Ross L. Leffler, John M. Phillips, Judge Grover C. Ladner, Colin Reed, and John Youngman.
Angered by political meddling in the Fish & Game Commission's activities these men organized scattered clubs into one strong, efficient sportsmen's organization. Their vision was and remains today, for the PFSC to be recognized as the premier voice for conservation and our outdoor heritage in Pennsylvania.
On the Front Lines Protecting Our Outdoor Heritage, Resources and 2nd Amendment Rights Since 1932
Originally known as the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Inc. (PFSC), the Federation is one of the oldest and the most prominent sportsmen’s organizations in Pennsylvania. Established on February 11, 1932, with a meeting of five Pennsylvania conservationists, Ross L. Leffler, John M. Phillips, Judge Grover C. Ladner, Colin Reed and John Youngman. This meeting, oddly enough, took place at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City. The meeting ended with Ross Leffler serving as temporary chairman until the organization could be formally established. Judge Ladner was elected as the first PFSC President in March of 1932 and served in this capacity until 1939.
New Name – Same Core Values!
In 2018, the Federation changed its name to the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen & Conservationists, Inc. (PFSC), to be more inclusive and better represent who and what it stands for.
From the beginning, the Federation was concerned with conservation issues in Pennsylvania. In the early days, there were few if any regulations to protect the environment. The Federation focused on how sportsmen could address this problem. PFSC was the driving force behind the passage of Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Act in 1937. Significant steps were also taken in fish and game laws due to their efforts, and greater emphasis was placed on Game Land acquisition. The organization continued to grow and make a difference.
It was after World War II when sportsmen’s interest in conservation bloomed. As our soldiers returned home, they found many of their favorite hunting and fishing areas devastated by the heavy strip mining necessary to support the war effort, so sportsmen went into action.
The strong coal lobby blocked numerous attempts to pass laws requiring back-filling and protection of the streams. It wasn’t until after the sportsmen successfully campaigned against the legislators who opposed strip mine reforms that progress could be made. It was a long hard road with some victories. The passage of the Bituminous Open Pit mining act in 1963 opened the door for other significant achievements - The Anthracite Open Pit Mining Act, Anti-subsidence Act, Amendments to strengthen the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Act, Reorganization of State Agencies under DER, and the All Surface Mining Act.
PFSC has continued on a course of “resource first!”
The Federation was instrumental in the enactment of the nation’s first Surface Mining Act, the establishment of Soil and Conservation Districts, and the founding of the National Wildlife Federation. The Federation helped to pass PA’s Wild Resource Conservation income tax check-off program, PA’s solid waste bill including mandatory recycling, opposed large scale commercial development of PA’s state parks, and much more.
The Federation opposed the dredging of the Delaware River and lobbied for the Conservation and Reinvestment Act; became co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the proposed route of I-99 and against the Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Surface Mining, and U.S. Department of the Interior for inadequate and failing mine bonding. PFSC worked with the National Wildlife Federation on State Wetland permits and more.
While PFSC has a long list of victories that have protected the environment and wildlife, the Federation has also tackled issues directly affecting the sportsmen and sportswomen of Pennsylvania. PFSC played a significant role in repealing the Philadelphia Firearms Act and protecting all existing clubs in Pennsylvania from having their ranges closed due to noise complaints by enacting legislation (Senate Bill 56, 1997) and testing this legislation in court. The Federation prevented local governments from prohibiting hunting in their jurisdictions through a successful court case in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Duff decision 1987). PFSC diverted attempts to use game lands as sites for waste disposal and storage. Worked successfully to oppose legislation (HB 2181, 2001) that would have taken control of game land uses away from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and put it under the control of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the legislature.
In 2000, PFSC won a lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s navigable waterways. This case centered around the upper reaches of the Lehigh River in Luzerne County, where a private fishing club had taken action against an individual angler fishing in what they considered to be “their” section of the river. The Lehigh River had long been listed as a navigable waterway, and the river’s bed should therefore belong to the Commonwealth. PFSC entered the fight in 1996, siding with the individual sportsman, and the Luzerne County Court agreed. The fishing club appealed the court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which agreed with the lower court ruling. The club then appealed this decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which denied their appeal. Four years and $90,000 later, the rights of the public to Pennsylvania’s public waterways was affirmed. This case was not about the Lehigh River. It was about public resources remaining open to the public that owns them. This decision sets an important precedent with far-reaching benefits for sportsmen and their rights to access public waterways.
PFSC closely monitored HR 15 and the study’s results on the possible merger of the Game Commission and the Fish & Boat Commission. PFSC adamantly opposes such a merger, especially placing the agencies under the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Thus far, those supporting a merger cannot show how it will substantially benefit the resources or the constituents. The best they have demonstrated is a potential $5-million-dollar savings from staff cuts, but they fail to explore the potential costs that such a merger would impose. The report also stated that the agencies will still need some type of alternative or increased funding with or without a merger. PFSC supports the use of alternative funding for infrastructure, habitat management, and non-game management. PFSC supports legislation allowing the agencies to set their own fees under a legislative review process.
The Federation is about more than issues and lawsuits. PFSC has long been supportive of our youth and their active involvement in our great outdoor heritage. Federation clubs host hundreds of youth field days each year, providing thousands of youth with an opportunity to explore our outdoor activities. Each year we sponsor a statewide youth poster & photo contest with conservation themes and award cash prizes. We never cease to be amazed by the talent and effort these kids show each year. PFSC affiliated County Federations host some thirteen conservation schools each summer where students spend from a weekend to a week learning about conservation, the environment, and themselves. PFSC also supports the efforts of the Wildlife Leadership Academy through scholarship grants.
PFSC was instrumental in establishing hunter education requirements and continues to support these classes actively. We believe we must encourage these new hunters to be stewards of our heritage and take safety, ethics, and conservation seriously.
The Federation worked tirelessly to help pass legislation that allowed the PGC to create a Mentored Youth Hunting Program within PA. This program allows children under the age of 12 to experience the joys of hunting while accompanied by a mentor. This is a great way to introduce youths to Pennsylvania’s proud hunting traditions. These programs are opening the door to a whole new segment of hunters, trappers, anglers and conservationists. Recruitment and retention of new hunters are imperative to the future of our outdoor heritage. PFSC was also successful in the passage of an adult mentoring program and efforts to convince the PGC to incorporate a similar program that will cover those between the ages of 12 and 21.
The Federation worked with other conservation organizations to seek legislation giving the PGC full authority to set season dates – including Sundays. Passage of SB 147 (2020) allowed the Commission the authority to set 3 Sundays. SB 607 (2021) would enable the PGC to manage all Sundays if passed.
PFSC believes all wildlife management should be based on science-led, resource-first management established in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. We must strive for the optimization of opportunity if we want to optimize participation. PFSC will oppose legislative attempts to micro-manage wildlife/aquatic seasons and bags/creel limits.
PFSC’s membership comprises affiliated clubs, individual members and statewide organizations with like-minded goals and interests, currently representing approximately 70,000 sportsmen/sportswomen and conservationists.
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen & Conservationists – always striving to preserve, promote and protect our Outdoor Heritage of Hunting, Trapping, Angling, Boating, the Shooting Sports and our Natural Resources.
I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully defend from waste the natural resources of my country – its soil, air, minerals, forests, water and wildlife.
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All Rights Reserved.
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen & Conservationists is a 501(c)4 non-profit, tax-exempt organization as provided by IRS regulations. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free (within PA) 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.
The Voice of Pennsylvania's Sportsmen