MISSOULA, Mont. – At Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ 6th annual North American Rendezvous, seven sportsman-conservation leaders were awarded BHA’s highest honors, recognizing exceptional efforts in conservation, communications and the ethics of fair chase hunting and fishing.
BHA’s Jim Posewitz Award for Ethical Hunting and Fishing recognizes outstanding ethical behavior in the field and the education of the outdoor public on the importance of ethical behavior. Randy Newberg, host of the TV show “Fresh Tracks” and a passionate public lands user, was selected to receive the award, which was presented for the first time at the 2017 Rendezvous.
“Randy Newberg started on his journey by joining Jim Posewitz at Orion-The Hunter’s Institute as a volunteer shortly after its inception in 1993,” said Orion Executive Director Eric Nuse. “He has given his time, effort and financial assistance and is one of Jim’s strongest and most vocal disciples. In 2008, Randy saw a need in outdoor media for the Orion message and jumped in, full speed ahead. Through television, print and social media, he now is reaching millions of active viewers and participants.
“No other media personality can claim a stricter adherence to ethical, responsible and morally correct hunting practices than Randy Newberg,” said Nuse. “As Jim Posewitz likes to say, ‘as long as there is time left on the clock Randy is in the game … right to the end.’”
The Ted Trueblood Award is bestowed by BHA for exceptional communications work informing and inspiring people for the benefit of public lands, waters and wildlife. The 2017 recipient is Anthony Licata. Editorial director of the Bonnier Lifestyle Group, Licata directs all content, including print, website and video, for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Popular Science, Saveur, Popular Photography and American Photo. He is an avid public lands hunter and angler.
Said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney, “America’s unique sportsmen-conservation ethic has its roots in publications like Forest and Stream, which launched in the late 1800s and merged with Field & Stream in 1930. Anthony Licata continues to use the power of the pen to advance conservation ideals through his roles at both Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. In particular, his leadership in keeping public lands in public hands and sportsmen's access issues is unparalleled. Anthony is a good friend and a great conservationist, and we expect much more from him in the years to come.”
BHA’s Aldo Leopold Award is given for exceptional work and dedication to the conservation of wildlife habitat. The 2017 Leopold award was presented to Dr. Ed Arnett. Arnett, who lives in Colorado, has dedicated his life and career to conservation as a professional biologist, nonprofit leader, educator, TV show host and ecumenical bird hunter. He currently is senior scientist with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of BHA’s 2017 Aldo Leopold Award than Dr. Ed Arnett, who embodies the spirit and ethos pioneered by Leopold as he labors to conserve all things wild,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale. “From the Western sage steppe to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., Ed works with sportsmen partners to ensure the conservation of habitat relied on by an iconic bird, the greater sage grouse – as well as by elk, mule deer, pronghorn and hundreds of other species – and to defend against attacks from some members of Congress and special interests, who remain intent on unraveling what may be the most significant collaborative conservation effort in history.”
The Sigurd F. Olson Award recognizes outstanding effort in the conservation of rivers, lakes or wetland habitat. Idahoan Larry Weeks is the recipient of BHA’s 2017 award. During the course of his career with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Weeks has negotiated with more than 2,500 individual landowners and water users in the Upper Salmon Basin. He has directly influenced the installation of more than 250 fish screens that annually save up to 80 percent of the state’s out-migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead. He also serves on a team that has opened up more than 120 miles of fish habitat and helped put hundreds of cubic feet of water in Idaho’s rivers and streams.
“In the West, where water is gold, getting landowners to voluntarily allow you to influence their irrigation diversions and water rights – especially without the promise of financial compensation – is no easy task,” said IDFG staff biologist Windy Schoby. “Larry is a special individual who is successful because he is not afraid to pick up the phone, knock on a door and listen. In a day of technology, tweeting, emails and cell phones, Larry’s ability to work with people on the ground and gain their trust has resulted in significant conservation gains – and is an approach from which we all can learn.”
The 2017 George Bird Grinnell Award for the outstanding BHA chapter of the year was presented to BHA’s Wyoming chapter.
“In addition to organizing numerous public lands events and work projects in 2016, Wyoming BHA mobilized hundreds of sportsmen and women at a public lands rally in Casper in November – and scored two major wins for our public lands and outdoor traditions,” said BHA State Policy Director Tim Brass. “The chapter successfully sustained public access to more than 10,000 acres of high value backcountry elk and mule deer habitat – access that was threatened by the proposed Bonander state lands exchange – while simultaneously working in the legislature to kill a widely unpopular constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for public lands seizures and selloffs. While a number of BHA chapters across the country have been gaining significant momentum in recent months, Wyoming BHA’s energy and effectiveness clearly deserve special recognition.”
The Larry Fischer Award honors the memory and contributions of a longtime BHA board member by recognizing exceptional dedication by a business to BHA’s mission. Backcountry gear manufacturer Seek Outside received the 2017 award, with owners Angie and Kevin Timm accepting it.
“Seek Outside is a company that epitomizes a great corporate partnership for BHA,” said BHA National Board Chairman Ryan Busse. “Backcountry is in their blood. They design products for our members because they are BHA members themselves. From day one, Angie and Kevin Timm have been essential supporters of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their help.”
Finally, the Mike Beagle-Chairman’s Award is bestowed to an individual who shows outstanding effort on behalf of BHA. The award is named after Beagle, a BHA founder who convened the historic meeting “around an Oregon campfire” that launched BHA. The 2017 recipient of the award is BHA stalwart Holly Endersby.
“Holly Endersby has been a tireless champion of public lands, clean waters and wildlife habitat since the earliest days of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers,” said longtime BHA member Ben Long, who presented Endersby with the award. “Her professionalism, dedication and optimism helped BHA grow from a nascent idea to a force of nature. This would simply not have happened without Holly.”
BHA’s 2017 North American Rendezvous showcased the growing grassroots presence that is BHA and public lands sportsmen and women, confirming that the young sportsmen’s group is literally changing the landscape of conservation in the United States and Canada. More than 6,000 hunters, anglers, locavores, conservationists and outdoor recreationists came with their families to western Montana April 7-9 to celebrate BHA, reassert the power of the citizenry in sustaining our lands and waters – and take advantage of the outdoor opportunities that are rife in the Northern Rockies during the springtime.
Sponsors of BHA’s 6th annual North American Rendezvous include Benchmade Knives, Camp Chef, CRKT, First Lite, Flyvines, Forest Business Network, Kimber, Leupold, Montana Fly Company, onXmaps, Schnee’s, Seek Outside, Sitka Gear, Traditional Bowhunter, Western Hunter and YETI.
BHA’s 2018 North American Rendezvous will take place in Boise, Idaho. Dates and details are forthcoming.