On September 18, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law bipartisan legislation (AB 638/SB 178: Hooked on Fishing not on Drugs) after it passed both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature unanimously earlier in the year. AB 638/SB 178 appropriates $200,000 to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to fund the program, which encourages school-aged children to avoid drug use by providing alternative activities that involve learning to fish, appreciating aquatic and environmental resources, and developing positive life skills. The measure was supported by many members of the New Jersey Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus, including all four of the Caucus Leaders: Senators Donald Norcross and Steve Oroho and Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Gary Chiusano.
Spearheading this effort, and working alongside the New Jersey Caucus on this issue, was the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance – the organization that serves as an Advisory Council to the Caucus. “I’d like to thank Governor Christie, state legislators, and those in the Department of Environmental Protection, for their bipartisan support of a program designed as a gateway to teach youth about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle,” said Anthony P. Mauro, Sr., Chairman of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance. “It is heartening to see that in spite of our increasingly sophisticated world, there remains recognition of the benefits of a ‘back to basics’ approach in dealing with the challenges facing our state’s youth. In the end, exposure to, and understanding of, the natural world by our children is what will ultimately save it. ‘Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs’ is a giant step towards this end.”
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?