July 17, 2023

Midwestern Legislators Gather for CSF Regional Policy Forum

Article Contact: Bob Matthews, Jake Gould,

Why it Matters: Bringing legislators together to discuss important issues that sportsmen and women face, and to discuss the important role they play in conservation, is one of the hallmarks of CSF’s mission. As part of the Council of State Governments’ Midwest Legislative Conference, CSF staff and leaders of the Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus led a regional discussion on emerging topics relative to sportsmen and women. Specifically, legislators learned about the important role that Wildlife Councils play in educating the non-hunting and fishing public on the conservation values associated with our outdoor pursuits. Such conversations are critical to ensure that our sporting-conservation community remains steadfast in support of these traditions.


  • Legislators from several states across the Midwest participated in a CSF-led policy discussion to learn about the different issues sportsmen and women face, both regionally and nationally.
  • During the discussion, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Shannan Lott and colleagues led a discussion about the purpose and success of Michigan’s Wildlife Council, as well as opportunities to explore similar councils in other states.
  • Midwestern legislators were also briefed on current conversations surrounding the Farm Bill’s Conservation Title and the benefits that these conservation programs provide for landowners, and sportsmen and women, in their states.

On July 11, The Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation (CSF) and the Michigan Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus hosted a breakfast roundtable discussion as part of the Council of State Governments’ (CSG) Midwest Legislative Conference (MLC) to engage state legislators in sportsmen’s issues of regional and national importance. While CSF works closely with state legislative sportsmen’s Caucuses around the country on a daily basis, these opportunities to gather with legislators from across jurisdictional lines to host these discussions are a central component of our mission.

Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Amos O’Neal and Representative Sarah Lightner opened the discussion before introducing MI DNR Acting Director Lott and Jon Spieles to discuss the Michigan Wildlife Council. Wildlife Councils are a relatively unique concept designed to educate the public about the important role that hunting and angling play in the conservation of a state’s public trust fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all citizens. Currently, Colorado and Michigan are the only states that have established Wildlife Councils for public education, using proceeds collected from surcharges on hunting and fishing licenses to support each Councils’ efforts.

With recent reports suggesting that public approval of hunting has decreased nationwide, educating the public on critical concepts like the benefits of regulated, legal hunting and angling in managing wildlife populations, the “user pays- public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, and the economic impact that hunters and anglers have on local economies has never been more important.  While each of us, as sportsmen and women, can do our part to be good stewards for our time-honored traditions, Wildlife Councils have a proven track record of success, using tools such as social media, to promote the essential role that sportsmen and women have in wildlife conservation.

In addition to the Wildlife Council conversation, Midwestern legislators were briefed on the current state of the 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization effort. Given the critical impact that Farm Bill conservation programs can have throughout much of the Midwest, CSF provided legislators with the status of current efforts related to the bill while sharing CSF’s conservation priorities for the Farm Bill. For more information on Wildlife Councils, visit our website at www.congressionalsportsmen.org.

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