Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

May 29, 2019

In the Arena: Perry Seitzinger

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

Perry M. Seitzinger

Hometown: Cloverdale, Indiana
Occupation: Consulting forester
Conservation credentials: Chairman of the Indiana chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society. Educates landowners about how to use Farm Bill programs to achieve their wildlife goals on private forested lands.

Perry Seitzinger might never have become a hunter, forester, or conservationist had it not been for his father’s curiosity as a teenager—he joined a friend for a small game hunt, without a firearm or tag, and eventually dove into the sport as a way to bond with Perry and his brother. (There’s a lesson here: It’s always worth taking someone else along!) Now, Seitzinger is an active leader of the Ruffed Grouse Society in his state and a vocal advocate for overturning outdated ideas about responsible forest management.

Here is his story.

As a young man, my father tagged along with his best friend Perry on a pheasant and rabbit hunt in northern Indiana. He didn’t carry a gun, but it made an impression on him. It wasn’t until his early 30s that he met a friend through church who was interested in upland hunting and bird dogs. Dad was looking for a new hobby and a way to spend quality time with us, his sons.

It turns out that Dad’s decision to take up upland hunting was the defining moment that molded not only my pursuits as a young man, but also my life’s work as a hunter and conservationist.

Every year in October I spend a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my closest friends to chase the king of upland birds, the ruffed grouse, and the quirky little American woodcock. No other outdoor pursuit can replace the time I have spent with family, friends, and beloved bird dogs in the stunning beauty of the north woods in the Ottawa National Forest.  This is a fine example of how wilderness, natural beauty, quality outdoors experiences, and intensive natural resource management aren’t mutually exclusive.

I had my best adventure afield in 2006, when I visited a college friend and fellow forester who lived in southeast Alaska on Prince of Wales Island. My goal for the trip was a DIY spot-and-stalk black bear hunt. Surprisingly, I was successful within the first hour of the hunt, but I learned far more from what came after.

I spent the remainder of my time diving into the local culture, touring the island, fishing, and setting crab pots. The vast, wild beauty of southeast Alaska can’t be put into words. The biggest impression that I took away from this experience was how many people I met there who were passionate about conservation, because their very existence was woven into the local management of their natural resources.

Conservation defines my life. Everything that I pursue is rooted in forest conservation. I realize that without boots-on-the-ground forest management and the decisive conservation efforts of those who came before me, the life I have chosen would not be possible.

The biggest conservation challenge in the central hardwoods region is the lack of forest age and class diversity on both public and private lands. Diverse, healthy forests that we have all come to love, and many of the critters that inhabit them, will no longer exist without sufficient disturbance at the landscape level. Responsible timber harvesting is actually the best conservation tool we have at our disposal for creating and maintaining diverse wildlife habitat and healthy forests.

I have a sentimental nature, and that drives my true passion of sharing outdoor experiences with others. In order for future generations to have the same experiences that I hold dear to my heart, I realize I have to give of myself to conservation.

Our forests and native plant communities, and the wildlife species that depend on them, are not static. Without the hand of man, it cannot be expected that our wild places will be the same tomorrow as they are today. It is my hope that by leaving a legacy of conservation behind, I can leave the same outdoor experiences I have been blessed with to my son and others that come after me.

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

2 Responses to “In the Arena: Perry Seitzinger”

  1. MUTigerbeetle

    He is totally correct. I graduated MIZZOU’s School of Forestry 55 years ago. I went with the USFS on the Spotted Bear RD, Flathead NF in Montana. At that time the USFS was based on the premise of multiple use management: timber production, public use for hunting, fishing, camping, etc., and ecosystem management though it wasn’t called that at the time. Then politics and Know-nothings got into the frey and the whole forest management system went to H*** in a handbasket as far as I was concerned. The Vietnam war took me away from God’s country and I never made it back to Montana. After a brief stint on the Conecuh NF in Alabama and 3 years as the Atlanta P&R Dept., I went with the USEPA for 25 years. I worked for the Ga. DNR for 13 years, mostly as an ecological risk analyst before retiring at 73. During this 50 year period forest management and silviculture took a back seat to the “know-nothings” that thought the forest lands should be untouched. The fire seasons of past 15 years on US forest lands and BLM lands show the folly of their interference with proper lands management as expressed in the above article. We might have a chance to alter the thinking, but I am not too positive. The USFS is hiring all types of degree holders other than forestry graduates. The MIZZOU School of Forestry has ceased to exist. There are only a handful of professors with forest lands management classes. I seriously doubt that the program is still certified, or if Forestry Schools are even certified by the Soc. of Prof. Foresters. The SAF may no longer exist for all I know. I am very pessimistic that forest and range land management will be turned around. The TRCP seems to be the best voice at the present time for regaining a semblance of proper forest and range land management.

