September 24 wildlife enthusiasts throughout Mississippi will join
with millions of others across America in celebrating the 25th anniversary
of National Hunting and Fishing Day. I find this the perfect opportunity
to be proud of the contributions we have made toward maintaining fish
and wildlife habitat and access to it.
Our waterfowl populations are some of the highest they have ever been and Mississippi's
deer population is over 1.7 million. That's more deer per acre than any other
state. Access is also increasing. There have been many boat ramps constructed,
several thousand acres in public lands added to our state wildlife management
areas and national wildlife refuges and, most of all, tens of thousands of acres
protected, restored and enhanced on private lands since Wildlife Mississippi
was founded five years ago.
We are now in the full implementation of the conservation programs established
in 2002 Farm Bill. The Wetland Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve Program,
Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Grasslands Reserve Program and
the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program are providing significant benefits to
a diversity of fish and wildlife. The new 500,000-acre continuous sign-up for
hardwoods was conceptualized by your Foundation.
Our wildlife populations would not be so good and we would not have the opportunity
to enjoy them on our public lands if it was not for our outstanding Congressional
delegation, the Mississippi Legislature, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, National Park Service, the Natural Resources Conservation
Service, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks and the Mississippi
Department of Environmental Quality.
Not to be forgotten are the members, Trustees and officers of Wildlife Mississippi
who provided the vigilance and quality leadership to make sure our public and
private areas are maintained under sound conservation practices for the benefit
of both wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts. This may be the best reason of all
we celebrated National Hunting and Fishing Day.
Jeff Clark, M.D.