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Scott Rall: Get off the couch and say something

The Minnesota legislative session just ended. There were lots of things that happened and a few that didn’t when all the dust was settled.

I really struggle with politics. It feels like no matter what I do or who I call, it makes no difference at all.

It is this disconnect that makes most sportsmen feel unimportant. There always seems to be enough anti-conservation legislators that they just drown out the small-town voices of area wildlife enthusiasts.

Some hunters and other outdoor types will join an organization like Pheasants Forever or Ducks Unlimited and then believe that these two national organizations will represent their opinions on a state and national stage. There is no doubt that this train of thought has merit, but maybe not in the ways you might think.

I will explain from the Pheasants Forever perspective because I am much more knowledgeable about how they operate. They have a fund called the Legislative Action Fund.  Chapters and individuals contribute to the fund and PF uses the funds to educate members of Congress. This might be a meal or a field trip and many visits to their DC offices.

Pheasants Forever do not make any campaign contributions and are not listed as or considered a lobbyist. Lobbyists, on the other hand, from many different industries and organizations can and do give away money to advance their agendas. This feels like to me that the big money interests can buy whatever influence they want.

Makes you want to throw up your hands and go fishing. This might work in your mind, but in the long run no way influences the outcomes you might desire.

There is a state organization that I have become involved with because they represent the opinions of the rank-and-file sportsmen in Minnesota.

It is called the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance. It is not a lobbyist organization. Members represent a large group of common interests to advance the issues important to sportsmen and women. Their mission statement reads: “To protect and guarantee the right to pursue the time-honored traditions of hunting, fishing and related activities for every Minnesota citizen, in perpetuity through legislative action, public awareness and education.”

They are a non-profit and have a board made up of representatives from all of the major conservation organizations big and small across Minnesota. In a nutshell, this is what they do.  They listen to sportsmen and women from all over the state. They use the discussions to determine what are the most pressing needs of conservationist and other outdoor users. They then take this information and share it with the state’s policy makers. They can and do make a difference.

I spoke to their lead guy, Dave Carlson, and asked why they never had a listening session in the southwest part of the state. He said they needed a place and a contact to get started, and that is what I did.

The Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance is coming to southwest Minnesota on June 15 from 6-9 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Worthington to do one thing and one thing only.  That one thing is to listen to you. Here is your opportunity to share your concerns about any outdoor topic.

It might be chronic wasting disease in deer.  It might be how the funds from the LSOHC are being spent. Could be about fishing with two lines. No topic is out of bounds and no debates will happen on this night.

They are on a fact-finding mission and the only way they can do that is if you show up.  There will be barbeques and chips at 6:30 p.m. till gone.

Get off the couch and make you opinions known. Come to Elks Lodge June 15th and share your thoughts. The room should be filled with like-minded folks. Grab a few friends and get them to share their voices, too.

It is all too easy to sit silently and then complain when things don’t go your way.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Decisions are made by the people who show up.” June 15 is your time to be one of those people.

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