On February 28, the bipartisan New Jersey Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance hosted their first policy forum of the 2017 legislative session. Over a dozen Caucus Members gathered to discuss legislative priorities for the sportsmen’s community, including two Caucus Co-Chairs, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senator Steve Oroho. The key conservation issues identified by the attendees included scientific management of the black bear population, dog proof raccoon traps, and federal changes to summer flounder catch and size limits and marine fisheries funding.
Senator Oroho commented on the economic impact of the sportsmen’s community in the state. “New Jersey has a proud sporting heritage that provides numerous recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers alike. Our outdoor heritage also contributes significantly to our state’s economy as it generates increased tourism dollars and jobs. In fact, sportsmen and women in New Jersey spend $1.26 billion annually on sporting activities, support nearly 17,000 jobs for the state and provide over $150 million per year in state and local taxes. So promoting opportunities for the sportsmen’s community certainly makes sense for New Jersey.”
In addition to the contributions to the state’s economy, the sportsmen’s community provides nearly $24 million per year for conservation efforts in New Jersey through the “user-pays, public-benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. These critical conservation dollars fund a variety of efforts including: enhanced fish and wildlife habitat and populations, recreational access to public and private lands, shooting ranges and boat access facilities, wetlands protection and its associated water filtration and flood retention functions, and improved soil and water conservation – all of which benefit all New Jersey residents, hunters and non-hunters alike.
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?