This week, the North Carolina House of Representatives will take up the proposed state budget previously passed by the Senate which features various cuts across the board.
Most notably, the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) budget was slashed by 49% dropping the appropriations to the WRC from almost $18.5 million to just under $9.5 million. In contrast, the Governor’s proposed budget cuts appropriations to the WRC by roughly 1%. The current proposed budget significantly affects the agency’s ability to conserve North Carolina’s wildlife resources and their habitats and provide programs and opportunities that allow hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy wildlife-associated recreation.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) recently released the America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy report which details the economic impact by sportsmen and women across the country. Specifically in North Carolina, 1.6 million hunters and anglers spent $2.3 billion in 2011. Also in 2011, spending by sportsmen and women in North Carolina generated $249 million in state and local taxes which is enough to support the average salaries of 6,054 police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Finally, hunters and anglers support more jobs in North Carolina than the combined employment of the two largest employers in the state, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Nortel Networks Corp. (35,088 vs. 25,000 combined jobs).
Also, North Carolina is one of 19 states that have passed resolutions to celebrate the unique “user-pays, public-benefits” system of the American System of Conservation Funding.
The economic impact generated by hunting and angling in North Carolina is substantial and cutting the budget for the state agency responsible for conserving and sustaining the state’s fish and wildlife resources will undoubtedly have unintended, far-reaching consequences.
Please contact House Appropriations Committee Chairman Representative Nelson Dollar and other members of the Committee immediately to voice your opinion. Additionally, consider contacting Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Senator Harry Brown and other members of the Senate Committee to express concerns over the proposed budget.
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?