Policy Corner Brief: OCTOBER 2021
Tennessee Quail Habitat Restoration Project Meets Conservation Opposition – Public Meeting Schedule 55 Hunt Fish 30×30 Members, lead by CSF, Submit Formal Recommendations to to the Biden Administration Concerning the “America the Beautiful” Initiative
October 13, 2021 (WASHINGTON, D.C) – Earlier today, 55 members of the Hunt Fish 30×30 Coalition, led by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), submitted a set of formal recommendations for the Biden Administration’s “America the Beautiful” initiative, also referred to as “Thirty by Thirty.” The recommendations highlight several priorities of thesporting-conservation community as they relate to the development of the Administration’s forthcoming American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas which will serve as a measure of conservation and restoration progress to date.
The recommendations submitted to President Biden’s interagency working group reflect the priorities first outlined in the Hunt Fish 30×30 Coalition’s “Hunting and Fishing Community Statement on the 30×30 Initiative” that was developed in response to “Thirty by Thirty” legislation introduced at the state level in 2020. The statement, which has currently been signed by sixty-six sporting-conservation organizations, highlights the important role that sportsmen and women have played in the conservation of fish, wildlife, and natural ecosystems in the United States. Recognizing this history of conservation successes, the current recommendations present an opportunity to advance pragmatic, successful conservation efforts while recognizing many existing efforts that have, to date, been largely overlooked relative to this initiative.
“The release of the America the Beautiful report in May marked a step in the right direction that, if defined and implemented properly, could continue to build upon our past successes and maintain the United States’ position as the world leader in natural resource conservation,” said Jeff Crane, CSF’s President and CEO. “These recommendations provide the administration with a clear roadmap that highlights the role of America’s 55 million sportsmen and women, as the nation’s leading conservationists, in moving the needle on biodiversity conservation for generations.”
These recommendations were designed to provide an initial framework as the Administration’s interagency working group begins developing the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.
Key priorities of the recommendations include: Clearly defining “conservation” to support the active management and sustainable use of our nation’s public trust fish and wildlife resources, collaborating closely with entities devoted to achieving measurable biodiversity conservation objectives, including, state fish and wildlife management agencies, regional fish and wildlife management bodies, members of the sporting-conservation community, the more than 500 federally recognized Native American tribes, and private landowners through voluntary, incentive-based opportunities, and recognizing and including all efforts directly contributing to biodiversity conservation in the forthcoming American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas, including those on lands subject to multiple uses.
CSF will continue to coordinate with the Administration to ensure any efforts included in “America the Beautiful” support and complement the interest of America’s sportsmen and women.
Nashville and NASCAR Come Together to Support the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
October 14, 2021 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – On October 13, country music superstar Chris Janson took to the stage to kick off the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) 17th Annual Wine, Wheels & Wildlife at the beautiful Childress Vineyards in Lexington, North Carolina. Hosted by none other than NASCAR Hall of Famer and Vice-Chair of the CSF Board of Directors Richard Childress as well as Title Sponsors Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, this year’s event brought together a number of representatives from the hunting and angling industry to recognize the tremendous achievements set forth by CSF across America.
Hunting and angling are what this country was built upon and are woven into the cultural fabric of communities across all 50 states. America’s sportsmen and women are the foundation of our nation’s conservation legacy, highlighting the importance of ensuring our outdoor traditions are protected and advanced in the policy arena for generations to come.
For more than 30 years, CSF has been at the forefront fighting to protect these great outdoor traditions and is the tip of the spear when it comes to working with Congress, governors and state legislators on behalf of America’s sportsmen and women. Just last year, CSF helped to secure passage of historic legislation including the Great American Outdoors Act and the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, two of the most significant pieces of legislation for sportsmen and women in a lifetime. This year, CSF is leading efforts on landmark legislation such as Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“I am honored to be a long-standing partner of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “The work they do on behalf of all of us as sportsmen and women across all levels of government, is what sets them apart from other organizations. By bringing their personal outdoors experience with their strong background in policy, they have the depth and breadth to ensure these great traditions will be secured for our future generations.”
