By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaign Manager
February 5, 2021
O n February 9, Northwest Steelheaders Board Member and combat veteran Tim Lenihan will testify before the Senate Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness to advocate for SB 320, a bill that would authorize group fishing licenses for nonprofits serving veterans. This would eliminate a significant barrier to entry for many veterans and active-duty military: the cost of an individual fishing license. For out-of-state visitors, an Oregon fishing license for the Columbia River can cost over $100.
Lenihan testified in front of the committee last November to urge the importance of the bill. “I personally believe fishing saved my life, ” he said. Translating his passion into action, Lenihan has been the driving force behind our Veteran’s Program. Over the past three years, he’s organized events for more than 1,000 service members to connect with the outdoors and each other through fishing, going above and beyond to foster an active angling community that supports veterans.
Lenihan described the importance of outdoor recreation for service members “to recover from the stressors of service, build a network of support, and escape the rigors of assimilating to civilian life.” Most importantly, Lenihan said that these events “reduce some of the negative contributors to our current epidemic of veteran suicide. I have personally experienced several occasions where participants credited these events with saving their lives.”
Many veterans are first introduced to fishing through our events. They build connections in the community, learn new skills, and develop a passion for fishing, becoming long-term anglers as a result. Reducing the barrier to entry for veteran anglers not only provides a service to the community, but is likely to result in an increase in individual fishing licenses purchased by veterans over the long-run.
Last year, the draft bill received unanimous bipartisan support in not only the Senate Committee on Veteran’s and Emergency Preparedness and the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, but even on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation died awaiting a final vote last year. With widespread support for SB 320 among legislators, we’re confident that the group fishing license authorization will be passed into law this year.
Take 10 minutes or less to support the bill that Tim co-sponsored! Email members of the Senate Committee on Veteran’s and Emergency Preparedness to support his testimony on February 9th.