“Fly Fishing Retailers Hang in the Balance.”
“Dismiss the notion that conservation funding is akin to a charitable donation, and understand that fly fishing manufacturers and dealers are among the most vulnerable if government conservation funding is slashed as planned.”
These warnings open Tim Romano’s report, “Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance Event Underscores Critical Link Between Conservation and Jobs” in Angling Trade. I was there, he is right.
The event, “Taking Aim at Conservation: American Sportsmen at a Crossroads Forum” was part of road trip bringing 35 sportsmen and women from seven states to Washington to unveil the Alliance’s policy agenda and educate Congress on policies and programs that are important to hunters and anglers in America. As a strong supporter of BMSA I had been asked to participate in a panel discussion during the forum.
The first part was devoted to special guests speakers. We heard remarks for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Udall (D-CO) and U.S. Senator James Risch (R-ID). A common theme from the speakers was the importance of hunting and fishing to the economy. And while that was good to hear there was also an acknowledgement that the fiscal situation and political climate were extremely difficult in Washington.
What I think was a more important part of the forum was a panel discussion about sportsmen and conservation. It was my privilege to share the panel with Kirk Deeter of Field & Stream and Angling Trade fame, Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s VP of Conservation Gary Taylor, Legislative Director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Montana State Senator Kendal Van Dyk, New Mexico State Representative Nate Gentry and Alliance Co-director Gaspar Perricone.
Each panelist was asked to address questions posed by Alliance Co-founder Tim Mauck. What emerged from the responses was a clear sense that the lack of conservation funding and the attacks on conservation and environmental policies were not only an imminent threat to fish and wildlife but also a threat to the economic contribution made by the outdoor recreation industry.
“It’s time that many Americans, particularly those who draw their livelihoods from the outdoors industry realize that our nation’s “conservation deficit” is just as real and just as much a burden for future generations as any financial budget deficit,” said Deeter.
For those of us who cherish hunting and fishing and especially those of us who work in the outdoor recreation industry the message is clear. Ignore these warnings at your economic peril.
It is time to add your name to the list of folks who are willing to speak out in support of a simple equation; conservation of habitat creates recreational opportunity and that means economic activity and jobs.