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Randall Williams

May 23, 2019

In the Arena: Jared Frasier

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

Jared Frasier

Hometown: Manhattan, Montana
Occupation: Executive Director of 2% for Conservation
Conservation credentials: Encourages businesses and individuals to expand their involvement in the cause of conservation by pledging at least one percent of their time and one percent of their money to the future of fish, wildlife, and habitat.

Once you meet Jared Frasier, you’ll soon see him everywhere you go. That’s because this tireless advocate for fish and wildlife is boundlessly outgoing in his quest to build a community of conservation-minded sportsmen and women. Prior to taking the helm at the nonprofit 2% for Conservation, he was volunteering over 500 hours a year serving on boards and committees for other groups, traveling to conferences and conventions, speaking out when and where it matters, and bringing folks together for the future of hunting and fishing.

Here is his story.

When I was a few months old, my parents bundled me up and used a half-drilled ice fishing hole as a makeshift cradle while they chased tip-ups near our home in northern Wisconsin. It was about as early an introduction to the hunting and fishing lifestyle as I could have hoped for.

By age ten, I was helping to harvest, process, and cook all of the wild fish and game my family could legally pursue. We were not well-off, so the majority of the protein in our home was caught, shot, or trapped. Eating wild meat wasn’t a trendy experiment for us: It was a financial necessity.

And my outdoor experiences growing up also gave me a taste for adventure and wild places. My parents saved every penny they could and piled us all into their old pickup for a DIY, over-the-counter archery elk hunt in New Mexico, where we camped on public land in the family tent. That trip blew me away, flooding my young brain with new sensory experiences.

From my first day in view of Wheeler Peak, this Northern Wisconsin boy knew he had to live in the mountains.

I have two kids right around seven years old now, and I’m very conscious of the need to expose them to as many ecosystems and outdoor pursuits as possible. It’s amazing how new places and habitats can get under your skin and inspire you. I myself hope to experience as many wild landscapes as I can in every corner of the globe.

At this point in my life, I am happiest hunting and fishing where I know the populations of whatever species I am pursuing are in abundance. I’m absolutely invigorated by the efforts of others to ensure that future generations get the opportunity to roam “where the wild things are.”

Especially where I live, human housing and transportation development pose a serious threat to our wildlife. People are moving to the Bozeman area to enjoy the incredible outdoor opportunities we have in this part of Montana… and, as a result, our fish and wildlife are facing new pressures. Habitat is being fragmented and migration corridors are interrupted by new development. These resources can’t and won’t return once they are gone.

At the end of the day, we’re all simply borrowing wild resources from future generations. None of us own them. You can’t take them with you when you die. Unless you want to pass along a world covered in concrete and steel structures, you HAVE to be involved in conservation.

Photo credit: Paul Kemper

 

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

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

May 14, 2019

In the Arena: Henry Ramsay

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

Henry Ramsay

Hometown: Birdsboro, Pa
Occupation: Full-time human resources professional and part-time flyfishing writer, photographer, and custom fly-tier and instructor
Conservation Credentials: Helped to preserve working lands, environmentally sensitive areas, and outdoor recreation opportunities—like fishing and birdwatching—for future generations through various roles in local government

Henry Ramsay considers himself a torchbearer for the natural resources that have allowed him to spend a lifetime fishing, hiking, camping, taking photographs, and finding solace in the outdoors. His efforts to preserve public lands and waters for the next generation of sportsmen and women remind us that you don’t have to sit on a congressional committee or in the Oval Office to make a big difference for conservation. There’s a lot we can influence in our home towns and counties, if we care enough.

