March 14, 2011

Randy Bimson

Title: Senior Technical Advisor
Organization: Beretta USA Corporation
Location: Accokeek, Maryland

Q: When did you first start hunting and fishing, and what’s your favorite memory afield?
I grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada, where there is some of the best big game and bird hunting in the world. On one of my first trips afield, my dad took me out duck hunting at a local prairie pothole. It was a dark, cold morning, and my dad and I settled into the blind against the driving rain and howling wind. Next thing I remember is waking up hours later to daylight – I had curled up in my dad’s lap and fallen fast asleep. Dad never fired a shot that day. Instead he enjoyed the sunrise over the prairie, the mallards and canvasbacks coming and going out of the slough in front of us, and being there with me.

More recently, I spent four days hunting with my two grown sons outside College Station, Texas. We drove out together, hunted boars and spent cherished time together. It was the first time in years that the three of us were able to coordinate our schedules to get together on the same hunt. The bonus was harvesting a few boars and bringing home some fantastic meat.

Q: What led you to become involved in conservation?
When I was 15 years old I obtained certification as a hunter safety/outdoor education instructor and joined the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation as a volunteer instructor. The course included substantial aspects of wildlife and conservation. Under the guidance of the SWF and my future father-in-law, I became involved in many conservation projects.

During this period I was introduced to the manager of a project to assist the Department of Natural Resources in maintaining a sustainable pheasant population in the area. Thus began my ongoing involvement in conservation, water and land use issues that has continued throughout my professional career in the firearms industry.

Q: How did Beretta become involved in conservation work?
Founded in 1526, Beretta is the oldest family-owned industrial firearms dynasty in the world. The Beretta group and family have been associated with conservation projects and efforts for many years on a worldwide basis. From the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust in Kenya to supporting the work of national, regional and local associations here in the USA, Beretta believes that conservation needs to be a national priority. Over the years we’ve supported groups like the TRCP, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association, Quail Unlimited and Ruffed Grouse Society.

Q: Describe your vision for Beretta.
Quite simply, the Beretta family and the management and staff of Beretta want to insure the ongoing heritage of field sports for generations to come. If our sons and daughters – and their children – participate in outdoor recreation, whether hiking or hunting, they will attach a value to those experiences. These experiences will be echoed in their collective voice to maintain our sporting resources in a sustainable manner. It is an investment in the well-being of our future generations and the world as whole.

Beretta is acutely aware that wildlife and fisheries conservation, public access to these resources and the shooting sports industry are indivisibly intertwined. Without wildlife and access to the lands and waters where we hunt, the shooting sports industry would be greatly diminished.
As capable organizations like the TRCP, Ducks Unlimited and Coastal Conservation Association have taken up the fight at the front lines, Beretta has moved to a supporting role. We are working to further the conservation goals and objectives of organizations such as yours by actively sharing expertise, industry insight and cooperative marketing efforts.

Q: What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing the country today?
Funding for wildlife and habitat at federal, state and municipal levels as well as funding to allow conservation organizations to continue their missions should be top priority. We must ensure conservation programs survive budget and funding cuts – an increasingly challenging task in today’s political and economic climate.

We have a great cadre of conservation organizations that cover each specific interest and facet of conservation. In most cases there is significant overlap between the groups. It is imperative that these organizations collaborate to move the conservation community forward and ensure that sportsmen have a voice. This is where Beretta sees the value of the TRCP. The TRCP provides a common voice for disparate groups, allowing them to work smarter to achieve common goals.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of fish and wildlife conservation, and how can hunters and anglers accomplish these goals?
I want future generations to have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill and awe of the outdoor adventures that I’ve had. I’ve had the joy of sharing a wide variety of experience with my children – not just hunting and fishing, but wilderness canoeing, cross country skiing, winter camping and so much more. If more Americans can share these experiences with their children it means our resources will be in good hands.

“The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, address to the Deep Waterway Convention, Memphis, Tenn., Oct. 4, 1907

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February 14, 2011

Paul R. Vahldiek, Jr.

Location: Houston, Texas

Q: When did you first start hunting and fishing and what’s your favorite memory afield?

I began hunting and fishing around the age of eight. I have many good memories from over the years—ranging from early dove and quail hunts with my uncle and cousins to fishing trips with my 7th grade basketball coach. Later memories expand to watching a female cougar play with her cubs, smashing a Super Cub into a dead whale on a Bering Sea beach, and trading fishing lures for a hunting bow in the Amazon.

