May 14, 2011

Robin Knox

Robin Knox with a redfish. Photo courtesy of Robin Knox.

Name:  Robin Knox

Title: Coordinator, Western Native Trout Initiative

Location: Evergreen, Colorado

As coordinator of the Western Native Trout Initiative, Robin Knox gets to play with fish for a living — not bad for a guy who grew up 10 minutes outside of downtown Chicago! Learn more about Robin and the WNTI.

Q: What is your fondest hunting or angling memory?

This is tough since I have many great ones. Probably the fondest memory I have is back around 1990 or so, I took my parents fishing on a lake in southeast Colorado, and we had the best day I have ever had for white crappie fishing. We caught dozens of crappie that were 14 to 16 inches long, weighed over a pound, and both of my parents were so excited about what a great fishing trip it was. I have a great picture of them holding up a stringer of these crappies, which we later filleted and ate.

Q: What led you to your career in conservation?

I was one of seven children, and in the summer we always spent a week on a lake in northern Wisconsin. We did camping trips to Cape Hatteras National Seashore and other places, and I started to develop a love of the outdoors. I just loved to fish and was always interested in wild creatures and where they lived. After getting a bachelor’s degree in zoology, I learned that I could get a graduate degree in fisheries science and hopefully enter the fisheries management side of science. So that is what I did.

Q: Tell us a little more about the WNTI’s work to conserve native trout populations. Why are these populations important to sportsmen?

Native trout in the West are important for a number of reasons. To Native Americans they are cultural icons, and to many anglers they are a worthy quarry due to their limited distribution, their colorful bodies and hard-fighting nature. To conservationists they are indicator species that highlight the stresses placed on coldwater habitats due to population growth, resource extraction impacts, de-watering and invasive species. WNTI’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for the implementation of management actions that improve the status of the species through partnerships and cooperative efforts that result in improved habitats, better scientific information and improved recreational opportunities for anglers. WNTI works hard at increasing public knowledge and understanding of the role native trout play as we consider the best ways to conserve and improve coldwater aquatic habitats.

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

I think the key conservation issues facing sportsmen today are
a) Having a strong voice at the national level that results in good decisions about how and where energy development takes place. Important examples include supporting legislation like the Clean Water Act, ensuring funding for conservation programs and protecting wild lands.
b) Maintaining access to local lands and waters for hunting and fishing access.
c) Recruiting new anglers and hunters into the conservation community at a young age and keeping them interested in outdoor recreation until it becomes a lifelong pursuit.

Q: Why are hunters and anglers important players in the future of conservation?

For all the reasons just described above, and the fact that old farts like myself are not going to be around forever.

Q: What do you love about your job?

My job has allowed me to be a visible presence at a lot of venues where I can spread the word about native trout conservation. It allows me to stay involved at both a national as well as local level in fishery management issues that have been my life for the past 40 years. I get to interact with like-minded folks who are dedicated to protecting and improving wildlife and fisheries resources for future generations – including my grandsons. A huge plus is that I can usually figure out a way to get some angling accomplished in new and exciting places across the western United States – including Alaska every once in a while.

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April 14, 2011

Steve Kline

Name: Steve Kline
Title: TRCP Center for Agricultural Lands Director
Location: Washington, D.C., and Centreville, Maryland

Who got you interested in the outdoors?

Luckily, I had a father and grandfather who loved to be outdoors. In the fall and winter we spent time together hunting waterfowl and deer, and when the weather got warmer we got our fishing gear out and went after everything from stripers to smallmouth bass.

What is your most memorable experience afield?

What I love about hunting and angling is that these activities afford opportunities to spend time with people you enjoy – sharing a bond that only those who hunt and fish know. Some of my greatest memories afield are of conversations had and stories told; the duck blind truly brings out the philosopher in every hunter. In a world that always seems to be in a rush, the very nature of hunting and fishing requires that you slow down. Far more than filling a tag, it is this sense of camaraderie that I cherish most about being a sportsman.

Is this why you chose to work in the conservation and sportsmen community?

I chose to work in the conservation and sportsmen community because of my affinity both for policy-making and hunting and fishing. What better way to combine my passion for being outdoors with my love of politics than to work in the sportsmen’s conservation community? It is the best of both worlds. I am fortunate that I get paid to protect the fish and wildlife habitat that millions rely on for a quality outdoor experience, including myself!

In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing agricultural lands today?

Where I live, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, agriculture is trying to hang on in the midst of an onslaught of urban sprawl. Once we lose agricultural lands to housing developments or highways, it is gone forever and any debate about how best to use those lands for habitat and a cleaner environment is moot. Naturally I believe that ensuring the future viability of our farmers and farmlands should be a national priority. Conservation should play an important role in achieving that goal.

Why is conservation so important to you?

Conservation is important to me because I think that our national quality of life is contingent upon a clean and healthy place to call home. Outdoor recreation is essential to refreshing the American psyche, whether you choose to hike or hunt. Without conservation we stand to lose fish and wildlife and the habitat on which they depend. What’s more, we stand to lose the link to the very planet that sustains us. I believe strongly that we can find a better way forward, one that ensures future generations will be able to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors.

Why did you choose to work for the TRCP?

I have always respected the work of the TRCP. The sportsmen’s community has been divided up about a million different ways between the species they hunt and fish or the type of gear they prefer. But regardless of what you hunt or how you hunt it, the need for quality fish and wildlife habitat does not diminish. TRCP unites sportsmen and -women of all stripes in a powerful voice of support for conservation.

What do you hope to accomplish for the TRCP?

In my work with the TRCP, I hope to be a persuasive and creative voice on behalf of hunters and anglers for farmland habitat conservation and the protection of critical wetlands across the country. I hope to grow the Partnership’s work on my home waters, the Chesapeake Bay, where hunters and anglers have largely been silent on some of the most pressing issues. I hope to rekindle some old friendships, create a few new ones, and have a little fun in the process!

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

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.

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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