Hunting seasons are winding down and fishing generally pretty bad for those of us who live away from the Erie tribs, the Ohio chapter is entering outdoor show, fly tying, and sausage making season. It's been an eventful winter, and we're excited to get into the new year!
Despite our best efforts, the now infamous “Chicken Bill” unfortunately passed designating natural gas a green energy source and poking holes in the public input structure for oil & gas development on state-owned lands. The fight is not over though, and members are rallying to hearings and provide public testimony on behalf of due process and citizen involvement in the oil & gas leasing process.
While we have not been successful in opposing this legislation, this example (Ohio House Bill 507 - https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/134/hb507) provides some important lessons for us and other boards:
- It's important to keep a close eye on not only the name of the bill, but the content. This bill has the innocuous short name "Revise number of poultry chicks that may be sold in lots", and it's only in the longer name that it becomes clear that it's really about all kinds of other stuff. Even reading the longer name, it's not clear that this bill has language that makes it easier for oil and gas companies to frack beneath public lands.
- Allies are critical. We were informed of this bill through an allied conservation organization that keeps a close eye on legislation, and as noted above, we've continued to work with these organizations to insure that fracking leases are not granted in back rooms.
- It's possible to disagree with a politician on an issue, but agree on others. We won't go into details here, but suffice to say that we were very disappointed by the actions of some in our state government. However, we will continue to work with even those who made this trainwreck the law of the land.
We lost this battle, but the work that we did was not wasted. We brought light to an important issue that some would like to keep in the dark, reinforced our commitment to work with conservation partners, and made contact with our membership in a call to action. In the coming months, we will continue this good work, and keep a sharp eye out for other attempts to subvert the legislative process.
The Ohio board has seen substantial change over the past few months, with many legendary board members stepping down, some founders of the Ohio chapter and some who joined shortly after formation. This a volunteer organization, and that fire and energy that drives us can wane over time. Life can also get in the way, with birth and death and new jobs and new passions. It's also an important part of leadership to constantly be looking for the next generation of leaders, who will certainly do it differently than you did. If you've done your job as a leader, they will also do it better than you did.
With all of that in mind, the Ohio board enters 2023 a little leaner, but with sharp focus. We welcome expert steelhead roper and co-founder of Ohio Women On the Fly Jessica Suvak to the board! In the coming years, we expect to carefully add board members in a way that expands our geographic and cultural diversity.
As noted, it's outdoor show, fly tying, and sausage making season, and the Ohio chapter will doing all of that in coming months, while also getting out for a few last hunts. We look to our first joint event with the BHA Armed Forces Initiative, a February rabbit hunt on limited access public land over beagles. That's gonna be great! We also look forward to talking with folks at the Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Show on February 4, and at the Open Seasons Sportsmans Expo in Columbus on March 17-19. Our first sausage making event will be March 4 in the Columbus area, and we're planning a third annual Flies and Beer tying night for a little later in the year as well.
One further note is that we'll have some news about a big summer event in the coming weeks. The details are firming up now, but suffice to say we're really excited about putting on a kickass show and sharing the stoke!
Here's to getting after it in 2023 in all kinds of ways! Cheers!