News for Immediate Release
Nov. 10, 2020
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]
Sunshine State sportsmen and women unite in support of public access, critical conservation issues and fair chase
MISSOULA, Mont. – Public lands sportsmen and women in Florida are rallying in support of fish and wildlife habitat, access to hunting and fishing opportunities and ethical practices afield, officially establishing the first standalone chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in the Sunshine State. The new BHA chapter officially launched in September following a vote by the BHA North American board of directors.
The chapter’s roots go back to 2019 when a group of Florida BHA members began taking the initiative to establish a Florida chapter as a standalone entity from BHA’s Southeast chapter, which Florida had been part of beginning in 2017. They met in January 2020 to elect a board and develop the chapter’s goals and mission.
“We’re excited to take the next step forward,” said Florida chapter chair Scott Penka, of Kissimmee. “As Florida – and North America – recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, we look forward to connecting with members through in-person outreach and events.”
BHA Florida members already are promoting R3 and membership initiatives, hosting small game hunts and advocating for public lands and access by participating in meetings of the Water Management Board, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other state organizational efforts on behalf of Florida sportsmen and women. As the chapter grows, members look forward to continuing to develop relationships with state government agencies and other conservation groups.
Recently, BHA members in Florida spearheaded an initiative to encourage FWC to include hunting in the state’s long-term bear management plan.
“Thanks to the overwhelming response from BHA members and other sportsmen’s groups,” said Penka, “FWC elected to include hunting as a viable option and tool in Florida's bear management plan.”
“I am very excited for the continued growth of BHA in the Southeast,” said North American Board Treasurer Jeff Jones, of Huntsville, Alabama. “We began organizing in the region in 2016 and have looked forward to this day since those early meetings. Florida is gem in the sporting world, and BHA’s new Florida chapter is full of dedicated, knowledgeable conservationists. I look forward to celebrating their accomplishments.”
“The magic of the backcountry has been described in many different ways about many different landscapes,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “I’m stoked to welcome our newest chapter in Florida where the swamp, marsh and big blue invoke a sense of challenge, solitude and adventure. We look forward to working with our volunteer leaders and members in the Sunshine State to perpetuate our backcountry ethos.”
Sixteen years after its formation, BHA now has chapters in 48 states, two Canadian provinces, one Canadian territory and the District of Columbia.
Learn more about BHA’s membership by reviewing results of our 2020 member survey.
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