If sportsmen don’t step up, our land may not be “ours” anymore.
If you are a sportsmen or outdoor enthusiast at any level, I am sure you have seen the news rumblings for the past year about the possible threat of “OUR” public land being sold off to the states they reside in.
This is not the first time this issue has risen. It tends to poke its evil head out once a decade. However, due to the rising deficit and the fact that “bipartisan” is almost a four-letter word in today’s political arena, it’s more important than ever that our sportsmen stand up for our heritage and honor our public trust doctrine as it was written.
It was over a century ago when our true leaders, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Ding Darling, led such conservation movements on the political floor. During this time, hunters and anglers understood the importance of our wildlife and its habitat, and took action to protect it. Since that time, sportsmen have come and gone with many not returning to what they once loved doing as a child, due to lack of access, limiting regulations, or the slim odds of drawing a big game tag.
In recent years, we have seen an emergence of hunters and anglers, primarily within the youth and female demographics. Not only is this great news for the industry but for sportsmen as a whole. With these rising numbers we can express our views to Washington and be heard loud and clear just as they were a century ago.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are just a few of the non-government organizations (NGOs) leading the way on this issue.
In addition, there have been several victories along the way this past year with local hunters and anglers creating a grassroots movement inspired by spirit and fueled by passion, such as the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act in Colorado and the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act in Nevada. These are no small acts of legislation. These are movements founded on the principles that our hunters and anglers have lived by for centuries.
As sportsmen, we are one of the few groups that pay to play through our license fees and taxes on the gear we buy. We support our way of life and have proven to be an excellent investment for the government.
This is the year that sportsmen are going to be called upon more than ever, and with the current trends, I would say the movement is well underway. Just as many of these NGOs have been fighting for that which they believe in, it is time for us to stand by them and tell them “we have your back.”
Sportsmen Access consists of 25 partners, managed by TRCP, and are working together to keep the public informed as well as taking this fight to the steps of the capitals of each state currently entertaining this land grab boondoggle. You can stay up to date on this issue and join the movement by clicking on this link and signing the petition here: http://sportsmensaccess.org.
This is just first step in getting involved to ensure our outdoor traditions are intact for future generations.
If you’re not a member of one of the many NGOs doing work on your behalf, I highly recommend you do your research and become one. Even if you are not a member, they still want to hear from you. Organizations, such as Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation, are great resources for connecting you to your local leadership, which needs to hear from you directly and often.
How can we expect the states to manage our federal lands when most struggle to manage the land already under their ownership? Not that the states don’t do their best, but with over extended budgets across the board, our public lands appears to be on the chopping block as a first source of revenue.
We, the sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts, can make a difference, and I believe we will. It is our turn once again to put our heritage in front of Congress and bypass their personal agendas, set aside our personal issues and practice that thing called bipartisan just as it once was many years ago.
Will this year be your Last Cast? Are you willing to join the fight?