By Andy Treharne, Senior Director of Western States and Federal Land Policy
On April 19, the Colorado Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus hosted their annual Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol celebration to recognize the critical role that the Centennial State’s hunters, anglers and recreational shooters play in conserving Colorado’s natural resources.
Bringing together organizations from across the state, the event also provided an opportunity to educate legislators and Capitol staff about the outdoors and offered the chance to enjoy game meat harvested from Colorado’s abundant wildlife resources.
Bipartisan House Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Jeni Arndt and Jim Wilson, recognized sportsmen and women on the House floor with a tribute highlighting the many economic, social, and conservation benefits that hunters, anglers and target shooters bring to the state.
Following the tribute, Reps. Arndt and Wilson led the floor debate on SB 18-143, the Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act, legislation that, among other things, aims to increase hunting and angling participation, expand access for sportsmen and women, modernize Colorado’s fish hatcheries and meet Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s maintenance needs.
“Never in my experience have sportsmen and women and other conservationists been more united and more enthusiastic,” added Rep. Arndt during floor consideration of SB 18-143. “This bill will help keep our state beautiful and better maintain parks and wildlife.”
Following the debate, the House approved the Future Generations Act, sending the bill to Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk.
Over the lunch hour, sportsmen and women hosted a cookout on the Capitol lawn featuring elk burgers, sausages and bratwurst generously provided by Steve’s Meat Market, one of Colorado’s premier wild game processing facilities. During the lunch, sportsmen’s groups in attendance recognized Future Generations Act sponsors Reps. Arndt and Wilson and Senators Don Coram and Stephen Fenberg for their efforts to work with hunters and anglers on the bill throughout the legislative session.
Speaking about Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol, Rep. Wilson added, “It has been an amazing journey to be a part of the resurrection of the Colorado Sportsmen’s Caucus here at the Capitol. Being able to co-sponsor SB 18-143 reinforces the fact that the Caucus is becoming a positive force for all the men and women of Colorado who enjoy the outdoors. The recognition of the bill sponsors was icing on the cake!”
Event sponsors included Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (CO Chapter), Colorado Bowhunters Association, Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, Colorado Trappers and Predator Hunters Association, Colorado Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited Inc., Freestone Strategies, Mule Deer Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pac/West Communications, Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act sponsors with members of the sportsmen’s community (Left to Right: Michael Findlay (Ducks Unlimited), Senator Don Coram, Senator Stephen Fenberg, Andy Treharne (CSF), Representative Jeni Arndt, Representative Jim Wilson, Dan Gates (Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management))
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?