Attended by leaders of the sportsmen’s community, NASCAR representatives, federal and state elected officials representing both sides of the aisle, and other CSF supporters, this year’s event demonstrated the camaraderie that has been built among these various groups for the betterment of sportsmen and women.
“CSF is grateful for the continued support of Richard Childress in hosting this annual event for nearly 20 years,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “For CSF staff, the work we do isn’t just a job. We take great pride in being able to effectuate change on policies that impact the hunting and angling traditions we cherish. This event is critical in supporting the ongoing efforts of the Foundation, not just in North Carolina, but across the nation.”
Other notable guests included retired United States Marine and host of FOX Nation Outdoors Joey Jones who addressed CSF’s Sporting Society members before the event, David Griffin Jr. who led the effort to clean up the World Trade Center after 9/11, and outdoor media personality Eva Shockey, among others.
The event concluded with a live auction as a part of the night’s entertainment to help CSF further its mission to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping in the halls of government.
Title Sponsors of the event included Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Childress Vineyards and Richard Childress Racing.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster Joins the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus
- On September 20, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster became the newest member of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus.
- Comprised of 30 governors from across the country, the bipartisan Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) facilitates communication and information exchange among GSC member offices to support policies that promote and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping.
Why it Matters: Governor McMaster’s membership in the GSC expands the network of pro-sportsmen elected officials in South Carolina, including members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, who are committed to protecting hunting and angling traditions in the Palmetto State.
Governor McMaster has a strong track record supporting South Carolina’s sportsmen and women, including signing the apprentice hunting license expansion legislation into law last year and issuing National Hunting and Fishing Day proclamations in 2021 and 2020.
Founded in 2009 by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the GSC complements the work of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses and is currently led by Co-Chairs Governor John Bel Edwards (LA) and Governor Kristi Noem (SD). Recently, members of the GSC met virtually to learn more about state and federal policy priorities for hunters and anglers and also to discuss how to more effectively coordinate with CSF and the larger sportsmen’s community.
CSF is pleased is welcome Governor McMaster to the GSC and looks forward to working with the Governor to support South Carolina’s 847,000 sportsmen and women who contribute more than $2.3 billion to the state’s economy each year and generated more than $32.09 million for conservation through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding last year alone.
Pheasant/Quail Hunters in Massachusetts to See More Opportunities in 2022-2023
- On September 28, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) voted in unanimous support of proposed regulatory amendments that “establish a pheasant/quail permit, eliminate the seasonal bag limit for pheasant and quail, remove rooster-only restrictions, and eliminate the hunter registration process for pheasant hunting at Martin Burns WMA.”
- Establishing a pheasant and quail permit will generate increased funding for MassWildlife’s conservation efforts, which serves to benefit all Bay State residents alike.
- The removal of seasonal bag limits for these pursuits will afford sportsmen and women the opportunity to spend additional time introducing new hunters into the community while further contributing to the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, submitted a letter of support that highlighted the crucial role that upland hunting plays in the ASCF and towards providing new hunters with engaging, hands-on learning opportunities.
Why it Matters: Upland hunting plays an integral role as one of our nation’s time-honored sporting traditions. It is a pursuit that cultivates an environment based on open dialogue while afield, allowing new hunters to have a much more engaged experience alongside their mentors. With relation to new hunters, a state fish and wildlife department’s decision to remove seasonal bag limits means more days spent in the field, resulting in additional time spent learning through hands-on experiences and under the sound guidance of seasoned hunters. Relatedly, the removal of seasonal bag limits, in conjunction with the establishment of upland-related permits, will undoubtedly increase funding for conservation efforts through the American System of Conservation Funding.
In a unanimous vote of support during the September meeting of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), the proposed amendments relative to pheasants and quail regulations were accepted for the 2022-2023 hunting season. This result reflects a strong appreciation for the many potential benefits included within the proposal, such as providing additional funding for conservation efforts through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), as well as increasing opportunities for new hunters to learn and improve through hands-on experiences.
