The Courier » Take action to protect parks and prevent poachers

Take action to protect parks and prevent poachers

After 52 years of conservation and recreation success, America’s most important conservation and recreation program, which has saved places in nearly every state and county in the United States, will expire Sept. 30 without action from Congress.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a federal program established in 1965 to provide funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water, along with easements on land and water for the benefit of us all.

The main emphases are recreation and the protection of national natural treasures in the forms of parks and protected forest and wildlife areas. It has a broad-based coalition of support and oversight, including the National Parks Conservation Association, Environment America, the Wilderness Society, the Land Trust Alliance, and the Nature Conservancy.

The fund’s primary source of money comes from fees paid to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement by companies drilling offshore for oil and gas. Additional sources of income include the sale of surplus federal real estate and taxes on motorboat fuel.

In Ohio, LWCF has invested more than $330 million to protect outdoor places and historic sites, increase sportsmen’s access, and to build close-to-home parks. From national parks and forests to ball fields and community parks, LWCF has protected Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, Wayne National Forest, Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest, and Little Beaver Creek State Wild and Scenic River.

Closer to home, LWCF has been used in Hancock County at Benton Ridge Park, Findlay Reservoir area, Van Buren State Park, Mount Blanchard’s Island Park, Eagle Creek Park tennis courts, Oxbow Bend activity center, Findlay’s Riverside Park, McComb’s Cloe Greiner Park, Arlington and Mount Blanchard pools, Firestine and Swale parks, and Oakwoods Nature Preserve “¦ just to name a few.

Ohio’s $24.3 billion outdoor recreation industry is an economic powerhouse supporting 215,000 jobs that generate $7 billion in wages and salaries while producing $1.5 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.

The LWCF is a vital program to millions of Americans across the country. Local communities, businesses and constituents need the certainty that it will remain a robust and flexible set of conservation tools for future generations. Consider lending your voice to maintain this important commitment to our land and water, our wildlife, our history and our way of life.

You can easily inform your U.S. senators and representatives by visiting www.lwcfcoalition.com and clicking the “Take Action” link that directs you to the “sign-on” letter that will be appropriately directed.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” — Aldo Leopold

Along the way:

Sportsmen and women are a passionate lot who have strong opinions as to what they believe. Do you doubt me? Find a raccoon hunter and just tell them why the worst Walker hound is better than any black and tan that’s ever lived. Or explain to a huntress buying a camo jacket that you don’t think the softer sex has the stomach to “really” go hunting. Hope you escape in one piece.

One of the universal beliefs all these sportsmen-conservationists share without argument is that they don’t like cheaters. They look at poachers as game thieves who not only rob honest hunters and fishermen of a fair and equitable chance at a legal harvest, but who also sully the very sport and the reputations of legal participants.

Ohio’s Turn In a Poacher (TIP) program has been around for a long time, encouraging anyone with suspicions of wildlife crimes to call and report any incidents (800-POACHER). The call can remain anonymous and rewards are offered.

They often work with their national counterpart, International Wildlife Crimestoppers (IWC). Its mission statement is simple: “We Are Dedicated to Stopping ALL Poaching.”

IWC is a nonprofit membership organization created by wildlife resource officers dedicated to reducing the illegal taking of the world’s fish and wildlife resources through the global exchange of information with anti-poaching organizations.

They strategically partner with organizations that support sustainable use of our natural resources. They provide public education on the difference between sustainable use and poaching, creating a force multiplier for law enforcement charged with protecting the world’s natural resources.

As a nonprofit corporation, IWC does not receive any state, federal or international funding and depends solely on financial support from memberships, public and corporate donations, as well as private and individual donations.

Would you like to support this worthwhile organization and have a little fun while you’re at it? On Saturday, July 21, Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club will be hosting a sporting clays fundraiser shoot to support this important organization’s work.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Twelve- and 20-gauge ammunition will be provided, as will your lunch. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams and a Lewis Class scoring system will also be used with a 100-bird spread. Raffles and shooting games will add to the fun.

The entry fees are: team of four is $800; individual is $200; youth team of four (17 and under) is $400.

Individuals may also consider helping to sponsor the event. There are three levels of sponsorship:

• Station Sponsor: $250, includes name/logo recognition on a prominent station sign.

• 20-Gauge Sponsor: $1000, includes name/logo recognition on a banner in the main area, four-person team, recognition during the awards ceremony, logo/name on printed materials at the event.

• 12-Gauge Sponsor: $2000, includes name/logo recognition on a banner in the main area, two four-person teams, transportation provided (John Deere Gator/Kubota RTV, based on availability), recognition during the awards ceremony, logo/name on printed materials at the event.

Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club is located at 4146 Klopfenstein Road, Bucyrus, and is owned by Sam and Peg Ballou. Give them a hand in helping protect our wildlife resources.

For information about the July 21 event, contact Ron Ollis at 419-569-4074 or ro@stopallpoaching.org. You can also enter yourself, a team or add a sponsorship by visiting www.wildlifecrimestoppers.org.

“There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.” — J.C. Watts

Step outside:

• Tomorrow: 3-D mixed animal archery match, registration opens 8 a.m., Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact Harold Spence at 419-423-9861.

• Tomorrow: Air gun field target shoot, Wyandot County Coon Hunters, 12759 Township Highway 133, Nevada 44848. This shoot is free and open to the public, so bring friends and family to check out what air guns are all about. Contact rogersgunshop@live.com or call 419-458-0001 for information.

• Tomorrow: International Defensive Pistol Association shoot, 9 a.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.



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