New York State Conservation Council Left Grasping at Straws

New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC) Left Grasping at Straws
by Dick Nelson, Hudson-Catskill Newspapers.

New York – -(Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)- I don’t know what is more discouraging, the fact that after more than 75 years the New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC) is grasping at straws, or that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has turned her back on sportsmen.

Either way, neither is good news for the millions of hunters, fishermen, trappers and shooting enthusiasts who recreate in this state, inasmuch as it’s beginning to look like we may not have any representation on both a state and federal level.

Not that the council has been very effective over the past two decades. But despite the advent of the Conservation Alliance of New York — an organization that seems to have lost much of its zeal since its formation in 2003 – the NYSCC has always been the voice of organized sportsmen, but to a large degree, that voice has developed lock-jaw.

Oh, they still go through the motions as if they remain a vital part of its once proud past. But the truth of the matter is, the council is headed for oblivion and it has no one to blame but itself.

Over the years its officers have made some terrible decisions, and the delegates that represent the 48 member counties, were often stifled when they tried to offer advice or complain.

During its April meeting, the group couldn’t muster enough members for a quorum, so essentially no business was conducted. The fall meeting is set for next Friday and Saturday in Utica, and from what I can gather, it doesn’t appear that they will have a quorum for this one either. That will present a problem because among other things, it will leave the election of officers up in the air, although there may not be anyone to vote for anyway.

NYSCC president Harold Palmer has already stated that he won’t seek reelection, and the nominating committee is having difficulty finding someone to fill, not only the president’s position, but the first vice president, second vice president and legislative vice president positions as well.

“It’s a sad state of affairs” said Greene County Federation of Sportsmen delegate Walt Bennett, whose name surface for one of the VP positions. Bennett said he declined the nomination, stating further that, “Many of us who attend the meetings, are not only old enough to collect Social Security, but were overworked on a county level and really aren’t in a position to take on anymore work.”

Bennett said he will be attending the conference, but questioned whether it will be worth the trip.

When asked if he or anyone else from the Columbia County Sportsmen’s Federation would be attending the NYSCC fall conference, federation president Don LaValley said,

“For what?” “So I can get aggravated.”

“We get no support from the council on anything we propose, why should I waste my time and the federation’s money traveling to Utica,” LaValley said.

His comments, pretty much sums up the feelings many of the affiliated federations have had in recent years, which is why the meetings have been falling short of the majority needed to conduct business.

So where does that leave this once influential organization and the more than 300,000 organized sportsmen it represents?

Your guess is as good as mine; but right now its future doesn’t look good, and that is bad news for sportsmen.

Sportsmen got more bad news last Wednesday when U.S. Senate voted to end debate on the nomination of one of the most outspoken animal rights, anti-hunting, and anti- Second Amendment individuals to a high government position.

By a 63-35 vote, cloture was invoked and debate stopped on the nomination of Cass Sunstein to serve as the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Of the 63 senators that voted in favor of Sunstein, 22 were members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. That included Sen. Gillibrand, who despite knowing Sunstein’s anti-hunting background, voted “yea” on his appointment.

Spearheaded by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), just about every nationwide sportsman’s organization was against Sunstein’s appointment.

According to Rob Sexton, USSA’s VP for Government Affairs, his office hand delivered a detailed information placard on Sunstein’s anti-hunting views, as well as on his belief that animals have a right to sue, to every member of the Senate, and followed up with phone calls to their office. So other than stepping in line with her congressional colleagues, Gillibrand had no reason to vote the way she did.

That’s two strikes against the junior senator; the first took place in July when she voted “nay” on a bill that would have permitted legitimate gunowners to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

“I must say that as a sportswoman from New York, I am very upset to hear that Senator Gillibrand voted yes to confirm Cass Sunstein,” stated Patricia Arnold, a leader in various sporting organizations across the state. “I feel this action was opposite of what her prior conversations indicated to sportsmen and women, and will be a big part of our decision when voting for her in the future.”

“We are disappointed with the outcome of last weeks vote, especially since so many members of the Senate claiming to be pro-sportsman voted in favor of a nominee who has expressed that recreational hunting could be banned,” stated USSA President and CEO Bud Pidgeon.

For an in-depth look on how each senator voted log onto: www.ussportsmen.org/Document.Doc?id=116 .

Dropping anchor `til next time.