Good News: More Americans Are Fishing

A recent report released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) revealed that more people are discovering and participating in fishing. The report notes findings from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and Outdoor Foundation.

Per USFWS findings, there was a 1.79 percent uptick in fishing license sales last year. In fact, the 10-year change in fishing license sales is up 4.26 percent overall, marking a third consecutive year in sales increase after sluggish sales over the last couple of years.

Per the Outdoor Foundation, fishing –whether freshwater, saltwater, or fly fishing–is the third most popular outdoor activity enjoyed by youths. This includes 19.5% of youth ages six to 24, or 15.6 million participants. With respect to overall participation of youths from ages 6 to 24, fishing had the third highest frequency of outing,–averaging 16.1 outings per fishing participants, or 251.4 million total outings. For adults aged 25 and over, fishing is the second most popular outdoor activity including 14.6% of adults, or 31.5 million participants. Like the youth demographic, the adult demographic determined fishing to be the third activity with respect to frequency of participation–40.1 average outings per fishing participant, or 627.9 million total outings.

Here are some other highlights from the Outdoor Foundation’s report:

  • Fly fishing participation increased 9.8 percent over the last three years.
  • Freshwater fishing participation increased 0.9 percent over the last three years.
  • Saltwater fishing participation increased 4.0 percent over the last three years.

June 3-11, 2017, marks the annual National Fishing and Boating Week, in which states offer weekends of free fishing opportunities. To learn more about this annual celebration, visit TakeMeFishing.org.

Over 100 Recreational Leaders Praise Interior Secretary Zinke for Promoting True Conservation

Over 100 executives respresenting recreational groups have praised Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s leadership at his respective department. In an ad printed in the Wall Street Journal, the executives had this to say about Zinke’s leadership.

“In his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump is setting an agenda to emphasize and prioritize outdoor recreation on federal lands, highlighted by selecting former Montana Con- gressman Ryan Zinke as Secretary to lead the Department of the Interior and donating his first quarter salary to the National Park Service,” the letter said.

It added, “The President’s proposals open the door for greater access to public lands for recreation and increased investment to overcome some $20 billion in deferred maintenance – something prior Administrations of both parties have not resolved.”

“The outdoor recreation industry is also en- couraged by the President’s willingness to tackle America’s long-term infrastructure challenges. His promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure initiative will increase access to the nation’s rec- reation lands through better bridges, roads, waterways, and restored infrastructure within our nation’s parks. Furthermore, visitors would realize vastly improved connectivity, which will boost outdoor safety and enjoyment.”

The letter’s signees represent most sectors of the outdoor recreation industry, which is appraised at $887 billion in worth. The activities they represent include fishing, shooting sports, hunting, archery, camping, marine, motorcycle, powersports, hospitality and recreation vehicle usage.

The executives comprise the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, which aims to expand recreational opportunities and subsequent enjoyment on all federal lands and waters. Here’s their full list of goals:

  • Identify and promote recreation business champions to be appointed/nominated to the Trump Administration.
  • Remove barriers from establishing public-private partnerships as entrepreneurial mechanisms for addressing deferred maintenance, including modernizing campgrounds on federal lands to better fit the needs of current and next-generation campers/RVers.
  • Work with Congress to include a recreation title in the forthcoming “Infrastructure Bill” and other legislation to address various recreation infrastructure issues.
  • Promote tax reform to support and grow the outdoor recreation industry.
  • Identify onerous regulations and remove policy barriers that are negatively affecting outdoor recreation businesses and consumers.
  • Fast track the implementation of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act to ensure the primary drivers of the outdoor recreation economy across the U.S. are recognized.
  • Prioritize federal agency budgets on recreation-related infrastructure improvement, because outdoor recreation is the largest driver of economic activity on federal lands.
  • Develop and deploy a digital information strategy for outdoor recreation on federal lands, including increased Wi-Fi coverage and easy-to-use apps to book campground/RV sites.
  • Change the mindset of federal agencies so recreational access and high-quality visitor experiences are prioritized.

As I’ve written before, it’s encouraging to see someone like Zinke at the helms of this department. Not only is he making it more accountable and efficient, it’s returning DOI to its true conservation roots. I’ll continue to follow DOI developments and write about them here at The Resurgent.

NEW: Will Gander Mountain Survive Post-Bankruptcy?

Marcus Lemons of CNBC’s “The Profit” — who controls Camping World Holdings — has bought 17 of 162 Gander Mountain stores. His company won the bid in late April to buy Gander Mountain, which is a competitor of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.

The St. Paul, MN-based outdoor retailer hasn’t had the best year thus far. In March, the company announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It originally planned to close 32 stores across 11 states. In late April, Gander Mountain was bought out by Camping World–which has plans to close more of its stores. Lemonis said he plans to liquidate most of their fishing, hunting, and firearms inventory:

Lemonis also said Camping World intends to “refine the inventory selection” – which would seem to mean less hunting, fishing and guns, particularly since the bankruptcy plan indicates that much of the inventory will be liquidated.

