Last week, eight BHA “boots on the ground” volunteers and four staff descended upon Washington, DC. While most of you were chasing grouse, scouting, or stalking a big bull, twelve dedicated individuals took their boots to the halls of congress exemplifying our grassroots, public land hunting and angling philosophy. Our smash up team included: Bob Mirasole (WA), Brian Jennings (OR), Derek Farr (ID), Chris Mero (NV), Jay Banta (UT), Jerry Egge (WY), Oscar Simpson (NM), Sean Clarkson (MD), Erik Jensen (MN), Tim Brass (CO), and Caitlin Twohig and me from MT.
After dinner on Monday night at the nostalgic Old Ebbit’s Grill and an hour briefing the following day, we had 20 meetings on the hill. Day two was just a bit lighter with 15 meetings. We educated on behalf of full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the difference between the House and Senate versions of the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act. Both solidify hunting and fishing as a priority in US Fish and Wild Service, US Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management land use management plans which we support. In short, the House version contains provisions that attack the Wilderness Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The Senate version does not. BHA supports the Senate version. Not much is moving in congress, but we wanted to make sure folks knew where BHA stood and if legislation starts to move, we have laid the groundwork. We also wanted to make this a watershed moment in DC for BHA, we accomplished both. In addition to meetings on the hill, we also had very productive meetings with the Department of Interior staff and potential funders.
John Gale, a BHA board member was able to partake in the trip and said the following “I witnessed a unique reaction to BHA’s presence in DC that surprised even me. Having lived there for many years, I can say I’ve seen and conducted my fair share of fly-ins but never were there so many great member meetings with so many new credible and authentic voices. I remained in DC through the end of the week on other business and I’m happy to report that there was a buzz on the Hill well after BHA folks were back in their planes heading home. Offices were talking about it in really fantastic ways as were key folks in the administration.”
The buzz from our visit is barely wearing off as we prepare to engage further.
A big thank you to our volunteers who made this all happen. We will pass our backcountry heritage on to the next generation! Stay tuned to learn how you can help.
If you want to see this kind of DC interaction again, please donate on our BHA website: your generosity will be greatly appreciated and will allow BHA to continue to be a conservation force to be reckoned with!
Onward and Upward,
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
PO Box 9257
Missoula, MT 59807