Lasting results on the outdoors

That New Year’s resolution, the one about jogging a mile every morning, that sure didn’t take long to shake. Nah.

Heck, should’ve known it wouldn’t stick; at my age “jogging” and “morning” are never used in the same sentence. Besides the last time jogging was in my vocabulary, it was a lonely word.

You just don’t seem to see many “group” jogs, and the last time I engaged in a “group jog,” lots of other guys in the group were wearing olive drab shirts and pants and wearing combat boots. And some guy running along side — and shouting funny little one liners all 32 of us had to repeat — made us “jog” as much as eight miles some days. What fun!

Ah, such sweet memories of our youth, and while those days were rough, wouldn’t trade them for most any days — exceptions, of course, are the family and friends days. Now that the let’s-get-back-in-shape feeling has passed, something needs to fill the void. It didn’t take much deep thinking to come up with a great idea, and one you could take to heart.

A youngster

What about getting one youngster involved in the outdoors?

Yeah, fishing and hunting! Or yes, it can be more. What about birding, or outdoors photography, or hiking, or becoming a naturalist? Or even writing about the outdoors and conservation.

OK, so among the consumptive users, hunters and fishermen, there’s often a bit something negative about “naturalist,” but where would we be without them today?

Where would our country be today if a consumptive outdoorsman like Teddy Roosevelt hadn’t listened to naturalist John Muir?

The answer is simple: while we continue to have battles among user groups — mostly recreational vs. commercial — our country has dedicated more of our lands to public use than any other country on our planet. That’s pretty awesome.

Louisiana has more than one million acres for public use and, arguably, with more diversity in ecosystems than any other state. But if we don’t protect it and pass along that desire to protect it, it can disappear.

No matter the bent of your consumptive or non-consumptive interests, you must impart to youngsters the fact of the importance of what hunting and fishing licenses and waterfowl and turkey stamps mean to the future of our fields and forests, marshes and swamps, mountains and meadows, bayous and rivers, and bays and offshore waters.

Make them aware

Make them aware of the federal taxes on our fishing tackle and hunting equipment that go into three federal funds for distribution to the states and are dedicated to restoring, establishing and refurbishing habitat, encouraging participation and enhancing access.

Please make them aware that our Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries operates almost solely on revenue from sportsmen and commercial license sales and the federal monies from those three funds, the distribution of which are based on the number of fishing and hunting license sales in each state.

Let these youngsters know that even though the activities administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries yield nearly $500 million in annual taxes to our state’s General Fund, none of this money goes back to this state agency’s budget.

While we know Civics has gone by the wayside in public education (if you don’t believe that, ask a fifth grader about separation of powers), then let these youngsters know that activism might have to play a part in their outdoors pursuits, no matter what it might be. Yes, read that again. And if you don’t believe it, read further.

We’ve found out how much politics played in setting the red snapper battle as straight as it is, although it’s still not as straight as it needs to be.

Politics is playing out right now when it comes to the liberal commercial haul of menhaden along Louisiana’s coast and the rules around it.

You can bet the issues over new regulations on speckled trout and redfish are headed to the political arena, too. And something needs to be done to rectify the issue of this revenue stand-alone when it comes to funding a state agency that affects darned near every Louisiana citizen.

Pass it along

So, please, however you do it, make a plan to pass along the life-long pleasures you’ve had in our Sportsman’s Paradise. Hunting. Fishing. Conservation. Taking time to teach.

You might even consider something like becoming a VIP by taking and completing the Aquatic Volunteer Instructor Program course so you can help lots of youngsters. There are dozens of other organized programs you can take part in, along with one-on-one teaching, education and sharing. There’s nobody else to do it. So you must.

Resolve to do it. It will be rewarding.