Contact: Robert Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States
Why It Matters: The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation works with countless members of the conservation community in each state, including legislators, fish and wildlife management agencies, and advocacy partners to protect the outdoor heritage that American sportsmen and women cherish. Co-sponsoring an event is a valuable way that CSF can help bring these conservation players together to have important policy discussions – and hosting it on a great fishing lake is purely a coincidence.
Last Tuesday, CSF was proud to join NMMA to bring together nearly fifty members of the Indiana conservation and outdoor community, including state representatives and senators belonging to the Indiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for a legislative fishing and dinner event at one of Indiana’s many beautiful inland lakes, Lake Wawasee. CSF, along with the Indiana DNR and other conservation partners supported this great opportunity by serving as co-sponsors for the event. In addition to NMMA, the Indiana DNR, and CSF, title sponsors included Ducks Unlimited, Marine Retailers Association of America, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and SmokerCraft.
With summer waning and a new legislative session on the horizon, the dinner served as an opportunity to discuss policy priorities, legislative goals, and partnership initiatives for 2023, all before attendees hit the water to test their luck at catching some of Wawasee’s plentiful muskies and walleye. SmokerCraft generously donated five fishing and pontoon boats to take attendees out, and before the dinner, even gave a tour of its nearby boat production facility. The facility employs more than 900 people in northern Indiana, a testament to the important relationship that exists between Hoosiers and the outdoors.
One of the items discussed amongst the event’s attendees was Indiana’s recent hunting and fishing license fee increases. In 2021, CSF supported a proposal which was passed by the Indiana Natural Resource Commission that gave the state’s DNR some latitude in determining licensing fees. Under the “user–pays, public benefit” approach of the American System of Conservation Funding, the Indiana DNR relies on license sales to fund its Fish and Wildlife Division as well as its Law Enforcement Division. Since fees had not been adjusted since 2006, increased operational costs and inflation were hindering the Indiana DNR’s ability to properly manage its fish and wildlife populations.
Beginning on the first of this year, Indiana hunters and anglers saw a small increase in the price of their licenses so that the Indiana DNR could do more with that license revenue. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with legislators, agency officials, and in-state partners to support the American System of Conservation Funding and protect sportsmen and women’s interests and outdoor pursuits nationwide.
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?