CHILDRESS: Let’s protect North Carolina’s outdoor heritage

Childress says Vote ‘For’ the Right of the People to Hunt, Fish, and Harvest Wildlife

Car owner Richard Childress in the garage during NASCAR auto racing practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010.(AP Photo/Terry Renna)

As a lifelong sportsman who grew up hunting and fishing in North Carolina, one of the greatest achievements of my life has been to pass on my love for hunting, fishing and the outdoors to my children and grandchildren. Whether it was time on a bass boat, in a duck blind or on a dove field, the experiences I’ve shared with family and friends while hunting and fishing are invaluable to me.

It’s these experiences, and the passion that fuels them, that enforces my full support of the Right of the People to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wildlife and a ‘For’ vote on the amendment.

The Right of the People to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wildlife constitutional amendment is about ensuring our ability to pass on outdoor traditions, protecting conservation funding, and instilling a deep appreciation for our state’s wildlife and natural resources in the minds of North Carolina’s next generation.

Additionally, as North Carolina continues to become a more urbanized, it’s increasingly important to protect our right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.

The numbers don’t lie: According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 11.5 million hunters in our country today. This is only a fraction of U.S. citizens, and hunter participation is steadily on the decline.

Through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and sporting-related equipment through the “user-pays, public-benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding, sportsmen and women are primary funders of conservation, supporting public land acquisitions, clean water, wildlife habitat improvements and management for game as well as nongame species.

Through this system, North Carolina’s sportsmen and women have contributed more than $1.23 billion, including $56.39 million in 2017 alone, to state conservation efforts. With a decline in hunter participation, however, this vital source of conservation funding is at risk. Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for North Carolinians this year.

Vermont was the first state to protect hunting and fishing in their constitution in 1777, and 20 other states, including every state that borders North Carolina, have followed suit.

While hunters and anglers pay for the bulk of conservation efforts in our state, that funding system is at risk without support from the larger public. Conservation dollars generated from sportsmen and women help manage for species that are not hunted or fished and help acquire and make improvements to public land enjoyed by all North Carolinians.

So even if you’re not a hunter or angler, think about the future of conservation and support hunting and fishing by voting “For” for the Right of the People to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wildlife constitutional amendment on Nov. 6.

Richard Childress is chairman & CEO of Richard Childress Racing, a motorsports, marketing and manufacturing organization in Welcome, N.C.