MOHA Officially Retires its Mission
On June 27th, the remaining members of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance Board unanimously voted to dissolve the organization. Over the last few years, MOHA has been unable to backfill board positions, raise adequate funds and get its member groups engaged in its mission at the Capitol. As a totally volunteer organization, it fell victim to what many groups are going or have gone through finding the workforce and funds to continue.
Launched in August of 1994, the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance obtained 501c3 status. With an Executive Committee and Governing Board set about to represent all organizations involved in hunting, fishing, and trapping from all regions of the state. It was the intent to raise funds in a way that would not take funds away from its member groups, so there has never been a dues structure and has relied on donations from the member groups and creative fundraising. Plans for 1995 included efforts to conduct legislative work and educate the public to introduce and pass a constitutional amendment to guarantee hunting, fishing, and trapping rights. MOHA leadership collaborated with legislators to create the first MOHA Legislative Caucus for the 1995 legislative session. As the 1995 session progressed, the Caucus began to function as a solid, bi-partisan body dedicated to supporting Minnesota sportsmen and women. That first Caucus included 22 Senators and 47 Representatives. MOHA established regular meetings at the Capitol to discuss legislation, upcoming issues, and public awareness of these items.
MOHA had dedicated leaders and volunteers that spent countless hours in St. Paul. Over the years its lists of accomplishments are many. MOHA worked at the Capitol to get a Constitutional Amendment for the right to hunt, fish and trap which was passed by the voters in 1998 with 75% voter support. MOHA was instrumental in passing the Legacy Amendment. A ten-year effort to raise awareness of the issue included two rallies on the steps of the State Capitol. These “Duck” rallies were attended by thousands of sportsmen and women from across the state. The support enabled the amendments passing in 2008. MOHA also was the main force behind the reintroduction of and getting legislation passed for the hunting of Mourning Doves. In 2017, MOHA led a coalition of groups to put together Legislative Briefs for legislators that included six issues that represented common ground issues that all conservation organizations could support and included recommendations: Outdoor Heritage Fund, Public Lands, Payment in Lieu of Taxes, Professional Wildlife Management, Hunter & Angler Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation, the Contributions of Sportsmen and Sportswomen of Minnesota. In 2018, MOHA signed on to the lawsuit along with other conservation groups in response to the legislature raid of the Environmental Trust Fund for $164 million to fund waste-water treatment. The lawsuit never went to trial and the legislature fixed this legislation at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. Over the past several years MOHA distributed a weekly legislative update during the session. The interactive document was informational about current issue’s, proposed legislation, House, and Senate Hearing schedules, DNR information and web links to all of it. The MOHA model for State Legislative Caucus’s was adopted by over twenty States and the right to hunt and fish amendment language was used by several States in passing their own Constitutional Amendments. MOHA worked closely with the Minnesota DNR from the beginning and the relationships with the Commissioner’s and their staffs allowed for back-and-forth communication, policy support and sometimes opposition. That relationship enabled real time action/reaction on critical issues.
The mission of MOHA could not have been accomplished without the support of its member groups, their financial support and engagement by its many volunteers. Thanks to them, the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance leaves a legacy for sportsmen and women to remember. The remaining board members wish that the organizations in the state today continue its mission by working with and educating legislators, maintaining a relationship with the Minnesota DNR and creating public awareness about the issues that are important to Minnesota.
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