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Nongame tax checkoff to benefit several Utah wildlife species

A good feeling during income tax season this year might be as close as line 23c of the 2003 Utah state income tax form.

Utahns who write in a dollar amount on this line and give a few dollars to Utah's nongame wildlife fund will be doing much to help animals, birds and fish for which people don't hunt or fish.

Of the $48,344 given in 2002, most went to help native fish, amphibians, reptiles and mollusks in Utah. Species that benefitted included Columbia spotted frog, least chub, boreal toad, roundtail chub, bluehead sucker, flannelmouth sucker, fat-whorled pond snail, Utah milksnake and Utah mountain kingsnake.

Matthew Andersen, native aquatic species coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the nongame tax checkoff money given in 2002 provided his personnel with funding they needed to write proposals and grants that allowed the DWR to obtain additional state and federal funds.

"The tax checkoff funds are seed sources that grow additional conservation program funds," he stated. "In other words, each dollar supplied by the nongame wildlife fund program produces many more dollars by allowing us to solicit funds from the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other state and federal agencies.

The nongame wildlife fund program increases the overall funding available to our native aquatic species program, which increases the ability the managers and biologists have to conduct conservation activities for native fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mollusks.

"Though not as visible as field work or other conservation activities, securing these funds is critical for the field work and other activities conducted by the native aquatic species program. Without the additional funds the nongame tax checkoff funds help us obtain, many of these activities couldn't be funded and conducted."

Additional examples of work that took place in 2002 were a statistical study of the relationship between native fish distributions and habitat parameters, and expansion of the DWR's native aquatic species database.

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