Maryland Governor Named Sportsmen's Best Friend

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The Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation (MLSF) presented Governor Martin O’Malley with its prestigious Sportsmen's Best Friend of the Year Award at its 7th Annual Banquet and Auction attended by approximately 300 people. MLSF also presented Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative Partner, Mike Baker of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project with their annual Hero of the Chesapeake Bay Award.

"It's a great honor to be recognized by Maryland's original conservationists," said Governor Martin O’Malley. "From our earliest days, Marylanders have taught their children how to fish and hunt, and how to appreciate the breathtaking outdoor surroundings for which our State is so blessed. And it is only by working together as One Maryland that we have made and will continue to make progress in sustainably managing our natural resources to ensure that fishing and hunting remains affordable, accessible, and memorable for current and future generations."

The Foundation selected Governor O'Malley as the recipient of the award to recognize his leadership on environmental issues critical to Maryland's sportsmen and women.

"Look at the Governor's record," said Senator John Astle, Democratic Co-Chair of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus. "He stands with the sportsmen of Maryland on all fronts, meaning he wants what we want and he goes after them. Enactment of the 2010 Trust Fund, a fully-funded Program Open Space, compliance with a financial commitment to the recreational fishing community, rebuilding of the Bay’s beleaguered blue crab population, promotion of fishing habitat and oyster reefs through the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, advocacy for sustainable forestry and a strengthened Critical Areas law, just to name a few."

Republican Co-Chair of the Caucus, Delegate Richard B. Weldon, Jr. echoed Senator Astle's sentiments.

"When it comes to the traditional rights of sportsmen to hunt, fish and trap, there are no partisan boundaries," Delegate Weldon said. "We all want available open space land in which to hunt and a clean watershed in which to fish. And, in the final analysis, we're all conservationists which need to stand together. I commend the Foundation for its decision to honor Governor O'Malley as the Foundation's Sportsmen's Best Friend of the Year. And, I commend the Foundation for its unrivaled efforts to build bridges with other stakeholder community groups which share our same conservation-minded values."

MLSF also honored Mike Baker for his role in managing the creation of five artificial reefs in Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay through recycling 60,000 tons of clean concrete from the old Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

"I also want to thank Mike Baker for his leadership to bring various government and private partners together to improve fish habitat in the Chesapeake Bay through projects with the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative," added O'Malley. "The Initiative's success in creating five new reefs in just over one year is quite remarkable."

Governor O'Malley prioritized our natural resources though a more balanced budget that includes an additional $25 million in funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts; fully funding Program Open Space; an additional $750,000 to improve fisheries management and restore habitat; an enhancement of more than $4 million to ensure sustainable management and quality outdoor recreational opportunities in our state parks; and $3 million for new Chesapeake Bay oyster and habitat restoration projects. Governor O'Malley also strengthened Maryland's critical areas law to ensure more adequate protection from development of the most environmentally sensitive and significant lands within Maryland's Chesapeake and Coastal Bays watersheds. Protecting vegetation and natural, living shoreline of our Bays will help protect water quality and fish habitat.