Thanks again to everyone for their support during the first three month of the NJOA's existence. Below is an article by Fred Aun of the Star Ledger that will provide a NJOA update.
NJOA more than just political group
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
BY FRED J. AUN
For the first two months of its existence, the New Jersey Outdoors Alliance (NJOA) was in firefighting mode. Formed in late August, the NJOA scrambled to raise money and muster aid with only the upcoming November elections on its radar screen.
The fledgling political action committee's goal, one it succeeded in attaining, was to help secure the Election Day defeat of two incumbent District 12 state legislators who support a bill sportsmen believe will politicize the state Fish and Game Council.
Now that the election is over, the NJOA can pay some attention to other matters, said its president, Anthony Mauro of Colts Neck.
"We don't want to be just a political entity," said Mauro. "While the political aspect helps us promote outdoors-friendly legislators, we also want to be a conservation-oriented organization. We want to educate people."
The NJOA had its first strategy meeting about two weeks ago. One of the topics was how the PAC can broaden its presence.
"Part of the discussion centered on creating a council representing the interests of hunters, anglers and trappers," said Mauro in a progress report sent to those interested in the NJOA. "We are in the process of forming a council to address issues and legislation that affect hunting, fishing and trapping. Part of the discussion was in determining the individuals that should be added to the council that represent trout fishing, bass fishing, trapping and conservation interests."
Another meeting of NJOA officers is scheduled for today. They will be discussing the formation of committees. One proposed committee would "address membership issues" and another would work toward another NJOA goal: A state constitutional amendment guaranteeing residents the right to hunt, fish and trap.
The NJOA is also wrestling with how it wants to support shooting, said Mauro.
"We're forming a council that will be composed of individuals representing anglers, clubs, organizations, hunters and trappers and we are currently looking at shooters too," he said. "When it comes to shooting, we want to keep it related to hunting only. We don't see ourselves as being a second-amendment organization (a battle being fought by the National Rifle Association). We want to limit it -- whether it's using a bow and arrow or a shotgun or a muzzleloader -- to the issues that affect hunting."
A big challenge for Mauro and his NJOA colleagues is convincing sportsmen about the organization's roles and powers.
"At first, people thought we were just another club," said Mauro. "We don't compete with them. Our mission is different. We are a non-profit, New Jersey corporation, but we can spend money on campaigns to help politicians become re-elected. We can be a political entity. We can get behind a particular bill and support a particular politician."
Mauro said the NJOA has raised about $35,000. It hopes to build a much larger war chest, since -- when it comes to politics in New Jersey -- sportsmen are never really out of the woods.
Fred J. Aun covers the outdoors for The Star-Ledger. He may be reached at email@example.com