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In an age of computers, cell phone, video games and other devices, today’s youth are losing their connection to the outdoors and America’s hunting and fishing heritage. While part of that is due to technological advancements, dwindling public access has also played a significant role.
A few decades ago, it wasn’t hard to gain access to private land for hunting and fishing. Sadly, much of that land has been transformed into subdivisions, highways, factory farms and shopping centers, and private landowners have become more protective of their remaining parcels.
Studies show that loss of access is the number one problem facing hunting. And the impact of that loss trickles down from adults to youth. Active participation in hunting and fishing as an adult is directly related to active participation as a youth. When adults give up the sports due to lack of access, they’re much less likely to pass those traditions on to their children.
Some people question why the declining number of hunters and anglers is a big deal. What they may not realize is that, through a 10-12 percent excise tax, hunters and anglers generate billions of dollars toward fish and wildlife habitat. With no alternative funding system for conservation in place, the loss of hunting and fishing in America would be devastating to maintaining habitat critical for healthy fish and game.
The future of hunting and fishing in the U.S. depends upon the commitment of future generations to these traditional fish and wildlife activities. And with more than six million AFL-CIO union sportsmen and sportswomen across North America, we believe there’s no better group to unite for the cause.
That’s why we, union sportsmen and women of the USA, have focused our conservation efforts into three key areas:
- Educate future generations of sportsmen and women
- Conserve healthy fish and wildlife habitat
- Volunteer time and skills to projects that improve access to quality places to hunt, fish and shoot
Together, we will confront the challenges facing our outdoor sporting heritage and reconnect future generations with the age old pastimes of hunting and fishing.
For more than two centuries, American workers and sportsmen-conservationists often traveled and toiled along parallel tracks as they worked to improve their lives, the lives of their fellow citizens and the state of the nation. At times, these parallel tracks intersected. That’s no surprise given their shared interests in the well-being of America’s fish, wildlife and the lands and waters that support us all as well as the fact that a high percentage of working people are avid hunters and anglers who love to be outdoors when they’re not at work.
Our country’s greatest challenges have always brought forth the best examples of the American spirit with citizens joining together for the greater good. In today’s difficult economic situation, the time has come for the parallel tracks of union members and sportsmen to once again align.
Now is the time for every working person, but especially union members who understand the power of working together, to volunteer their energy and skills to help put this country back on track.
Recognizing this need, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance launched its conservation program, bringing together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access, wildlife habitat and outdoor experiences for communities across America. USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.