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Perspective: Recruitment

Perspective: Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) of Hunters and Anglers in California

By GEORGE OBERSTADT/California Waterfowl Hunting Heritage ProgramsPublished: May 23, 2018

What is R3? The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (CAHSS) defines it as, “a movement in the outdoors industry focusing on recruiting, retaining, and reactivating hunters and anglers.”

The R3 movement is a response to the multitude of threats facing hunting and fishing in the United States. Without strategic action now, it is likely that our outdoor heritage will be lost. The CAHSS website ( www.cahss.org) has a wealth of information about the science behind R3, and in the Fall of 2016 published the “National Hunting and Shooting Sports Action Plan.”


The Sports Action Plan is a joint effort between CAHSS and the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) to develop actionable guidance to increase hunting and fishing through state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and industry partners. “The action plan represents a make-or-break moment for the future of wildlife conservation. Never before have the available talents, resources, volunteers and funding been strategically aligned,” says CAHSS.


Thirty-five states list R3 coordinators as members of their state agencies. Iowa and Georgia have already used the CAHSS “Action Plan” to develop their own individualized state R3 plan. Iowa’s R3 plan encompasses some 48 pages of strategies, metrics for success, actions, implementation teams and priority tasks.


Iowa’s R3 plan is a “living document” that will be updated over time, adding, changing or deleting plans and strategies moving forward. When I met Iowa’s R3 coordinator, Megan Wisecup, she stated that it took 1-year to develop their plan and get stakeholders on same page with DNR. She and others described R3 not so much as a “program” but a re-engineering of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) business plan, recognizing the need to bring more stakeholders and engagement into the process.


This means that not only is this a resource agency effort, but also one that involves non-government organizations, industry, and other public conservation partners.


With that background, let’s now talk about California R3. R3 has existed in California and nationwide for some time in the form of Fishing in the City programs, youth hunts, outdoors women programs, and many other events. No coordinated, data-driven strategy has historically been undertaken to see what’s working, what’s not, and use data to prioritize efforts inside or outside the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).


In March of this year, California DFW hired Zoe Glas (B.S. Wildlife Biology, M.S. Natural Resources Social Science) as our state’s R3 coordinator. On April 30th, a kickoff meeting was held with folks from DFW and representatives from conservation organizations (CWA, NWTF, RMEF and others), to begin the development of California’s R3 plan. Zoe stated the department’s goals, “Develop an R3 plan in 2018 and put it into action in 2019”, with the goal to “increase participation in hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation."


While I’ve left out lots of details, I want to summarize what’s important to know at this point. The April 30th kickoff created eight (8) subcommittees to focus R3 planning in areas like youth and family recruitment, adult-onset hunting, public and private land access, and reactivation strategies to name a few.


Individuals from the public and influential members of the conservation community need to come forward, and step up now to develop this plan, put it into action, and protect hunting and fishing for generations to come. Interested parties can do their part by participating in one or more subcommittees, which will meet via phone bi-weekly.


Hunters and anglers have always been the greatest conservationists, and this call to action is one we cannot ignore if we want to preserve our outdoor lifestyles.


If anyone would like more information on this effort and would like to get involved, please email George Oberstadt at goberstadt@calwaterfowl.org or call at (916) 275-0961.


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