Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 11-06-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Page 9 of 39

10 THE VALLEY NOVEMBER 6-12, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Pittman-Robertson funds are the primary driver of conservation pro- grams in Rhode Island. This year, the state purchased 103 acres abutting Glocester's Durfee Hill Management Area for just over $350,000 and another 16 acres abutting Burrillville's Round Top Management area for $120,000, all with federal and state conservation funds. The act also funds conservation programs for game and non-game species, including the threatened New England Cottontail. Once the primary rabbit species in Rhode Island, the New England Cottontail has since been replaced by the more common Eastern Cottontail and fallen prey to development and lack of new forest growth. "With a lot of the urbanization of Rhode Island and the fire manage- ment that we have, there's just less and less habitat for these rabbits," said Ferreira. In addition to funding conservation programs, he said, deer hunting can actually benefit the environment by helping to keep the state's thriving deer population in check. Though it might be difficult for someone outside the hunting community to under- stand, he said, permitted hunting is all part of a managed conservation program statewide. "I think that's one of the main things we have to kind of overcome, is it's hard for someone who's not intimately involved in the process to think that someone who's hunting and maybe harvesting a deer or two deer a year is actually benefitting deer in general and other species." That's one of the reasons the state offers a long list of hunter educa- tion programs, also funded by the Pittman-Robertson Act. In addition to the basic course required to get a hunting license, the Division of Fish and Wildlife offers workshops on everything from marksmanship to wild game cooking, most of them free of charge. YOUNG PEOPLE AREN'T HUNTING MUCH One of the areas of focus is edu- cating young hunters ages 12 to 14. According to Michael DiPietro, the state's hunter safety education coor- dinator, many teenagers today don't have a family background in hunting, so the free programs allow potential new hunters to try out the sport. "Not every kid today has a family member who is into hunting to men- tor them and show them the way," he said. DiPietro, a Hopkinton resident and longtime hunter, spent many years as a volunteer hunter safety instruc- tor and environmental police officer before taking over the position this year. Like Alves, he described hunt- ing as a rite of passage in his family. His own son got his first hunting license just after his 12th birthday, but now, at 16, rarely has the time to head out into the woods. "He plays sports, he plays football, he wrestles and runs track," said DiPietro. "He doesn't have a lot of time for hunting. He hasn't taken it to this point as seriously as I would've liked, but that's because he's distract- ed with other things." The number of youth hunters in Rhode Island has fluctuated over the years, but the general trend is similar to hunting licenses overall. In 2009, the number of licensed hunters ages 12 to 14 peaked at a five-year high of 183 before dropping to just 78 in 2017. According to DiPietro, that's concern- ing, since today's young hunters are tomorrow's adult hunting population. SOME BRIGHT SPOTS There are a few bright spots for hunting in Rhode Island. Though the number of hunters has been in near- constant decline for the past 20 years, fee increases and restructuring in the RIDEM's license and permitting system means that the total amount of funds collected from hunting and fishing activities remains more or less steady. In 2017, those activities brought in close to $1.1 million, form- ing the 25 percent match required by the Pittman-Robertson Act. The decline also appears to be reversing. In 2018, licensed hunters saw their first population growth in six years, increasing to 7,564 hunters from 6,291 in 2017. Youth hunting was also up last year, with 91 hunters compared with 78 the year before. It's too early to tell if the increase will continue, but both DiPietro and Ferreira speculated it might be due to the popularity of the state's new online resources. Hunters can now apply for licenses and take the basic hunter education course online, activi- ties that previously required visiting a vendor or sitting for several hours of classwork. "The bottom line is, we want to get people involved with hunting and to get more hunting licenses," said DiPietro. A NEW WAY TO CONSERVATION? With fewer hunters in the gen- eral population, Ferreira questioned whether a new model might eventu- ally be developed to replace some of the lost conservation funds. Activities such as hiking, biking and birding are growing in popularity and bring large numbers of users to state manage- ment areas without generating any funds. Some day, he said, other out- door industries may have to step up if their customers expect to continue benefitting from state programs and lands. "I always think that conservation will be here. I always think we'll have capable people managing. I just don't know how and if the funding will change," he said. DECLINE From Page 9 Chrismas Bazaar All major credit cards welcomed at Bazaar $5 minimum. Sat. NOV. 9th 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sun. NOV. 10th 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday, Kitchen closes at 2 p.m. followed by Raffles 15 Skyview Drive, Lincoln, RI 722-1345 St. BaSil Famous Arabic Food | Arabic Pastry | Syrian String Cheese Limited quantities of food and pastry For more info St Basil Rectory 401-722-1345 RAFFLES | PENNY SOCIAL | SILENT AUCTION KID'S CORNER | CANDY | CRAFTS | JEWELRY & MUCH MUCH MORE 2nd Oldest Christmas Fair in the State! Christmas on the Hill Park Place Congregational Church 71 Park Place (exit 27 off I-95), Pawtucket, Rhode Island Saturday, November 9th, 2019 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featuring Gift Table, Fudge Table, Baked Goods, Jewelry Table and Our White Elephant Table Santa Claus will be visiting us from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. for pictures (Please bring your own camera) Activities for the kids too! Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Holiday Spirit

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