With all the noise these days about controversial regulations and oppressive gun laws, it's easy to overlook a serious challenge facing all sportsmen of NYS: recruitment. Many suburban and city kids these days are not exposed to hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities the way many of us were. But I just learned about a well-traveled bill that seeks to address this challenge.

Sponsored by New York State Senator Thomas O'Mara, Senate Bill 1625 would allow high school students interested in outdoor education to request that their school, as part of the existing physical education curriculum, offer instruction in hunting, fishing and outdoor education. contributor Connor Donovan (shown above) grew up hunting and fishing. Outdoor Education in our schools could expose more young people to the outdoors.

Under the bill, the state Education Department will work in consultation with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the curriculum, envisioned to be consistent with many of the education and safety courses the DEC currently requires for license applicants.  Components of the curriculum will include:

  •     instruction on the state’s various hunting and fishing seasons

  •     wildlife conservation

  •     the how-to of obtaining licenses

  •     safety and conservation rules and regulations

  •     regional and statewide opportunities

  •     the history, as well as the cultural and economic benefits, of outdoor recreation in New York State.

"It's a great opportunity to introduce students to our time-honored pastimes and traditions and, on a personal note, we’re extremely fortunate to offer great hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions I represent, including a network of parks and trails that's second to none," said Senator Tom O'Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), who chairs the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and is an avid fisherman.  "These activities offer opportunities that can help bring families together, strengthen the foundation of our tourism-based economies, and enhance appreciation for the outdoors and environmental conservation."

The Senator's office has informed that this legislation has been introduced and approved by the Senate in various forms over the years, but it has never been acted on by the Assembly Democratic leadership.  "We still encounter resistance, mostly from New York City-based legislators, who simply don't understand how hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation is so firmly woven into the fabric of and benefits the upstate, rural culture and economy."

That contribution to New York's economy is staggering. Hunting and sport fishing combines for nearly $4 billion of economic activity and supports approximately 47,000 jobs statewide.

Senator O'Mara may be reached via his State Senate page  or his Facebook page.


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