Q: What led you to become involved in conservation?
Loving the outdoors and caring deeply about fish and wildlife and our ability to conserve all for future generations led me to become involved in conservation.

Q: How did The High Lonesome Ranch become what it is today?
Both the HLR and I are continually evolving. Besides the obvious commitments of money and time, the HLR and I have grown in scope and vision through our association with great conservation associations such as the TRCP, Trout Unlimited, Wildlands Network and the Boone and Crockett Club.  These associations have been the continuing basis for the development of many extraordinary relationships within the conservation and science communities.

Q: Describe your vision for the High Lonesome Ranch?
The High Lonesome Ranch embraces a model of sustainability that, using public-private partnerships, provides stewardship of a large-scale, intact western landscape; restores degraded habitat and biological diversity; ensures long-term conservation of critical open space; and preserves western Colorado’s important ranching heritage while engaging in mixed use enterprises that viably support the broader caretaker and legacy goals.

We are also planning for our High Lonesome Conservation Institute, which will bring together scientists, educators, students and members of the general public to develop and apply a contemporary land ethic philosophy and the North American model of wildlife conservation. Fundamentally,  we are about sustainability—of the ranching, hunting and angling traditions; intact landscapes; and human enterprises.

To help manifest this vision, I have surrounded myself with great individual consultants and conservation leaders, ranging from Michael Soulé to Cristina Eisenberg to Shane Mahoney, Roger Creasey, David Ford and Rose Letwin. Also, my “vision” would not be possible without all of my committed partners and HLR associates.

Q: What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing the country today?
Some of the most pressing conservation issues we face today are the result of a rapidly growing human population and decisions we made about natural resources in the years before we had some of the science we have today. These issues include habitat degradation, habitat fragmentation, unsustainable use of natural resources in a way that negatively impacts wildlife, and climate change. All of these issues are decreasing or creating shifts in habitat for fish and game. This is all intensified by diminishing public interest in hunting and fishing, which results in decreased revenue available for state wildlife agencies.

Hunters and anglers have long been the leading conservationists in America, and visionaries such as Aldo Leopold, Joseph Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt helped create just about all of the fundamental wildlife conservation tools and laws we have today—things such as the national game refuge system and hunting bag limits. We need a new generation of conservation leaders today to step up and help take the conservation vision of Leopold, Grinnell and Roosevelt into the future. The task before us for conservation is enormous, and we must coordinate our efforts (time, money and political) to achieve those goals.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of fish and wildlife conservation and how can hunters and anglers work to accomplish these goals?
I hope that in the future we see a more sustainable use of resources, one that embodies Aldo Leopold’s land ethic philosophy for stewardship of private and public lands subjected to mixed uses. This would involve improving wildlife health by restoring habitat, creating more permeable and intact landscapes, and utilizing natural processes, such as predation by carnivores, to restore ecosystems for wildlife and the humans who use wildlife resources. Human needs are an intrinsic aspect of wildlife conservation. Bringing together a diverse community of hunters, anglers, scientists, corporate and non-profit partners, educators, students, and everyday citizens will enable us to find creative wildlife conservation solutions.  We must find common goals with those who don’t hunt and fish.

January 14, 2011

Rollin Sparrowe

Location: Daniel, Wyoming

The Wyoming Chapter of The Wildlife Society recently awarded Rollin Sparrowe the Citizen of the Year Award, recognizing his work to conserve and manage wildlife and habitats in the state of Wyoming.

Sparrowe was recognized for his efforts toward developing science as a basis for management, his outstanding work as a mentor to wildlife professionals, his expertise on wildlife and energy issues and his active engagement in the Upper Green River Basin where the TRCP currently is involved in a lawsuit.

Read on to learn more about one of the founding board members of the TRCP, Rollin Sparrowe.

Q: What is your fondest hunting or angling memory?
My first wild turkey in 1970. It was Missouri’s first season in 30 years.

Q: What led you to your career in conservation?
I read all about exploration, hunting and wild animals in places like Africa when I was growing up. This lead me to seek a college degree in wildlife management at Humboldt State University in California.

Q: How did you get involved with the TRCP?
I am a founding board member and was a partner in establishing the goals of the TRCP.

