April 9, 2020 (WASHINGTON. D.C.) – Yesterday, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and 50 members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) as well as the nation’s top fishing conservation organizations signed on to a letter that was sent to Governors, state legislators, and state agency fish and wildlife leaders, encouraging them to retain opportunities, where possible, for people to responsibly enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The primary message of the letter was to urge states to consider maintaining the openness of public lands and waters to allow individuals the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while adhering to the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials across the nation. Outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting remains an avenue to physically and mentally recharge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CSF provided recommendations for state decision makers to consider for sportsmen to safely pursue outdoor recreation opportunities, such as maintaining scheduled hunting seasons; temporarily waiving fishing license requirements; withholding trout stocking announcements to prevent crowds from congregating at popular fishing locations; considering fishing tackle retailers and manufacturers as essential businesses; and allowing shooting ranges to remain open while implementing social distancing practices.
Through the relationships with the unique and powerful force of sportsmen’s caucuses at the federal and state level, CSF continues leading efforts to ensure opportunities for sportsmen remain open. This letter reinforces previous efforts by CSF that urged state leaders to maintain the openness of public lands and waters. Last week, CSF sent a letter to all 50 governors, 27 of whom are members of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus. Similarly, CSF sent a letter to more than 2,000 state legislators encouraging them to work with other in-state decision makers to keep opportunities open.
Additionally, noted in the letter was a social media campaign that is underway within the sporting-conservation community known as #ResponsibleRecreation, which encourages the public to act responsibly by practicing safe social distancing and adhering to public health recommendations as they enjoy the outdoors. In partnership with some of the leading conservation groups such as National Wild Turkey Federation, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, as well as Bass Pro Shops, CSF has been a strong supporter of this campaign.
Along with the physical and mental benefits provided by outdoor recreation, sportsmen and women are also the primary contributors to the conservation of our land and waters through the American System of Conservation Funding and it is critical for the sustainability of our nation’s treasured natural resources that they are able to continue hunting, angling, and enjoying other outdoor pursuits.
CSF will continue to work with federal and state policy makers to ensure opportunities for outdoor recreation remain available to our nation’s sportsmen and women during these challenging times and encourage all outdoor enthusiasts to continue practicing responsible recreation.
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?