Here’s his story.

I caught my first trout at the age of five, and I was hooked about as well as that fish was. Fortunately, I also grew up in a family that constantly traveled and camped. I’ve always been attracted to the outdoors—more because of my love of nature than anything else. It’s not only a source of recreation; it’s a place of peace and contentment, so I fish, camp, hike, and take photographs as much as my time permits.

Of course, as a flyfisherman, a nice fly rod is one of my favorite pieces of gear and elevates the experience of being outdoors, but my DSLR camera is perhaps just as important. It’s always with me to capture images from my best experiences on the water.

I had plenty of those on a recent trip to Yellowstone, which was a lifelong dream of mine. We tent-camped in the park, fished 10 different streams and rivers, and hiked into a glacial lake to fish for Arctic grayling. During the day, we saw bison, elk, antelope, wolves, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. At night, we were serenaded by bugles and howls.

It was an incredible experience that stands out even after a lifetime of travels.

 

I’m fortunate to have fished in a number of states, but if forced to choose one it would be Idaho. The scenery is spectacular and the fishing is world-class. I love the Henry’s Fork where it flows through the Harriman Ranch. The fishing there is highly technical and challenging—I like that it forces me to be on form.

I’m primarily a trout fisherman, and you can’t find trout in environments that have been compromised by point-source pollutants, toxic runoff, or other things that detract from water quality. Wild trout simply can’t exist in less than high-quality water conditions—and that’s why clean water powers my outdoor life.

In a world where the human population is growing at a rapid pace, it is critical that we continue to examine our impact on the earth, the natural world, and all of the lifeforms we share it with. People alter the environment, and the choices we make can affect the environment positively or negatively—forever.

To leave my mark, I’ve been involved in various roles in local government, where I’ve been fortunate enough to help shape how our lands and waters are used. For example, collaborative work helped to permanently preserve the Birdsboro Waters, a 1,800-acre tract of unbroken forest within the Hopewell Big Woods of southeastern Pennsylvania. This is an important birding area, and Hay Creek, an exceptional trout stream, flows through it. I was part of the advisory body that defeated a proposed 800-unit residential development on 201 acres bisected by a state-designated coldwater trout stream. I also helped to create an Environmental Advisory Council in my township to review and consult on proposed land development activities.

Not all of the footprints left on the earth are made by feet—many of them are a result of our choices. My hope is that improvements made to public lands and waters during my lifetime won’t be easily erased by politics and profiteers. We need to leave healthier habitat for future generations.

This is why I concern myself with the deregulation of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Antiquities Act. These rollbacks pose a huge threat to all of the efforts that have taken place since the early 1970s.

The other challenge I see is the lack of involvement and education of our youth in the outdoors. When I can no longer carry the torch to defend what we treasure, I hope a new generation of torchbearers can take my place. But too many children today do not get the exposure to the outdoors that they’d need to be sensitive to conservation issues. It’s a threat to fishing and the places where we fish.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

May 1, 2019

In the Arena: Jess Westbrook

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

Jess Westbrook

Hometown: Benton, Arkansas
Occupation: Fishing guide, founder of the Mayfly Project
Conservation credentials: Taking foster children flyfishing to create meaningful connections in the outdoors and share the value of clean water

As a lifelong sportsman and former Alaska fishing guide, Jess Westbrook recognized that the stress-mitigating benefits of the outdoors that he’d experienced could help at-risk youth to find the solace and self-esteem they need. That’s why he started the Mayfly Project, a nonprofit that connects foster kids with flyfishing mentors who help them forge deeper bonds on the water.

Here’s his story.

I was introduced to the outdoors as a young kid by my father. We were always spending time together on the weekends hunting and fishing in Arkansas, where we had access to some of the best duck hunting and trout fishing in the U.S.

