Thank you to all who helped make our 2019 Outdoor Heritage Foundation of Alaska (OHFA) Sportsmen’s Rendezvous a success for the third year running, as we gathered on November 2nd in Anchorage, AK.
OHFA is Alaska’s charitable non-profit dedicated to the conservation and wise use of Alaska's natural resources through broad-based education initiatives designed to provide Alaskans the skills and knowledge to enjoy the outdoors in a safe, responsible manner. We partner with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game providing funding for science and educational programs such as Becoming an Outdoors Woman (B.O.W.), National Archery in the Schools (NASP); and other youth education and safety projects.
This year more than 40 sportsmen & women came together to discuss ongoing and emerging issues related to access to our wild foods, support of resource management, and the future of conservation in Alaska. We were treated to informative discussions on hunting, fishing, trapping, access, invasive species, revenue, regulatory and statutory issues, and above all, how we can all partner to ensure our conservation future.
Our partner, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), was heavily involved this year with remarks by Commissioner, Doug Vincent-Lang; Deputy Commissioner, Ben Mulligan; Special Assistant, Rick Green; Sportfish Director, Dave Rutz; and Wildlife Director, Eddie Grasser. Department of Interior Policy Advisor for Alaska, Sara Taylor spoke to the intricacies of ANILCA and department efforts to coordinate among agencies. ANILCA Specialist, Tina Cunning offered insights, and the group noted the necessity of ANILCA training given its divergence from Indian Law and common misconceptions.
Thank you to members of the Alaska Wild Sheep Foundation; Safari Club International (SCI); Alaska Trappers Association; Alaska Outdoor Council; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Alaska Professional Hunters Association; Resident Hunters of Alaska; Kenai River Sportfish Association; Alaska State Legislature; Congressional Sportsmen’s Alliance; Alaska Invasive Species Partnership; Department of Interior; ADF&G; and Supreme Court access champion, John Sturgeon. Each of these groups represent unique missions, and all were unified to focus on the future of conservation in Alaska.
Randy Zarnke, of the Alaska Trappers Association, outlined the importance of trapping to Alaska’s conservation history and its future. Kevin Kehoe, of Alaska’s Wild Sheep Foundation gave us a deep dive on the presence of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi) in Alaska Wildlife and the predicted effects of this respiratory disease on our wild populations in Alaska. Mike Crawford, Vice President of Safari Club International at the national level, took part in discussions related to hunting, trapping, and fishing.
Access discussions spanned air, terrestrial, and water pathways. Mel Grove, President of the Alaska Outdoor Access Alliance, engaged us in dialogue noting the need for access to resources along with others from his group. Determination of navigability was of course forefront. Aaron Martin, with the Alaska Invasive Species Partnership, conveyed the important role of hunter and angler conservationists as partners in detection, reporting, response, and monitoring of invasive species, citing Alaska’s unique opportunities. He invited those present to engage in current efforts to develop an Alaska specific five-year strategic action plan. Dave Rutz relayed recent invasive species events and their effects on the 2019 fishing season.
Rutz and Ben Mohr, Executive Director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, reviewed statewide fishing issues and upcoming opportunities. Access, invasives, regulations, and funding were at the forefront of these discussions. Former Commercial Fisheries Director, and OHFA Vice President, John Hilsinger was also on deck. One lucky winner went home with a door prize of 25lbs of Halibut donated by Icicle Seafoods captain & OHFA Board Member, Julianne Curry.
The importance of recruitment, retention, and reinvigoration of hunters and anglers received lively attention. License holders fund the bulk of conservation management in all states. Our traditions and our ability to manage our resources in the future is dependent on available opportunity and the engagement needed for knowledge transfer. Dwindling state and federal dollars require creative solutions. I noted that the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance also provides funding for projects, and that the Interior Women in the Trades are actively pursuing “Work Boots on The Ground” projects. This allows us to quantify the labor we donate towards matching funds. Certain shooting range projects can be eligible for a 9 to 1 match through the Federal Aide to Wildlife Restoration Act.
Author and former attorney for the Alaska Federation of Natives, Donald Craig Mitchell, reviewed issues associated with charitable gaming. Several clubs present currently receive proceeds from raffles or pull-tabs and pursue other grant funding mechanisms.
