Author: Patrick Durkin
ATA vice president and chief conservation officer Dan Forster is one of 18 advisers appointed to the newly created Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council, whose members were announced in late May by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The Conservation Council was established in January to advise Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on policies for managing the nation’s wildlife and diverse habitats. The Council’s 18 members and 11 alternates are tasked with examining ways agencies can partner with public and private sectors to benefit wildlife resources, and recreational hunting and the shooting sports.
Zinke said the appointments include some of nation’s best conservationists. He said they fit Teddy Roosevelt’s definition of the American conservation ethic, which demands the best science, best practices and greatest good for the longest terms possible.
“These sportsmen carry on the American conservation ethic in the modern day,” Zinke said. “Bringing these experts together will be a key to ensuring the American traditions of hunting and shooting, as well as the conservation benefits of these practices.”
Matt Kormann, ATA CEO/president, is confident Forster will do a good job representing the archery/bowhunting industry on the Council. “This is a great opportunity for our sports and the entire industry to strengthen the nation’s publicly funded conservation programs,” Kormann said. “Dan will do a great job working with the many wildlife organizations and shooting organizations on the Council. Public-private partnerships like the Conservation Council form the foundation of our strong hunting and sport-shooting traditions.”
Zinke expects the Council to make recommendations to the Interior and Agriculture secretaries on policies and programs that …
“Secretary Zinke is very interested in curbing downward trends in hunting participation, and boosting participation in the shooting sports,” Forster said. “He knows all about the important role that hunting plays in wildlife management, and the vital contributions that hunting and the shooting sports make to the U.S. economy. He wants to stimulate and harness the many communal interests those two sectors share.” Photo Credit: Shannon Rikard.
- Conserve and restore wetlands, forests, grasslands, rangeland and agricultural lands.
- Promote opportunities and expand access to hunting and shooting sports on public and private lands.
- Encourage hunting and shooting safety by developing ranges on public lands.
- Recruit and retain new shooters and hunters.
- Increase public awareness about wildlife conservation, and the social and economic benefits of hunting and shooting.
- Coordinate efforts among the public-hunting and shooting-sports communities, as well as between wildlife conservation groups and state, tribal, territorial and federal governments.
Forster said he’s intrigued by the Council’s strategic mission and flattered to be working alongside groups like Ducks Unlimited, the Boone and Crockett Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, National Rifle Association and several others.
“I think the group’s depth and expertise show that Secretary Zinke has his ear to the ground regarding conservation and the shooting sports,” Forster said. “These are experienced partners who know what’s going on out there on the landscape, and they know how to leverage their assets to achieve meaningful, long-term goals. For his part, Secretary Zinke is very interested in working with the private sector to improve the nation’s wildlife-management programs. He’s also well aware of the challenges facing our industry, and he’s very interested in helping us solve those problems.”
Forster said the Council will hold its first meeting July 11 in Washington, D.C., and plans to meet at least twice annually. He also expects the Council to break into committees that meet regularly to address specific issues such as hunting participation.
“Secretary Zinke is very interested in curbing downward trends in hunting participation, and boosting participation in the shooting sports,” Forster said. “He knows all about the important role that hunting plays in wildlife management, and the vital contributions that hunting and the shooting sports make to the U.S. economy. He wants to stimulate and harness the many communal interests those two sectors share.”
The Council is strictly advisory to the Interior and Agriculture secretaries, but its duties require making recommendations for implementing executive orders that create hunting heritage and wildlife conservation programs; secretarial orders that enhance conservation stewardship and outdoor recreation; and secretarial orders that enhance hunting, fishing, shooting and wildlife conservation opportunities while working with states, tribes and territories.
“It’s an honor to be part of something that will help shape the future of hunting and the shooting sports,” Forster said. “I’ve been very encouraged by Secretary Zinke’s focus on increasing hunting opportunities on our public lands. I’m confident our group will come up with some strong recommendations, and that Secretary Zinke and the administration will try their best to implement them.”
Others participating in the Council include representatives from Delta Waterfowl, Crossroads Strategies, Bass Pro Shops, Hunters’ Leadership Forum, Pac/West Communications, Penobscot Indian Nation, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, National Wild Sheep Foundation, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.