HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut state legislators now know that BASS is more than just a tournament organization.
"We get that a lot in general," said Dave Santos, conservation director of the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Federation Nation (CBFN). "And some legislators definitely were surprised to learn that we're about more than just tournaments, that we're dedicated to youth and conservation."
The education opportunity came this spring during the first Sportsmen's Day on the Hill, sponsored by the Connecticut Sportsmen's Caucus.
More than 20 fishing and hunting organizations set up booths on the first floor of the state capitol building.
"Legislators came through and talked to people," Santos said. "We let them know about our organization and our concerns."
One of the chapter's major concerns is that politicians are considering diverting dedicated conservation money, obtained from license fees, to the general fund. Not only would that be a betrayal of public trust, but it could mean the loss of matching funds for fisheries management from the federal Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.
"Rep. Ted Moukawsher's eyes really opened up at that," Santos said. "He said that was something he hadn't considered."
CBFN members talked to legislators about repairing boat ramps, improving handicap access and controlling invasive species, especially Eurasian milfoil. They also discussed a bill to regulate recreational use of Candlewood Lake, the state's largest freshwater fishery.
In addition to setting up a booth, CBFN members displayed their tournament trailer in front of the capitol, along with Ranger, Skeeter and Stratos bass boats.