Author: Cassie Scott
Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, has many tasks and responsibilities. Forster, a certified wildlife biologist, directed the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife resources division, and brings nearly 30 years of agency experience to his ATA post.
Forster works on behalf of ATA members to craft and implement policies with elected officials and agencies; strengthens relationships with partner organizations and R3 (recruitment, retention and reactivation) program directors; and develops plans to expand archery and bowhunting opportunities across the United States.
To gain more insight into Forster’s work, we spoke with him about the ATA’s government relations programs.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love working with state fish and wildlife agency leaders, and being part of a national effort to grow participation in hunting and shooting sports. As a lifelong hunter and archer, I enjoy mentoring other hunters. I also take pride and satisfaction in helping the ATA lay a foundation of sound policies and practices that contribute to the growth and long-term security of hunting in the United States.
How does your work affect ATA members?
I often compare my policy work to a 401K account for the industry. I work each day on varied legislative, regulatory and policy issues that affect conservation, bowhunting and shooting sports. However, the nature of policy development is that the rewards are often cryptic and take a long time to develop. We invest time in these arenas to ensure our members and the archery community benefit from a robust industry and regulations that support nationwide conservation efforts.
What are the ATA’s government-relations priorities in 2019?
Our priorities for 2019 include standardizing state bowhunting regulations, improving chronic wasting disease management efforts, working with partners to grow participation, and completing the Pittman-Robertson modernization effort. We’ll also engage and seek to educate new partners and conservation leaders from the recent midterm elections and related agency appointments.
Update Us on the P-R Modernization Act
P-R modernization remains a priority legislative effort for the ATA, state fish and wildlife agencies, and other conservation partners. This legislation would provide states with much needed flexibility to spend federal excise tax dollars on efforts that will directly grow hunting and shooting participation. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in gaining final passage of this and other conservation priorities in a “sportsmen’s package” of legislation in the 2018 session.
However, we are already working diligently with our partners on a variety of strategies for achieving a more positive outcome during the 2019 session. We remain optimistic for its ultimate passage.
What is the ATA doing to combat CWD?
CWD remains a significant concern for our industry and the conservation community. It continues to expand and threaten deer herds and hunting in many areas. The ATA remains an engaged and supportive partner in many proactive and responsive efforts on CWD education, research, surveillance, transmission, and testing and management. Those efforts also include support and advocacy for the ATA’s Deer Protection Program.
Why is the ATA helping state agencies standardize bowhunting equipment regulations, and where are we in that process?
Simplifying regulations and removing barriers to entry are proven ways to increase hunting participation. The ATA is in a unique position to work with state wildlife agencies to simplify a variety of complex bowhunting equipment regulations, and address access and conservation issues to help grow the sport. The ATA conducted a state-specific analysis of bowhunting regulation complexities, and continues to work with states on improving equipment regulations. We’re also developing “model bowhunting equipment regulations” as an improved policy recommendation from our industry for states to use.
How can ATA members get involved in policy matters?
ATA members can get involved in policy development in several ways. First, stay connected and communicate with your state fish and wildlife agency. Sign up for e-bulletins, newsletters, regulatory updates and other publications that notify the public of important conservation and policy issues. You can also follow your agency’s social-media accounts. These actions keep you informed, so you can weigh in and ensure your voice and position are heard. Secondly, the ATA created an alert system to prompt or remind ATA members to act when lawmakers or agency administrators address industry-related issues. It’s important that members read background information the ATA provides, and provide timely and appropriate input when prompted.
If you have questions or concerns, talk to Forster while he walks the Show floor. ATA staff at the information booth in the “MY ATA Area” can also help connect you to him. Otherwise, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.