Grassroots is defined as the involvement of common citizens in an issue or campaign. A New Jersey state senator stressed to me that most elected officials would prefer the backing of grassroots organizations to those that only offer campaign donations. The reason is that there is a direct correlation between grassroots efforts and VOTES; the correlation is not as direct between donations and votes.
In 2007, outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen proved the senator correct. We united and voted Senator Karcher and Assemblyman Panter out of office. These two animal rights activists and avowed vegetarians sponsored hostile legislation that might have ended freshwater fishing, hunting and trapping in NJ. Our unification sent a powerful and costly message to those who spent nearly $6 million on the Karcher/Panter campaign but lost to opponents spending only $1 million. The 6 to 1 spending deficit was overcome by the activism of grassroots voters.
The ability of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen to influence Trenton lies within each of us. There are approximately 800,000 anglers, hunters and trappers in New Jersey and as stakeholders we form an enormous voting bloc. In fact, our numbers are four times greater than that of one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the state – the New Jersey Education Association.
Our success in advancing our interests is as simple as each of us sending an email of making a one-minute phone call to a legislator. We can only imagine the attention 800,000 involved stakeholders might receive from state legislators.
The three NJOA non-profits will continue to be the voice of outdoor-minded individuals. We have 30 representatives personally introducing the NJOA to 120 legislators. We have a council of 23 prominent saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing, hunting, trapping, forestry, diving, animal welfare, and other conservation oriented organizations. We have a charity dedicated to habitat improvement and even an educational program called Quail in the Classroom; which is now offered in more than 20 schools.
In a span of 5 years the “all-volunteer” efforts of those affiliated with the three NJOA non-profits have accomplished much on behalf of New Jersey conservationists. We have had three bills signed into law: 1. Sunday Bowhunting, 2. Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs, and 3. Bowhunting Perimeter Reduction to 150 feet. We have favorably influenced many state policies, state regulations, and have become a major voice to conservation matters in Trenton’s political discourse. We’ve also repelled a number of assaults by those looking to do away with our freedoms. We are currently working on a diverse and expansive conservation agenda in Trenton and throughout New Jersey.
In recognition of the conservation interests of more than 800,000 people, State Senator Steve Sweeney helped initiate the New Jersey Angling and Hunting Conservation Caucus (NJAHCC). It is the first caucus dedicated to advancing the idea of environmental stewardship through the cooperative efforts of conservationists and legislators. The caucus is bi-partisan and is currently chaired by: Senator Norcross (D), Senator Oroho (R), Assemblyman Burzichelli (D), and Assemblyman Chiusano (R).
The first step toward your involvement in protecting your freedoms to fish, hunt, trap, and enjoy access to a healthy natural environment is with your honorary membership. A $25.00 honorary membership provides you with a “grassroots” decal, membership card, and discounts at a number of retail establishments. You may also sign up for our NJOA “Action Alerts” and receive updates about critical fishing, hunting, trapping, and conservation issues that face all of us in New Jersey – and include actions for us to take.
Please be mindful that the most important thing we can do to protect our outdoor freedoms is to exercise our right to vote.
Anthony P. Mauro, Sr
Chairman and co-founder
- New Jersey Outdoor Alliance
- New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Conservation Foundation
- New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Environmental Projects