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Know the West

Buy some shorts: Save a salamander



All 50 state wildlife agencies have joined a campaign to add user fees to outdoor products. Their aim: to save wildlife that isn't hunted or endangered but still in need of habitat. The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and seven conservation groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and the National Audubon Society, are urging a "Wildlife Diversity Funding Initiative," modeled after the excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment. This 5 percent tax could raise $350 million to be distributed out to state wildlife agencies based on state population and area. The agencies would spend the money on recreation facilities, habitat conservation and education programs. Deborah Richie, Watchable Wildlife Coordinator for the Forest Service, says recreation is one of the uses of public lands that takes a toll on some 1,800 non-game species, including songbirds, herons, osprey, turtles and frogs. Richie predicts the bill will find a receptive Congress because it allows states to run the program and does not ask for governmental funding. For more information, contact the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 544, Washington, D.C. 20001 (202/624-7890).