Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

April 9, 2019

In the Arena: Tyler Ross

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Tyler Ross

Hometown: Leicester, North Carolina
Occupation: Soil and water conservation district director
Conservation credentials: Helps landowners use Farm Bill conservation programs to improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat

When you’ve idolized legends like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone since childhood, chasing adventure through our public lands might be enough of a goal. Tyler Ross takes dedication to the outdoors one step further. His day job helps bring Farm Bill conservation programs off the pages of the Federal Register and onto the working lands of his home state so that fish and wildlife resources are just as legendary for the next generation. 

Here is his story.

 

I did a lot of reading when I was younger, and all my heroes from books either hunted, fished, or farmed. I wanted to be with Davy Crockett on a bear hunt or walking next to Daniel Boone as he stalked a deer in Kentucky. So, naturally, I started getting outside and chasing whatever I could.

These days, that’s still my idea of a good time. Even though I know it isn’t possible, I would love to bowhunt red stag in Scotland or Ireland—even better if it was with a recurve. I bet it would feel like I was part of Robin Hood’s Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, chasing that beast in its native habitat.

This past year, I went with my four best friends on our very first DIY elk hunt out West. I called in two different bulls for my buddies, and one ended in a successful harvest. That time with them, in that area, enjoying our Creator’s bounty, is something that I know will be unmatched for the rest of my life.

In my area, Farm Bill conservation programs benefit sportsmen and women in many ways. On the public land side, the recent expansion and utilization of Good Neighbor Authority helps keep public lands in public hands and gives land managers the tools to conserve these places for those who come after us.

On the private lands side, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is really helpful for increasing wildlife habitat and pollinators. We don’t have many Conservation Reserve Program acres in North Carolina, so EQIP and the Conservation Stewardship Program provide many of the habitat benefits here.

We had some big wins in the latest Farm Bill, particularly with EQIP. Lawmakers increased the portion of the program that must be used for practices that benefit wildlife from 5 percent of funds to 10 percent. That’s huge!

It was also awesome to see soil health practices embraced in multiple programs. And the expansion and re-authorization of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program on U.S. Forest Service lands is something that I hope continues in future farm bills.

During implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, I would love to see an emphasis on Working Lands for Wildlife, the USDA’s effort to improve agricultural and forest productivity while enhancing wildlife habitat on working landscapes.

It would also be great if the Forest Service and NRCS would work alongside state agencies to focus on species cited in the state’s Wildlife Action Plan. I think this would be a great place for multiple stakeholders to come in and work together to put strategic conservation on the ground.

 

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

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Randall Williams

March 28, 2019

In the Arena: Karl Findling

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Karl J. Findling

Hometown: Bend, Ore.
Occupation: Owner of Oregon Pack Works
Conservation credentials: Conservation Director, Oregon Hunters Association

Born and raised in eastern Oregon, Karl is a retired paramedic and worked as a professional firefighter for more than 37 years. In 2010, he co-founded Oregon Pack Works, a manufacturer of hunting-specific backpacks and binocular harnesses designed to offer the type of versatility required for backcountry experiences. Karl currently serves as conservation director for the Oregon Hunters Association, a 10,000+ member non-profit organization dedicated to “protecting Oregon’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage.”

Here is his story.

I grew up the son of an outdoorsman in far eastern Oregon. My father was a gunsmith and boat-builder.

My hometown was perfectly situated at a confluence of four rivers, between the mountains and the high desert, where outdoor adventures were found at every direction of the compass.

Since the age of nine, I followed many relatives afield to fish, camp, and hunt, or to gather berries and mushrooms, often on scouting trips. These experiences were all made possible by the vast public lands and many waterways just out my backdoor. It was the perfect place to grow up.

In the 50 years since, those opportunities have declined in my home state of Oregon. I’ve witnessed the loss of large tracts of habitat for upland birds, mule deer, and the greater sage grouse, as well as a collection of tributaries that were once great trout fisheries. Time is running out for many of our waterways and landscapes, and for the flora and fauna that we love. Human impacts from population growth, urbanization, the overuse and abuse of our public lands, and a huge number of other threats mean that our hunting heritage could disappear.

When I was young, I used to think that conservation was for someone else to handle. I learned in my mid-20s, however, that there weren’t enough of us doing conservation work. Hunters and anglers must do more than purchase licenses, fly rods, and ammunition to fund our state fish and game agencies. We each must give back to the land—whether with our money, our time, or both—to restore the things lost in the places we love.

In 2002, I was lucky enough to experience a DIY caribou hunting float trip down a major river on Alaska’s North Slope, just adjacent to the National Petroleum Reserve. It was a cherished experience with friends both new and old, full of fabulous wildlife encounters, and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

These two weeks opened my eyes to the immensity of true wilderness, and also to the fragility of this incredible ecosystem, which is changing quickly. There are very few places like that left on earth, and the wildlife, landscape, and pristine waterways there should be protected.

