This week, a bipartisan gathering of state legislators from across the country attended the 14th Annual National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Sportsman-Legislator Summit in Acme, Michigan.
Hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), this year’s Summit was themed, “Celebrating the American System of Conservation Funding: 80 Years of Success,” and covered a wide variety of topics and how each topic impacts the state-level conservation funding generated by America’s sportsmen and women. Specifically, policy priorities discussed included: hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation; an overview of firearm and ammunition sales impact on conservation funding; the Modern Fish Act; the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization; the role of active forest management in enhancing sporting opportunities; protecting our waterways from invasive species; and other important issues facing America’s hunters and anglers.
Prior to the week’s policy discussions, Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley welcomed attendees to the state. “Michigan’s natural resources make it a destination for sportsmen from all over the country and we were pleased to host the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses summit this year,” Calley said. “This annual event serves as a platform to share best practices for conservation and grow the sportsmen’s way of life.”
Summit host and NASC Executive Council Member Senator Mike Green stated, “Michigan is one of the greatest states in the nation for hunting, fishing, trapping, and hiking – anything involving natural resources.” Sen. Green then introduced members of the Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and welcomed attendees on behalf of the Caucus.
NASC Executive Council President Bill Heath (GA) stated, “NASC is an important network for collaborating on ideas for enhancing hunting and fishing across the country. Over the last 14 years, this group has grown to include 48 state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses, and is stronger than ever before.”
During the final evening of the Summit, CSF’s states program team presented awards to NASC partners and supporters. The Friends of NASC Award was presented to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Vista Outdoor Inc. NASC Heritage Awards were presented to each region: Senator Craig Miner (CT) in the Northeastern region; Representative John Bell (NC) in the Southeastern region; NASC Executive Council President Brandon Phelps (IL) in the Midwestern region; and the Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus in the Western region.
Finally, the 2018 NASC Executive Council was announced after a ballot vote among states. Leadership includes: President Sen. Bill Heath (GA), Vice President Rep. Brian White (SC), and Secretary Rep. Jeff Goley (NH). Members include: Sen. Mike Bell (TN), Sen. Mike Green (MI), Sen. Robin Webb (KY), Del. Wendell Beitzel (MD), Rep. Scott Bounds (MS), Rep. Patrick Brennan (VT), Rep. Bill Rehm (NM), Rep. Jeff Wardlaw (AR), and Rep. Stephen Wood (ME). Alternate members include: Rep. Terry Baxter (IA), Rep. Jerry Costello (IL), and Rep. Brad Witt (OR).
NASC Summit Presenting Sponsor was Pure Michigan. Title Sponsors included: Cabela’s Outdoor Fund; Fritz Enterprises, Inc.; National Shooting Sports Foundation; Safari Club International; and Safari Club International Michigan Chapters. Host Sponsors included: ITC Holdings Corporation; National Rifle Association; Time Warner Cable; and Vista Outdoor Inc.
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?