Since its inception in the early 1900s, the North American model of conservation has been based on the idea that federal and state governments would provide the funding, the labor, and the promotion and advocacy for hunting and fishing in our society. Billions of dollars are generated and spent each year by the federal government and the states to support hunting and fishing. But the landscape has changed.
A century ago, there were almost no not-for-profit, private-sector organizations working on behalf of those who hunt, fish or work to conserve and manage land. This has change. Non-profit, non-governmental conservation have repeatedly proved their ability to effectively design, implement and maintain large-scale conservation programs and projects. Meantime the funding of hunting and fishing in America remains largely driven by the federal government. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are expended annually on conservation through a complex series of federal agencies and programs. These funding sources face an uncertain future.
We believe that conservation programs – especially those funded by taxpayer dollars – can and must be made more efficient, more accountable, and oriented towards results. They should take advantage of the best management practices and embrace public/private partnerships for maximum efficiency.
The need is great, and the timing is imperative if we are to secure the future of hunting, and fishing and wildlife management in America.
The federally driven model is not designed to recognize the opportunities public/private relationships offer. It is based upon the foundation that more Americans will go hunting and fishing, thereby providing more revenue and political influence. Just the opposite is our future.
New sportsmen and -women are not emerging in great numbers from our increasingly urban society. Current hunters and anglers are aging, suggesting there will be a dramatic decline in the numbers of those who hunt and fish. If this happens, the impact on hunting, fishing and wildlife management will be severe as those programs heavily on license fees and excise taxes on sporting equipment and firearms.
Meantime, federal and state lands are less and less likely to be managed in a manner that provides for quality hunting and fishing experiences. The resources for such purposes are already inadequate, and less funding is projected for future. Efficiencies must be found to avert a further erosion of management.
But we also firmly believe that the past is mere prologue. We do not assign blame. A system largely designed before the evolution of the modern conservation era can be improved to meet current and future needs. McGraw is determined to find those improvements.