The following is written by New Jersey Forestry Association President, Richard M. Conley, and included in New Jersey Woodlands, a publication of the NJFA. NJFA is a council member of NJOA CF.
TRENTON, NJ –-(Ammoland.com)- From the President’s Wooden Desk
The Governor and the State of Our Wilderness by Richard M. Conley, President – New Jersey Forestry Association
I was fortunate enough to be one of fifty representatives of outdoor groups who met with Governor Chris Christie in late March at the State’s Drumthwacket mansion in Princeton to discuss public policy.
The Governor invited Chairman Anthony P. Mauro, Sr. and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance to organize the meeting. Our own New Jersey Forestry Association was one of the organizations which affiliated with the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Conservation Foundation when it formed a number of years ago. As a result, the NJFA became one of the established conservation organizations in this outstanding grassroots outdoor movement. We participate along with lots of distinct but similar groups, such as the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Trout Unlimited, Jersey Coast Angler Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, New Jersey Trappers Association, the New Jersey Quail Project, the Society of American Foresters and many others.
Anthony Mauro has done a masterful job of tying existing outdoor groups into the Outdoor Alliance, which now can count on the experience and enthusiasm of literally hundreds of thousands of active members. This collection of fishermen, hunters, trappers, foresters and landowners demonstrate a real passion about how public policy can help to conserve this State’s wildlife, forests, open space and other natural resources. This can all be done while its citizens appreciate and sustain these natural treasures. We all want to help preserve and protect our ecosystems so they will outlive our own limited time on earth.
The person who won the last gubernatorial election is clearly aware of and interested in this outdoor coalition.
I have worked for prior governors in my legal career before. I do not think the impressive grounds and wooden paneling at Drumthwacket made me feel unduly beholden to the office, but this was the first time I was able to see this particular national figure up close. I can say that Governor Christie impressed me. He was genuine. After the fifty guests consumed their breakfasts in the mansion’s dining room, the Governor visited with us as if he actually wanted to be there. He said this was the public’s house and we should be able to enjoy it. Apparently the Governor does this regularly with different members of his constituency. He treated the Outdoor Alliance with a respect that demonstrated he has not forgotten that the voice of the people still counts, and that the responsibility of those holding public office is to work with those people so our political leaders will be able to understand their views.
The Governor started with his observations about his role as the first executive of New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy consumed almost 100% of his time when it slammed us last fall. He offered details about the resulting destruction and human drama which continue to affect this State. After talking to us without notes for about half an hour, the Governor asked for questions and comments from the group. There was no hesitancy from those in attendance about talking to the Governor. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and our friend Deputy Commissioner Amy Cradic helped to provide more details for some of the many issues raised by the audience.
The members of the Outdoor Alliance were anxious to show their involvement in outdoor events and their commitment to the conservation of the State’s wildlife and natural resources.
The Governor volunteered that New Jersey’s forests need more management. He said other groups had other ideas, but the Christie Administration has studied this issue and feels this is the appropriate way to deal with our forests. As NJFA likes to point out, 43% of New Jersey’s land is covered by forests. We have long advocated for better management of our forests. It is one thing to accumulate and preserve our wild acres, which New Jersey had done for many years; it is quite another project to work with and manage these lands to guarantee their health and survival. This position has now been accepted by the Governor. Both the Governor and Commissioner Martin emphasized they have much more to do on the subject of the health of our forests. Our group made it clear that its members are available to help with this mission if the State needs extra assistance.
The breakfast meeting with Governor Christie renewed my belief that our political leaders can understand and protect our environment. My impression was that other guests were also impressed. It was good to participate in this policy exchange without the interruption of smart phones and electronic media. The morning produced a good “crackle barrel” discussion among active people who want to conserve New Jersey’s natural resources. It was an excellent way to start the day.New Jersey Outdoor Alliance: “We’ve got your back!”
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NJOA – The mission of New Jersey Outdoor Alliance is to serve as a grassroots coalition of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen dedicated to environmental stewardship. We will champion the intrinsic value of natural resource conservation – including fishing, hunting and trapping, among opinion leaders and policy makers. We will support legislation, and those sponsoring legislation, that provides lasting ecological and social enrichment through sustainable use of the earths resources. Visit: www.njoutdooralliance.org