Sporting Conservation Council appointed to advise the Dept of the Interior

March 23, 2006
For Immediate Release

Norton Names 12 To New Sporting Conservation Council; Will Advise Interior On Hunting, Wildlife Resource Issues

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today announced the creation of a new Sporting Conservation Council that will advise the Department of the Interior on resource conservation issues of interest to the hunting community. Norton also named the initial members who will represent various parts of the community.

The council will provide important input in the areas of habitat restoration and protection; the impact of energy development on wildlife resources; forest and rangeland health; hunting access to federal lands; and other issues in which the sporting and conservation community can provide a valuable perspective to resource managers and senior leaders throughout the department.

Norton made the announcement at the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Columbus. “Dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, hunters have been the pillar of conservation in America, doing more than anyone to conserve wildlife and its habitat,” Norton said. “This new advisory council will provide a formal mechanism for the department to benefit from the expertise of sportsmen and –women as well as become aware of their concerns as we develop federal policies.”

Click on the "Read More..." link below for a list of Council members appointed by Norton, and for commentary by Larry S. Moore.

Norton noted that sportsmen and –women have contributed billions of dollars in license fees, excise taxes and conservation stamp revenues to finance federal and state wildlife conservation efforts, including the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

“Many hunters also volunteer countless hours for conservation causes and raise additional money for habitat improvements and acquisitions across the country,” she said. “The creation of this council recognizes their vital contribution to our nation’s conservation ethic. It is a way of institutionalizing the role of sportsmen and -women in advising the decision-making process at Interior.”

The panel, whose members will serve two-year terms without compensation, is to meet at least twice a year. Members may recommend policies or programs designed to maintain or restore wetlands, forest and rangeland habitats, as well as policies or programs that promote access to hunting and recreation on federal lands.

The council will also advise the Interior Secretary about wildlife conservation endeavors that benefit hunting and wildlife resources and that encourage partnerships among members of the public, the sportsmen-conservation community, wildlife conservation groups and state and federal governments.

Norton said that a careful appraisal determined that no other entities exist that adequately represent the views of the hunting and conservation communities, and she therefore deemed it worthwhile to create the council under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

Support services for the activities of the council will be provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Click here for a list of Council members appointed by Norton.

Commentary by Larry S. Moore:
This is fantastic news for conservation and for the millions of sportsmen and women across the United States. It is great news because it re-affirms the US Fish and Wildlife Service commitment to sportsmen. The announcement gives credit where credit is due for conservation in the United States. That is since the creation of the modern conservation movement by Teddy Roosevelt, hunters, trappers and fishermen have led the way and provided the funding for wildlife conservation and restoration.

Sportsmen and women contribute millions of dollars to state wildlife agencies through purchase of hunting, fishing, trapping license and other permits. Additional monies are generated through Pittman-Robertson act which levies a tax at the manufacturing level on hunting, camping, archery equipment and ammunition, plus the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fishing Restoration Act which levies a similar tax on fishing related goods.

But sportsmen don't stop there. We join organizations such as those listed in the article. Our memberships, and our participation in various banquets, contribute even more money to conservation. These organizations join with wildlife agencies, such as the Ohio Division of Wildlife, for research work, restoration of habitat, and purchasing public lands for all recreational users.

Through my writing career, I've had the opportunity to meet several of the individuals listed below. I know they are amongst the finest sportsmen and women in our country. I am thankful the Bush Administration and Interior Secretary Gale Norton has created this esteemed panel to represent sportsmen from across the United States and recognize the sportsmen partnership in conservation. It gives sportsmen another voice not only in conservation efforts but in the continuing fight to maintain access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and trapping.

I give a tip of my old outdoor hat and a big thank-you to Secretary Norton.

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