The Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) joined 56 conservation organizations across the US in asking the Trump administration to include sportsmen’s outdoor infrastructure in Trump’s infrastructure package. Written on behalf of outdoor enthusiasts numbering in the millions, the letter thanked President Trump for his commitment to America’s sportsmen and women. It also applauded the nominations of Rep. Ryan Zinke as secretary of interior and Gov. Sonny Perdue as secretary of agriculture. Both are sportsmen who understand our nation’s conservation heritage. The letter describes an opportunity for the Trump administration to advance three campaign promises — creating American jobs, revitalizing rural America, and honoring the conservation legacy of Theodore Roosevelt — simultaneously.
America’s outdoor economy is one of the strongest facets of our nation’s economy generating more than $646 billion in annual economic benefit, supporting 6.1 million jobs, and attracting more than 140 million participants including nearly 40 million hunters and anglers. In Arkansas, $10 billion is spent yearly to enjoy the outdoors according to the Outdoor Industry Association. The Arkansas outdoor recreation industry supports 126,000 Arkansas jobs, supplies $2.9 billion in wages, and $696 million in state and local tax revenue. This robust outdoor economy depends upon healthy and accessible public lands, clean water, clean air, and abundant wildlife populations. Arkansas, as well as the rest of the US, would benefit from outdoor infrastructure funding. Investment in restoration projects at the state level would drive non-regulatory collaboration to save at-risk wildlife avoiding expensive regulatory and litigation actions taken through the Endangered Species Act. Investing in restoration would also create jobs and strengthen America’s economy.
Advancing bipartisan sportsman legislation would expand hunting and fishing access and create jobs by implementing key on-the-ground conservation and natural infrastructure projects through the North American Wetland Conservation Act, National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, and a modernized Land and Water Conservation Fund. Sportsman legislation as a bipartisan solution is needed to address the fire funding crisis, improve wildlife habitat restoration, timber yields, and recreational opportunities.
During his confirmation hearing, Rep. Zinke discussed a significant maintenance backlog for our federal public lands and tribal lands. In 2014 AWF and two affiliates, Friends of Delaware Park and Friends of Cane Creek Park, rallied to keep two US Corps of Engineers parks along the Arkansas River open to the public. Both parks were scheduled to be closed because of maintenance budget cutbacks. Sportsman infrastructure legislation would address maintenance backlog and create tens of thousands of jobs.
With Trump’s infrastructure package and bipartisan support we can maximize economic growth while restoring fish and wildlife populations, expanding access to public lands, ensuring clean air and water, and creating more outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans.
The Arkansas Wildlife Federation, the oldest conservation organization in Arkansas, advocates for the sustainable use of Arkansas’ wildlife habitats and natural resources for future generations. To view the Sportsmen’s Outdoor Infrastructure Letter in its entirety, donate to AWF, or to become an AWF member, visit the Arkansas Wildlife Federation’s website at www.arwild.org.