States and Territorial areas (except Puerto Rico) by the Department of the Interior on the basis of formulas set forth in the Act. Funds for hunter education and target ranges are derived from one-half of the tax on handguns and archery equipment

Each state's apportionment is determined by a formula which considers the total area of the state and the number of licensed hunters in the state. The program is a cost-reimbursement program, where the state covers the full amount of an approved project then applies for reimbursement through Federal Aid for up to 75 percent of the project expenses. The state must provide at least 25 percent of the project costs from a non-federal source.

Although there are pages of rules and controls on the use of these monies, for the purpose of explaining the Department's use of the funds, there are three primary rules to consider. First, the money is available to states whose hunting license revenues are spent only for fish and wildlife conservation activities by the state's authorized fish and wildlife agency. Second, as mentioned above, the money is available only for reimbursement of previously approved wildlife conservation projects and activities. Third, a state has a limited amount of time to make approved expenditures and bill for reimbursement from a given year's apportionment. If approved expenditures are inadequate during this period of time, the remaining apportionment is reverted back to the federal fund and redistributed to other states.

For the PR program, eligible projects and activities include general wildlife conservation and habitat development and protection. Many of the wildlife management area purchases were reimbursed in part from the PR program. The PR program funds can be used on all bird and mammal species. Law enforcement activities are not eligible for reimbursement.

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Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux)

The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, commonly referred to as the Dingell-Johnson act, passed on August 9, 1950 and is modeled after the Pittman-Robertson Act to create a parallel program for management, conservation, and restoration of fishery resources.

The Sport Fish Restoration program is funded by revenues collected from the manufacturers of fishing rods, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits, who pay an excise tax on these items to the U.S. Treasury.

An amendment in 1984 (Wallop-Breaux Amendment) added new provisions to the Act by extending the excise tax to previously untaxed items of sport fishing equipment.

Appropriate State agencies are the only entities eligible to receive grant funds. Each State's share is based 60 percent on its licensed anglers (fishermen) and 40 percent on its land and water area. No State may receives more than 5 percent or less than 1 percent of each year's total apportionment. Puerto Rico receives 1 percent, and the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia each receive one-third of 1 percent.

The program is a cost-reimbursement program, where the state covers the full amount of an approved project then applies for reimbursement through Federal Aid for up to 75 percent of the project expenses. The state must provide at least 25 percent of the project costs from a non-federal source. Four amendments to the Sport Fish Restoration Act significantly altered the Program:

  • Enactment of the Wallop-Breaux Amendment (W-B) in 1984
  • Inclusion of wetlands conservation provisions in 1990
  • Creation of a boat-related waste pumpout facilities program through amendments in 1992
  • Enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998

The major element of the W-B Amendment established a new Trust Fund, named the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. Funds are also received from import duties on sport fishing equipment, pleasure boats and yachts. Another source of revenue is a tax from motorboat fuel sales. These motorboat fuel taxes are collected by the U.S. Treasury and then transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for distribution among the States and territories.

The passage of TEA-21 authorized a National Outreach and Communications Program to increase participation in angling and boating while reminding boaters and anglers about the importance of clean aquatic habitats. It also increased the minimum level of spending for boating access to 15% and raised the maximum allowable expenditure of Sport Fish Restoration apportionments for aquatic education and outreach to 15%. TEA-21 created a Boating Infrastructure Program for the construction, maintenance, or renovation of facilities for non-trailerable recreational boats (boats greater than 26 feet in lenght.) TEA-21 raises the amount of Federal gas tax credited to the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund and establishes a "permanent" appropriation for the Boating Safety Account.

Certain portions of these funds must be spent for saltwater sport fisheries and boat access development only. However, the funds available for freshwater sport fish have been enhanced greatly through the addition of the Wallop-Breaux tax.

As with the PR program funds, reimbursements are for approved projects and activities. The state agency has a limited amount of time to document and bill for approved expenditures to obtain the reimbursement or the remaining amounts are reverted. Law enforcement activities are not eligible for reimbursement from the fund. As mentioned earlier, a specific amount of the fund is available only for reimbursement for projects dealing with boat access and a specific amount is set aside for saltwater sport fishing expenditures.

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State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program (State Wildlife Grants)

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Programs (SWG program) funds are not dedicated tax funds. The funds are from appropriations provided through the federal budget bill. The amounts of funds available are determined by the appropriation in the federal budget bill and vary up or down depending on the negotiations in Congress. The SWG program is designed to assist States by providing federal funds for the development and implementation of programs that benefit wildlife and their habitat, including species that are not hunted or fished. Both planning and implementation of programs are permitted.

