PA: Corbett: We will form a sportsmen’s council

Harrisburg – Sportsmen might soon have a new voice with the Gov.
Tom Corbett administration.

And not a moment too soon.

Just before Christmas, Corbett’s staff invited representatives from
a number of organizations – the Pennsyl vania Federation of
Sportsmen’s Clubs, Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, Quality Deer
Management Association, National Rifle Association, Pennsylvania
Farm Bureau, National Wild Turkey Federation and others – to a
meeting at the capital.

In the official invitation, it was billed as a “deer management
stakeholders meeting.”

Turns out it wasn’t.

When representatives of a couple of groups tried to talk about
deer, that was put down, and instead, the meeting focused on plans
to create a Sportsmen’s Advisory Council.

“The purpose was primarily to discuss issues and the formation of a
Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, pretty much along the lines of the
previous incarnations of the same,” said Denny Fillmore, the
Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs representative at the
meeting.

Gov. Tom Ridge had similar councils; so, too, did Gov. Ed Rendell.
Corbett spokesmen said months ago the current governor had plans to
have one also.

As recently as a few days prior to this meeting, though, spokesman
Gary Miller said that while those plans were moving forward, “no
announcement is imminent.”

That may be true when it comes to the make-up of the councils. But
something seems poised to happen soon.

Sportsmen seem pleased.

“There is a need for a sportsmen’s advisory council, just because
there are so many independent sportsmen’s groups in the state,”
said Don Heckman, a board member with the state chapter of the
National Wild Turkey Federation who attended the Harrisburg
meeting.

“I think it’s a good idea to have a council of all these different
interests that can come together and work on issues and come up
with solutions.”

Fillmore said sportsmen also offered a recommendation.

“{The governor’s staff] was also advised that we need a youth
advisory council, as well,” Fillmore said.

The adult version of the council always previously served as a
conduit for taking grassroots concerns from sportsmen to the
governor and other elected officials, Heckman said. It also did
interviews and recommended candidates for the Pennsylvania Game and
Fish & Boat commissions.

Both boards have vacancies coming up. Two members of the Game
Commission board – Tom Boop of Northumberland County and Greg
Isabella of Philadelphia – will be off the board by the time it
next meets in January.

The terms of two Fish & Boat commissioners – Bill Sabatose of
Elk County and Tom Shetterly of Washington – have likewise expired,
though they can serve until replaced.

There’s no telling how soon replacements might be found. Corbett
must issue executive orders to create the advisory council and a
youth council.

It will also take time to find people to sit on the councils, and
for Corbett to name a sportsmen’s adviser, one person who will
coordinate the activities of the councils, Heckman said they were
told.

But the meeting at least made clear that sportsmen are behind the
idea of a council, he said.

“Things are moving in the right direction. I think that was the
essence of … the meeting,” he said.

“I think it was pretty positive. We had a good dialogue.”

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