Pennsylvania has been blessed with rich natural resources, scenic beauty, and some of the best landscapes in the world. The Commonwealth’s natural beauty makes Pennsylvania an attractive tourist destination and an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise our hunting and flyfishing destinations, abundance of State Parks, the Poconos, the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, and the Great Allegheny Forest.
Pennsylvania is home to 1.4 million sportsmen whose activities support 51,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. The economic impact of hunting, fishing, and trapping in Pennsylvania is more than $9.6 billion annually. During my campaign, I have attended outdoor sporting events in nearly every region of the Commonwealth and have been struck by the breadth of activities that Pennsylvanians enjoy. We must continue to preserve our game lands, promote conservation, and protect our outdoor heritage. These activities differentiate Pennsylvania from other states, and remind us of the importance of protecting Penn’s Woods as a sportsman’s paradise.
We must pursue two key objectives to ensure that we can preserve and further distinguish Pennsylvania as an outdoorsman’s paradise:
Ensure the independence of Harrisburg agencies managing fish and game in the Commonwealth
- Reduce legislative interference in the agencies that manage fish and game in the Commonwealth: The Fish & Boat Commission and Game Commissions have been hamstrung recently by a Legislature intent on dictating permissible fee structures and politicizing the nomination process. Current merger proposals are red herrings distracting from the common goal of having sustainable agencies committed to the effective management of fish and game in the Commonwealth. As Governor, I will support both agencies’ ability collect fees from those who depend on their services with less political interference from legislative leaders
- Create an independent Sportsmen Advisory Commission: We need a volunteer commission to advise my administration on matters related to hunting, angling, conservation, and Second Amendment rights to ensure that we identify knowledgeable experts from across the Commonwealth for the Fish & Boat and Game Commissions
- Ensure fiscal responsibility of our fish and game management agencies: We should prohibit the practice of sweeping up user fees collected in off-balance accounts and independent agencies to pay for Harrisburg’s profligate spending. As Pennsylvanians know all too well through the spending of our gas tax revenues, use fees should be assigned to their original intent, not to fund more Harrisburg spending on other items. As Governor, I will blue-line veto elements of the budget treating hunting and fishing user fees as de facto tax increases. Additionally, I will fast track the requested audits of the Fish & Boat and Game Commissions to ensure that each is an effective and efficient steward of the use fees it collects
Promote sustainable recreation and conservation throughout the Commonwealth
- Ensure sworn law enforcement officers are offered the same protections across the Commonwealth: As Governor, I will call on the Legislature to pass legislation ensuring as sworn law enforcement officers with arrest powers, Pennsylvania Game Wardens and Waterway Conservation Officers (WCOs) are offered similar protections to those in our police departments
- Lead inclusively by appointing leadership from among the communities understanding these issues the best: We should ensure we solicit broad-based input, consisting of genuine representatives from statewide hunting, angling, and conservation groups in the Commonwealth, who have a vested interest in the betterment of hunting, angling, trapping, and conservation. These leaders should actively set forth a bipartisan, sportsmen’s agenda, interview and recommend game and fish/boat commissioners, and review and make recommendations on proposed relevant legislation based on the views of the organizations they represent
- Protect existing game lands from sell-offs: Pennsylvania’s game lands are a public treasure from which we all benefit. Attempts to sell these lands to fund our out-of-control budget are disgraceful, and will only serve to postpone further our budgetary pressures that we must address today
- Build on existing hunting/trapper education courses and firearm safety education for today’s youth: As Governor, I will task the Fish & Boat and Game Commission to review and propose improvements to existing education courses to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to the latest in safety education and that we can promote outdoor recreation activities to the next generation of Pennsylvanians
Pennsylvania has rightly earned its distinction as a sportsman’s paradise. Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities have a vital impact on local economies and our families; particularly those in rural parts of the Commonwealth. To me, this is not a partisan issue, rather one distinguishing Pennsylvania from so many other states. As Governor, I will lead inclusively by soliciting expertise from across the sportsman and conservation community to build consensus and nurture the growth of these activities for future generations.