A: As soon as I could hold a rod and gun, my parents and grandparents had me fishing and shooting all over Idaho’s wild country, where I grew up as a sixth-generation native. When I was of legal age to hunt, I never missed one year of elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunting. I knew I had “come of age” as a hunter when my father started pulling me out of school for a whole week to go elk hunting every year. I’ll always remember that first year and that first elk. (I’ll also vividly remember missing a large mule deer buck that first year at elk camp … win some, lose some.)
Q: Why is conservation important to you?
A: From an early age, my family, and my father in particular, instilled in me a conservation ethic to treat the land, wildlife, and natural resources with great respect. He showed me what it means to be a responsible steward of the rich public lands we’re borrowing from future generations and the wildlife that inhabit those landscapes.
Q: What do you think is the most important conservation issue facing sportsmen today?
A: This is a challenging question but I’d say in general it’s the loss of quality habitat. There are a tremendous amount of contributing factors here, but to name a few: public lands management policies that have rejected the multiple-use philosophy in favor of one use at the expense and exclusion of others through irresponsible energy development, antiquated mining laws from 1872, etc.; invasive species; climate change and the resulting loss or migration of flora and fauna to higher elevations and latitudes; migratory corridor fragmentation from poorly planned infrastructure building and the loss of access over time sparks an interesting and at times, lively debate about indirect impacts to wildlife and habitat.
In a recent survey conducted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, access surpassed gun rights as the primary concern of sportsmen for the first time ever in history. Loss of access isn’t always about private lands; if you can’t hunt or fish in a place anymore because we’ve done a bad job of balancing our use of natural resources, that is, in essence, access lost.
Q: How do you, personally, hope to address this issue?
A: Its not an easy issue to address, but working together with strong conservation organizations like the NWF, TRCP, TU and others, we can effect change at the policy level administratively and legislatively by joining forces and empowering our grassroots to advocate and speak loudly. Whether you’re the Idaho Wildlife Federation fighting for bighorn sheep or a chapter of Trout Unlimited working on local watersheds, the cumulative impacts are bold, and decision makers are listening to us.
Q: How do you hope to work with the TRCP in the future?
A: I’ll always be ready to help and support my friends and colleagues at TRCP as we work together to grow bigger, stronger and more prepared to face the challenges of wildlife conservation. I’m currently working with [TRCP Associate Director of Campaigns] Joel Webster and many of our professional colleagues in the conservation community to ensure that America’s wild roadless areas maintain their integrity and continue to be the best places to hunt and fish in the world. We’re working with decision makers, federal and state land and wildlife management agencies, and reaching out to other stakeholders in a moderate, balanced approach that fosters the development of responsible solutions to threats on our roadless public lands. In the end it’s about healthy habitat, abundant wildlife and inspiring future generations to be the stewards of tomorrow.