‘Orange and Camo’ rally offers sportsmen a voice

Springfield — Aaron Kuehl says it really doesn’t matter what hunters and anglers wear to the Capitol March 2.

Blaze orange, camouflage, or neither – he just wants them to bring some passion.

“We just want sportsmen to show up and show support,” Kuehl, conservation director for Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, said. “This is a rally to make lawmakers aware that sportsmen in the state are concerned about legislative issues relating to DNR funding, hunting, fishing and conservation. Things have gotten to a critical point here.”

Similar to the Illinois State Rifle Association’s annual “IGOLD” rally, which is set to take place a few days later, sportsmen are seeing the March 3 event as their own “lobby day” in the capital city. Kuehl has spent the past several weeks organizing what is being called an “Orange and Camo Rally.”

The group will meet at 9 a.m. at the State House Inn, located one block north of the Capitol on the corner of West Adams and First streets. Participants will march one block to the Capitol and meet with individual legislators.

At 11 a.m., the group will “Rally In the Rotunda” with special guest speakers, including DNR Director Marc Miller, state Rep. Brandon Phelps and representatives of conservation groups around the state.

“We want to get everyone focused on the messages we need to relay to lawmakers about the need for DNR and conservation funding in the state,” Kuehl said.

Kuehl and conservation leaders have been tossing ideas back and forth in recent weeks as the DNR budget situation has grown dire. The agency recently learned that its budget is expected to be cut again this next fiscal year.

‘‘All the constituent groups have been coming together, and we’re looking at opportunities to generate a little revenue,” Kuehl said. “We see this rally as a way to bring the hunters and anglers into the effort, in person.”

According to Kuehl, the most likely sources of new revenue are from coal mining fees and park admission fees.

As for the “Orange and Camo” rally, Kuehl would like to see thousands show up in Springfield, but would be happy with hundreds.

“This is our first stab at this,” he said. “But we think the time has come to try and get everyone together behind an important cause.”

Interested parties can contact Kuehl at (217) 341-7171 or e-mail akuehl@pheas

antsforever.org.

IGOLD to march on Capitol

Supporters of gun rights in the state will meet in Springfield on March 7 to rally against gun control laws. The Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD) is an annual event where participants gather in Springfield to lobby their representatives.

This year, the Illinois State Rifle Association is organizing a meeting at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield at 11:30 a.m. There will be a legislative briefing on gun issues, then participants will march to the Capitol Building. For more information, visit http://igold.isra.org/.

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