On July 21, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) staff hosted a breakfast policy forum for legislators at the Grand Lux Café in downtown Chicago during the Council on State Government Midwest Annual Meeting. CSF staff Midwestern States Senior Director Chris Horton, along with Upper Midwestern States Manager Nick Buggia and Lower Midwestern States Coordinator Kent Keene organized the event and presented the policy information.
In attendance were 16 legislators representing five states throughout the Midwestern region: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Horton kicked off the policy forum by providing an overview on CSF’s history, including work that has been accomplished through the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses and the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus. This also included an overview of the economic impact of sportsmen’s activities through the American System of Conservation Funding.
Keene then provided an update on the conservation practices in the 2018 Farm Bill. Due to the prevalence of agricultural lands throughout the Midwest, Farm Bill conservation practices have a significant impact within the region. As of May 2019, Farm Service Agency’s records indicate more than 63% of all acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are located in the states that comprise CSF’s Midwestern region. CRP plays an important role in improving soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat, and legislators throughout this region understand this importance. In addition to an update on CRP, the forum provided an opportunity to discuss other conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Lastly, Buggia presented an update on policy priorities on which CSF is engaging at the federal level. This included information on Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, introduced on July 12 by CSC Members Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (NE). Additionally, he provided information on federal bills related to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) research and management efforts and answered questions relative to the disease.
Regional policy forums such as this allow legislators to come together and share insight with neighboring states regarding common interests. This particular forum provided an opportunity for Midwestern legislators to discuss a variety of regionally-relevant policies, ask questions, and become more informed as well as engaged with these issues.
This policy forum and brunch was sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and Reynolds American.
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?