The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and other conservation partners have recently kicked off the #ResponsibleRecreation campaign aimed at getting people outdoors while adhering to public health guidelines.
The campaign was created to push the idea that, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals and families can still enjoy outdoor recreation. According to the CSF’s release, “Whether participating in hunting, fishing, recreational shooting or other outdoor opportunities, these activities support mental and physical well-being while social distancing.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we continue participating in our favorite recreational activities for our mental and physical well-being, as well as to support our economy,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “We worked with our partners to develop a campaign that rallies our nation’s outdoor enthusiasts to do this while also practicing ways that keep our communities safe. Hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting are great ways to get outdoors, while helping people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The CSF works with folks at all levels of government to encourage sportsmen-friendly legislation. It’s because of its wide network that the Foundation has been pivotal in working with governors and other states leaders during the pandemic to keep outdoor recreation open and available to the public, and thus supporting crucial conservation funding and businesses that thrive in and drive the outdoor recreation economy. The organization breaks down responsible recreation into six functions: Plan ahead by purchasing licenses and park passes online, if available; recreate close to home; adhere to best practices for avoiding COVID-19; follow state and federal guidelines; pack out your trash as a courtesy to others and to avoid the appearance of overuse; and share your adventures in a respectful way on social outlets.
The Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., was established in 1989 with the mission to, “work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping,” according to the organization’s website. Today, the organization works across the nation, but its original job still takes center stage: Linking the sportsmen’s community to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.
The caucus is made up of bipartisan legislators from both houses, including one familiar face, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Manchin, part of the eight-person leadership team as a vice-chair, shares his position with Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.). The caucus’ co-chairs are Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Representatives Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia was one of a few states that maintained access to a majority of its outdoor recreation assets as long as folks maintained guidelines set by the CDC and state health department. While campgrounds were closed until late May for in-state residents and mid-June for out of state visitors, hunting and fishing opportunities remained intact for residents at their discretion, but events sanctioned by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources were canceled. However, to bring more people into the fold and get them out of their houses, Gov. Jim Justice passed two orders in April and May allowing license-free fishing for a month at a time.
With a new rise in coronavirus cases in the United States, the CSF’s campaign comes at a time when following health guidelines is imperative. If interested in taking the pledge to be a responsible outdoorsman or woman, go to www.responsible-recreation.org and sign up.