The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is the state agency responsible for the restoration and management of fish and wildlife resources, and the promotion of boating safety on Nevada’s waters. NDOW is organized into seven divisions (law enforcement, game, fisheries, conservation and education, habitat, wildlife diversity, and operations division) that develop programs and projects, and three regions (eastern, southern and western) that implement these programs.
In addition, NDOW coordinates agency planning activities, legislation, and support operations by assigning senior management level personnel to coordinate these efforts. The Department is led by a governor-appointed Director, who also serves as the Secretary of the Wildlife Commission.
The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, a 9-member, governor-appointed board, is responsible for establishing broad policy, setting annual and permanent regulations, reviewing budgets, and receiving input on wildlife and boating matters from entities such as the 17 county advisory boards to manage wildlife.
To protect, preserve, manage and restore wildlife and its habitat for the aesthetic, scientific, educational, recreational, and economic benefits to citizens of Nevada and the United States, and to promote the safety of persons using vessels on the waters of Nevada.
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The Nevada Department of Wildlife is primarily a user-funded agency, that is, those who purchase licenses, register boats, or pay tag or user fees, support the activities of the Wildlife Department. License, predator and tag application fees make up more than 1/3 of the agency’s funding.
In addition, federal grants funds from the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson), the Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 (Dingell-Johnson), State Wildlife Grants (nongame and sensitive species), Coast Guard, and Hunter Safety Aid, provide about half of the agency’s funding. Federal grants vary in time from one to three, or even five years.
Gifts, grants, and donations make up the remainder of the agency funding. Most recently, the Question 5 and Question 1 bond initiatives, as supported by public support in the voting booth, have provided substantive public funding for acquisition and restoration of wildlife habitat and support of wildlife related recreation facilities. These bond initiatives are vitally important to wildlife, recreational users, access, and restoration processes.
NDOW’s Budget is divided into four main sections: The Wildlife Account, 4452, The Trout Stamp Account, 4454, The Boat Account 4456, and the Obligated Reserve Account 4458. Each Account provides funding for a program area, i.e., Wildlife for wildlife programs, Trout Stamp for hatcheries programs, Boating Account for boating education and boating facilities. The Obligated Reserve Account funds numerous special projects that are identified in state law. A few of those include the state waterfowl stamp, the upland game stamp, and mining fees. Those fees are obligated to be expended for specific uses, as defined in Nevada Revised Statutes.
In general, NDOW funds its annual work with the prior year federal funding. That way, the agency can plan its annual work program with known revenues.
The license dollars that come in each year are used as match to the federal funds. For instance, most federal dollars require a 3-1 state match; for every $3 of a project we do using federal funds, we must add $1 of state dollars, or volunteer hours, or in-kind match (donations). In addition to license dollars a variety of other sources are also used as match, for instance nonprofit grants and Question 1 bond dollars can also be used for state match, as well as volunteer hours and in-kind match (donations of equipment.)
Hunting and fishing license sales are cyclical; precipitation, temperature, gas prices, the economy, fire and other resource impacts all affect whether a sportsman or sportswoman purchases a license or permit in any one year. Generally, NDOW applies very conservative regression analysis to past years of license data to forecast our best bet for the upcoming biennial budget. That “unknown” factor is what makes budgeting at Wildlife the interesting and challenging exercise that it is.
At certain times of the year, (November-March) incoming revenues are quite low. To prepare for that, the agency must reserve a quantity of funding to allow for late winter and early spring costs. Those funds must be “reserved” out of the annual budget for use later in the year.
Federal grants in aid are primarily available through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (Pittman-Robertson), the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 (Dingell-Johnson), State Wildlife Grants and the U.S. Coast Guard. The 1983 Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Dingell-Johnson Act provided additional funds for fisheries and boating programs. Federal Aid from these sources provide for more than half of the Department of Wildlife’s annual revenue.