MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus on Wednesday held its third annual luncheon on the State Capitol front lawn, celebrating and advancing one of the Yellowhammer State’s most important economic engines.
The luncheon perfectly captured the essence of what it means to be an Alabama sportsman, bringing that outdoorsman vibe directly to the Capitol so legislators could walk across from the State House during the busy legislative day.
Doing so allowed the state’s outdoor recreation community to come together with pro-sportsmen elected officials to highlight the crucial role hunters and anglers play as the driving force behind conservation. The luncheon also honored the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and all they do for the industry, which garners the state of Alabama a $14.8 billion economic impact from hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.
This amounts to 135,000 Alabama jobs stemming from hunting and fishing.
Fifteen different organizations hosted displays to represent their organizations, programs and policies at the luncheon, including: DCNR, National Wild Turkey Federation, Coastal Conservation Association, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation/Alabama Sportsmen’s Caucus, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Hunting Works for Alabama, Renew Our Rivers, Polaris, Alabama Black Belt Adventures, University of Montevallo Outdoors Scholars, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences/Wildlife Enterprise Management, American Kennel Club, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Alabama Bass Trail, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association and USDA-APHIS.
Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) attended the luncheon and blessed the food.
“As someone who built my business career in the hunting and fishing industry in Alabama, I’m a firsthand witness to the vital role it plays in Alabama’s economy,” Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News.
He continued, “The outdoor sporting opportunities that our state offers attract tourists from around the globe, pump billions of dollars into our economy, and directly employ roughly 135,000 of our fellow Alabamians. I’m proud to stand with the Alabama Sportsmen’s Caucus and the work it does to promote, preserve, and protect our proud hunting and fishing heritage for future generations.”
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) attended, as did Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), who addressed the large crowd in attendance. Marsh is the Senate chairman of the Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
State Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens), the House chairman of the Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, also addressed the crowd.
He later told Yellowhammer News, “The Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus continues to establish itself as a formal entity within the statehouse. I am honored to serve as the Chairman in the House and look forward to the continued growth of the caucus as we provide a voice for sportsmen in the statehouse as well as provide education and information to legislators on issues important to sportsmen and women.”
DCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship visited with the crowd throughout the event, also speaking from the podium at one point.
“Hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation are true economic drivers for the state of Alabama,” Blankenship told Yellowhammer News. “From the Gulf Coast, through the Black Belt to North Alabama, our state is blessed with abundant natural resources.”
“ADCNR is proud to support the annual Sportsmen’s Caucus Luncheon and appreciates the commitment to conservation exhibited by the various groups in attendance. We are excited to see the recent growth of the Sportsmen’s Caucus and look forward to continuing to work with them on issues impacting our natural resources,” he concluded.
What is the caucus?
The Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus was formed on April 22nd, 2009 with the help of many organizations in the sportsmen’s community.
The caucus has become rejuvenated in recent years and continues to grow in size and functionality each year. It is currently comprised of 80 members but expects to have over 100 state legislators signed on before the 2019 regular session ends.
Crawford is the House chairman, while that chamber’s vice chairman is State Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) and executive committee contains State Reps. Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley), Rodney Sullivan (R-Northport) and Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn).
Marsh is the Senate chairman, while that body’s vice chairman is State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville).
The caucus exists to educate and inform legislators about sportsmen’s issues; protect and advance the traditional rights of Alabama’s citizens to hunt, fish, and pursue outdoor activities; recognize the importance of hunting, angling, outdoor activities, and our natural resources to our state’s and nation’s economy and support the maintenance and growth of outdoor-related industries and activities; support efforts to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife habitat; ensure that Alabama’s sportsmen and women have reasonable access to public lands to enjoy outdoor pursuits; and protect the investment of sportsmen and women in wildlife and fisheries management by safeguarding the integrity of the American System of Conservation Funding.
The Alabama Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus is part of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC).
NASC is a network of state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses that began in 2004 and is staffed through the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). CSF works on the federal and state level to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping.
Currently, 49 state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses (and over 2,000 state legislators across the country) are united under the NASC umbrella.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn