Saturday was National Hunting and Fishing Day.
This holiday, which shares a date with National Public Lands Day, brings together national, state and local organizations across the country to offer an events that help the public appreciate outdoor recreation and raise awareness of conservation issues. While we just missed the celebration, here are some interesting and fun facts about National Hunting and Fishing Day.
First: National Hunting and Fishing Day was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972 who wrote: “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”
Second: National Hunting and Fishing Day is celebrated on the fourth Saturday every September.
Third: National Hunting and Fishing Day’s official home is at Johnny Morris’ (founder of Bass Pro Shops) Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Mo. I have been to this museum many times over the years. It is quite something to see. All of us sportsmen, women and children should be grateful to Johnny and Bass Pro Shops for their many years of support.
Fourth: Hunting and fishing support more than 680,000 U.S. jobs.
Fifth: Participation in hunting has dropped by about two million people in just five years, while angling participation has grown, particularly by women entering the sport. So, celebrating hunting and fishing opportunities is more important than ever.
Closer to home in Cody, there is proof of the importance of the way sportsmen and government partner together to improve and enhance the outdoor experience. Since this is a fishing column, I will deal with projects you may or may not be familiar with that have benefited not just sportsmen but also fisheries and wildlife in Park County.
Leadership in the East Yellowstone Trout Unlimited Chapter and Cody Anglers Group put together a working task force in the fall of 2019 to deal with rising water levels at West and East Newton lakes. Anglers and recreational users who are nonanglers but still outdoor enthusiasts were losing parking space on both lakes due to rising water levels. Concerns about loss of access to these two lakes that are on Bureau of Reclamation land led to a coalition and partnership with Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the BuRec.
These government entities worked with each other to develop and create a new public parking area for both lakes that would reduce conflicts between anglers and nonangler water users. More importantly, the newly designed parking area is well above the current high-water mark and should remain that way until glaciers melt worldwide in the future. The new parking lot is being built, if not finished, by the time you read this.
The new parking will also stop habitat damage that was occurring because people were parking wherever they found room from spring until September, since both lakes’ water levels had risen to the point that former parking lots, picnic areas, restrooms and boat launch areas were under water. This collaborative effort with manpower supplied by the two local angling groups, G&F and Bureau of Reclamation personnel is a perfect example of what former President Nixon had in mind when National Hunting and Fishing Day was signed into law 48 years ago this month.
The next time you are enjoying West or East Newton, give a silent shout-out to those individuals and government employees who believe keeping recreational access and resources are important.
To those who worked hard to make this happen, I thank you sincerely for the time, labor, effort and monetary expenditures on behalf of the public. If you know those who contributed, thank them personally. I am sure they would like some positive feedback. We are all in the outdoor industry together, whether as individuals or as businesses that are yoked to the enjoyment of nature’s resources.