February 25, 2013 (Washington, DC) – Members of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) gathered with sportsmen-industry leaders at a GSC reception on Saturday in Washington, DC. The eight governors in attendance voiced their commitment to the outdoor traditions that the GSC works to protect and recalled many personal hunting and fishing experiences from their respective states. The governors were joined by hunting, fishing, and other conservation leaders, policy makers, and industry representatives for a night of camaraderie and discussion on important issues facing the sportsmen’s community. The reception also served as an opportunity to announce Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe as the new Co-Chair of the GSC and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin as the new Vice-Chair.
The bipartisan GSC is a group of 22 governors committed to protecting and advancing hunting, recreational fishing and shooting and trapping. The GSC event included leadership and an array of GSC members as Co-Chair Governor Mike Beebe (AR), Vice-Chair Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (WV), Vice-Chair Governor Terry Branstad (IA), Governor Matt Mead (WY), Governor John Hickenlooper (CO), Governor Phil Bryant (MS) and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (ID) were all in attendance. Governor Steve Bullock (MT) was also in attendance.
GSC Co-Chair Governor Mike Beebe (AR) accepted his position as Co-Chair, replacing former Co-Chair Governor Brian Schweitzer (MT) and spoke on the importance of sportsmen’s activities in Arkansas. “I think what you find is that all the governors across the country have a significant interest in sportsmen and women and what they contribute, especially the economic value they provide. But additionally, Arkansas has all sorts of opportunities to hunt and fish. These are so important to the people of Arkansas, not only culturally, but economically; and, I have rarely seen a governor who has not put a lot of emphasis in protecting our natural resources for our children and our grandchildren. What this caucus does is educate policy makers and represent these issues and get the voice of the sportsmen and women heard. I am honored to be a part of it.”
GSC Vice-Chair Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa followed Governor Beebe and stated, “We appreciate all the sportsmen and women we have in the state of Iowa and all they do for the Iowa economy. I am proud to be a part of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus, as it is really a challenging time for us. I am proud to say that I am proud supporter of the 2nd Amendment and I want to protect the right of the citizens of Iowa.”
Another member of the GSC leadership, GSC Vice-Chair Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia expressed his dedication to the GSC. “I am honored to be the Vice-Chair of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus. Hunting is a huge part of the economy in West Virginia and we welcome the sportsmen’s traditions that are so crucial to our state. We host an Annual Governor’s One-Shot and bring sportsmen and women together to raise money for food banks in West Virginia. This is one of the many ways that sportsmen and women give back to our people in the state.”
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President, Jeff Crane introduced the members of the GSC throughout the night and thanked them for their commitment to the GSC and communicating the importance of protecting and advancing sportsmen’s traditions. “CSF’s Sportsmen’s Economic Impact Report shows that sportsmen’s activities are on the rise, as is our economy. As budgets are tight, this is an economy that is important, as conservation efforts are often times pushed aside. We need your support to be sure that not only the culture and traditions remain but the economy remains strong as well.”
Each governor in attendance addressed the state of hunting, fishing and other conservation issues in their state and shared recent successes and experiences afield and on the water. Governor John Hickenlooper spoke on his state of Colorado and the importance of getting the younger generation involved in hunting and fishing. “One of the biggest challenges we have in Colorado, and in this country, concerns our children not enjoying the opportunities of the outdoors and not getting the exposure to traditions that we hold dear. We are setting ourselves back and it is hurting our communities. Colorado is planning an initiative to get more kids fishing, hunting and enjoying the outdoors. Personally, I am making it a priority to take my children hunting or fishing, as I did just last week. I thank the GSC for the collective effort in helping us continue these traditions in Colorado.”
Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming shared some stories of what Wyoming has to offer sportsmen and women and also highlighted the traditions that he shares with his children. “I take my son turkey hunting and walleye fishing and I understand the importance of sportsmen’s traditions in the country and in Wyoming. It’s an economic issue and it’s a quality of life issue. Those of you who know it and support it know that you’re supporting our economy and supporting a way of life where I know I can bring my kids to hunt and fish and experience success and family time that is priceless.”
Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi, another avid outdoorsman stated, “Mississippi is a great state for the outdoors. I enjoy it, as does a large population of Mississippi. I have been on a few hunting trips this year already and can tell you right now that our state is rich with great access to hunting and fishing.” Gov. Steve Bullock echoed Gov. Bryant, telling of the vast opportunities to hunt and fish in the state of Montana. “I was raised in Montana where outdoor activities are truly one of the equalizers we have. I am lucky to say that Montana offers a lot of great opportunities to hunt and fish. It is not only the core of the state’s identity but also our economy. I look forward to working with you all to deliver more good news.”
The uniqueness of the GSC allows other attendees at the GSC reception the opportunity to work directly with a group of like-minded elected officials to tackle issues of importance to the hunting and fishing community. One of the major topics of discussion for the sportsmen’s community and other conservation groups is the potential impacts of sequestration, particularly in relation to state-based conservation funding. For more information on the GSC and issues in your state, contact CSF’s Regional Managers or Directors. For Andy Treharne, Western States Manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For Brent Miller, Northeastern States Manager, email email@example.com. Chris Horton, Midwestern States Director can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer Lundy, Southeastern States Director, can be reached at email@example.com.
The GSC reception was made possible thanks to our sponsors: Altria, ATK, the Auto Alliance, Cabela’s, CropLife America, Dallas Safari Club, ExxonMobil, JC Larkin Company, LLC, National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Outdoor Channel, Remington, Richard Childress Racing, Safari Club International, Shell, Shimano, Winchester and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.
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?