The North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus hosted their annual summer legislative reception, the Carolina Sportsmen’s Southern Social, on June 7 in Raleigh. 200 guests, including more than 40 legislators and Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Pat McCrory, gathered to celebrate North Carolina’s rich sporting heritage and its significant contributions to the state’s economy.
With the support of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), the event facilitated interaction among legislators, staffers, NCWRC staff and commissioners, and representatives from various sportsmen’s organizations, including the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Delta Waterfowl, the Eastern Carolina Houndsmen Alliance, and the National Rifle Association.
Addressing the attendees, Governor Pat McCrory celebrated North Carolina’s growing economy and underscored the need to conserve sporting traditions for future generations. Governor McCrory believes, “North Carolina’s hunters and anglers are a vital component of our state’s strong economy, and the need to protect these traditions and introduce our youth to the great outdoors is paramount.”
NCWRC Executive Director Gordon Myers thanked the Caucus for their continued support and dedication to conservation and Representative Jimmy Dixon highlighted recent legislative achievements, most notably the passage of the Outdoor Heritage Act which expanded seven-day hunting opportunities and created the first trust fund in the nation dedicated to promoting outdoor recreational activities for youth.
In recognition for their leadership and commitment to protecting North Carolina’s sporting traditions, Caucus Co-Chairs Representative John Bell, Representative Michael Wray and Senator Buck Newton were honored with Sportsman-Legislator Awards.
Representative Bell spoke to the importance of conserving the North Carolina’s hunting and fishing heritage, “Hunting and fishing are important economic drivers in North Carolina and it’s critical we protect these time-honored pastimes for future generations.”
Senator Newton also addressed attendees and spotlighted the current effort, NC S 889, to constitutionally protect the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife. “A right to hunt and fish constitutional amendment is crucial to ensuring North Carolinian’s outdoor heritage is protected in perpetuity.”
1,631,000 sportsmen in North Carolina support more than 35,000 jobs across the state and contribute $2.3 billion to the state’s economy. In 2015 alone, sportsmen in the Old North State generated $56,407,133 for conservation programs through the “user-pays, public-benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.
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?