ND wildlife benefitting from citizen involvement
If I tried to list all the organizations and clubs just in North Dakota that are working to advance the cause of fishing, hunting, trapping, conservation, education and training, I'd likely fill most of this column.
From national club affiliations to local groups, the options are many and varied, almost like your favorite buffet where if you don't like one offering, you're sure to find something to catch your eye. And at the same time, you'll probably find more options that you like than you can reasonably fit on a plate.
I'd also like to make a couple suggestions. Number one, if you hunt, fish or shoot, don't just join, but get active and involved in a local club. And two, don't hesitate to bring a youngster or young adult along as well.
There's no wrong time of year to jump into an organization, though some clubs suspend meetings over the summer, so with spring approaching, now is a great time to get involved.
Within the matrix of a club, individual members have varying backgrounds and passions. The diversity of members creates many lasting efforts for the betterment of North Dakota wildlife and fisheries. Between the habitat projects and story swapping, group members can also get involved in issues crucial to the future of hunting, fishing, trapping and conservation.
Many conservation issues have a degree of politics attached to them, and within a group, differing views can foster a better understanding of the issues, and lead to more effective input.
Take the Conservation Reserve Program, for instance. While the benefits of this nationwide program are countless, the program itself has many different facets and can be confusing. Sometimes, individual stakeholders with valuable input are hesitant to engage in the politics of contacting elected decision-makers.
On the other hand, with the support of a group and insight from guest speakers or other available information, members can individually voice their concerns, or collectively make their thoughts known locally, regionally or on a national scale.
Through an organized group, we can all better address issues like CRP rental rates, or even using qualified volunteers as part of any effort to address the elk population within Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department does its best to get habitat projects started or to provide biological information relating to outdoors issues. However, with the complementary support of individuals and groups, much more can be accomplished.
Now is a good time to take a few moments, find out about your local options, and engage in the process. You'll most likely find others who share your same outdoors interests. And if you are already part of group, find someone who isn't, and urge them to join you.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at dougleier.areavoices.com