February 6, 2013 (Washington, DC) – On February 4, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted the “Changing of the Guard” reception and dinner in Washington, DC. The event honored the prior leadership of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and welcomed the 113th Congress’ CSC leadership.
Eleven members of Congress joined hunting, fishing, and other conservation leaders, policy makers, and industry representatives as the leaders of the CSC for the 113th Congress accepted the reins. At the event, the dialogue focused on legislative issues important to sportsmen and women that may be coming before this session of Congress. In addition, members of the sportsmen’s community had the opportunity to discuss this and other issues with the CSC leadership.
CSF President Jeff Crane thanked the past and present bipartisan leadership for their commitment to the CSC. “Tonight’s event is called ‘Changing of the Guard’ because we do just that; this is an opportunity for CSF to recognize past leaders of the CSC and to introduce the new leaders for the 113th Congress.”
Present at the event were current Senate Co-Chairs, Senators Kay Hagan (NC) and John Thune (SD) and Vice-Chairs, Senators Mark Pryor (AR) and James Risch (ID). Also in attendance were present House Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Robert Latta (OH) and Bennie Thompson (MS), and House Vice-Chairs, Representatives Tim Walz (MN) and Robert Wittman (VA).
The outgoing CSC leadership for the 112th Congress included: House bipartisan Co-Chairs Representatives Jeff Miller (FL) and Mike Ross (AR) and Senate CSC Democratic Co-Chair Senator Jon Tester (MT).
Sen. Jon Tester spoke on the need for continued bipartisan efforts in the 113th Congress. “Hopefully this time we can get a sportsmen’s package across the finish line. It is very important that politics stay out of the way. The work of the CSC remains critically important in getting this package done in a bipartisan fashion,” Sen. Tester stated.
Present CSC Senate Co-Chairs, Senators Kay Hagan and John Thune accepted their continuing leadership roles with a promise for action on a sportsmen’s package in the 113th Congress. Senator Hagan stated “I am honored to be named Co-Chair alongside Senator John Thune. This Congress, we are going to work on a bipartisan basis. I think we were all very disappointed last year that Senator Jon Tester’s sportsmen’s package did not advance. Now, we must work together to craft something that has huge bipartisan support and get the Senate and the House behind it. Sportsmen and women drive the economy, when I look at North Carolina, I am looking at jobs, jobs, jobs, and the sportsmen’s industry is driving the economy and business. We need to work together and be a part of it.”
Sen. John Thune echoed Sen. Hagan’s call to action on a sportsmen’s package. “It is great to have Senator Hagan on board as my fellow Co-Chair. We are hoping that this is the year that a sportsmen’s package will pass. There is a lot of bipartisan support out there and I know everyone in this room will be engaged and move sportsmen’s legislation across the floor of the Senate and get something to the House and onto the President’s desk.”
New Senate Vice-Chair of the CSC, Sen. Mark Pryor and continuing Vice-Chair Sen. James Risch continued the theme of the night, communicating the importance of advancing a sportsmen’s package in the 113th Congress. “We all know that we had a sportsmen’s package that didn’t pass last Congress. We appreciate your support of the CSC, but we must continue to promote sportsmen’s issues and finish what we started,” Sen. Pryor stated. Sen. Risch continued by adding: “This is a bipartisan issue. I never recall sitting in a duck blind, thinking of sportsmen’s issues as partisan. There is no reason why we cannot advance bipartisan sportsmen’s legislation this Congress.”
Newly elected House Co-Chairs Rep. Thompson and Rep. Latta accepted their new leadership positions in the CSC. Rep. Thompson stated, “I am a Mississippi guy, who still lives in the country and hunting is a part of my life. I look forward to working on sportsmen’s issues and educating my colleagues on what the CSC is all about.” Rep. Latta stated, “Thank you to everyone in this room for their leadership. There are so many issues that need to be worked on and this Caucus is where these efforts are established.”
This year’s “Changing of the Guard” reception and dinner was sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association, ATK, Boone & Crockett Club, Cabela’s, Diageo, Natural Resource Results, National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Oracle, Richard Childress Racing, Safari Club International and Shimano.
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?