Editor’s note: Today’s editorial was written by State Sen. Deak Takko. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
Saturday, Sept. 22, is our nation’s 46th annual National Hunting and Fishing Day. As a co-chair of the Washington Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and a member of the 48-state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, I am proud to celebrate the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling. I’m also pleased to recognize the historical and ongoing contributions of our state’s original conservationists – sportsmen and women.
Washington’s hunters and anglers are the major source of conservation funding for the Evergreen 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 Washington and across the United States through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays public benefits” system. Last year alone, this system contributed $22.2 million while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional approximate $43.9 million to fund state conservation efforts through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. All Washingtonians 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 Washington fish and wildlife projects funded through this system.
Hunting and angling are also significant economic drivers for our state. Washington’s sportsmen and women spend over $1.6 billion per year on outdoor pursuits, annually supporting over 21,800 jobs in the state and contributing approximately $159 million in state and local taxes.
Hunting produces countless benefits for our state’s conservation funding and economy, therefore it is important that Washington’s sportsmen and women invest time and effort to encourage future participation in these time-honored traditions. This effort to increase hunter participation is called R3 — Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation. Over 450 individual R3 programs nationwide have had regional success, including Washington Fish and Wildlife’s hunter education deferral program. These programs, as well as many others, need your support and it’s going to take the involvement of every Washington hunter and angler, regardless of age, to ensure the future of the outdoor pursuits we celebrate on National Hunting and Fishing Day. Our hunting and angling heritage should not be taken for granted, and getting the next generation of Washington’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 or on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website at www.congressionalsportsmen.org/policies/state/national-hunting-and-fishing-day.