With hunting facing a range of challenges from access to urbanization, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has announced grants that will assist states with projects designed to keep current hunters active and introduce newcomers.
For the seventh year, NSSF will give promising program proposals its support, with $499,060 going to nine state agencies. Arizona Game & Fish Department earned two awards, totaling $82,500, and Arizona, Colorado and Oregon were first-time grant recipients. Since its inception, NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership program has contributed more than $3.3 million in support of projects managed by state natural resource agencies.
“Hunting faces challenges that are often state-specific, and these grants from the National Shooting Sports Foundation help make possible programs that state agencies might not otherwise be able to provide,” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO. “This year's recipients are right on target with initiatives addressing access issues and encouraging inactive hunters to go afield once again.”
Added Melissa Schilling, NSSF's manager of recruitment and retention, “We have seen promising results from programs funded by the Hunting Heritage Partnership over the years, and we expect the same from these programs, some of which are new and others which build on previous successes.”
This year's grant recipients are as follows:
Arizona Game & Fish Department-$45,000
Project: Promoting hunting through a small-game camp model of mentoring in partnership with sportsmen's organizations statewide and encouraging ongoing mentoring activities through the promotion of a new apprentice hunting license.
Arizona Game & Fish Department-$37,500
Project: To identify and better understand the role senior hunters can play in the recruitment and retention of younger hunters, and to identify specifically how senior hunters can be engaged in mentored hunts in order to increase hunting participation in Arizona.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service-$27,500
Project: To offer three mentored youth hunts, providing a positive hunting experience and allowing youth to interact with wildlife managers and conservation officers who will communicate the importance of hunting, with the goal of reversing a downturn in youth participation over the last decade.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries-$78,500
Project: To conduct research and assess current marketing strategies to provide the basis for developing a future integrated communications and marketing plan that will motivate lapsed hunters to purchase a hunting license.
Colorado Division of Wildlife-$22,000
Project: To retain hunters who move to Colorado from other states by providing them with social connections and information about hunting opportunities in the state that are specific to their interests.
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife-$80,000
Project: To develop and build an integrated online database and map resource that will help new and experienced hunters plan their trips, allowing for searches by species, unit and distances; displaying property boundaries and harvest statistics; and interfacing with Google search to assist hunters in finding lodging, camp sites and restaurants.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-$10,240
Project: To promote and enhance hunting in Wisconsin through Learn to Hunt training workshops designed to improve instructors' and mentors' knowledge of “best practices” related to recruiting and retaining hunters; to increase the number of groups conducting Learn to Hunt sessions; and to build a network of mentors and organizers.
Florida Division of Hunting and Game Management-$58,620
Project: To boost awareness of in-state hunting opportunities and increase hunting in Florida's quota-hunt management areas, with emphasis on identifying lapsed in-state hunters and encouraging use of a new guest permit, with the overall goal of overcoming a perception among Floridians that hunting is better out of state.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources-$66,200
Project: To produce an interactive Web site so hunters can view all available hunting lands and other land features throughout Michigan, with data layers consisting of aerial imagery, ownership, land use, cover, roads and more, and allowing hunters to input GPS coordinates of hunting camps or favorite locations to create a map. These and other feature will address the access challenge hunters face in Michigan.
Idaho Department of Fish & Game-$73,500
Project: To obtain long-term, secure access to land for hunters through the Access Yes! program that provides various types of compensation-monetary and otherwise-to landowners for allowing access to and through their grounds; to recruit new landowners to the program, particularly owners of corporate timberlands; and to pilot mentored youth hunts on leased property.
Twenty-six proposals from 21 states were submitted to the Hunting Heritage Partnership judging committee of NSSF.