California Waterfowl Steps Up Their Advocacy Game
November 8, 2016
Let me start with this.
Many years ago, when I first got involved with Ducks Unlimited, I stayed with the organization because they were focused. Waterfowl habitat preservation and management were the name of the game. The organization did not veer off into the divisive politics of the 2nd Amendment, or involve itself in hunting topics that were not directly related to waterfowl or habitat. “It’s for the birds,” was not just the axiom, but the reality.
Later, when I moved to California, I joined the California Waterfowl Association for similar reasons. They were focused on waterfowl, specifically CA waterfowl. It made sense to me, to belong to both DU and CWA, since California is such a huge state, with very localized issues that are critical to the Pacific flyway. Like DU, they were seldom involved in political issues that did not relate directly to the mission.
But that may be changing…
This morning, in my email, I saw the following press release:
CWA Establishes Legislative Action Fund
The political climate in California for hunting, guns, water supply and land management issues is dire.
That’s why California Waterfowl formed the California Waterfowl Legislative Action Fund. With your help, the CWLAF will protect waterfowl interests and sportsmen from this ever-worsening erosion of our rights.
- Better educate officials, particularly state and federal legislators, about water conservation, wetlands and hunting heritage issues.
- Improve access and influence for waterfowl interests and sportsmen at the State Capitol and Washington D.C.
California is becoming more urban, and a greater number of state and federal officeholders are elected who do not understand the important role hunters play in wildlife conservation.
Meanwhile, animal rights and anti-gun organizations are increasing their influence at the state and federal levels.
On top of all that, competing demands for water continue to increase, while waterfowl habitat is threatened by urban growth.
The California Waterfowl Legislative Action Fund was formed to fight these trends through political advocacy, education and public outreach efforts.
It is critical that we be as effective as possible in informing legislators and the general public about sportsmen’s important contributions to society.
By supporting us, you will make those necessary education and outreach efforts to decision-makers more successful.
You will also help us fight back against anti-hunting and anti-gun extremists threatening to take our outdoor heritage and rights away.
So donate today! Visit www.calwaterfowlactionfund.org.
At first glance, I was a little bit disappointed to see this. While the goals stated above appear to maintain the focus on waterfowl and habitat, I saw it veering into the murky realm of defending “gun rights”, and possible entanglement in the sucking morass that is the battle against anti-hunters in Sacramento. While I’m not a member now (I don’t live in CA anymore), I don’t think I would have been happy to see my membership fees diverted from habitat protection, acquisition, and management.
In comparison, this is generally ground that Ducks Unlimited does not tread, and I think they have benefited from keeping clear. DU funds go to the specific mission, and nothing else. Bypassing the divisive political issues, like 2nd Amendment or broad ethical fights that have nothing to do with waterfowl or habitat, has allowed the organization to keep a fairly diverse membership across the country. Of course, their position has not come without criticism, but the results have been largely positive.
Still, Cal Waterfowl is not DU, and California is not the whole country (plus Canada and Mexico, where DU is also engaged). There are very real and specific, localized threats to all hunting in the state, including waterfowl hunting. The more I thought about it, the more I recognized that this change is probably necessary.
Most of the organizations in California that profess to hunter advocacy have morphed, in one way or another, into gun rights organizations. The focus has shifted to fighting gun policies, which is mostly justifiable, but the platforms are verging on NRA-level extremism. The fact is that many hunters do not agree with these extremist positions, and as a result, they withdraw both their support and their engagement… and with them goes a critical degree of political strength. In California, of all places, hunters need all the political clout they can get.
With the exception of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, Golden State hunters really have no organization committed to fighting the myriad threats to hunting, whether it’s misguided legislation or threats to hunting access on State and Federal lands. And no other sportsmen’s organization is taking on the water issues that are wracking the state right now. CWA is generally respected and well-positioned to take up that banner.
Like I said, I’m not in CA any more, and if I’m completely honest, I’ve sort of surrendered much hope in changing the political direction of gun and hunting policies in that state. It’s one of the reasons I chose to move away. But for those who are still living there, by choice or by necessity, I think it’s worth giving the Cal Waterfowl Legislative Action Fund a close look… and maybe giving them a few of your hard-earned dollars as well.