Author Topic: Express-Times Article  (Read 7597 times)

apmaurosr

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Express-Times Article
« on: October 15, 2007, 03:12:17 AM »
Thanks to Mark Demko for the coverage at Express-Times

Ant
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http://www.pennlive.com/columns/expresstimes/demko/index.ssf?/bas ...

Political action committee supports N.J. outdoorsmen
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sportsmen and women in New Jersey who are concerned about legislative attacks on the fishing, hunting and trapping heritage of their state will be pleased to know they now have an organization dedicated to working with political officials to ensure that heritage continues for generations to come.

The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), which was formed in August, is a political action committee (PAC) focused on helping elect political candidates who are supportive of the outdoor pursuits.

The organization was created after the introduction of two bills, Assembly Bill 3275, sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Panter (D-12, Mercer and Monmouth counties) and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-14 Mercer and Middlesex counties), and Senate Bill 2041, sponsored by Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-12).

Both bills threaten to radically change the makeup of the state's Fish and Game Council and would prohibit the consideration of managing fish and game for the purposes of recreation and food, a move that is seen by the majority of sportsmen as an attempt to severely curtail or even end hunting, fishing and trapping in the state.

The first bill has already passed through a committee and is awaiting the vote of the full assembly. That bill, as with the Senate bill, would reduce the number of members on the Fish and Game Council from 11 to seven and make all council members gubernatorial appointments selected with input from the senate.

No provisions were made in either bill to include any sportsmen on the council. In addition, the bills would direct the council to explore non-lethal means of managing wildlife populations.

"The integrity of the Fish and Game Council (would be) compromised in that any senator can have anybody they want on there," said NJOA chairman Anthony P. Mauro Sr. "The fear among outdoors people is that (this) could certainly allow, very easily, anti-hunters or those that have an agenda that are not conventionally conservationists to get on there and, without having the knowledge of conservation, could compromise the ecosystem because they don't have that conservation background."

Mauro said the overall mission of the NJOA is to advance and defend hunting, fishing and trapping in the state.

"We want to enhance and protect the outdoor heritage that we have in New Jersey and get outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen more knowledgeable about the practice of scientific management of fish and wildlife," Mauro said. "We also want to start to guard against these legal and legislative assaults on our outdoor heritage.

"We intend to support legislators who are like-minded and also hope to get people like them, candidates or legislators, to advance the legislation that will endorse or promote the outdoor experience."

The reason that the time has come for a PAC is that most sportsmen's groups are nonprofit organizations that can't legally participate in election campaigns or endorse candidates, for risk of losing their nonprofit status. The NJOA, which as a PAC is allowed to support campaigns, plans to back candidates throughout the state who are pro-hunting, fishing and trapping. The organization is encouraging sportsmen to get out and vote for those candidates as well.

Although the organization is only two months old, support for NJOA has been growing rapidly, with donations coming in from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.

"It has been overwhelmingly favorable. I think that we really touched a nerve," Mauro said. "I think that this is something that people have been looking for, but no one had been doing and no one knew how to start it (and) organize it."

According to Mauro, the introduction of both bills marked the first time that he has seen anglers, hunters and trappers so united toward a common purpose and trying to change the political landscape in the state.

"These bills were like the last straw. Once we unified, and once people knew what our mission was, it just kind of grew from there," Mauro said. "They're actually carrying us on their shoulders."

If a person is interested in supporting the NJOA, the organization is accepting donations that will go toward helping it achieve its mission and working to defeat the bills.

There are also opportunities for people to volunteer their time and talents to the organization. Sportsmen are being encouraged to contact their legislators to let them know they oppose the bills.

To learn more about the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and its mission, visit www.njoutdooralliance.org.

Mark Demko can be reached by e-mail at sports@express-times.com.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2007, 03:44:22 PM by Meadowmucker »