A new Web-based campaign, "Restoring Our Waters, says it is "targeting" hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts to rally support for the Chesapeake Clean Water Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin that will be reviewed this month by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The lobbying effort is being led by Choose Clean Water http://www.choosecleanwater.org, an Annapolis-based coalition of regional environmental groups led by staff from the National Wildlife Federation.
But if Choose Clean Water is reaching out to hunters and anglers, it has failed to show that outreach except in the most superficial way.
Yes, it has gotten Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited to sign on. And kudos for reaching out to the Maryland Bass Federation, a good bunch of folks who often get overlooked.
But where is the partnership with Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association or Coastal Conservation Association Maryland? Where's the Maryland Waterfowlers Association. What about the Maryland Bowhunters Society. And the trappers, where are they?
There's no mention of this on anyone's website.
That's just in Maryland. Pennsylvania has a gazillion times more active outdoors groups (and no Senate or House co-sponsors of the bill).
I know what CCW is going to say, that anglers and hunters are members of the more than 130 groups already on board.
Hogwash. Read the list of CCW coalition members. It's obvious CCW hasn't reached beyond its base: the mostly liberal, crunchy granola organizations. Interaction with the real hook-and-bullet crowd--the folks who were conservationists before it was in vogue--isn't evident in any meaningful way.
I haven't seen a single mention of this campaign at any of the tackle shops and sporting goods stores I frequent. I haven't heard a single MSSA or CCA member bring this up. It's not posted at any campground I've contacted.
Just sending a press release to the outdoors writers of the region doesn't constitute an outreach campaign.
By all means, read about the "Restoring Our Waters" campaign http://www.restoringourwaters.org. Organizers don't ask you for any money--yet--but they do require your email address if you decide to sign the electronic petition. Why, I can only guess.
Cardin's legislation, and the House version sponsored by Congressman Elijah Cummings, are serious attempts and long overdue.
But you can send your support without the help of "Restoring" or CCW.
Because, in truth, they really haven't asked for your help. No, they haven't.