Sunday, February 4, 2018

Illinois Legislator Pledge for the Outdoors

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To all Illinois Legislators, 
For far too long hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts have been put on the back burner by our legislators. The lack of funding within the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has put a strain on our state parks, conservation efforts and our ability to grow as an industry.

We are not going to point fingers at who is to blame. Why? Because Illinois' Natural Resources are enjoyed by all of Illinois' constitutes; Republicans and Democrats; all races, all genders and all religions. If we sit here and blame each other, nothing will be solved. We are taking a stand to inform you, our legislators, during this election cycle, that we are no longer sitting idly by. We are sick of the excuses that we have heard for over a decade and we want action!
We understand that our state is in the red when it comes to finances and there is no easy solution to get us out of it. We have heard over and over again that there is no funding available to the IDNR and we understand the politics that come into play when allocating funds. For example, Agriculture, Human Services, Pensions, Transportation and the list goes on. There is no easy fix to this budget crisis, however your constitutes that hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors are apprehensive about the future of our state's natural resources.

Legislators need to look at the IDNR as an investment decision, not an overnight solution. Just look at these two areas in Illinois; Lake Shelbyville and Rend Lake. These are two areas that have an abundance of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreational opportunities that are not living up to their potential. Don't just take our word for it, talk to the legislators that represent these areas to see what our state is missing out on.

Current and past Directors of the IDNR can only do some much with the inadequate funding that you as legislators give them. Doing more with less only gets you so far.

It's time to capitalize on what Illinois can offer the nation. We are home to Lake Michigan, the Mississippi River, the Illinois River and hundreds of lakes and other tributaries, you as legislators don't take advantage of. By investing in our state parks, our fisheries and our wildlife management you can increase tourism and economic development by bringing hunters, anglers, bird watchers and the like from other states. These are hunters that will hunt on our land, anglers who will fish our lakes, bird watchers who will enjoy our state parks. All of these people will buy gas at our gas stations, stay at hotels in our cities and go out to dinner at our local restaurants.

We write this letter to inform you that there are options available, you just have to be willing to work with those that utilize the natural resources. Be open minded about sitting down with groups, organizations and those that hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors in this state to see what solutions they have. These are your boots on the ground, they know the issues affecting their region or area just as well as those working within the agency.

We understand that your job is a difficult one and that there is no quick or easy solution, however the days of excuses from our legislators and those of power will no longer be accepted by the outdoor community.

Enclosed, is a pledge that we are asking, you, as a legislator, to sign to show your constitutes; the hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of this state, that you are serious about dedicating time, energy and resources into improving the quality of state parks, conservation efforts and more within the IDNR. By signing this pledge, you are showing a willingness to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.