On Nov. 6, Ohio voters will choose a new Governor. That person will inherit the most challenging environment experienced by Ohio’s fish and wildlife resource professionals. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife will endure an unprecedented financial shortfall over the next 10 years. It faces an enormous backlog of capital projects, including badly needed shooting ranges, boat access and aging dams. And it faces the prospect of losing access to 60,000 acres of previously available recreational lands owned by American Electric Power, which desires to sell this vital piece of public-land access.
While the Division of Wildlife has been financially self sufficient since its creation, these financial crises will require Ohio’s next governor to work with sportsmen to chart a path back to financial solvency. The return to fiscal stability is required for the agency to preserve quality habitat and provide hunting, fishing and trapping experiences for sportsmen, as well as the local economies that depend upon the dollars spent by them.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, in conjunction with Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Ohio Conservation Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, Pheasants Forever, Greene County Fish and the Columbiana County Federation of Conservation Clubs, Central Ohio Chapter of Safari Club International, created the Protect What’s Right campaign to address this crisis, and to restore a healthy working relationship between Ohio’s elected and appointed officials and those who fund conservation through their hunting, fishing and trapping license purchases.
The Protect What’s Right (PWR) campaign is committed to educating Ohio’s sportsmen about where the candidates for governor stand on these critical issues, so that citizens can make an informed decision about who to support in the upcoming election. Over the last three months, the Sportsmen’s Alliance coordinated an educational program to inform the candidates about these issues. The candidates were then invited to participate in a Q & A session with Ohio’s sportsmen leaders. And finally, candidates were asked to make commitments on these issues through a candidate questionnaire.
Because the second amendment is so closely connected with hunting rights, only candidates with a pro-second amendment background were invited to participate. The Republican candidates that participated were Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State John Husted, Congressman Jim Renacci, and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor. Mr. Husted and Mr. Renacci did not fill out a questionnaire because they are now running for different offices. Both of them participated in the educational sessions and the Q & A panel.
Participating Democrats were former Attorney General Rich Cordray and Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni. The PWR campaign partners greatly appreciate the commitment of time by all of the candidates. The Sportsmen’s Alliance will be releasing the questionnaires to its members and the public. All PWR partners are encouraged to do the same. The candidates are also welcome to utilize their responses in dialogue with Ohio’s sportsmen.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.