DENVER, Colo., June 1, 2005 — Governor Bill Owens signed House Bill 1266, on May 5, 2005, providing much needed funding to protect and enhance Colorado’s wildlife resources. An equally important aspect of the bill was the creation of a fund to educate the general public regarding wildlife management throughout the state.
“The public education fund permanent financing created by HB-1266 has been overlooked by many sportsmen along with the National Rifle Association for its importance in protecting the sportsmen heritage by educating the public on the role sportsmen play in society and wildlife management,” said Bob Radocy, chairman of the Wildlife Management Public Education Advisory Council (PEAC).
As a result of HB-1266, PEAC will receive funding through a $.75 public education surcharge on most all hunting and fishing licenses beginning January 1, 2006. It’s anticipated that approximately $1 million will be raised annually to reach the non-hunting and non-fishing public through television, radio and print mediums.
“Hunters and anglers have struggled for more than 10 years to create a proactive, public education program in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Wildlife,” Radocy said. “The majority of the public, and many sportsmen too, don’t know that hunters and anglers pay the bills for wildlife management, and it’s the creation of the permanent financing for the public education fund of HB-1266 that many people and organizations have overlooked because they have been concerned about the increase in fees for licenses and the creation of a wildlife habitat stamp.”
Radocy added that PEAC supports the wildlife habitat stamp that many individuals and groups are complaining about, “In the past hunters and anglers were the paying for wildlife resources and management while others individuals such as hikers, nature watchers and environmentalists enjoyed the same benefits but without making a financial contribution to the long term preservation of resources. Now, with the habitat stamp, everyone has a stake in wildlife resources and management. It’s really a small price to pay for protecting our state’s resources.”
The public education program’s permanent financing created through the recently passed HB-1266 began in 1999, with Senate Bill 214, which provided the first vehicle for funding the Wild Life Management Public Education Advisory Council’s education program by creating a “check off” contribution mechanism on Colorado Department of Wildlife (CDOW) limited license applications. The legislation also provided free limited advertising space in all CDOW license brochures for PEAC information, news, updates, solicitations and more; reaching more than one million sportsmen annually in 2000 and 2001.
“Many people grumble about surcharges on licenses, but there are many sportsmen who realize the true value of educating the public,” Radocy said. “In its first three years of implementation, the voluntary program generated approximately $135,000 in contributions from almost 30,000 hunters and anglers.”
Radocy added that since its inception the license check-off fundraising program for public education has generated $221,686.68, according to CDOW records; a clear indication of support by hunters and anglers. Having a formal program in place will allow for a professional, credible and consistent public education program to the residents of Colorado.
“Colorado has taken a big step forward in wildlife management education and PEAC has done a great job leading the effort to put in place a funded and ongoing program to educate the public,” said Alan Taylor, chairman of the Nimrod Society (www.nimrodsociety.org), a non-profit organization of avid sportsmen working to get other states to adopt a similar model to that of PEAC’s. “Hunters and anglers are concerned about all the misinformation regarding wildlife management, conservation, hunting and fishing There are numerous groups who put out false and misleading information using emotionally based rhetoric to sway the non-hunting and fishing public without positively impacting wildlife conservation and management. Having a credible program to educate the masses, funded and executed by hunters and anglers, is a first step in protecting the rights and heritage of all sportsmen.”
The Wildlife Management Public Education Advisory Council (PEAC) was created in 1998 to design and develop a comprehensive media program to educate the public, especially the urban public, about the values of wildlife, wildlife management and how hunting and fishing are important in the wildlife. The organization was created as a result of a grassroots legislative effort led by the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Coalition (CWCC), a nonprofit, political action committee and corporation, formed in 1997, composed of sportsmen, wildlife and agriculture/livestock organizations. For more information, visit (www.wildlife-management-education.org).