Q: What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?
The inexorable growth of human population and its pressures on habitats and wildlife is threatening our hunting and fishing heritage. We also are losing a true sense of wildness in the hunting experience.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of the TRCP and how can sportsmen work with us to accomplish these goals?
The TRCP was established to bring hunting and fishing organizations and sportsmen together to solve difficult problems with the future of habitats and fish and wildlife. I hope to see the TRCP reach that basic goal.

November 14, 2010

Al Perkinson

Q: What is your fondest hunting or angling memory?

There are many, but I’d have to say that I really enjoyed my trip to Panama with my friend Chris Fischer and my son, Reid. We went through the Panama Canal at night, fished at Tropic Star Lodge and made a trip up the Darien River to visit some native tribes – escorted by armed guards to protect us from the FARC rebels. What a great adventure.

Q: What led you to your career in conservation?

I’ve always been involved in the not-for-profit world. My dad was a college president and I studied arts management at Columbia University. Since being at Costa, I’ve had a chance to combine my love of the outdoors with my desire to get involved and protect it. I’m very fortunate in that regard.

Q: How did you get involved with the TRCP?

Whit Fosburgh and I got to know each other when he was at Trout Unlimited. He introduced me to TRCP and the great work they’re doing in fisheries management.

Q: What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?

The urbanization of America is the most important issue. A greater and greater percentage of Americans are moving to urban centers. This is causing a decline in the number of people who hunt and fish and otherwise enjoy the outdoors. If people don’t enjoy the outdoors, they won’t value it, and they won’t care about protecting it. I fear the day will come when kids only experience the outdoors through reality TV and video games. Our top priority should be to instill a love of the outdoors in our youth.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of the TRCP and how can Costa and the sportfishing community help us realize those dreams?

The environmental and conservation communities must join forces and get behind practical solutions if we hope to succeed at protecting our waters and fish populations. I think that the TRCP is helping to make that happen and so I’m more optimistic about the future because of the efforts of the organization. Others can help by putting the well-being of our environment ahead of politics.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your recent award as one of Outdoor Life’s 25 Most Influential People in Hunting and Fishing.

It’s an honor to be included. Outdoor Life has a rich tradition and is one of the most respected publications in the industry. The award is as much for Costa as it is for me. Everyone at Costa is very mission driven. All of their hard work produces the revenue that allows us to give to conservation. We tell our employees that the more they sell, the more we can give. It is such a motivational message for them.

October 14, 2010

Robert Manes

Q: What is your fondest hunting or angling memory?

When my oldest daughter Aubrey was about 10 years old we went on her first duck hunt. It was early in the season, and the ducks were few, fast and far. Aubrey kept asking if she could shoot one of the coots that frequently presented an easy shot. After refusing several times I relented, half hoping she’d miss. She didn’t, and I learned that grilled coot, wrapped in plenty of bacon, is, well, edible. When my younger daughter Lauren was 14, we went on her first deer hunt. While she didn’t kill one that year, we had the excitement of close encounters with deer. The time we spent sitting, watching, eating apples and talking that fall is still a vivid heart-treasure to me all these years later.

Q: What led you to your career in conservation?

My parents and grandparents made sure I had ready access to hunting and fishing. Dad was a wildlife professional, and Granddad was a rancher and farmer. My childhood was spent in the deserts and mountains of Arizona and on my granddad’s land in Kansas. I had abundant access to wild places, and the Daisy Red Ryder my mom and dad gave me for my ninth Christmas let me collect and study countless song birds, lizards and frogs. These experiences remain among the most powerful influences on my life.

Q: How did you get involved with the TRCP?

I first learned of the TRCP when I was a field representative for the Wildlife Management Institute. The TRCP seemed like the perfect complement to the science and policy work that WMI, TNC and other long-standing conservation organizations and agencies were doing. The TRCP’s grassroots advocacy for sportsmen and sound wildlife conservation policy attracted my interest in the organization.

Q: What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?

Declining awareness of, experiences in and passion for the natural world among young people threaten wildlife and hunting more than any other factor – except perhaps global population growth. More immediate threats such as unbridled energy and transmission development and diminished access to hunting lands must be addressed as well.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of the TRCP, and how can the Nature Conservancy work with us to accomplish these goals?

We need to have the TRCP and its partners function effectively in arenas of policy and economics. Sportsmen’s organizations continue to be powerful and credible forces, and their influence needs to be focused on major long-term challenges without losing focus on the day-to-day importance of restoring habitats and access to wild lands. Sportsmen and -women with a passion for the wild outdoors must share their experiences with young people.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

Learn More
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