March 20, 2013 (Washington, DC) – Amidst a busy morning on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted a breakfast briefing for a crowded room, which included eleven Members of Congress, congressional staff, policy makers, and sportsmen-industry representatives. CSF President Jeff Crane was joined by bipartisan members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and leaders from the sportsmen’s community in a dialogue on the positive effects sportsmen’s activities have on the American economy and the future of fish and wildlife conservation.
Two topics of importance to sportsmen and women were covered during the breakfast briefing. The first part of the briefing focused on CSF’s recent Sportsmen’s Economic Impact Report (SEIR), “America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy,” followed by a presentation on the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow (CLfT) program, which educates natural resource professionals on the importance of hunting, recreational fishing and trapping to conservation.
CSF President Jeff Crane opened the briefing by introducing members of the CSC in attendance, including House CSC Co-Chairs, Representatives Bob Latta and Bennie Thompson and CSC Vice-Chairs, Representatives Rob Wittman and Tim Walz. Crane turned the microphone over to Rep. Thompson who highlighted the bipartisan nature of the Caucus and his willingness to work across the political aisle on sportsmen’s issues. “I am proud to be a member of the CSC. It is rumored to be the largest bipartisan Caucus in Congress, but I assure you that is a fact. I look forward to working with you over the next two years.”
Rep. Latta referenced the SEIR and spoke about the direct impact sportsmen and women have on his state of Ohio. “This economic report, also broken down by states, shows impressive statistics on hunting and fishing. The folks that are buying hunting and fishing licenses and sporting goods are those who are fueling conservation efforts in America. In Ohio alone, sportsmen and women spent $2.75 billion on hunting and fishing, approximately the same amount spent on growing corn in the state. These statistics are astounding.”
During the SEIR presentation, Doug Hobbs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) gave a brief summary of the 2011 USFWS Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the basis of the SEIR. Crane went on to explain the background of CSF’s report and the need to promote the economic impact of sportsmen and women. “We boiled these numbers down for members of our Caucus to use, just as Representative Latta has done. We want to be sure this Sportsmen’s Economic Impact Report is used during the budget debates on Capitol Hill and that the sportsmen and women that put money into our economy have a voice at the table.” Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, spoke on the American System of Conservation Funding and the threats sequestration poses to this System.
Transitioning from the SEIR, Zachary Lowe, Director of the CLfT, presented on the organization’s national conservation awareness and professional development program. Lowe highlighted the organization’s work with state agencies and universities to ensure the non-hunting, natural resource professionals have a solid fundamental understanding of the importance of conservation. Lowe stated, “our goal is to expose non-hunters to conservation programs and the roles hunters and anglers have in programs such as the American System of Conservation Funding.”
This breakfast briefing was made possible by Title Sponsors: the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow, Cabela’s and Safari Club International. The Co-Hosts of the breakfast briefing were: American Sportfishing Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Sportsman Channel/Intermedia Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Shell, Shimano, ExxonMobil and Southern Company. Sponsors of the breakfast briefing door prize included: FNH USA/Browning, Shimano American Corporation, and Sun Optics USA.
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?