By Bee Frederick, Southeastern States Director
On February 19, the Georgia sportsmen’s community and numerous legislative and administrative officials gathered at the Georgia State Capitol for the 17th Annual “Keeping Georgia Wild” Day.
This annual event, previously known as Sportsmen’s and Coastal Day at the Capitol, provides a venue for elected officials to hear from the conservation community on issues of importance as well as express their support for these issues. The morning-long event hosted the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and various in-state and national sportsmen’s groups to gather in the Capitol rotunda together with elected officials in support of conservation.
Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Brian Kemp attended and spoke at the event about the importance of Georgia’s abundant natural resources. Many others addressed the assembled group, including: Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker of the House David Ralston, Georgia DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, House Game and Fish Committee Chairman Representative Trey Rhodes, and the Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Chairmen.
The Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, chaired by National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council Vice-President Senator Bill Heath and Representative David Knight, currently boasts over 100 members and was well-represented by its members.
Heath noted the important work sportsmen’s caucuses serve in Georgia and across the country. “The nationwide work of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and NASC to unite pro-sportsmen legislators with each other and the larger sportsmen’s community remains invaluable. I am proud to serve as the NASC President and Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair, and I look forward to working with colleagues both in-state and around the country to protect the sportsmen’s heritage we all enjoy.”
Rep. Knight also spoke to the importance of the Caucus and the need to recruit the next generation of sportsmen and women. “The work we do through the Caucus is vital and we are committed to protecting and advancing our sporting traditions for the next generation. We know that it’s on us to do everything we can to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers. Conservation depends on it”.
The Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators working to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping, was first established in 2003 and since then has continued to provide a strong voice for the sportsmen’s community in the state. The Caucus will be hosting the 2019 NASC Annual Sportsmen-Legislator Summit on November 12-15 at Lake Oconee.
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?