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SNYDER: Outdoors lovers must unite to have voices heard

ANDY SNYDER
505-5403/@ydsports
  • Fishermen can join organizations such as BASS or the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
  • Hunters can join the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance or the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
  • Those who support gun rights can join the National Rifle Association.

I don’t have to tell you it’s election season.

It’s a sometimes disgusting, but a somehow-effective part of our democracy.

Often, when I hear the faraway promises of some elected or wannabe lawmaker, I remember a time when I was invited to Washington to meet with some of the nation’s most powerful men.

I went there to talk about a very specific subject but came away with something far more valuable. After spending hours in the same small room with cabinet members, senators, congressmen and an eventual presidential candidate, I learned one very important lesson.

Money talks.

Now, anybody who has been in America for more than a few minutes knows how true that statement is. But as outdoor enthusiasts, are we doing all we can to get our thoughts and feelings heard in Washington and Harrisburg?

The sad truth is, our elected officials don't always vote the way the majority of their constituents would like. Often, it's powerful, deep-pocketed lobbyists that get their way. After all, they're the ones that make the big campaign contributions that win elections.

I say if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em.

Let’s face it. As individuals, we don't have much pull. But as a group, we can get things done. That’s why it's vital to become part of a large organization that supports what we believe in. The more active we are, the more power we'll have with lawmakers.

There are scores of organizations that support causes important to anybody who loves the outdoors.

For anglers, there are organizations such as BASS or the Recreational Fishing Alliance. For hunters, there are groups such as the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance or the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. There are also game-specific groups such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Foundation.

It certainly doesn't stop there. We've all heard about the gun-rights lobby thanks to the National Rifle Association. And what about folks concerned about cleaning up the environment and protecting our wild animals? There are organizations such as the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation.

The list goes on and on. All of these groups are great ways to let your leaders know your thoughts. Get involved and get heard. If enough voters cry out, they'll get what they want.

Fortunately, it doesn't always take big money to get the attention of lawmakers. Sometimes, it only costs as much as a stamp.

The Susquehanna River is shown looking north from Safe Harbor Dam.

Importance of a zip code: One very interesting thing I learned in Washington is the importance of a zip code. Our legislators get inundated with mail each and every day. So which pieces do they read? The ones with zip codes in their district or state.

Don’t bother writing to a lawmaker in a different district. It doesn't matter if he or she will cast the deciding vote. Chances are, they won’t read your letter. Your vote doesn't matter to them.

Send your letters to your representative, even if he or she has nothing to do with the matter. If they get enough letters from voters, you can bet they'll relay the message.

Few things get the attention of an elected official more than a large number of his or her voters speaking out.

They may not hear one lonely voice, but thousands of concerned voters can't be tuned out.

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Get involved. Join a group that believes in the same things you do. Write a letter. Better yet, get your friends to write a letter.

Remember, if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.