Chalk it up as a victory for elk, other wildlife, hunting and conservation in Pennsylvania. Who made it happen? Sportsmen and women, including members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
State lawmakers removed a provision in the state’s budget bill that would have raided the Pennsylvania Game Fund of $150 million of revenue generated from State Game Lands to pay for clean water efforts in Chesapeake Bay. Because Game Lands are purchased with Pittman-Robertson funding, the revenue generated from them is only to be used for approved wildlife management by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously warned the state that such a budgetary action would put its annual allotment of $41 million at risk.
RMEF members sent more than 420 messages to their elected representatives, asking them to remove the provision, which they did.
“This was a negative that had such a positive impact — the fact that so many Pennsylvania sportsmen and women stood united in opposition, not against the Clean Streams Act, which I believe to be very important, but only in the attempt on how to finance it,” Bob Schwalm, a member of the PGC’s Board of Commissioners, told Lehi Valley Live. “I personally hope that we can all stay united as we have witnessed throughout the past weeks and continue to work together — both legislators and hunters/conservationists — towards the betterment of wildlife conservation here in the Commonwealth. We owe this commitment to our future.”
Home to 30 chapters and more than 14,000 members, RMEF has a long conservation history in the Keystone State. Dating back to 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 544 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in the state with a combined value of more than $27.6 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 28,160 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,189 acres.
Lawmakers also introduced a bill to better protect the Pennsylvania Game Fund and Pittman-Robertson funding in Pennsylvania.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)