Bill Christensen: Vote for Utah’s outdoor heritage and legacy

Courtesy photo from the Wasatch Wildlife Watch project, University of Utah A motion-triggered camera recorded this image of a mule deer in Utah’s central Wasatch Mountains May 27 as part of University of Utah research, led by biology graduate student Austin Green, exploring how recreation affects wildlife. Volunteer teams rigged cameras at 210 sites and recorded 40,000 to 50,000 images of animals during a 15-week study period. Now the team is seeking help from the public to process this tsunami of data.

The lamps glow in the old cabin as I walk with my children and grandchildren through the double doors and enter what feels like a different century. It is like a museum – furniture, paintings and pictures from the early 20th Century and the late 19th surrounding us. Old mule deer and antelope mounts decorate the room.

This is the scene in my great grandfather’s cabin built in 1919 by C.B. Stewart. On one wall is a painting of George Romney and above the old-style piano a photo of Isaac M. Stewart, my great-great-grandfather. The hunting and fishing heritage abounds here.

From the time my great-great-grandmother Elizabeth White Stewart walked from Missouri to Utah as an early pioneer, the tradition and heritage of hunting and fishing was ever present and could mean the difference between life and death. Prairie chickens, native cutthroat trout, deer, elk and other game was harvested and used for food, clothing, tools and even barter.

Today our hunting and fishing heritage continues to be an important part of our lives, culture, and our local economies. Lifelong memories and experiences enrich our lives and those of our families. Fishing, hunting and all wildlife-related recreation generates more than $1 billon to Utah’s economy. Hunters, fishers, and state partners have helped complete 2,274 wildlife and range projects, restoring some 2 million acres and generating $279 million in Utah through the Watershed Restoration Initiative.

Voting yes on the Utah Constitutional Amendment E, Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot, ensures these social and economic traditions continue. With this amendment, Utah would join 21 other forward-thinking states preserving the most successful wildlife management model in the world.

All Utahns, whether or not they fish or hunt, benefit from this outdoor legacy. The North American Wildlife Management Model, funded by taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, has produced the most diverse and successful public wildlife treasure in the world in the American West. Now, the younger generations are more conscious about healthy food choices, which means Utah has new hunters and fishers who harvest and provide healthy food for their families.

We all have the opportunity to preserve Utah’s outdoor legacy and wildlife treasure in an increasingly urban state by voting yes to the Utah Constitutional Amendment E, Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment on Nov. 3. Fishing with my granddaughter, Lyra, and affording her the eventual opportunity to fish with her grandchildren, is a future that will benefit all of us.

Bill Christensen

Bill Christensen, Holladay, continues to volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation after a 30-year career leading that organization. He also volunteers for Trout Unlimited and serves on board of directors for the Utah Wildlife Federation.

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