Washington Sportsmen Unite Under New Coalition; CSF’s Pacific States Manager Elected as Co-Chair

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager Pacific States and Firearm Policy

  • Sportsmen and women in the Evergreen State have united as the Washington Fish and Wildlife Conservation Partnership, a new coalition dedicated to protecting the state’s hunting, fishing, and trapping heritage through science-based fish and wildlife management.
  • Born out of the need to organize in response to the 2022 Spring Bear Hunt suspension, the sportsmen’s community recognized the need to have a formal, ongoing coalition that could work together on policy items before the Commission, but also on all other efforts that could impact the future of the state’s outdoor heritage.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Pacific States Manager Keely Hopkins will serve as Co-Chair to the newly established Coalition, joining with representatives from Inland NW Wildlife Council, American Sportfishing Association, Ducks Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the Sportsmen’s Alliance as part of the Coalition’s Steering Committee.

Why It Matters: Washington’s hunters, anglers, and trappers have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, Washington’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales and through excise taxes collected on sporting-related goods via the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Ongoing attempts to restrict Washington’s 885,000 sportsmen and women from their outdoor pursuits of hunting, fishing, and trapping also threatens vital funding revenue for Washington’s conservation, habitat restoration, and wildlife management efforts.

Organizing in response to the rollercoaster ride of rulemaking and votes that ultimately ended with the suspension of the 2022 Spring Bear Hunting Season, Washington’s sportsmen and women have united as the Washington Fish and Wildlife Conservation Partnership (WFWCP)—a new coalition dedicated to protecting and advancing the Evergreen State’s rich hunting and fishing heritage. This effort adds to the wave of sportsmen and women uniting in states across the West, such as Oregon and Colorado, as we continue to see increased attacks on our outdoor heritage before the Commission, in the state legislatures, and even at the ballot box.

Though in its early stages, the WFWCP already has nearly twenty national, state and regional organizations all committed to having a unified voice in support of science-based fish and wildlife management in Washington. Member organizations include Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, Inland NW Wildlife Council, Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation, American Sportfishing Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, National Wild Turkey Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and more. Keely Hopkins, CSF’s Pacific States Manager, will join Marie Neumiller of the Inland NW Wildlife Council as Co-Chairs of the Coalition.

In one of its first acts of business, the Coalition has submitted a letter to Governor Inslee supporting the reappointment of Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Kim Thorburn, who has been a strong advocate for science-based management during her term on the Commission, which expires at the end of the year. Moving forward, the Coalition will also focus on several key policy areas being considered by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and is preparing for the 2023 legislative session.

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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?

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