And yet, he intends to keep some of the gunsmiths:

Lemonis also noted that he planned to keep Gander Mountain’s gunsmiths — even though much of the gun inventory is apparently being sold off — and will add “more specialists.” And he posted that he wants to keep the company’s headquarters in St. Paul, but looks to be angling for a better real estate deal. (Gander Mountain’s current lease runs through 2020.)

Some attribute to dwindling gun sales. Others say Gander’s lackluster customer service and reputation put it in its current situation–especially from competitors from Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas along with Internet sales. Many have said they won’t miss Gander Mountain if it were to crumble. Ouch.

Gander’s fate is on the table. I’ve had a generally positive experience with Gander Mountain here in Northern Virginia, but also am easily enticed by Bass Pro Shops (the closest being in Baltimore an hour away) and Cabela’s (45 minutes away from me in Gainesville, VA). But given the majority of feedback about the company, many won’t miss it and will accordingly take their business elsewhere.

What do you think about this purchase? What will come about from Gander Mountain? Stay tuned…

Interior Department is Correct: Antiquities Act Should be Modernized

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his review of national monument designations created since January 1, 1996, yesterday –including those national monuments designated under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

Zinke said President Trump authorized him to review any national monument created since this date, which spans at least 100,000 acres. The Interior Secretary says the goal of this review is to “to make sure the people have a voice” over lands that have the highest level of protection from the federal government. The review is expected to be conducted over the course of 45 days.

This move comes after the last administration’s controversial designation of Bears Ears National Monument last December in Utah, which was unanimously opposed by all Republican lawmakers–both federal and local–in the state. Here were Senator Mike Lee’s thoughts on this controversial designation of Bears Ears National Monument from December:

 

During a White House press briefing, Zinke said “The 45-day review is pretty much centered on Bears Ears because that is the most current one.” The report is expected to be completed within 120 days, he said.

Zinke added, “It restores the trust between local communities and Washington.” The review of the two dozen or so monuments aims “to give Americans a voice and make sure their voices are heard,” he said.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to make any designation of national monuments with regards to historic preservation policy. Regardless of your take on public lands, which is very convoluted and multifaceted, one thing is for certain: this law needs to be overhauled and modernized. Here’s the gist of it:

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fied unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

Here’s how social media weighed in on this move:

Zinke believes this review of the Antiquities Act is necessary as his predecessors at Interior stretched it too far to prevent development on millions of acres near land and sea. He believes the law was also abused to cut off access to public lands to anglers, hunters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“By and large, the Antiquities Act and the monuments that we’ve protected have done a great service to the public,” he said, although Western state residents “would probably say it’s abused. My position is, I’m going to be looking into it and evaluating it on a legal basis.”

“I think the concern I have and the president has is when a monument is designated, the community should have a voice,” Zinke added. “I am not going to predispose what any outcome will be. I am going to talk to congressional delegations as I review the list, talk to governors, stakeholders involved and formulate recommendations that are appropriate.”

Why shouldn’t citizens have a say over the designation of national monuments in their backyards? Big government coming in and usurping lands with minimal to no public input–which they ultimately forbid hunting, fishing, and hiking on–should anger true conservationists. How can lands be public if the public is refused a voice ? Zinke recognizes the problem with preservation and has instead ushered in a return to true conservation.

Before the fear mongering starts to set in, let’s see what Secretary Ryan Zinke comes up with. He’s not going to sell off all public lands for oil and gas exploration. He’s not going to abuse his privileges. He’s actually offering to be transparent–a key facet absent in his predecessors. To keep public lands truly public, allowing input from those who’ll be impacted by such national monument designations is important. I welcome the improvement and modernization of the Antiquities Act of 1906 and hope you will too.

 

Hunting Groups Applaud Law to Undo Regulations on Alaska Wildlife Management

President Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 into law, which undid an onerous law forbidding any hunting on lands that fall under the purview of the National Wildlife Refuge System in Alaska. Here’s more on the legislation:

This joint resolution nullifies the rule finalized by the Department of the Interior on August 5, 2016, relating to non-subsistence takings of wildlife and public participation and closure procedures on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.

