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Blog > Conservation > Interview: Ed Boito at the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition

Interview: Ed Boito at the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/20/2010 (1770 reads)
The Pennsylvania Camo Coalition is new group dedicated to the preservation of our outdoors, but unlike many others they are uniquely focused on the interests of sportsmen/women in our region. I recently had a chance to catch up with Ed Boito, Special Campaign Director and learned a lot more about the group and the just what they are trying to accomplish in our region.

Dave Kile:  So tell us, who is the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition?
 
Ed Boito:  Conservation minded sportsmen/women and outdoor enthusiasts who want to learn more about conservation issues, be politically active on water and land issues, and defend our outdoor heritage in Pennsylvania.
 
paDK:  What is it that the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition is trying to accomplish? 
 
EB:  We are a free service for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts.  Our goal is to unite sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts (hikers, cyclists, kayakers, birders, etc)  through our common interests of resource conservation in an effort to influence the decision making in Harrisburg.  We will be organizing the members to contact their legislators when issues affecting our natural resources or outdoor heritage are on the front burner.  In addition, I will personally be advocating in the State Capitol on issues that affect sportsmen and natural resource issues.
 
DK:  When was the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition established? 
 
EB:  In November of 2009, PennFuture became the state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation (NFW).  We learned from the NWF that other state affiliates had created successful Camo Coalitions which were active and successful in shaping the political debate on resource conservation in their respective states.  We started the PA Camo Coalition in late October of 2010.
 
DK:  Who are the major supporters of the organization?  
 
EB:  Other than ourselves, we don’t have any major supporters of the organization.  The costs to maintain the site are minimal.  However, we are hoping that other sporting organizations will support what we are doing and encourage their membership to join. DK:  Do you accept donations and if so from whom are you contributors? 
 
EB:  First of all, joining the Camo Coalition is Free, as well as the services we provide.  We would be happy to accept donations, even small ones!  We have no major contributors at this time.
 
DK:  Many are familiar with the NWF, but can you tell more about Penn Future. 
 
EB:  PennFuture is one of the leading conservation and environmental organizations in Harrisburg.  We have 26 staff members, five of which are staff attorneys (soon to be 6).  Primarily we focus on creating a competitive, alternative energy economy.  However, we also have staff members who are actively working on water issues (such as the Chesapeake Bay and AMD remediation), urban revitalization, agricultural runoff issues and many alternative energy issues.  I think it is important to note that our staff attorneys have, over the years, spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours working with various sportsmen’s group protecting our natural resources, primarily working with watershed organizations for cleaner streams.
 
I also want to mention that joined PennFuture as a staff member because I feel PennFuture is more pragmatic than other organizations when it comes to balancing the environment and economic growth.  Our motto is “Every environmental victory grows the economy.”
 
DK:  How would you characterize one of the biggest misconceptions of the organization? 
 
EB:  I think that many sportsmen are leery of joining because of the perception that we are tree huggers, who may threaten our right to hunt, fish, or own guns for that matter.  On some bulletin boards, I have read that we don’t represent true sportsmen, and we are cloaking ourselves in the “sportsmen’s cape” to advance our agenda.  I’ve also been called an agent of the U.N.  Well, I may not be an agent of the U.N., but I do have a black ops helicopter and mutilate cattle on the weekend between searches for sasquatch and leprechauns.
 
But seriously, that is far, far from the truth.  As for myself, I grew up in a small town in northern Cambria County.  I’ve hunted and fished all my life.  As a kid, I fished the Clearfield Creek, which is tremendously impaired by coal and clay mine drainage.  Didn’t catch much there but chubs and a few stocked trout.  I hunted bony piles and high banks for deer and squirrels.  I never found it reasonable how the environment was left to future generations.  The area that I grew up in is a victim of natural resource extraction that occurred 75 years ago.  Given the possibilities of the Marcellus Shale play, we can’t let this happen again.  Conservationists, hunters, anglers, tree huggers…people…must all join together to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
 
I think another misconception is that hunters and anglers need to be at odds with the environmentalists.  Yes, there are issues that the two groups will never agree on, but there are a whole hell of a lot of issues where we share common ground.  Anglers want clean water, environmentalists want clean water.  Hunters want access and good habitat, the same for other outdoor enthusiasts.  In order to protect our natural resources and our favorite places, we ALL need to work together.  We have to set aside our differences and work for the common goal.  The camo coalitions in other states have made great strides in uniting groups that have a dog in the fight and now have the ability to influence policy.  I forget who said it, but the phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall” is very relevant to this situation.
 
DK:  Are there any specific issues that the Pennsylvania Camo Coalition wants sports to be aware of right now.  
 
EB:  Yes, the leasing of additional state forest land for natural gas exploration.  There is a lot of misinformation out there that this will halt drilling in the state.  That is not the case.  Please go to our website to learn about the issue.
 
DK:  What is the biggest issue facing sportsman in this region right now and what are you asking them to do?
 
EB:  Drilling in the Marcellus Shale.  Let’s face it, there is a possibility of 100,000 wells that can be drilled in this region.  This covers nearly two-thirds of our state.  In all respects, we haven’t even begun the industrial scale drilling that will soon take place.  It has the possibility of adversely affecting our water, our land and the habitat of our wildlife.  This is THE biggest environmental issue in Pennsylvania for the next 25 years or more.  We have to make sure this is done right the first time.  We have to make sure the operators are following the rules.  We have to make sure they don’t leave us polluted streams.  We need a severance tax that will remediate FUTURE effects this drilling will have.
 
How can sportsmen help?  They can join the Camo Coalition.  We will help them understand the issues.  But more importantly, when we ask them to contact their legislator, they really need to step up to the plate and take the two minutes required.
 
DK:  Does Pennsylvania Camo Coalition take sides on these issues? 
 
EB:  Absolutely.  We will be advocating for the issues you will find on our website in several ways.  We will ask the membership to take action, whether that be a personal visit to their legislator, or as simple as an e-mail.  In addition, we will be advocating in the state capitol with both Representatives and Senators to understand our position on these issues and urge them to vote for against the issue, depending on which way we want them to go.  It is important to note that we are NOT permitted to make campaign contributions to the legislators.
 
DK:  How do you plan to keep sportsman informed and active?  
 
EB:  We will be producing a monthly e-newsletter to educate our members, as well as e-mailing information on a more timely basis if the situation arises.  Our website is also updated daily with news from around the state that sportsmen may find interesting.
 
DK:  Anything else you want to add:
 
EB:  Yes, We are hoping to recruit volunteer regional or county representatives that can get out, meet sportsmen’s organizations, recruit new members and spread the word of what we can all accomplish together. In addition, I am available at any time to talk to individuals.  They can reach me at boito@pacamocoalition.org or 717-214-7928.

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