On March 11, the Ohio Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus welcomed Division of Wildlife staff and members of the sportsmen’s community to the Senate Finance Hearing Room of the Ohio Statehouse. This was the first Caucus event of 2015 and offered an opportunity for Senate Co-Chairs, Joe Uecker and Lou Gentile, to introduce the newly selected House Co-Chairs, Representatives Jonathan Dever and Jack Cera.
Representative Dever explained, “My family has a long history of hunting and recreational shooting. What people don’t realize is that hunters and fisherman are what true conservation is about. You hear a lot about environmentalism, but it’s really the folks that care about the hunting and fishing industries that make sure we actually have habitat for wildlife to prosper and that our environment is sound.”
Rep. Cera followed by expressing his interest in conserving resources at the watershed level. “Our watersheds are prolific and so finding funding mechanisms and working with Ohio Department of Natural Resources and other partners to upgrade and develop these watersheds to enhance the hunting and fishing opportunities is a goal of mine.”
Assistant Chief of the Division of Wildlife, David Lane, gave a presentation on the American System of Conservation Funding, and explained how critical this “user-pays, public-benefits” program is to Ohio’s fish and wildlife management efforts. Lane made clear to the group that federal sport fish and wildlife restoration dollars available to Ohio have more than doubled in the last five years, making it more challenging for the Division to come up with the requisite match money to take advantage of this critical funding source.
In recognition of the Division’s commitment to stewarding these public trust resources and the immense economic impact hunters and anglers have in the state of Ohio, Caucus leaders announced they will be introducing a concurrent resolution spotlighting these contributions. Sen. Gentile highlighted, “That 1.5 million sportsmen and women spend nearly $3 billion every year on their outdoor pursuits, supporting roughly 50,000 jobs, and this constituency deserves representation in the Statehouse and we’re proud to provide that.”
Sen. Uecker said, “Ohio’s sportsmen and women are just too important to our economy and to our traditions to cast to the side, and we are committed to keeping this tradition safe and helping it proliferate.”
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?