The federal budget bill directs the apportionment of funds on a formula basis based on land area (1/3) and population (2/3). No State may receive more than 5 percent or less than 1 percent of the available funds. The District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive one-half of 1 percent and Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will receive one-fourth of 1 percent. All State fish and wildlife agencies may submit grant proposals, grant agreements and associated documents to the appropriate Regional Federal Assistance Office for review and approval. Grant proposals must make direct ties to the approved Wildlife Action Plan for the submitting jurisdiction.

For planning-related grant activities, the States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico must provide a minimum 25 percent match and a 50 percent minimum match for all other types of eligible activities. The U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands do not have to provide matching funds.

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Recreational Boating Safety Grant Program

The recreational boating safety grant program (RBS program) is administered through the U.S. Coast Guard. The sources of money for this program are varied and include fuel tax on fuel used in boating and the allocation of revenues collected through amendments to the DJ/Wallop-Breaux program.

Of the funds appropriated for the state grant program, the Coast Guard is authorized to retain not more than two percent for the costs of administering the state program, and up to five percent for grants to national nonprofit public service organizations to conduct national boating safety activities. The balance is allocated to the states as follows:

  • one-third allocated equally among participating states;
  • one-third allocated in the same ratio as the number of vessels numbered in the state bears to the number of vessels numbered in all participating states; and
  • one-third allocated in the same ratio as the amount of the state's prior-year expenditures for boating safety bears to the total prior-year expenditures for boating safety of all participating states.

A state cannot receive more than one-half of the total cost of its RBS Program, and must provide matching funds from general state revenues, undocumented vessel numbering and license fees, or state marine fuels taxes.

To be eligible to participate in the state Recreational Boating Safety grant program, a state recreational boating safety program must have:

  • a vessel numbering system;
  • a cooperative boating safety assistance program with the Coast Guard;
  • sufficient patrol and other activity to ensure adequate enforcement of applicable state boating safety laws and regulations;
  • a state boating safety education program that includes the dissemination of information concerning the hazards of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
  • a marine casualty reporting system.

All states and U.S. territories participate in the RBS grant program.

Federal funds provided for a state's boating safety program may be used for any of the following:

  • providing facilities, equipment, and supplies for boating safety education and law enforcement, including purchase, operation, maintenance, and repair;
  • training personnel in skills related to boating safety and to the enforcement of boating safety laws and regulations;
  • providing public boating safety education, including educational programs and lectures, to the boating community and the public school system;
  • acquiring, constructing, or repairing public access sites used primarily by recreational boaters;
  • conducting boating safety inspections and marine casualty investigations;
  • establishing and maintaining emergency or search and rescue facilities, and providing emergency or search and rescue assistance;
  • establishing and maintaining waterway markers and other appropriate aids to navigation; and
  • providing state recreational vessel numbering and titling programs;

In addition to these major federal programs, the agency receives or has received grants for endangered species research, landowner incentive programs, and fish passage, avian influenza, Chronic Wasting Disease, and homeland security programs.

Boat Registration and Titling

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is responsible for boat safety registration and titling for Virginia. These programs are funded by fees derived from registration and titling which are deposited in a separate sub account in the game protection fund (Code of Virginia § 29.1-701 par C).

As of July 2013, there were 241,013 active, registered boats in Virginia. These include all boats that are powered by some mechanical means. Canoes, rowboats, kayaks and other non-powered vessels are not required to be registered.

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The agency receives cash from transfers directed to the game protection fund from the general fund of the state. The transfers come from the collection of Watercraft Sales and Use Taxes (Code of Virginia § 58.1-1410) and from sales taxes collected on outdoor-related goods and equipment, which is often referred to as "HB38" funds (Code of Virginia § 58.1-638E). The amount of funds transferred as a result of HB38 is based on the figures of expenditures in Virginia associated with hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-associated recreation (wildlife watching, wildlife photography, etc.) calculated every five years in the national survey of hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated recreation. The most recent survey was completed in 2011 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The specific amount transferred to the agency is often modified by language in the Budget Bill. The Budget Bill also identifies specific transfers out (such as central service fees). To determine the exact amount the General Assembly proposes or will transfer to the Department, review the Budget Bill under Miscellaneous; interfund transfers.

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Other cash sources include Virginia Wildlife magazine subscriptions, receipts from "Wildlife Conservationist" automobile license plates; timber sales from agency owned lands; interest from cash balances in accounts; sale of merchandise; donations; sale of state migratory waterfowl stamp; lifetime license sales; and game replacement costs awarded in court cases.

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