License Certifications and Apportionments


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Conservation Investment manages over a billion dollars in grants to recipients across the U.S. annually for species and habitat conservation, recreation, and outdoor education. The Wildlife Restoration grant program and Sport Fish Restoration grant program, collectively known as Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) grant programs, are the foundation of conservation funding in the U.S.

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (PR / WR), passed in 1937, and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act (DJ / SFR), passed in 1950, authorized grant programs that provide funding to States and territories for on-the-ground wildlife and fisheries conservation. No other single conservation effort in the United States can claim a greater contribution to fish and wildlife conservation than the excise tax-funded portion of these programs. For almost a century, the American public has benefitted from the PR and DJ programs, in what is considered the "North American Conservation Model". Outdoor enthusiasts get more and better places to hunt, fish and recreate; the industry gets a growing base of hunters, shooters, anglers, boaters, archers, and other recreational users who purchase more supplies and equipment; and State and Federal agencies get more funds to meet on-the-ground conservation needs. The general public benefits from better stewardship of the nations natural resources.

Industry partners pay excise taxes and import duties on equipment and gear manufactured for purchase by hunters, anglers, boaters, archers, and recreational shooters. Manufacturers, producers and importers pay an excise tax on shooting, archery, and angling equipment. Recreational boaters also contribute with fuel and electric motor taxes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grant programs and distributes funds to State fish and wildlife resource agencies. Each year, millions of dollars are dedicated to fish and wildlife restoration and enhancement projects across the country. 

How are funds apportioned?

To account for vast differences in land area and population size among the states, a formula was created to calculate how much money each state should receive, taking into consideration both the size of the state and the number of licensed hunters and anglers residing there. States and territories receive PR and DJ funds through formula-based permanent appropriations. The distribution formulas are based primarily on land and water area and the number of paid recreational hunting and fishing license holders in each State. State agencies can use funds for a variety of purposes, as long as they accomplish program goals and are eligible under the Acts. Grants typically fund up to 75 percent of the project costs. Most States must provide a matching share of up to 25 percent. Usually the matching share comes from State hunting and fishing license revenues. To learn more about how funds are collected and apportioned by program, visit the Office of Conservation Investment Administered Programs page. 

TRACS License Certification and Apportionments

Wildlife TRACS stands for Tracking and Reporting Actions for the Conservation of Species. TRACS is a web-based application that serves as the official performance reporting tool used by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Office of Conservation Investment to capture conservation and related actions funded by its grant programs. 

TRACS also serves as the electronic system for license certification and apportionments, providing an efficient, standardized, and accessible tool for capturing this data. Starting in the fall of 2022, the TRACS License Certification and Apportionments Administrative Module has been used by state fish and wildlife agency license managers to enter, review, certify, and submit the number of paid hunting and fishing license holders on an annual basis. Each grant program has a factor set that is used in its apportionment formula. Headquarters staff use TRACS to generate annual preliminary and final apportionments. 

Historic license data and apportionments have been added to the system allowing TRACS to generate data dashboards that give partners and the public access to hunting and fishing license data and apportionment figures, with decades of information. These data sets provide an important source for historical license information and show the amount of apportionment funds provided to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies through the years.