Governor Terry Branstad (IA), Co-Chair of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) since 2014, has been a stalwart leader for the sportsmen and women of Iowa, and his actions today exhibit that his commitment to our time-honored traditions remain strong as ever. On April 1, Governor Branstad signed a proclamation officially recognizing September 26, 2015 as Iowa Hunting and Fishing Day, “encouraging all Iowans to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.”
September 26 was first proclaimed National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1972 by President Richard Nixon. In it he wrote, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.” Following this presidential proclamation, all 50 state governors followed suit, creating an unprecedented amount of media coverage for the hunting and fishing public, who largely fund all fish and wildlife conservation efforts that occur in this country.
Forty-three years later, sportsmen and women are still the chief providers of fish and wildlife conservation dollars through their purchases of hunting, fishing, and boating equipment, as well as through license sales. This “user pays – public benefits” approach is known as the American System of Conservation Funding, and is widely recognized as the most successful model of fish and wildlife management in the world.
As pressure from anti-hunting groups continue to rise and a growing percentage of our nation’s population transition to lifestyles more disconnected from the land, recognition of the contributions of sportsmen and women has never been more important. It is for this reason why the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) committed itself to working with GSC member offices in 2015 to issue hunting and fishing day proclamations as a tribute to our outdoor pastimes and to encourage a heightened understanding of the role of hunters and anglers in natural resource management.
With over half a million sportsmen and women in his state, spending $779 million per year engaging in their outdoor pursuits, Governor Branstad recognizes the important role this constituency plays in Iowa’s culture and economy, and this year Iowans will join together on September 26 to celebrate these shared outdoor traditions.
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?