Hunters hope working on management areas will improve image

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(Host) Vermont sportsmen are going to help maintain and improve some of the state’s wildlife management areas.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, they hope to get better hunting in return – and a better public image.

(Sneyd) Vermont hunters believe they’re often misunderstood.

So the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs came up with an idea to improve its image.

Eric Nuse was a game warden for 17 years and worked in hunter education for 15 more. Now, he’s got his own consulting business and the sportsmen’s federation is one of his clients.

He explains what the clubs plan to do in the wildlife areas.

(Nuse) What we’re looking to do is to supply manpower to get some of those projects done. Also to be a coordinator to help folks like high school service groups that are looking for conservation projects, and just do a lot of that on-the-ground kind of work to implement the plans that the department already has.

(Sneyd) Paul Hamelin is the state wildlife biologist for the management areas.

He says the federal government often gives states money to improve wildlife management areas. But to qualify, the state has to put up some cash itself. And Vermont too often can’t afford the investment.

Hamelin says the sportsmen’s donated labor will now qualify.

(Hamelin) It’s very fortunate that we’re able to use those volunteer hours as federal match. So basically, their service qualifies for an equivalent employee doing those duties that would be paid at that rate, or a contractor. … It’s a one-to-three match. That’s how we could quadruple the amount of work that we could get done with this kind of project.

(Sneyd) The sportsmen-volunteers could be assigned a variety of duties. They might be asked to install signs at some of the 86 management areas.

Others could be asked to head into the woods with their chainsaws to cut brush away from apple or oak trees, both sources of food for wildlife.

Roy Marble of Morristown is president of the federation. He says that kind of work gives wildlife more places to survive and thrive. And, he says, it gives him and other hunters an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to conservation.

(Marble) Ideally, we’ll have some better public relations, a better understanding of the user groups. From time to time there’s been friction between consumptive users and non-consumptive users and I think when you boil it all down they have more in common than not in common and we’re trying to get the basis set so that we can work together more than working against each other.

(Sneyd) The Fish and Wildlife Department expects to launch the new cooperative effort with three to five test projects next year.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

(Host) An agreement detailing the new initiative will be signed tomorrow at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison.

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