The 21st Century Conservationist Approach

By: Chad A. Rischar

Let’s go ahead and air out a singular issue that effects the 21st century conservation approach, the public is a fickle mistress. Working forward, we must accept that the public is hell-bent on recreational public outrage, most notably when the keyboard is involved. Let’s set aside the “fickle” aspect and come to terms with what appears to be constant reality- conservation values are often viewed in a negative perspective. Conservation values are quite subjective, so I’ll qualify my definition for the record. Conservation, as it relates to this post, is grounded in wanderlust, an educated framework of desired future outcome, and simply a mindset of a multi-generational vision of quality fish and wildlife habitat. If you didn’t experience wanderlust at a young age, I invite you to make room in your soul and schedule for the next chance to experience waderlust- if only for a weekend. Conservation is what you endow to achieve and the general plight to realize success for generations in the womb of time. Conservation should be considered a long-term approach to land stewardship, natural resource management, and equitable sustainability.

Conservation is just as simple as voting. Those that participate in the process are ultimately engaged in the final results. Sorting through random issues of politics often results in a sour palate. Such the same with conservation practices and values. The struggle is quite real and palatable. Let’s collectively overcome those hurdles, and move forward with an individualized approach to 21st century conservation values. Conservation is bi-partisan and should be accepted as an economic gain. No shortage of GDP and eco-tourism data to support the commentary. The economic value of the outdoor industry is a substantial and sustainable source of our gross domestic product. Don’t just take it from me, research the value of the outdoor industry from sources such as the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).

Why is conservation viewed in a seemingly negative light? It’s quite frustrating because it should be a copper grounded for folks engaged in the outdoor lifestyle. Not just hunting and angling, but stargazing, mountain biking, backpacking, and anyone who simply enjoys the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. If you enjoy vistas of glacier till mountains, longleaf pine flatwoods, or water scoured creeks- this concept of conservation resonates. I invite you to become engaged in the conservation movement and thread your personal needle of success. The majority of folks I spend time with enjoy their time in the field viewing natural landscapes, pursuing fish and game, recreational fitness challenges, and simply unwinding from the daily grind.

Education and awareness is undoubtedly the initial plunge to success. Choose a pathway of conservation wisely and a corridor that suits your personality. Research local non-governmental organizations, national conservation groups, and everything inside the pie of engagement. Set a personal goal to be a more informed and participate organizations that you believe add value to your thread and nodes of conservation. Consider stepping outside your comfort zone a touch and perhaps realize that you’ll dial in on your tribe of like-minded folks. If you’re not making an effort to conserve future access and outdoor opportunities, you’re basking in the principle of neutrality. We must all allocate the time and resources to progress the mutual gain of conservation values. If our society wishes to enjoy the pleasures of public lands and access to the capacity we do today, we must be proactive and vocalize our resounding message of conservation.

Self education and a focused awareness of conservation are valuable approaches to engaging with conservation values. Several noteworthy congressional acts are important to be aware of, especially as it relates to context of funding sources in the firearm, hunting, and angling sphere. The following congressional acts are commonly viewed as “ use knows”. The Land and Water Conservation Fund established by Congress in 1964 is a powerful program that provides substantial funding opportunities both locally and nationwide. The Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 is an 11% excise tax on firearms, archery equipment, and ammunition. The taxes generated are directed from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Secretary of the Interior and apportioned to States on a formula basis for paying up to 75 percent of the cost approved projects. The extensive list of successful projects and immense funding to support hunting, firearm safety courses, and land acquisition projects, etc. is vast and impressive. If the aquatic lifestyle resonates with your lifestyle, the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 provides Federal aid to the States for management and restoration of fish having “material value in connection with sport or recreation in the marine and/or fresh waters of the United States.” In addition, amendments to the Act provide funds to the states for aquatic education, wetlands restoration, boat safety and clean vessel sanitation devices (pumpouts), and a nontrailerable boat program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Digest website maintains a digital and searchable catalogue for relatable Federal laws and acts.

Define and determine your conservation approach and spread the good word. I invite you to conduct your own research and become aware of national, state, and local policies that may affect your conservation values- both positively and negatively. Be mindful that supporting what you determine to be valuable conservation-relaated issues can often result in a more powerful outcome that recreational public outrage through social media outlets.

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