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Sportsmen and Women Speak Up for the Gulf
Next year, the National Wildlife Federation will celebrate its 80th year as a leader in conservation and as an advocate for wildlife and wild spaces. In the beginning, there was J.N. “Ding” Darling – an editorial cartoonist who became one of the most important figures in conservation history.
Ding and his supporter, Franklin Roosevelt, realized that wildlife needed a voice. Darling looked to the many hunting and shooting clubs that had banded together in small blocks across the U.S. He coupled those groups with the gardening clubs and assorted supporters of the outdoors and you have the North American Wildlife Conference, held in February, 1936 in Washington, DC.
The great grandsons and granddaughters of the attendees of the first Wildlife Conference are still needed today. Hunters and anglers are still afield, observing the state of wildlife and habitat in the lands and waters that they love to hunt and fish.
They see the myriad changes occurring within their favorite places and they see firsthand the devastation that natural and manmade disasters have on an already fragile eco-system. This personal connection to the land makes hunters and anglers great advocates for a healthy environment, clean and plentiful water, and secure homes for the species they hunt and fish.
Vanishing Paradise works with these sportsmen and women to educate them on the need to restore the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the Mississippi River Delta. Coastal land loss, habitat loss, and the need for clean and plentiful water for estuaries are among the long list of issues facing wildlife in all Gulf states. And while sportsmen see these issues on a daily basis, they do not always have a clear avenue to get involved in advocating for the protection of wildlife habitat.
Vanishing Paradise’s job is to find the conservation-minded sportsmen and women and get them involved. We work also with companies that specialize in outdoor products and show the key figures in that industry the importance of a healthy Gulf Coast to their bottom line. We connect with outdoor writers who have the ability to educate the public and get them engaged in the fight. And we build coalitions of hunters and anglers to talk with legislators, talk to the press, and speak at public meetings on behalf of the wildlife that are impacted by the issues facing the coast.
In short, we help give that voice for wildlife that Ding Darling advocated for so many years ago.
Andy McDaniels – National Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator
Erin Brown – Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator, Louisiana and Mississippi
Steven Bender – Director, Vanishing Paradise