Category Archives: Congressional Support

OCF in DC for Great Lakes Day 2016

OCF president Matt Misicka and vice president Stefan Marsh traveled to the nation’s Capitol  February 23-25, 2016 to work alongside conservation colleagues from across the region, like Ducks Unlimited, the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, and the Healing Our Waters Coalition, on Great Lakes’ issues important to Ohio’s sportsmen and women.

Of key concern was the need to re-authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This program fund projects in five focus areas: toxic substances and areas of concern; invasive species; nearshore health and nonpoint source pollution; habitat and wildlife protection and restoration; accountability, education, monitoring, evaluation, communication and partnerships.  Recent studies by the Brookings Institute and the Trust for Public Lands suggest that for every dollar invested in conservation, four dollars are returned over a ten year period.  Try to top that investment in the stock market!

Protecting the conservation programs in the Farm Bill and creating a coordinator for Harmful Algal Blooms were also part of the messaging.  With so many efforts underway to better understand, predict, and prevent harmful algal blooms, a central command in the form of a HAB Coordinator could facilitate communications and sharing of information amongst researchers, field personnel, policy makers, and the public.

And, never far from the conversation was the need to stop Asian Carp from making further headway towards our Great Lakes. Impeding the spread of this piscine scourge will minimize deleterious impacts on our lakes, protecting the economy and our sporting heritage.  We urged our elected representatives to work quickly and fully fund an array of efforts to further prevent the spread of invasive species from the Mississippi basin into our Great Lakes.

Between Matt and Stefan, eleven Ohio congressional offices and both senate offices were engaged over the two very full days.  It was especially nice to meet and work with Senator Portman’s new legislative director, Patrick Orth, and to get to spend an evening with old friend and fellow hunter and angler Jared Mott, the Northeast-Midwest Institute’s Mississippi River Basin Program Coordinator.

 

OCF Welcomes the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s New Midwestern States Coordinator: Kyle Rorah

20 September, 2014

This past Friday and Saturday, Kyle Rorah, the new Midwestern States Coordinator for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, met with OCF members, DOW brass, and Ohio Sportsmen’s Caucus Chair Senator Joe Uecker.

Founded in 1989, CSF’s mission is to, “work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping.” 

As part of this mission, Kyle will be working closely with sportsmen, conservationists, industry, ODNR staff, and elected officials to promote lines of communication, build momentum, and establish more regular interactions between stakeholders.

To get him started, OCF Vice President Matt Misicka and Kyle met with DOW Chief Scott Zody for an hour on Friday afternoon.  Afterwards, Kyle went on to meet with representatives of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and ended the day with a conference call with Senator Joe Uecker.

On Saturday, Kyle joined OCF’s Policy Director Steve Gray and representatives of Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Ohio State Trappers, the Ohio Wildlife Council, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition at the USSA’s 2014 Rally at the Aladdin Shrine Temple.  Good conversation followed good food and an opportunity to meet allies like the Mitchells from the League of Ohio Sportsmen, DOW Asst Chief Dave Lane and District Manager Korey Brown, and fellow sportsmen like Central Ohio Anglers & Hunters Club President Bill Otis and Past-President Scott Popplewell, to name just a few.

Today, more than 300 U.S. Senators and Representatives are caucus members. Our very own Congressman Bob Latta is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.  Ohio’s members include: John Boehner (R, Dist-8), Bob Gibbs (R, Dist-7), Bill Johnson (R, Dist-6), Jim Jordan (R, Dist-4), David Joyce (R, Dist-14), Tim Ryan (D, Dist-13), Steve Stivers (R, Dist-15), Pat Tiberi (R, Dist-12), Brad Wenstrup (R, Dist-2), and Senator Rob Portman (R).

Ohio’s Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus leadership includes Chair Senator Joe Uecker (R, Dist-14), Senator Lou Gentile (D, Dist-30), Representative Nick Barborak (D, Dist-5), and Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R, Dist-86).

You can learn much more about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation at: http://www.sportsmenslink.org.

Kyle, born and raised in that-state-up-north and a graduate of the same, is an avid hunter and angler.  After graduate school at Bards College in New York, he set his sights on tackling the best hunting, fishing and trapping states in America: Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, M!ch!gan, Minnesota, North and South Dakota.

We wish Kyle great success in his important endeavors and look forward to working with him and the CSF on behalf of hunters, anglers, and trappers in the future!

OCF wishes LWCF a happy 50th birthday… and many more….

September 3rd marks the anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act into Law.    In 1964, this piece of legislation was the culmination of a bipartisan effort aimed at recognizing the value of America’s parks, forests and wildlife refuges as a sound, sustainable financial investment in our future.

LWCF takes a small percentage of the revenues generated by off-shore oil and gas leases and invests that revenue back into outdoor recreation in the form of 3:1 matching funds for projects as varied as public hunting lands and boat ramps, to public tennis courts and swimming pools.

