There’s value in the outdoors

Published 12:21 am Thursday, September 17, 2009

People who don’t hunt or fish don’t seem to understand the value of these outdoor sports.

Value, of course, can be defined in different ways.

Most people see the word “value” and think in terms of money.

In 2006, $2.2 billion was spent in Alabama on wildlife recreation, which includes hunting, fishing and wildlife watching.

Half of that amount came from the sale of equipment so sportsmen could go hunting, fishing and/or wildlife watching.

So don’t think hunting and fishing aren’t important parts of the state’s general welfare. In Alabama, however, sportsmen pay their own way.

That money goes to the conservation of the state’s natural resources. Since the 1900s, hunters and anglers have been the leaders in almost all major conservation programs.

They started fish and game departments in all 50 states. These state agencies receive their piece of almost $200 million in federal excise taxes to support wildlife management, land purchases and hunter education.

Matching federal to state dollars, more than $1.7 billion is generated nationally through these taxes.

Because this money has been used wisely to fund wildlife and fisheries biologists in each state, many species have been able to survive and even flourish since the early 1900s.

On Sept. 26, the state Department of Conservation wants everyone in Alabama to spend time outdoors in celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Go fishing at a state lake or park. Get in on a dove shoot.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. It is always observed on the fourth Saturday of every September.

When someone wants to talk about the value of hunting and fishing, sure, there’s the money.

Another value, however, is always there — intrinsic.

In the dictionary, “intrinsic” means “essential nature or constitution of a thing.”

There’s value in the rainbow trout or the white-tailed deer you hold in your hands. Or the soft light that dies out at the end of a day in a tree stand.

There’s value in the outdoors. Go see it sometime.

It’s worth it.

Buster Wolfe is sports editor of the Selma Times-Journal. You may reach him at 410-1736 or e-mail him at buster.wolfe@selmatimesjournal.com