The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, is now accepting proposals from state and regional wildlife agencies for Hunting Heritage Partnership (HHP) grants.
In its tenth year of helping agencies fund projects that create new and expanded opportunities for hunting, NSSF has awarded 109 grants to 38 state agencies and one regional association. For this new 2012-2013 grant period, the Hunting Heritage Partnership program will make up to $500,000 available to agencies for qualifying projects, bringing the grand total of awards to approximately $4.8 million since HHP was started in 2003.
All proposals for consideration are due to NSSF by February 1, 2012. Projects must begin by March 1, 2012. See complete application guidelines for HHP grants. In response to applicants’ suggestions, an additional month has been provided for completing awarded grant proposals.
New to the HHP grant program are features designed to help applicants develop their best ideas into on-the-ground, results-oriented initiatives. The HHP website now displays a new map featuring descriptions of all funded projects since the inception of the program. The projects map complements case studies that have been available on the website and that explain the successes, shortfalls and status of various projects. Together the interactive map and case studies serve as an idea-factory for applicants looking to develop new and creative programs.
“Hunting Heritage Partnership grants have helped states develop projects vital to increasing hunter participation,” said Melissa Schilling, NSSF’s manager of recruitment and retention. “This funding has helped many creative projects get off the ground that may not have because of state budget cutbacks.”
Schilling pointed out that some state agencies have never applied for grants and are missing a valuable funding source for efforts that could potentially bring recognition to the department. “This grant period we’d like to particularly challenge those states that haven’t applied for grants to do so,” she said.
Three recent HHP-funded projects demonstrate the type of programs that are working to benefit the future of hunting:
- Oregon launched an integrated online database and map resource to help both new and experienced hunters plan their trips, allowing for searches by species, unit and distances; displaying property boundaries and harvest statistics; and interfacing with Google search to assist hunters in finding lodging, camp sites and restaurants. The website is generating high traffic and many map downloads. The state estimated this project’s benefit to its economy as $1,473,000, with 662 new hunters and fish and wildlife agency revenue of $52,488.
- Wyoming’s project is designed to enhance its Private Lands Public Access Program for hunting by enrolling private landowners into either a walk-in hunting or hunter management area. The project has enrolled 2.9 million acres since its inception.
- Alabama’s project focuses on mentored youth dove hunting. With 43 percent of youth in the program being first-time shooters, the program has been recognized by experts as one of the most successful new hunter recruitment programs in the nation.
As these projects illustrate, Hunting Heritage Partnership-funded programs work to ensure the future of hunting by increasing hunter access to public and private lands, keeping current hunters hunting, recruiting next generation hunters, creating more opportunities to hunt and funding communications programs geared toward recruiting and retaining hunters.