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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Local Sportsman Speaks About Importance of Wild Backcountry

Posted By: Amber Benson

When it comes to the sports of hunting and fishing, many people are unable to also see the connection to conservation and protection. It’s that stigma that the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are hoping to change.

Born around an Oregon campfire, the group has members in all 50 states. The non-partisan group is founded on a mission to ensure America’s outdoor heritage in an outdoor setting, through education and work on behalf of clean water and wilderness. Currently, its primary focus is on the illegal use of ATVs and ORVs on public land. One of the organization’s bumper stickers reads, “Use the quads that God gave you.” BHA has also worked closely with Washington Wilderness Coalition to garner support for the now designated Wild Sky Wilderness, the proposed additions to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the national push to protect our nation’s roadless backcountry.

Gregg Bafundo, Washington Chair for BHA, joined the group after years as an avid rock climber. Feeling like there was always an element missing from his sporting endeavors, he decided to give bow hunting a try. “I always felt like something was missing. As I phased out rock climbing, and started hunting, I realized I could become a participant in nature and wilderness. It’s in that part that I’ve really begun to understand what goes on out there.”

When it comes to environmental issues, Washington state is often viewed as a more left-leaning state. Gregg says that provides BHA with the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between traditional environmental groups and traditional hunting groups. “It’s a chance to allow hunters to know we have more in common with environmental groups and vice versa.” He says there’s a struggle to get understanding among environmental groups that hunters and fishers do want to protect wild places. Along with that, there’s a need to show hunters and fishers that increased protection means more fish and game and a more wild atmosphere.

To hear more about wilderness protection from Gregg’s perspective as a hunter and angler, come hear him speak Tuesday, February 10 at the Washington Wilderness Coalition (305 N. 83rd St, Seattle, WA 98103). The event starts at 6:30 and will include wine, beer, and light appetizers. To RSVP, email amber@wawild.org

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