The Fish and Boat Commission recently adopted a new strategic plan entitled, "Enhancing Fishing and Boating in Pennsylvania - Strategies for the 21st Century." I hope you took the opportunity to review and comment on the plan in its draft form. If you did not, the final printed version will be available very soon. If you reviewed the plan, you undoubtedly noticed that the cornerstone theme for the Commission in the 21st century is resource stewardship. This focus is not new for the Commission. We have long recognized that quality fishing and boating opportunities depend on clean water and effective conservation of the Commonwealth's aquatic resources. Indeed, conservation has been the hallmark of Commission programs since our founding in 1866 to address declining American shad runs in the state's waters. How we hope to increase funding for some of those conservation programs will take us into new territory, though.
Currently, angler and boater dollars are the sole dedicated funding source for the Commission's protection and conservation responsibilities. As you most likely know by now, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission receives no General Fund tax dollars, but instead relies primarily on income generated from the sale of fishing licenses and boat registrations. This revenue provides for water quality protection, management of Pennsylvania's fisheries, and conservation of the fish, aquatic insects, reptiles, and amphibians that call our waters home. Angler and boater dollars also contribute to ensuring public access for the enjoyment of the state's many waters and the wildlife found there. Yet, many more Pennsylvanians who do not fish or boat benefit from and enjoy the state's waterways and aquatic wildlife.
Fortunately, these people, including your friends and neighbors, have expressed an interest in contributing to programs that support clean water and habitat conservation. A 1995 survey of all Pennsylvania citizens (not just sportsmen) indicated that over 50 percent of persons in the state support the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's water protection and conservation efforts. Of these people, a large number expressed a willingness to contribute to Commission programs by purchasing a voluntary waterways/watersheds conservation stamp or decal.
This year, the Commission is introducing a program that creates a new mechanism enabling these conservation-minded individuals to partner with the Commission and contribute to our resource stewardship activities. The Conserve 2000 program provides this new mechanism. The Commission is optimistic that the program will be well-supported. Clearly, conservation of the Commonwealth's natural resources is important to all Pennsylvanians. As part of the Conserve 2000 effort, proceeds from sales of voluntary water conservation stamps and related promotional and commemorative items will be deposited in a restricted receipt account. These funds will be used exclusively to support Commission resource stewardship activities including watershed protection, management, and enhancement efforts.
The Commission's new strategic plan emphasizes cooperative efforts as a key to achieving the Commission's mission and legislative mandates. These partnerships are at the core of the Conserve 2000 program. We hope the Conserve 2000 program will energize a new wave of partnerships to enhance Pennsylvania's bountiful aquatic resources. The Commission will be seeking new partnerships with conservation-minded clubs, schools, and any other entities interested in selling the voluntary water conservation stamps as a fund-raising tool. We will also seek partnerships to maximize the effect of watershed projects funded by the Conserve 2000 program. Clearly, this new program will serve internally to focus staff efforts on partnerships and the Commission's watershed protection, management, and enhancement efforts.
I think you will agree that the Conserve 2000 logo, which appears on this page, shows the Commission's resource conservation focus in a modern and forward-looking manner. We will feature this logo and the Conserve 2000 theme on all Commission displays and programs from January 1999 through December 2000. The logo is also featured on Conserve 2000 merchandise, which includes a pewter stocking truck, two types of knives, mugs, a letter opener, pin, watch, and wearing apparel (see pages 41-42 in this issue). Sales of these items will support the program directly by returning a commission and providing another source of exposure for the program.
You'll be hearing a lot more about Conserve 2000 in the months ahead. When you do, I hope that you'll take pride in knowing that anglers and boaters have been long-time supporters of clean water and aquatic habitat. I encourage you to continue taking the lead by investing in Conserve 2000 and inspiring others to do so.
Peter A. Colangelo, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
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January/February 1999 PA Angler & Boater
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