The summer before my senior year of college, I had my most memorable outdoor adventure to date: guiding in Alaska. Through that experience, I learned a lot about myself, my capabilities as a guide, and what it means to live in a place that is still vastly untouched. This opened my eyes to the effects that humans have on our planet and the need to preserve wild places for future generations to enjoy.

Even years later, if I could fish anywhere in the world it would be back in Bristol Bay. I’ve landed four of the five species of salmon that return to Alaska each year—sockeye, coho, pink, and chum—all on a fly, but I have yet to land a King!

I have struggled with anxiety, and the outdoors is a place where I am able to unplug. So, getting outside is critical for my mental health. The stresses of everyday life are lost when I step into a river with my fly rod. And conservation ensures that there are places for me to seek out healing.

That’s why conservation is an integral part of the Mayfly Project. We give foster kids their first taste of flyfishing to teach them a fun, rewarding hobby, make them feel supported, and give them a chance to develop meaningful connections with, and in, the outdoors.

The Mayfly Project’s standard program is to mentor a foster child through five “stages” based on the life cycle of a Mayfly. Within these stages, the children learn line management, casting techniques, knot tying, entomology, river safety, mending tactics, hook setting, catch and release ethics, and the value of conservation. At the end of the five stages the child is given his or her very own fly rod, reel, pack, fly box, flies, tippet, and indicators. Our hope is for the child to continue to pursue flyfishing and have the tools they need to make the outdoors more accessible.

We focus a lot on the value of our local water ecosystems and keeping rivers clean by picking up trash on every outing. One of the biggest conservation issues where I live is the spread of invasive species in warm-water and cold-water fisheries, so we also share with the kids why it’s important for us to wash our gear and boats before moving from one body of water to another.

Studies show that 42 percent of foster children will be convicted of a crime. But flyfishing offers opportunities for youth to build character and self-esteem. These kids are the future, and they will be the ones to ensure that their children have a place to fish. But we have to make them care enough to fight that fight.

 

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

Randall Williams

April 26, 2019

In the Arena: Nikki Plum

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

Nikki Plum

Hometown:  Airville, Pa.
Occupation: Registered nurse
Conservation credentials: Boots-on-the-ground volunteer work and mentoring

Sportsmen and women like Nikki Plum are the beating heart of conservation in this country. A nurse by training, this 28 year old is a jack-of-all-trades volunteer, working to ensure the future of our outdoor traditions. From stocking fish to assisting with banding waterfowl and building nesting structures, she knows that a single afternoon of work can make a difference. That’s why she also works to share her experiences with others, empowering the next generation of women hunters as a field staffer with the Sisterhood of the Outdoors.

Here is her story.

When I was growing up, you couldn’t keep me out of the creek—so I would say I have been into fishing as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was a teenager, however, that I got into the outdoors on another level.

My uncle took me out for my first deer hunt on opening day of rifle season in Pennsylvania. We split up after a slow morning, and moments later I heard shots ring out from his direction. I thought I’d missed my chance. Suddenly, I heard something approaching in the woods and turned to see a six-point buck headed my way. I was too excited to make my first shot, but a well-aimed second downed the deer in his tracks.

I was hooked.

I spent most of the ensuing years trying to grow as a deer hunter. Then I started pursuing small game, turkeys, and waterfowl. My skills and interests evolved as I transitioned from rifle hunting to archery and from spinning tackle to a fly rod.

Looking ahead, I hope to hunt and fish in Alaska someday. Harlequin ducks, moose, grizzlies, and multiple species of salmon are all at the top of my list.

Clean water is what makes my outdoor activities possible, from fishing and waterfowl hunting to boating, swimming, kayaking, and camping. Maintaining healthy watersheds is important to sustaining our freshwater fisheries and wetlands habitat.

Every day it seems like urbanization encroaches on these resources, bringing the potential for degradation. It’s harder to get away from noise and light pollution, and contaminants of all kinds make their way into our air and water.

Without the commitment of sportsmen and women, our outdoor resources would be subject to overuse and abuse by an ever-growing human population. I do what I do because conservation helps maintain a natural way of life for hunters, anglers, and the game we love to chase. I hope others are inspired to do what they can, too.

 

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

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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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