Everywhere in Wisconsin tonight, in every county, outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen had the chance to voice their opinions. They had the chance to attend a spring hearings meeting to let the DNR know what they thought of any proposed rules and also to vote on some resolutions proposed by their peers.
This was the scene in Oneida County. There were approximately 70 people who stayed for the meeting. Of course, there was the option to fill out the questionnaire and then leave. And few people did that. I think it’s great that they took the time to come out and voice their opinions. I understand that everyone is super-busy and it’s hard to find the time to go and do these things.
One thing was interesting, and I just thought of it writing this. There was only one kid in the room tonight, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone bring their children to the spring hearings in the last several years that I’ve attended. Outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen talk quite a bit about the next generation and what is best for them. Yet they never bring their children to one of the best events every year, where kids can learn how the rule process works and how they can challenge the status quo in the world of the outdoors. For kids who are the future of our outdoor sporting heritage, venues such as this give them a chance to think about what is important to them. They have a chance to learn and grow as thinking people. They will see not only their parents’ point of view, but the point of view and ideas of others. From there they can make their own informed decisions, and maybe even do more research, about different things that do and will effect the future of the sports we love. Why are there no children at these events? It’s puzzling. That one kid, by the way, is now a youth member of our CDAC, and I applaud him for stepping up. I also applaud his parents for allowing him to get involved in something he cares about and in something where he can make a difference.
Another thing that was sorely lacking – all of the people who have griped about columns I’ve written or articles I’ve penned in the local newspaper over the last six months. Those people, the same ones who will call me in the months to come, as rules and regulations change, and complain that they don’t like those changes, they were the other element that was missing tonight. I did not see one of them there. It seems not one of them was really willing to stand up for the things they call me or email me about. I understand it is much easier to sit in the tavern and complain to your buddies about what is wrong and how you could fix the whole system. But the problem is, if you are given an avenue to comment, and you refuse to take the time to do so, then it truly cannot be that important to you. So, before I hear from twenty of you when I print the statewide results (once they are available), please remember one thing. It’s kind of like the election for president (or any other office) – if you didn’t vote, you don’t have the right to ….. gripe ….. about it. Seriously. Get out and make some meaningful change, if that is what you think needs to happen.
For all of you who made it to the spring hearings in your county, whether just to fill out your ballot, or if you stayed for the entire meeting, I applaud you. I thank you, no matter if your opinion matches with mine or not, for taking the time to show you care about the future of the outdoors. I wish there were more people like you.