Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager; Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
- On August 25, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted its fourth and final Summer Educational Series webinar discussion titled: “Sportsmen and Women as the Original Conservationists: Opportunities to Lead the Future of Conservation.”
- The webinar brought together a panel of industry experts and representatives of some of our nation’s largest sporting conservation organizations for a look at emerging conservation topics and opportunities for sportsmen and women to engage.
- As the final webinar in the series, this discussion highlighted ways in which the sporting conservation community have taken charge when facing our nation’s largest conservation challenges. Recognizing this history while highlighting actions that the community is already taking to address emerging challenges, the ultimate goal was to encourage legislators, and sportsmen and women in general, to remain engaged while protecting and advancing our outdoor heritage.
Why it Matters: Sportsmen and women have a strong history of leading efforts to address our nation’s conservation challenges. From the development of laws guiding the harvest of fish and wildlife and the development of state fish and wildlife agencies to develop, evaluate and enforce these regulations, to the creation of a self-imposed, “user pays – public benefits” mechanism by which these agencies are funded, it is clear that sportsmen and women have a vested interest in addressing conservation challenges. Recognizing the vested interest, there is an opportunity to bring this perspective to conversations regarding emerging topics like climate change, water quality issues, and much more. By approaching these topics as the latest conservation challenges, we can once again lead in a manner that benefits our nation’s public trust resources, as well as our opportunities to enjoy them.
In this year’s final installment of the summer webinar series, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Nick Buggia provided a brief history of sportsmen-led conservation actions that have resulted in the abundant outdoor opportunities we enjoy today. Leaning on this experience, Nick pointed out that there are several emerging topics that provide excellent opportunities for sportsmen and women to take the lead in protecting and advancing our outdoor heritage.
Following Nick was Kyle Rorah, Regional Director of Public Policy for Ducks Unlimited (DU), who discussed DU’s efforts to restore and conserve wetland ecosystems throughout North America. While designed primarily to benefit waterfowl, Kyle explained how their management actions were benefitting the entire ecosystem, particularly in the face of challenges such as climate change. Kyle went on to highlight the role of these wetlands in reducing nutrient runoff into major waterways, sequestering and storing greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change, and providing a reliable source of water for communities throughout the country.
Up next was Jim Inglis, Director of Government Affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Jim focused on the important roles that grasslands serve and opportunities for private landowners to contribute to grassland conservation efforts within agricultural systems. Highlighting programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – which has been directly linked to pheasant population success, hunter participation, and hunter satisfaction – Jim highlighted the potential profitability and sense of resiliency that landowners can experience when enrolling in these programs. Like Kyle, Jim also highlighted the role of grasslands in addressing the impacts of climate change.
The penultimate speaker was Jill Sims, Manager of Great Lakes Policy and Engagement for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Representing the boating industry, Jill highlighted the importance of the outdoor recreation industry in the United States where it comprises approximately 2.1% of our nation’s GDP. Given this importance, Jill spoke to the boating industry’s commitment to contributing to efforts such as regional habitat restoration efforts, water quality improvements, and stopping the spread of invasive species.
Wrapping up, CSF’s Kent Keene provided a brief conclusion that reiterated that sportsmen and women have and continue to be leaders in conservation and encouraged participants to be engaged in these and other conversations about emerging conservation challenges. CSF thanks the panelists who participated in this and all installments of our summer webinar series, as well as members of the audience who took the time to tune in, and we hope that you will stay tuned for future webinar series.
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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?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (3.27%)
- Increase access to public lands. (26.12%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (2.86%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (14.49%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (45.71%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (7.55%)