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Celebrating Earth Day isn’t just about climate change and safe agricultural practices. Caring for our waterways is an important part of caring for our planet. You may already try to conserve water at home, so how else can you make a difference this Earth Day?

1. Be Legal. You probably already know that you can be fined for fishing without the appropriate license; however, what you may not know is that purchasing the proper boating and fishing licenses and registrations can also benefit the ongoing conservation efforts of American waters.

There are an estimated 33 million anglers in the United States and 88 million boaters. Every year, an estimated $1.5 billion is contributed from these sportsmen and women, and 100 percent of the funds from fishing licenses go toward conservation. Many states use import duties, boat fuel taxes and excise fishing tackle and gear toward sport fish restoration and boating trust funds.

Each state can set its own standards, but many use the money from fishing license sales on habitat management, education, fishing surveys and research, stocking and improved boating and fishing access, all of which benefit anglers and wildlife.

2. Respect the Environment.  Catch and release and If you are going to keep a fish, know the slot limits. Overfishing — especially in salt water — can lead to the depletion of fisheries and fishing communities. Currently, more than 25 percent of fishing waters are overfished.

3. Get Involved. Make a difference by joining National and local conservation efforts.  Organizations like Trout Unlimited and The Freshwater Trust are doing amazing work to protect our fisheries for future generations.

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