Ohio has benefitted mightily over the years to the tune of $325M since 1964.  LWCF funded projects have included the Ottawa NWR, Cuyahoga Valley NP, Wayne NF, and boating access on the Little Miami River to name just a few.  On tap for 2015 the Divisions of Parks and Forestry are working with partners like The Nature Conservancy, the American Discovery Trail Society, and the Buckeye Trail Association to purchase nearly 800 acres of inholdings in the Shawnee State Forest.  These parcels will be added to Ohio’s working forests; reducing management expenses, supporting sustainable forestry practices, protecting threatened and endangered species, providing public access to hunting, and protecting watersheds.

Now five decades later, Congress is being asked to permanently re-authorize an honestly budgeted LWCF with no less than 1.5 percent of annual LWCF funding directed towards “making public lands public” for the benefit of sportsmen trying to access ever-more-isolated public lands.

This week, OCF’s board voted to sign on to a letter to Senator Rob Portman, thanking him for his support of LWCF in 2012 and again urging him to support SB 338 later this year or early next.

Coming soon, we’ll post a copy of the letter here on our website.  In the meantime, you can learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund at www.lwcfcoalition.org.  For a listing of projects carried out in Ohio, visit the National Parks website at http://waso-lwcf.ncrc.nps.gov/public/index.cfm.

OCF’s 2014 Initiatives to Protect Ohio Water Quality and Promote Habitat Conservation Programs are central in response to recent HAB on Lake Erie.

August 2014

In light of the recent Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie’s Western Basin that prompted a drinking water ban for more than 300,000 residents of the Toledo area, OCF submitted letters to our Governor, Senators, several members of Congress, and the Directors of Ohio’s departments of Natural Resources, EPA and Agriculture.

The letters urge the recipients to do all they can to fully initiate the land use changes and conservation practices, many of which are already in place, to help protect the ecosystem and drinking water from further degradation.  Specifically, the letter focuses attention on the value of collaborations between government agencies, conservation organizations, and landowners and more fully funding the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

The full text of the letter sent to Governor Kasich can be viewed by clicking here.

 

Proponent Testimony Submitted for Non-Res Hunting Fee Increase

8 May 2014

Ohio Statehouse, Senate Finance Committee

Today, alongside Adam Wright & Tony Celebrezze (USSA), Larry Mitchell (LOOS), Dan Schneider & Roger Burns (PF), Vicki Mountz, and DOW Chief Scott Zody, I spent the morning at the state house prepared to give proponent testimony supporting DOW’s proposed increase to Non-Resident Hunting Licenses and the creation of a Non-Resident Deer permit.  While I have given opponent testimony on the House side before, I had never given proponent testimony or presented before a senate committee.  As we learned today, unlike a house hearing where one can walk-in, sign-in, and present, it takes pre-registration with the Committee chair’s office at least 24 hours in advance.  You learn something new everyday!  I was able to submit a written copy of the testimony below for the record.

To:          The Honorable Senator Scott Oelslager, Chair, Ohio Senate Finance Committee, MBR Appropriations – 2nd Hearing – Proponent

From:   Ohio Conservation Federation

Re:          Support for Proposed Increase to Non-Resident Hunting Fees (HB 483)

Dear Senators,

Ohio’s reputation for trophy-class white-tailed deer hunting has the Buckeye State regarded nationally as a Top Ten deer-hunting destination, annually selling 38,000 hunting licenses and 41,000 deer permits to non-residents.  Long considered an undervalued state when it comes to charging non-residents to hunt whitetails, the Ohio Conservation Federation’s membership, including the Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, and Pheasants Forever, supports the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ proposed modest, non-punitive fee increase for non-residents, with revenues intended to take fullest advantage of available Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Funding.

The proposed increase from $149 to $250 for a Non-Resident hunting license plus a Non-Resident either sex deer permit would move Ohio from 35th to 17th nationally in costs to hunt deer. Even with the proposed increase, Ohio remains an attractive destination, well below the average of the Top Ten deer-hunting states ($400). As part of ODNR’s commitment to increase youth participation in outdoor recreation, the proposed increase does not include a change to the price of licenses for non-resident youth.

Conservatively, even in the unlikely event of a 10-20% decrease in non-resident hunters, revenue is expected to increase by an estimated $3-3.5 million.  The funds from the fee increase will help the Division of Wildlife (DOW) meet the 25% state match requirements, ensuring that we are better able to leverage increasing P-R funding. The additional funds will help the DOW maintain current service levels to both resident and non-resident hunters, anglers and trappers as well as attract new potential customers by improving recruitment, retention and re-activation of sportsmen and women.

Currently, the DOW is in the design phase of a multi-year grant to relocate the Delaware Shooting Range, a fully eligible P-R project with an estimated $5 million total budget ($3.8m P-R share). While there are also plans to improve and develop shooting and archery ranges across the state, a wide variety of other critical projects exist including habitat maintenance & restoration, wildlife research, survey & inventory, facilities operation & development, and hunter education.  In each of these cases, timing and success are dependent upon the availability of cash to match.  The fee increase proposed in the MBR legislation HB 483 is critical to DOW’s ability to successfully carry out these projects in a timely manner.  To the benefit of Ohio’s outdoor heritage, its resident sportsmen and women, and non-resident guests, OCF urges the Ohio Senate to ensure the non-resident license fee increases remain intact in HB 483.

Sincerely,

Matt Misicka