The regulatory amendments establish a pheasant and quail permit, which will be required for sportsmen and women engaged in those particular pursuits. Through the ASCF, the funds collected by way of this permit will support MassWildlife’s on-the-ground conservation efforts, highlighting the important role that upland hunting has towards the funding of our state’s fish, wildlife, and natural habitats. Revenue generated for conservation by sportsmen and women through license sales, such as a pheasant and quail permit, along with excise taxes on sporting-related goods in this unique “user pays – public benefits” structure is what makes our sporting traditions possible.
When first introduced to hunting, many new sportsmen and women quickly realize the advantages to upland hunting. There is a heavy social consideration, as positions and communication in the field are coordinated to allow hunters to take a targeted approach towards their quarry. What new hunters need, arguably more than anything, are opportunities to spend as much time as possible in the field, absorbing techniques in practice, which is precisely what the regulatory amendments will provide. By removing the seasonal bag limits on pheasants and quail, sportsmen and women will be able to effectively hunt for the respective seasons in their entirety. Thus, beginning hunters will be able to continuously improve throughout the season, spending more hours learning alongside their mentors.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is proud to have supported these regulatory amendments during the public comment period and looks forward to the many benefits that will ultimately result.
CSF Supports the Indiana Natural Resource Commission’s Decision to Allow for Increase License and Fee Range
- On September 21, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified in support of a proposal in front of the Indiana Natural Resources Commission (NRC) that would establish a range that the IN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) could use to set license and fee rates.
- License and fees in the Hoosier State have not seen an increase in more than a decade, and in some cases, multiple decades.
- The NRC passed the proposal, which will allow the IN DNR to be more financially stable and better serve Indiana’s citizens, fish, and wildlife.
Why it matters: For more than a century, sportsmen and women have led the charge in the conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources. Their efforts to implement wildlife management policies in the United States ultimately led to the development of our state fish and wildlife agencies, as well as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a “user pays – public benefits” structure that supports the efforts of many of these agencies. The ASCF is one of the most successful systems of conservation in the world and serves to showcase the dedication of sportsmen and women to financially support their state’s fish and wildlife agencies. When combined with the fair chaise ethic that states, “Fundamental to the harvest of game is the concept of supporting the conservation of natural resources,” modern hunting, fishing, and trapping provide the DNR with an important management tool through regulated harvest of individual animals in a manner that conserves, protects, and perpetuates the targeted population in a sustainable way.
On September 21, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Upper Midwestern States Manager Nick Buggia testified in front of the Indiana Natural Resources Commission (NRC) at their meeting held at Canyon Inn at McCormick’s Creek State Park. Buggia testified in support of establishing a license and fee price range, allowing the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the flexibility needed to adjust license and fees as needed. Following a public comment period, members of the Commissions voted unanimously to pass the measure. To clarify, no license fees were increased at the meeting. The Commission established a fee range on a variety of licenses, including hunting and fishing licenses, which will allow the DNR to amend rates anywhere within that range.
State fish and wildlife agencies across this country are looking for ways to sustain the funding needed to provide adequate services. As an agency primarily funded through the American System of Conservation Funding, this modest increase to license and stamp fees represents an opportunity for the sporting community to step up once again and continue to serve as the primary source of funding for conservation. For over 15 years, fees have gone unadjusted, despite inflation, increasing salaries needed to recruit quality employees, and the need to meet federal match requirements for federal programs. The ability to increase fees at a relatively modest rate will ensure that the DNR can provide the necessary state match in order to take full advantage of federal Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program funds available to the agency.
Commercial licenses are also included in this measure. Many of these licenses and permits have not received a fee increase since their establishment in the 80s and 90s. The revenue generated from the current commercial fees falls well short of the cost of processing the licenses. An increase in commercial license fees will allow for an upgrade to the current license purchases and management of the software system, resulting in a more efficient process that will save both time and money. This increased financial flexibility ensures the IN DNR has the financial resources necessary to carry out other important parts of their mission, including providing additional access and opportunities for all of Indiana’s citizens.
California’s “Free Hunting Days” Legislation Signed into Law
- On September 30, California Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 804 that will establish two “Free Hunting Days” each year.