The Senate and House of Representatives previously passed the joint resolution with votes of 52 to 47 and 225 to 193, respectively. The former version passed on March 21st, 2017, while the latter version passed on February 16, 2017. Here’s some more clarification on the legislation:

The FWS rule underlying H.J. Res. 69 was finalized on August 5, 2016. It argued that Alaska’s wildlife management practices had begun to deviate from federal policies and therefore would be preempted in various respects.
Highlighting the political nature of the rule, however, was the involvement of the anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States, which ran typically hyperbolic television ads falsely claiming that its repeal would allow for inhumane forms of taking bears and wolves.
The basic point of contention, however, was whether local Alaskan wildlife management authorities or the federal government should ultimately be responsible for setting policy on fish and wildlife management on National Wildlife Refuges within Alaska’s borders.
 Here’s how true conservationists reacted on social media:

Not surprisingly, the Sierra Club screamed bloody murder in response to this resolution being signed into law:

Now hunters can kill grizzlies and wolves on Alaska’s wildlife refuges, including mother grizzlies with their cubs, and wolves with their pups in their dens. State wildlife officials can even shoot at grizzly bears from helicopters (Sarah Palin, eat your grizzly-mama heart out).

Here’s how radical environmentalists and their surrogates responded:

https://twitter.com/AlongsideWild/status/847231209381928960

Nobody is intent on killing bear cubs. This talking point is pure propaganda. Those very acts are heavily discouraged and frowned upon in the hunting community, as young wildlife are usually off-limits.

Perhaps it’s time for state wildlife management entities to take in the reigns from the federal government, no? Tell us how you feel and whether this is good or bad legislation.

 

Virginia Company Aims to Increase Access to Great Outdoors

What happens when you marry love of the outdoors with a touch of Airbnb? You get companies like Outdoor Access, the Richmond, VA-based company all anglers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts should familiarize themselves with.

Outdoor Access, Inc., is an online marketplace for fishing and hunting properties that launched last September. Their goal? To make the outdoors more accessible and affordable for outdoor enthusiasts–especially those with kids. They work closely with private land owners to showcase and rent out their properties. Despite launching in September, the company is seeing immense success with their intended audiences.

This is a new avenue in the outdoor industry that hasn’t been done before. With the rise of the gig economy and ride-sharing, companies like Outdoor Access should be welcomed with open arms.

In an exclusive interview with The Resurgent – with video to be published shortly – co-owner Buck Robinson said his company is all about affording choice and opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

“In our model, landowners are able to make their properties available on a fractional basis for a day, a weekend, or a week for any variety of outdoor recreation,” Robinson said.

The East Coast doesn’t have much of public lands like the Western United States does. Recognizing this, Buck and his team realized why not make extend access to outdoor opportunities through a service like theirs?

“Sometimes the public option is not exactly the ideal outdoor experience,” Robinson said.  “We wanted to create a platform that utilized private land but also doesn’t require you to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a traditional club or something along those lines.”

Even Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe recognized Outdoor Access, Inc.:

Robinson said the goal of Outdoor Access is to provide an immediate clearinghouse to find properties. The company, he said, has immediate plans to expand to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and even as far south as Florida. Their goal is to be national within a few years.

Members must submit to a comprehensive background check before using the platform. Below is a sampling of their prices (screen shotted for you from their website):

 

Memberships are valued at $9.99/month and $99.00/year. Additional charges for property rentals may apply but average about $35 for daily use. How about that? Time in the outdoors at a reasonable cost–something our readers will enjoy discovering.

Stay tuned for our exclusive video with Outdoor Access’ Buck Robinson to learn more about this great new online marketplace. In the meantime, follow Outdoor Access, Inc. on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

New Interior Secretary Zinke is Off to Good Start

Former Montana Congressman and Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the 52nd Secretary of Interior last week. Not only does his selection fare well for the department, it’s quite historic. He’s the first Montanan to serve in the post.

Zinke marked his first day, March 2nd, on the job by riding a horse alongside nine U.S. Park Police to his new office. Below are some tweets commemorating the occasion:

He even boldly declared that he’ll make his department the best governmental department.

Also on his first day at the Department of Interior, Zinke signed two secretarial order to expanding access to public lands and increase hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities on public lands –especially to undue Order 219, the last-mine ban on lead tackle and ammunition on U.S. Fish & Wildlife public lands.

“Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy. Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Zinke in a press release. “Over the past eight years however, hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board. It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite. This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community’s voice is heard.”

Here’s more on the secretarial orders:

Secretarial Order No. 3346 overturns the recent ban of lead ammunition and fish tackle used on Fish and Wildlife Service lands, waters, and facilities. The order highlights the need for additional review and consultation with local stakeholders.

Secretarial Order No. 3347 advances conservation stewardship, improves game and habitat management, and increases outdoor recreation opportunities by directing bureaus and agencies to immediately identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded. The order also requests input from the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to provide recommendations on enhancing and expanding access on public lands and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

Zinke was joined by some of leaders of the country’s foremost hunting and fishing groups when he signed these secretarial orders:

Zinke is expected to restore balance between economic development and preservation of nature to his department. What a refreshing start! We’ll be watching what goes on and wish Zinke success.