The biggest challenge facing us as conservationists is educating people about the realities of climate change. It threatens to alter or eliminate the things that bring us joy as hunters and anglers. We cannot afford to take what we have today for granted.

Opening people’s eyes to their impacts on our natural resources, no matter how small, requires constant effort. Whether that means explaining how travel management plans and seasonal road closures benefit our fish and wildlife or teaching the “Leave No Trace” philosophy, spreading this message is critical if we hope to leave what we love better than we found it.

Instilling this conservation mindset is what fuels my work. I hope that by sharing these ethics we can restore what has been lost, protect our landscapes and waterways, and pass along our sporting and hunting heritage to the next generation.

 

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

March 21, 2019

In the Arena: Thomas Baltz

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Thomas E. Baltz

Home waters: South-central Pennsylvania
Occupation: Flyfishing guide
Conservation credentials: Board member of the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited for 20 years

Thomas Baltz would need a time machine to fish the absolute best trout waters he’s ever seen, and that’s part of the reason why he feels compelled to give back to the natural resources that power his business. Here he shares the story of his first fish, his beloved old fishing dog, and a few special flies he takes everywhere.


My father introduced me to trout fishing at a very early age in New Mexico, and from then on, I was hooked. Our family used to spend a week or so during the summer months at a cabin on the Gallinas River in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains near Las Vegas. When my father went fishing, I tagged along, and he often let me play and land the trout he had hooked. But even as a little kid I realized that the real skill was in getting them hooked in the first place! I spent years trying to do it on my own.

Dad worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and was an expert on the geology of New Mexico and southern/southwestern Colorado. On days when he went tramping the mountains above Evergreen Valley, I roamed the Gallinas at will, with some kind of fishing rod in hand. Finally, one early-October afternoon in 1963, I landed my very first trout solo, and it remains one of the most memorable events of my life.

I had my old fishing dog Penelope (Penny, for short) with me, and together we snuck up on a likely spot, where I lowered a worm over the bushes and into the creek. There, a bite! Of course, I missed it. Never discouraged, I again lowered fresh bait exactly as I had before. The hook wasn’t even fully set, but it was too late for that trout—a couple of tugs and it was mine! Penny seemed just as excited as I was.

(Now, as a full-time flyfishing guide, I still carry some nymphs in my fly box made from Penny’s fur. They are, of course, retired, but they live in my Richardson Chest Fly Box.)

There have certainly been many other great outdoor moments in my life. Deer hunting, some awesome November days chasing pheasants, fishing trips to Montana, and learning the limestone streams of the Cumberland Valley.

In fact, if I could fish anywhere in the world it would be Falling Springs in Chambersburg, Pa., in 1972. It was the epitome of true limestone-spring creek match-the-hatch type of fishing, even better than out West, with awesome rainbow and brown trout that freely rose to incredible hatches.

Unfortunately, it is gone now. So I’d settle for the Missouri River in Montana. There is good hunting in that area as well. The decline in hunting opportunities is one thing I worry about here in south-central Pennsylvania.

Locally and regionally, our biggest conservation challenges are rampant development, poorly planned stormwater runoff, and agricultural issues, such as nutrient management and erosion. Climate change also offers immense challenges. One result of our changing climate is the big swing between dry and wet periods. Torrential rain events in combination with some of the aforementioned issues cause severe bank erosion in streams, contributing heavy silt loads to the Chesapeake Bay system and ruining stream habitat for all of the creatures that live there.

Trout, especially wild trout, depend upon clean water to survive and prosper, and therefore so does my business. Clean water is the backbone of our outdoor recreation economy, and that’s why we must protect it. Clean and well-functioning watersheds aren’t just an aesthetic attraction, they are the basis for all fishing. I make my living from the natural resource, and that’s why I give back to help preserve it.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

March 14, 2019

In the Arena: Jackie Holbrook

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Jackie Holbrook

Hometown: Cascade, Montana
Occupation:  Freelance writer
Conservation credentials: Educated audiences on conservation issues as a TV news reporter; champions showcasing better hunting and fishing ethics on social media

Jackie Holbrook is the kind of outdoorswoman we want to be—whether she’s hiking, scouting, and fishing with her young daughter strapped to her back or reaching out to a new generation of bowhunters. Holbrook was raised in Helena, Mont., spent ten years challenging herself in the last frontier of Alaska, and has dedicated much of her career to sharing important conservation stories through her journalism. Here is her story.

My dad took me on fishing and hunting adventures from the time I was toddler, and I completed my hunter’s safety course at 15 years old—I was the only girl in the class. I will never forget the experience of shooting my first deer with my dad that year.