- To help combat declining hunting license sales, AB 804 was introduced by Assemblywomen Dahle and co-authored by California Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chairs Senators Dodd and Jones to encourage new participation in hunting.
- Efforts to Recruit, Retain and Reactivate (R3) new hunters in California continues to be a top priority for state agencies, conservation groups, and sportsmen’s organizations.
Why it Matters: California’s hunting and fishing license sales have been declining over the last several decades, which has resulted in decreased funding for conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife through license and tags sales. To combat these declining numbers, state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and hunting/fishing organizations have all invested heavily in R3 efforts and continue to identify strategies to increase participation in outdoor activities.
Modeled after California’s successful “Free Fishing Days”, Assembly Bill 804 will establish two “Free Hunting Days” each year—one in both the Spring and Fall. As part of a recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) effort to recruit new hunters, AB 804 aims to encourage new participation in hunting by those interested in the experience, but that might otherwise be deterred by an unfamiliar licensing process or by cost. On these designated days, an unlicensed hunter who has completed the Hunter Safety Course would be allowed to hunt without a license if accompanied by a licensed hunter, 21 years or older, who has held a valid license for at least the last three consecutive years.
Over the last several decades, California’s hunting and fishing license sales have been declining, which in turn has meant less funding for conservation and wildlife management efforts. To combat these declining numbers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife released California’s Statewide R3 Implementation Strategy that focuses on R3 efforts for both hunters and anglers. Once implemented, AB 804 will supplement these efforts by providing an incentive to new hunters to participate in these outdoor opportunities.
AB 804 was introduced by Assemblymember Dahle, with California Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chairs Senators Dodd and Jones co-authoring the bill. AB 804 passed the California Legislature with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 30. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation testified in support of the bill in both chambers and joined with coalition partners to submit a letter to Governor Newsom to encourage his signing.
Electronic Licenses Authorized for Delaware’s Sportsmen and Women in Caucus-Sponsored Bill
- On September 30, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor John Carney signed House Bill 218 (HB 218), a sporting license modernization bill, into law.
- HB 218 was authored by Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative William Carson and co-sponsored by Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Jeff Spiegelman and Senators Bruce Ennis and Brian Pettyjohn.
- HB 218 modernizes hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses, as well as waterfowl and trout stamps, to allow for digital formats to serve as proof of license ownership, should a sportsman or woman be required to “present such license upon request to any person empowered to arrest for violations of the game and fish laws.”
Why it Matters: Delaware has a rich hunting, fishing, and trapping community that is deeply embedded in the state’s traditions and history. The Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus has fought ardently to pass pro-sportsmen legislation and defeat efforts that would otherwise limit the rights of sportsmen and women within the First State. One of the greatest successes this year was the passage of House Bill 218, legislation that modernizes licenses for Delaware sportsmen and women. With the 2021-2022 hunting season upon us, this bill will expand the options sportsmen and women have in order to be compliant with license requirements.
On September 30, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor John Carney signed House Bill 218 (HB 218) into law, allowing for Delaware’s sportsmen and women to utilize a digital format for proof of possession of their hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and stamps. The modern reporting method, which applies to all licenses and stamps, comes as a welcome advancement for hunters, anglers, and trappers who will no longer have to carry a printed version of their licenses on their person. The bill also gives the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control the ability to set the application requirements for digital stamps, providing increased flexibility in adapting, rather than being subjected to statutory guidelines.
HB 218 is the culmination of a bipartisan effort from the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. HB 218 was authored by Caucus Co-Chair Representative William Carson, and co-sponsored by the other three Caucus Co-Chairs – Representative Jeff Spiegelman, Senator Brian Pettyjohn, and Senator Bruce Ennis. HB 218 was passed unanimously in both chambers, highlighting the collective nature of this license modernization effort and exemplifying a strong understanding of the importance of updating methods in which sportsmen and women may carry their hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus’ leadership and GSC member Governor Carney for their continued efforts towards ensuring that sporting licenses and stamps remain current with the growth of technology in the 21st century.
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