Sportsmen and women join the publiclands revolution;
BHA continues exponential growth across NorthAmerica
MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers memberscontinue to step up in support of North America’s public lands andwaters, fish and wildlife, and hunting and fishing opportunities,establishing eight new chapters in the United States and Canada.
The new chapters – Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey,Oklahoma, Tennessee and Yukon – officially launched following a voteby the BHA board of directors at BHA’s North American Rendezvous inBoise, Idaho, in May. Fifteen years after its formation, BHA membershave established chapters in 45 states, two Canadian provinces, oneCanadian territory and Washington, D.C.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney commended the drive anddedication of the new chapter leaders as a critical element of theorganization’s overall growth.
“This cohort of new chapters might be our best yet,” Tawney said.“From Oklahoma and Iowa to New Jersey and the Yukon they pounded onthe door and demanded to be heard. I’m excited about their outstandingleadership, vision and get it done attitude. I can’t wait to see whatthe next year brings for our budding chapter leaders, members and workon the ground.
“The public lands revolution is alive and well both south and northof the border,” Tawney continued. “With continual geographic coveragefrom the Arctic Circle to Mexico and the Pacific Ocean to theAtlantic, BHA continues to be a force to be reckoned with. With only afew blank spots left it’s only a matter of time before we have allstates, provinces and territories covered.”
New BHA chapter leaders relish the opportunity to join the publiclands revolution.
“States like Indiana need a BHA presence in their outdoor culture more than anythingelse right now,” said Indiana Chapter Chair Neil Summers, a residentof South Bend. “Public lands in Midwest states are becoming a thing ofthe past, and that’s a threat to the future outdoorsmen and women ofthis state and more states like us.”
“Since its inception Illinois has enjoyed a longstanding tradition of hunting and fishing,” saidSeth Trokey, chair of BHA Illinois, who lives in Highland. “Those sametraditions are still important to Illinoisans, evident in the morethan 1 million hunting licenses, fishing licenses, tags and permitsthat are sold here annually. Being only 3 percent public, our publiclands and waters are that much more important to us. The Illinoischapter looks to protect, promote and expand on those traditions whileincreasing hunter and angler numbers thru programs like R3/Learn toHunt and working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources onprograms like the Illinois Recreational Access Program to gain accessand opportunity to more hunting and fishing grounds. Our members areengaged, highly motivated and highly intelligent individuals who areeager to increase access and opportunity, increase BHA membershipnumbers, expand on our volunteer efforts and recruit more men, womenand children into the outdoors.”
“Kansas citizens have a strong heritage of hunting, fishing and otheroutdoor activities, and our members are among the most passionate ofthose folks,” said Kansas BHA Chair Kurt Ratzlaff, of Bel Aire. “In astate with very little public land, we have learned the values ofworking hard, taking care of what we have and wanting better for ourchildren and our children’s children. Now that Kansans have cometogether to form a BHA chapter, we have created a more powerful voicethat combines that passion with those values.”
“There was already a serious group of motivated public landadvocates in the commonwealth,” said Kentucky Chapter Chair Will Adams, who lives in Lexington. “They have shownthemselves ready to defend our public resources at the state andnational capitals, even as a U.S. Senate committee met in easternKentucky to discuss stripping our citizens of a significant portionof their Daniel Boone National Forest. These public land defenders nowhave a home in Kentucky BHA, and we are so proud to organize and unifytheir voices to protect what we’ve grown to love and cherish.”
“When it comes to the hunting and fishing conversation, you havethe rest of the United States and then there’s Jersey,” said BHA NewJersey Co-Chair Mike Adams, of Corbin City. “Outdoorrecreationists here know what’s at stake, from the imperiled striperfishery to our east and the continual flip flop in bear managementpolicy in our north to the preservation of the Pinelands NationalReserve at our center. Forming a Backcountry Hunters & Anglerschapter in our state has been a crucial first step in mitigating someof these issues, and we’re honored to become a part of BHA’snationwide legacy.”
“Growing up in Oklahoma with permissions to hunt and fish as a child I never knew theimportance of public lands, but times have changed and now as an adultI rely heavily on public lands and waters,” said BHA Oklahoma ChairJosh Karum, a resident of Yukon. “Oklahoma only has about 3 percentpublic lands for 700,000 anglers and 420,000 hunters to share, so theimportance of BHA quickly became apparent! I am beyond excited tocontinue our success at beating bad legislation and to start growingawareness and protections for these precious resources andreintroducing folks to the great outdoors.”
“As a native Tennessean and having spent the vast majority of my life here, I’ve come torealize the importance of our public lands and waters in the lastseveral years,” said Joey Bell, Tennessee chapter chair, who lives inCane Ridge. “This has made me abundantly passionate about BackcountryHunters & Anglers. There are many things the general public mightnot know about Tennessee. For example, Tennessee has 13 mountains thatreach above 6,000 feet. The world record walleye, crappie andwhitetail deer all were harvested in Tennessee. You can fish formusky, brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout in Tennessee inparts of our 17,000 miles of streams and rivers as well as largemouthand smallmouth bass. There are opportunities to hunt Sandhill crane,elk and black bear on our 2,356,000 acres of public land. Coming fromthe Volunteer State it is my honor to serve as the chair for theTennessee chapter.” The Tennessee chapter is officially launching witha pintnight tour this summer.
“The members of Yukon BHA are proud to have joined the family of Backcountry Hunters& Anglers,” said Lucas Knowles, Yukon chapter co-chair, ofWhitehorse. “Yukon has a wealth of pristine wilderness. We are happyto be part of an organization that will help us protect the land,water and wildlife while still providing great opportunities forresident hunters and anglers to participate in the activities we love.We look forward to the support we can receive from the organization,as well as adding our voices to the calls for action on issuesimportant to BHA internationally.”
BHA was formed around an Oregon campfire in 2004. Since then, thegroup of sportsmen and women has established itself as the leadingvoice of North American public lands users, including hunters, anglersand other outdoor recreationists. BHA continues to grow rapidly in2019, with more than 36,000 members – and counting – spread across thecontinent.
Backcountry Hunters &Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands,waters and wildlife.