U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addressed the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council at its recent meeting held April 4 and 5 at the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.
The secretary emphasized the importance of outdoor recreation, specifically as it relates to boating, and included a message directed squarely at America’s nearly 12 million registered boat owners: “Boats are good. A lot of boats are better,” said Zinke, as he discussed his priorities to update and modernize visitor facilities on federal lands and “Bring them into the 21st century” to improve the visitor experience. The secretary also discussed his support for increasing recreational boating access on federal lands, and addressing maintenance backlogs that have plagued the agency for decades.
Council members attending the meeting included Chris Edmonston, BoatUS; Linda Friar, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S.; David Hoskins, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Ron Regan, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Fred Harris, American Fisheries Society; Alvin Taylor, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Barb Gigar, Aquatic Resources Education Association; Scott Kovarovic, Izaak Walton League of America; Janine Belleque, Oregon State Marine Board; John Sprague, Marine Industries Association of Florida; John Arway, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; Betty Huskins, Southeast Tourism Policy Council; Eugene “Mac” McKeever, L.L. Bean; Douglass Boyd, Coastal Conservation Association; Mike Nussman, American Sportfishing Association; Greg Sheehan, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“BoatUS has sat on the council for several secretaries and administrations, and it is encouraging to see how well Secretary Zinke understands the importance of outdoor recreation, and that expanding recreational opportunities improves the conservation of our resources,” said Edmonston, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs. “The Secretary also noted that he looked to the council for help, saying ‘I need really good advice.’” Topics for the meeting included discussions regarding the backlog of maintenance at fish hatcheries and parks, permitting issues and improving access to interior lands and waters.
The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council is funded through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. Its purpose is to advise the Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, on aquatic conservation endeavors that benefit recreational fishery resources and recreational boating, and to encourage partnerships among industry, the public, and government.