CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Hunting and fishing clubs and wildlife-related businesses joined forces Tuesday to call on New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to support strong legislation to confront climate change.

The groups announced their support for comprehensive climate legislation that would address the effects of global warming on the state’s natural resources.

The local hunting and fishing clubs were among more than 670 organizations from all 50 states that sent a letter to Congress last week urging action on global warming. They also took out a full-page ad in USA Today to press their demand.

Sportsmen are calling for comprehensive climate change legislation that cuts global warming by 2 percent per year through a cap-and-trade system and includes dedicated funding for fish and wildlife conservation and restoration.

“Climate change is a major threat to the future of our wildlife, and we’re running out of time to do something about it,” said retired state Fish and Game wildlife biologist Eric Orff, now of the National Wildlife Federation. “We’ve spent a century fighting to protect wildlife, wild places and our natural heritage. We will not sit by and do nothing while climate change threatens to wipe it all out.”

Hunting and fishing have been a big boost to New Hampshire’s economy, the groups said, noting that 258,000 people – residents and non-residents – hunted or fished in New Hampshire in 2006 and spent $286 million on equipment and other trip-related costs.

“This is as much an economic issue as it is a conservation issue,” said Steve Courchesne, owner of Steve’s Sportsmen’s Den in Hooksett. “New Hampshire’s outdoor heritage supports thousands of well-paying jobs. If we want to protect New Hampshire’s natural resource assets and the jobs that go along with them, we need to invest in solutions to global warming.”

He said hotter summers are linked to the decline in moose populations and changes in stream flows and water temperatures are hurting habitat for trout and other cold-water fish.

New Hampshire groups or businesses that signed the letter include fishing clubs, hunting clubs, sporting goods and bait shops, an outdoor guide service and a snowmobile club.

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AP-ES-02-19-08 1325EST

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