I got hooked on fly-fishing in college and met my husband after I moved to Alaska, which opened up an amazing new world of hunting and fishing opportunities.

I have fantastic memories of landing a 30-inch rainbow trout on the fly, shooting a moose with my bow, and coming face-to-face with bugling bulls, but getting engaged on a three-week hunting trip is probably my most memorable adventure in the outdoors. During the trip, we bowhunted caribou and brown bears and watched a wolverine race up the side of a mountain. My husband harvested two wolves, and I shot my first moose on the final morning of our trip. It was an amazing Alaska adventure.

None of these adventures would be possible without conservation.

Conservation is also a big part of my life and career. My “beat” as a former TV reporter was hunting and fishing. Most of my coworkers thought those issues were boring, but to me there was nothing more important than informing people about conservation issues. Now, as a freelance writer, a lot of my work is focused on recruiting bowhunters and giving them the tools to succeed.

I’m shocked by how many people are opposed to hunting without having a basic understanding of the facts. I think social media has made this attitude worse. Hunters are getting bullied online, especially young women, and I’m afraid this will deter younger generations from taking up the tradition.

Hunters are essential to conservation and that message often gets misrepresented. I think widespread misinformation can cause a lot of damage to the public perception of hunters. I also think this anti-hunting movement is dangerous to conservation when public opinion begins to overturn sound science in wildlife management decisions.

After a decade in Alaska, I moved back to Montana because I missed the hunting and fishing here. There is nowhere I would rather be in September than in elk country chasing bugling bulls. Now, we live along the Missouri River, and I love being able to walk out the front door and throw a fly at hungry trout with my toddler on my back.

Motherhood reaffirmed my commitment to conservation. Watching the world through the eyes of my daughter reminds me of its magic. My 20-month-old laughs and yells “fish” when my husband I are fighting fish. She also makes a pretty perfect elk bugle. Hunting, fishing, and the outdoors aren’t hobbies—they’re a way of life for people. At such a young age she’s already enjoying the gifts of conservation, and I want her to grow up with the same clean water, public lands, and healthy wildlife populations that I had.

 

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

March 6, 2019

In the Arena: Ed Jaworowski

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation.

Ed Jaworowski

Hometown: Chester Springs, Pa.
Occupation: Writer, photographer, and retired Villanova University professor of classical studies
Conservation credentials: First recipient of the Izaak Walton Award, presented by the American Museum of Fly Fishing

Not only has Ed Jaworowski been teaching casting and fly fishing for more than 30 years, he has shared his passion and skills with countless readers as the author of four fishing books and a featured expert in 200 articles since 1977. He was the first individual to be honored with the Izaak Walton Award by the American Museum of Fly Fishing, for living by Walton’s Compleat Angler philosophy, providing inspiration to others, and promoting a legacy of leadership.

Here is his story.

 

I was born in 1942, and most of my earliest childhood memories relate to frequent fishing trips.

With my uncle, who had recently returned from World War II, I fished mostly local streams for sunfish in the Philadelphia area. Within a decade, we were making regular trips to lakes in New Jersey, primarily for pickerel, and I also started fishing for stocked trout in local streams. Through the late 1950s, my father periodically took me to the Jersey Shore to drift for fluke in the bays.

In the more than 60 years since, I have had so many experiences on the water that I am hard-pressed to single out any one that I could designate as my most memorable. And I feel fortunate that I can’t narrow down my choices and select one favorite species or top destination. I love to visit remote and exotic venues, but am equally excited about local waters. Each provides different, but equally rewarding experiences.

I gained broad experience with all sorts of tackle in freshwater and saltwater, eventually traveling from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of South America. Fly fishing eventually eclipsed all other forms, and I’ve been fortunate to have caught more than 100 species on a fly rod. Fly fishing has expanded my awareness of entomology, physics, chemistry, biology, mechanics, limnology, and countless other fields of study.

None of my experiences would have been possible if these oceans, lakes, and streams were polluted or incapable of supporting sportfish. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, in rivers from Alaska to Iceland, from mountain streams in Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay, Idaho, and all the rest, my sport would simply not exist without clean water.

This is why conservation of these resources is vital.

In the densely populated mid-Atlantic region where I live, irresponsible commercial and residential development is the greatest challenge to conservation of our environment. I believe education and thoughtful planning are the answer. We can see that the needs of society are met, but with the understanding that those needs include clean water, woodlands, and riparian and littoral zones that are part of the entire natural complex.

Preserving our waters and their surrounding habitats, like forests and shorelines, is the only way to ensure that these places—and the activities associated with them—survive for those who come after me. I am indebted to those who came before me for my experiences and memories. As a writer, photographer, and flyfishing instructor and coach, I want people in turn to have the same opportunities to create their own memories.

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

 

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.

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