ShareThis Page
Sports

Will conservation's single voice make a lot of noise?

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010

There's an effort underway to give conservation a single voice in Harrisburg.

But will it work?

The group Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, or PennFuture, has created a new initiative called the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition. It is an attempt to join sportsmen and environmentalists into "a unified voice about state government policies that address fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife, habitat conservation, outdoor recreation and other sportsmen's concerns," reads its website .

The challenge will be getting the environmental and sportsmen's organizations together. Historically, they've sometimes failed to cooperate, and, at times, been on opposite sides of issues, admitted Coalition coordinator Ed Boito.

The hope is that the Coalition — membership into which is free — can bridge that gap, he said.

"There's some distrust by both parties," Boito said. "However, when you can sit down at a table and spend an inordinate amount of time not on what you disagree on but what you agree on, that's where strength comes from. There's a lot of middle ground in there."

As an example, the Coalition might be willing to support hunting and fishing license fee increases — something some sportsmen's groups have pushed for — in the future, Boito said.

Similar coalitions have been put together in seven other states, he noted. They've grown large — Georgia's has more than 26,000 members — and had some political success.

At least some sportsmen have been slow to embrace the Coalition here, though.

Representatives of the 100,000-member Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, the state's largest group of its kind, and other hunting and fishing groups attended meetings held to organize the Coalition. None has yet joined as a group, however.

"There might be certain issues we will certainly work together on, but we didn't want to be a full-fledged member," said Federation president Ted Onufrak.

In the bigger picture, meanwhile, sportsmen are without a full-time representative working on hunting and fishing issues at the state Capital.

The Federation's previous executive director, Melody Zullinger, filled that role for years before leaving months ago. She has not yet been replaced, though Onufrak said the goal is to do so "eventually."

No other hunting or fishing group in the state has a full-time representative either, though some — like the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, in a newsletter this summer — have identified that as a need.

That's why why the Coalition — which attracted a little less than 100 members in its first two weeks of existence — is so important, Boito said.

"The whole purpose is to get sportsmen involved in the political process to work toward protecting our natural resources," he said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me