State legislative and other sportsmen’s community leaders from across the nation gathered last week at the 10th Annual National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Sportsman-Legislator Summit to address issues affecting sportsmen across the country.
The three-day Summit, held at the Rend Lake Resort in Whittington, Illinois, was hosted by the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. The Summit gathered together state sportsmen and women legislators in the United States and provided them with a unique forum to exchange ideas and experiences on protecting and promoting our nation’s hunting and fishing heritage.
The theme for this year’s meeting, “Our Story: Advancing Conservation Through Partnerships,” highlighted the dedication of CSF’s partners to hunting and fishing-related conservation efforts in the United States on an ongoing basis.
Panel discussions and presentations included: federal budget sequestration and its effect on the state fish and wildlife agencies, use of state ballot initiatives that can undermine science-based wildlife management, recreational fishing access concerns, and other emerging sportsmen’s issues.
“The agenda of this year’s meeting provided an opportunity for the bipartisan members to take these policy initiatives back to their colleagues in the various state legislatures in order to continue the future success of NASC,” said Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
With 40 states represented this year at the Summit, NASC Executive Council President and State Senator Robin Webb (KY) had a positive outlook on the future of NASC. “I’m hoping we embrace [the new state caucuses], encourage them, and empower them to go home and continue to be part of our organization,” said Sen. Webb.
NASC Secretary and Illinois State Representative Brandon Phelps played an integral role in the Summit’s success this year. “On behalf of the Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus, we are excited to have the opportunity to host legislators and sportsmen and women from around the country who care about conservation, and who work tirelessly to move legislation to advance our outdoor heritage,” said Rep. Phelps.
Also announced at the Summit was this year’s elected NASC Executive Council, including: President – Senator Robin Webb (KY), Vice President – Representative Mark Neuman (AK), Secretary – Representative Brandon Phelps (IL), Immediate Past President – Representative Mike Pitts (SC), Senator Bill Heath (GA), Representative Sal Esquivel (OR), Representative Candy Ezzell (NM), Representative Herb Frierson (MS), Representative Marc Gergely (PA), Representative Craig Miner (CT), Representative Brian White (SC), Alternate – Delegate Wendell Beitzel (MD), and Alternate – Senator Mike Green (MI).
The NASC Sportsman-Legislator Summit was made possible due to the generous support of our sponsors and made possible by the Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus. This year’s title sponsors were Ameren, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Safari Club International. Hosts included ATK, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Cable Television & Communications Association of Illinois, Dallas Safari Club, ExxonMobil Corporation, Richard Childress Racing, Shimano American Corporation, Sports South, LLC, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Time Warner Cable, and United Association. Co-hosts included American Knife and Tool Institute, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, ComEd, Exelon Corporation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Knife Rights, Inc., Laborers’ International Union of North America, MidAmerican Energy Company, Monsanto, National Rifle Association, North American Crossbow Federation, Inc., Ullico, Inc., Wal-Mart, and Winchester.
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?