We couldn’t agree more.
From Syracuse.com Letters to the Editor, December 3, 2014
Hunters, fishermen, and trappers are solid conservationists, supporting policies that are good for wildlife. They also play a significant role in the Upstate economy. Sportsmen and women spent $4.95 billion on hunting and fishing in New York in 2011, generating $623 million in state and local taxes. In total, 2.11 million people hunted or fished in New York in 2011, and those sportsmen and women support more than 56,000 jobs in the state.
Hunting and fishing are also part of our local tradition and as longtime members of local hunting and fishing clubs, and now leaders in the Onondaga and Oswego County federations for outdoor sports enthusiasts, we want to make sure those traditions remain strong.
Sadly, sportsmen and women are facing a growing challenge created by the current plan for managing the water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
The current plan, developed in 1958, has stifled the ebb and flow of water levels, degrading the habitats where sport fish like northern pike and waterfowl live and spawn and reducing their numbers. The pike population alone is down 70 percent.
When fish and waterfowl disappear, opportunities to hunt and fish are lost. Sportsmen and women follow, taking their spending power with them.
If we continue down this path, the future looks bleak – not only for the wildlife of the shoreline, but also for those of us who care so deeply about hunting and fishing and those who rely on it for an income.
Fortunately, there is an alternative to this path of depleted populations and dispersing sportsmen. A water management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence is currently awaiting approval by the Federal Government. Plan 2014, as it’s called, would allow the water levels in the lake and the river to fluctuate more naturally, while avoiding extreme highs and lows.
This would revitalize critical habitats and help to grow the populations of fish and waterfowl that draw sportsmen to our region. It would generate an additional $9.1 million in annual economic value from hunting, angling and wildlife viewing.
Plan 2014 is the product of decades of study, public hearings and input from small businesses, community leaders, residents and sportsmen like us.
The federal government has a rare opportunity to rewrite the fate of our waterways and ensure a stronger future for hunting and fishing in New York. By approving Plan 2014 immediately, the federal government could set in motion a chain reaction that puts habitats on a path toward recovery and reinvigorates an economy that relies on sportsmen and women.
We have a rich history of living connected to the natural environment. Along with all the benefits we receive -clean drinking water, food, fresh air, and recreational opportunities, to name a few -comes a great responsibility to protect what we’ve inherited and preserve it for future generations. Rarely does an opportunity come along to make such a significant change that will benefit people and the environment. It’s time to implement Plan 2014.
President of the New York State Conservation Council
President of the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs