A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
About 2 million people hunt, fish and trap in the state, ranking New York third in the nation in the number of sportsmen and women obtaining licenses and permits.
Local communities and the state benefit economically from the license sales and associated activity.
In fact, consumer spending on outdoor sports totaled more than $5 billion in 2011, the last year data was available.
This includes nearly $1.9 billion that was spent on trip-related purchases including transportation, food and lodging.
In addition to benefiting our communities economically, there is something to be said about the deeply rooted traditions of hunting, fishing and outdoor sports in our communities.
Several years ago I chaired the Assembly Republican Hunting and Fishing Task Force.
During that time, the task force traveled across the state, holding forums and listening to sportsmen and women.
One the primary goals of the task force was to examine how the state could encourage new opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor sports and it was determined that engaging youth was key to its growth.
One solution that came out of this task force was to lower the hunting age, which we were successful in doing.
Another recommendation that came from the task force was to teach kids about hunting, fishing and trapping and other outdoor sports activities in physical education classes.
Since that time, I have sponsored legislation that would instruct the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to work with the Board of Regents to develop an educational program that local school districts could choose to offer relating to hunting, fishing and outdoor education.
During that unit, kids could learn how to obtain a hunting or fishing license, guidelines and courses necessary to being safe and the different seasons for hunting, fishing or trapping for our many species among other things.
This could lead to discussions about our state’s natural habitat, wildlife and even help draw attention to our rich history of hunting and trapping which dates back the fur trade era.
If kids are provided the facts about how outdoor sports are managed and given some basic history and guidelines, it could encourage them to try it.
There are a number of schools and teachers that currently incorporate outdoor sports in the classroom and it has been met with success – particularly in communities where hunting and fishing and outdoor sports are valued.
If more schools had access to such curriculum, then perhaps more schools would offer this type of unit for their students.
I look forward to reintroducing this legislation again this year.
The measure has passed the Senate twice and I will continue to work to gain legislative support with my colleagues in the Assembly.
To learn more about outdoor recreation, visit www.dec.ny.gov.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You also can friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.