The DWR's main revenue source is from license and permit sales.
The Utah DWR has several funding sources that are used to support its programs. Many of these programs support wildlife species that are pursued by hunters and anglers, while others support non-game species. Certain programs, such as habitat restoration and protection, directly support both game and non-game species.
The Division of Wildlife Resources annual budget for fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013 to June 31, 2014) was $77,422,869. DWR receives the following types of revenue:
Restricted funds: The majority of DWR's revenue is generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and permits. These funds are restricted for exclusive use by DWR and cannot be transferred to other state agencies. One hundred percent of the license dollars collected stay within the DWR to carry out the division's mission to conserve and protect the wildlife of Utah. Funding overages or shortages are managed through an interest-bearing account maintained by the State Treasurer. Other types of funding in this category are revenues from Certificates of Registration (CORs), donations, wildlife license plates and miscellaneous fees.
Federal funds: Each year, the DWR receives federal funds for wildlife, sportfish and sensitive and endangered species. Federal funds for the wildlife and sport fish programs come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The DWR receives revenue allocated by the USFWS from federal excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment and fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. Each state's allocation is based on the state's hunting and fishing license sales and land area. These funds are generally matched with state funds in the ratio of 75 percent federal to 25 percent state funds.
Federal funding for sensitive and endangered species is generally distributed through grant requests. The DWR has received between $200,000 and $13 million annually for research and habitat protection for sensitive and endangered species. Other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Department of Defense, award funds to accomplish their agency goals on a contract basis.
Dedicated funds: Certain operations, such as Hardware Ranch, generate limited funds to be used only by the DWR. Contributions are also dedicated funds.
General funds: General funds (tax dollars) account for nine percent of DWR's annual budget. These funds are used primarily for sensitive species, law enforcement, wildlife depredation and some fish hatchery programs. Because the legislature has indicated that the DWR should not use hunting or fishing license revenue to fund nongame species management, these funds help cover the costs of nongame management.
An annual work plan and budgeting process ensures that all funds are optimized. DWR's fiscal responsibility is reflected in its performance in both state and federal audits.
During the 1995 general session, the legislature created the Wildlife Habitat Account. This account provides dedicated funds to be used only for the enhancement, preservation, management, acquisition and protection of fish and wildlife habitat and for improving public access for fishing and hunting. The Wildlife Habitat Account generates about $2 million each year for projects.
Habitat Council: Project proposals originate in the field. They are then reviewed and prioritized by regional management teams and then forwarded to the Habitat Council for review and recommendation. The DWR director authorizes projects and the money to do them. This council is comprised of four DWR representatives and four citizens who represent big game, waterfowl, upland game and sport fishing interests. All potential projects are brought to the Habitat Council for review. DWR habitat managers present these projects, but they can originate from another agency, a landowner or anyone Utah.
Investing in the future: From our perspective, this habitat program represents an enormous opportunity, a great responsibility and the best possible investment for the future.
The hunting and fishing public has always been willing to pay their way and has strongly supported programs designed to produce tangible results on the ground. Our commitment is to build on our successes and expand our efforts to the benefit of all wildlife habitat and citizen interests throughout the state.
While the Division budget may seem large, it is rather small compared to many western states. This is due, in part, to revenue limitations that Utah has placed on itself by restricting the quantities of licenses, by restricting the numbers of non-resident licenses, and through efforts to keep the cost of hunting and fishing licenses at nominal levels.