Last weekend an event was held at Stonewall Resort State Park. It was West Virginia’s
Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The event is the largest outdoor hunting and fishing show in the state, with approximately 100 vendors exhibiting hunting, fishing and conservation-related merchandise and information.
The event was sponsored by our WVDNR and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation.
We all know that the heritage and traditions of hunting and fishing run deep throughout the hills of West Virginia and for many of our people it’s simply their preference to live connected to the natural world through being active participants in wildlife conservation. And I am glad we set a day to celebrate it every year. It is a very important part of our history and culture.
I was reminded by a note the other day from John Culclasure from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, just how much our state’s hunters and anglers contribute to wildlife conservation. According to his note drafted by co-chairs of the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, a group of like-minded legislators committed to protecting West Virginia’s hunting and fishing traditions, West Virginia hunters and anglers are the primary source of conservation funding for the Mountain State.
Through the purchase of licenses, tags and stamps, and by paying self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other equipment, hunters and anglers drive conservation funding in West Virginia and the United States, through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays public benefits” system.
Last year alone, this system contributed $11.61 million, while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $15.44 million to fund state conservation efforts through the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
All West Virginians benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting ranges, improved soil and water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research, private and public habitat management, hunter education, boat access area construction and many other West Virginia Division of Natural Resources projects funded through this System.
Hunting and angling are also a significant economic driver for our state. West Virginia sportsmen and women spend more than $870 million per year on their outdoor pursuits, supporting 12,585 jobs in the state and contributing $81 million in state and local taxes.
Hunting produces countless benefits for our state’s conservation funding and economy, Therefore it is important that West Virginia sportsmen and women invest time and effort to encourage future participation in these time-honored traditions. This effort to increase hunter participation is called recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3).
More than 450 individual R3 programs nationwide have had regional success. These programs need your support and it’s going to take the involvement of every West Virginia hunter, regardless of age, to ensure the future of the outdoor pursuits we celebrate on NHFD. Our hunting and angling heritage should not be taken for granted, and getting the next generation of West Virginia’s sportsmen and women involved in the outdoors will help ensure the conservation of our abundant natural resources for the future.
More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at www.NHFDay.org and on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website at www.congressionalsportsmen.org/policies/state/national-hunting-and-fishing-day
Chris Ellis of Fayetteville, W.Va., an outdoorsman and Marshall University graduate, is owner of Ellis Communications, a public relations agency serving the outdoor industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.