Engaged members of the Legislature offered ideas for partnership, projects, and outreach including training and education. Thank you to Representatives: Andy Josephson; Colleen Sullivan-Leonard; Cathy Tilton; DeLena Johnson; Jennifer Johnston; Laddie Shaw; Sara Vance; and Josh Revak, who was confirmed later that day by the Senate. Also, to Senators Shelley Hughes and David Wilson, and Akis Gialopsos for Senator Cathy Giessel.
An educational overview of the Outdoor Heritage Caucus and it’s connection the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was led by Aoibheann (A-veen) Cline, CSF Western States Coordinator. Aoibheann returns to the west from our nation’s capitol with a law degree and an intricate knowledge of emerging states issues. Her position works directly with the president of OHFA.
This year’s event was made possible by our Conservation Partner sponsors, notably: ConocoPhillips Alaska; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, BP; Safari Club International (SCI) Alaska & Kenai Chapters; and Aleutian Enterprises, who understand our mission and are investing in the future of conservation in Alaska. Our Admin Assistant, Susan Grasser, and super-volunteer Kathleen Shoop.
On the horizon, is our annual joint legislative reception in Juneau following the commencement of the legislative session, and dedication of our joint mobile education trailer project with SCI-Alaska and our corporate sponsor at the Youth Firearms Safety Day the first Saturday in June at the Birchwood Shooting Park. Mark your calendars now: on July 18th, 2020 we’ll host our annual Midnight Sun Charity Shoot. Watch our webpage for announcements www.OHFAK.org.
It is an honor to work with such dedicated leaders in all areas of outdoor heritage to further our mission and educate the next generation.
Thank you, each and every one of you, for all you do to pass on our outdoor heritage in Alaska,
Jennifer Yuhas, President - OHFA
You are once again invited to our annual Sportsmen's Rendezvous! We hope you will join us at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage (1014 Energy Court, Anchorage, AK 99508) on November 2nd from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM.
We'll have updates from the State of Alaska F&G, DNR, & DEC, Wild Sheep Foundation, Alaska Waterfowl Association, Kenai River Sportfishing Association, K2, Department of Interior, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucus, and an informational meeting regarding the Outdoor Heritage Caucus of Alaska as we discuss Food Securities in the Last Frontier.
If you have any questions or problems registering, reply to email@example.com, or call Susan at 907-841-9004
We look forward to having you there.
2019 Governor's Tag Bison Hunt Winner Announced: CONGRATULATIONS to SARAH ALBERT! Sarah is excited to go on her first big game hunt, expanding her experience from grouse to bison, & we're thrilled to give her this opportunity. She says her 6 year old son is "obsessed with buffalo," and is over the moon that his mom has won this hunt. Thank you to everyone who purchased and sold tickets this year to support outdoor heritage and conservation education in Alaska. It is your contributions of time, talent, and treasure that allow these programs to continue, and we appreciate every one of you. Look for new raffles soon for other exciting adventures. This is what it's all about folks!
Bass Pro Steps Up For Conservation
The month of June, 2016 saw Bass Pro Outpost in Anchorage once again supporting Alaska's Outdooor Heritage Foundation (OHFA) and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's efforts to preserve important traditions and the vital conservation programs those traditions depend upon. Throughout June, customers had the chance to "round-up" their purchases to support the OHFA. Since the opening of the Anchorage Store Bass Pro has been a major sponsor of our education programs. The importance of those programs cannot be overstated as the aging demographic of the average outdoors man clearly shows that our angling and hunting heritage is in jeopardy if we don't start teaching our youth. You can help support that effort by mentoring a new angler or hunter, or by clicking on the PayPal button above and making a donation.
BP Backs Outdoor Education
BP Alaska's strong commitment to conservation clearly demonstrates its support of Alaska's wildlife and the people who live here. For the past 10 years, BP has been the leading business to sponsor the Midnight Sun Charity Shoot; thereby ensuring the continuation of the important conservation education programs conducted by the Outdoor Heritage Foundation and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Since 2007, BP has donated over $100,000 to support conservation education here in Alaska. Because of that commitment hundreds of women and youth have been afforded the opportunity to learn skills that has allowed them to get out and safely enjoy Alaska's great outdoors.