State solutions for better fishing

By Michael Gibson

For many states in the West, January means one thing, buy your new hunting and fishing license…

OK, it means two things, the second being the start of legislative season. On the heels of a historic mid-term election, 2019 will see western state legislatures meet in Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Of those states, all but three held elections for governor, and six states (California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming) have a new chief executive. Add that to numerous seat changes in legislative bodies and we have the makings for an exciting spring.   

Trout Unlimited is geared up in all these states to engage on everything from governor transitions to water policy and public land defense. While 2019 dawned with most federal agencies at a standstill and Congress in gridlock, state politics is full speed ahead. 

Some liken the federal legislative process to a large freight ship, moving steadily forward, taking a long time to change direction. If that is the case, then state legislatures could be thought of as a souped-up flats skiff. State legislation moves at a breakneck pace compared to its federal counterpart and it can have as much or more influence on conservation, water policy and fish. 

Consider the numerous efforts in state legislatures to investigate and propose public lands transfers to the states. Even though public lands transfer is somewhat of a legal farce, that has not stopped state legislators from authorizing interim study committees and passing resolutions to demand lands belonging to the people be transferred to their states. 

Much of the momentum was knocked out of this movement when thousands of hunters, anglers and recreationists turned out on Capitol steps across the West in recent years, but bills nipping around the edges of this ham-handed idea are proposed every session. 

Additionally, the nuts and bolts of water management, suction dredging regulation, aquatic invasive species, agency budgets and fish and game management are all considered by state legislative bodies. 

TU has and will continue to engage with state legislatures at a significant level, bringing a professional presence and backing it up with science and grassroots advocacy. 

Michael Gibson is TU's Idaho director. He lives and works in Boise.


Add Content