On April 21, the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted the “Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus Reception, Dinner and Auction” in Springfield, Illinois. The event featured hunters, anglers, and legislators from across the state, joining together to discuss current sportsmen’s policy priorities in the Midwest and across the nation.
This Midwestern regional event was attended by over 50 state legislators, many of them members of the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and over 250 other CSF partners and members of the Illinois hunting and angling conservation community, who discussed current state legislation affecting the future of Illinois’ hunting and angling traditions.
CSF President Jeff Crane welcomed the attendees. “The state of Illinois has a strong sportsmen’s heritage with vast hunting and fishing opportunities. CSF and the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses [NASC] worked with the Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus in 2013 to host a successful NASC Sportsman-Legislator Summit, and we are grateful to be welcomed back by the Caucus to celebrate these traditions that will be passed on to future generations.”
Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Brandon Phelps (IL) accepted an award at the event for his leadership in NASC. “It’s a great honor to be Co-Chair of the Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus, and to help lead this body of pro-sportsmen lawmakers as we protect and advance the interests of Illinois’ hunters and anglers. This full room is a testament to the strong sportsmen’s traditions we have here in Illinois, and the value of this outdoor heritage does not go unrecognized here in Springfield thanks to the dedicated sportsmen’s community and my colleagues in the Sportsmen’s Caucus. 1.3 million people hunt and fish in this state, funding the lion’s share of the management of Illinois’ world class fish and wildlife resources. Their contributions cannot be overstated, and it are those contributions we celebrate tonight.”
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner also spoke at the event. “My best times in life, being out with my family or being out with my friends, have been while fishing or hunting. It doesn’t get better than that,” said Governor Rauner. “The outdoors is what America is about, it’s what makes us a great nation, and I want to make sure I’m pushing the agenda that you all care about to create high quality outdoor opportunities here in Illinois.”
While enjoying the great outdoors, Illinois’ 1.3 million sportsmen and women contribute approximately $2.34 billion annually to the state, supporting an estimated 31,597 jobs. In Illinois, like many states with productive and accessible huntable lands and fishable waters, hunters and anglers and the industries that support them, act as an economic engine for the state.
The event’s Title Sponsors included: Ameren Corporation, the Cable Television & Communications Association of Illinois, Foresight Energy, LP, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 150, and the United Association Plumbers & Pipefitters. Host Sponsors included: American Suppressor Association, Commonwealth Edison, Dynegy, Inc., Exelon Corporation, North Shore Gas, and Peoples Gas. Co-Hosts included: AT&T, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, ExxonMobil Corporation, Laborers International Union of North America, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Remington, Reynolds American, Inc., Richard Childress Racing, Safari Club International, Shimano American Corporation, Ullico, Vista Outdoor Inc., and Zanders Sporting Goods.
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?