There are, of course, many pressing issues as voters begin casting their ballots for the 2020 elections. But as sportsmen and sportswomen, we have a responsibility to make informed decisions about who will best steward our land, water, fisheries, and wildlife.
Here are 10 questions that can help you find out where your federal candidates stand on conservation and why you should ask them.
Do you believe that climate change is a threat? If so, how do you plan to address it?
This is a critical question because sportsmen and women are on the front lines of climate change, witnessing impacts on our nation’s fish, wildlife, and habitat. And policymakers are integral to pushing bipartisan solutions to address these effects on our hunting and fishing opportunities.
Do you support investing in conservation as a way to get Americans back to work?
The COVID pandemic has hit our economy hard, and there are many creative ways to employ workers and spur economic growth. Investments in conservation are a win-win for jobs and the outdoors.
What will you do to increase participation in hunting and fishing?
Hunters and anglers pay for conservation through our gear and license purchases. When fewer people hunt and fish, investments in conservation drop off too. So, decision-makers who care about conservation funding will have a plan for recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and anglers.
How would you use the Farm Bill to incentivize landowners to be even better stewards of the land?
The Farm Bill makes major investments in private land conservation. The next five-year bill will provide a golden opportunity to restore habitat and support the wildlife that we love.
How will you enhance public access to hunting and fishing opportunities?
There are 16.25 million acres of inaccessible public land across 18 U.S. states. These places could be home to your next outdoor adventure, but you can’t get to them. These lands belong to all of us, and hunters and anglers shouldn’t be missing out because access policies aren’t being improved.
Do you believe that chronic wasting disease threatens the future of deer hunting? If so, what steps would you take to address it?
Chronic wasting disease has spread rapidly among wild deer and elk populations, particularly in the last ten years, with positive cases now found in 26 states. This disease is 100 percent fatal, manifests slowly, and can remain in an infected environment for years.
What can you do to restore habitat connectivity and conserve migration corridors?
Animals big and small—from grizzly bears to bog turtles and elk and deer to salamanders—all —need to move between their seasonal ranges. But migrating through human-altered landscapes isn’t always easy. There are many barriers that threaten this habitat and these habitats and migratory species .
What steps would you take to ensure that headwater streams and wetlands are protected?
Clean, productive wetlands and headwater streams are important for everyone, but essential for hunters and anglers. Not only do they provide habitat for fish and wildlife, these waters and wetlands also reduce flooding, filter pollution, and recharge aquifers that provide drinking water. Recent rule changes threaten these protections.
What is your plan for improving the marine fisheries ecosystem and recreational fishing?
Changing water temperatures, ocean acidification, human development, habitat loss, and overfishing of forage fish all threaten our marine fisheries ecosystem and the $125 billion recreational fishing economy.
How will you strengthen the nation’s $778-billion outdoor recreation economy?
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that our nation’s outdoor recreation economy is a major job creator and contributor to the U.S. gross domestic product. By supporting outdoor recreation businesses and conservation work that creates more hunting and fishing opportunities, we can help pull our nation out of this economic downturn.
Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management