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TScottW99
01-17-2004, 07:44 AM
For Immediate Release: January 16, 2004
Contact: Brad Rowse - 202-543-6850



VIRGINIA LEGISLATORS FORM SPORTSMEN'S CAUCUS

Washington, DC: On the second day of the 2004 Regular Session, a group of Virginia legislators wasted no time in organizing a bi-partisan, bi-cameral caucus to address sportsmen's issues. Their action makes Virginia one of fifteen states that have a sportsmen's caucus in its legislature. Nearly twenty members of the General Assembly, including Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate, took part in the organizational meeting on January 15. Senator Emmett Hanger (R-24), Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25), Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31), and Delegate James Shuler (D-12) were elected as co-chairs of the caucus.

"I am proud to be a founding member and co-chair of the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus," stated Delegate Jim Shuler. "This is an important first step to building coalitions, strengthening opportunities and enhancing outdoor activities throughout Virginia. As a non-partisan legislative group we can further the understanding of and access to outdoor sports."

Virginia's outdoor traditions have been a key part of the commonwealth since the establishment of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown in 1619. Sportsmen are equally important today with 1.1 million hunters and anglers contributing over $1.1 billion annually to the state's economy.

"The formation of the Sportsmen's Caucus signals a commitment among General Assembly members who care deeply about our rights to hunt and fish that we will stand by sportsmen and women all across Virginia," stated Delegate Lingamfelter. "This bipartisan approach is in the finest tradition of sportsmen. It's not about being one political party or another. It's about preserving a great Virginia tradition - our right to hunt and fish."

"I am looking forward to playing a role in a forum that can focus on traditions that are important to the majority of Virginians, in a non-partisan manner" stated Senator Creigh Deeds.

"It was exciting to see that so many of my colleagues from both the Senate and House were interested in being a part of the Sportsmen's Caucus," commented Senator Hanger. "There are a number of hunting and fishing advocacy groups that we work with each year, but we have not had a mechanism to bring us all together to pursue common goals."

After the leadership was selected the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries addressed the legislators and sportsmen's groups. Bill Woodfin, Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said, "The impact that over 1 million sportsmen of Virginia have on the commonwealth's economy is of tremendous importance." Woodfin also emphasized how the caucus could serve as a valuable conduit to address the legislative impact of emerging wildlife issues.

"This is a time of great opportunity for Virginia's outdoor enthusiasts. We look forward to working with the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus and sportsmen to build a positive future for hunters and anglers throughout the state," commented Brad Rowse, State Caucus Coordinator for the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. The Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus will be loosely patterned after the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, which is the largest Caucus in the U.S. Congress, with more than 300 members.

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