American Hunter - December 2013 - (Page 25)

of the Year award, said giving Porter the state's highest conservation award was a no-brainer. "It's clear that Jim Porter is committed to our hunting heritage, firearm freedoms, public access to the outdoors and the conservation of our state's natural resources," he said. Porter said being named Conservationist of the Year in his home state came as a surprise, but it is an honor that will forever be cherished. "There's no question that it is quite an honor," he said moments before receiving the award. "To have this recognition from Alabama and it be presented by the governor is very meaningful to me. Anything that deals with conservation is very near and dear to my heart." Porter was hailed on this night for his efforts to help make Forever Wild possible. "The Forever Wild Land Trust has been very important to me," he said. "It is the most forward-thinking work that has been done anywhere in the country to protect natural resources. For that to be in my home state and for me to have played a small part is important to me. Forever Wild is 'Exhibit A' on how things can be done right." As Alabama had the least amount of public hunting land in the Southeast, Porter says it was only natural that the  would become involved in the renewal of Forever Wild. "The  is America's largest hunting "It's clear that Jim Porter is committed to our hunting heritage, firearm freedoms, public access to the outdoors and the conservation of our state's natural resources." wildlife preserves, hiking trails and public parks, and almost all of it is open to hunters. In , when the -year guarantee of a funding mechanism for Forever Wild expired, Porter was again at the forefront pushing for a -year renewal. He attended every public hearing on behalf of the , citing the importance of renewing the measure and what it would mean to all Alabamians. Again, it passed by an overwhelming margin. Tim Gothard, executive director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, which presents the Governor's Conservationist organization," he said. "We represent hunters as part of all firearm owners. "I know what a privilege it was for me to grow up that way. I know how important it is to pass hunting down to the next generation. I am a sixth-generation Alabamian who grew up following my dad around like a puppy dog chasing deer, turkey, quail and rabbits. I now have children that are the seventh generation of Alabamians doing that, and grandchildren that are the eighth generation. "I love my state. I am very proud of Alabama. I believe we have the best conservation department in the country." . ❘  ❘   News from the Field Photo: John R. Ford that passion. In , Alabamians began pushing for a constitutional amendment that would allow a portion of the monies from offshore oil leases to be used to purchase large tracts of environmentally important lands. That program, called Forever Wild, would in turn set aside those important tracts of land and leave them pristine, to be enjoyed by the public. Porter was all for Forever Wild, but he saw a glaring omission: Nowhere in the discussions was there a mention that these lands would be open to Alabama hunters. "In the original draft hunting was not included," he said. "I knew that we needed hunters on board to help pass it. The little guy in Alabama was being priced out of the hunting market and this would be an excellent opportunity to provide thousands and thousands of acres of land open to public hunting. I also knew the important management tool hunters would provide for these lands. I was involved in the discussions and explained the role hunting would play in that legislation. The preamble eventually guaranteed and protected the rights of hunters to hunt on these lands." From deer hunters to bird watchers, from anglers to mountain bikers, Alabamians voted by an overwhelming  percent in  for a constitutional amendment that created Forever Wild. To date, the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust has purchased more than , acres of land that has become ■ Missouri Officials Eye 2016 Elk Hunt Modeled after successful reintroductions in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas, the reintroduction of elk in Missouri, which started with just 34 animals in 2011, has resulted in a population of roughly 100 animals today living within the designated restoration zone encompassing roughly 346 square miles of land within Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties in the southeast corner of the state. Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) officials expect the herd to double in size within the next three years, and plan to open a public hunting season once that goal is reached. A total of 30-40 permits are expected to be issued for the historic hunt tentatively scheduled for 2016. "Establishing an elk herd in this limited area in southern Missouri would likely result in considerable public interest and a subsequent boost to tourism and hunting," says MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. According to MDC officials, elk have not roamed Missouri since 1865. The success of reintroduction efforts there is due in part to support received from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, Big Game Hunters Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, the Nature Conservancy and numerous private land owners and conservationists. ■ West Virginia Mulls Elk Reintroduction The successful reintroduction efforts of elk in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Missouri have officials in West Virginia considering a similar program for the Wild and Wonderful state. The last official elk harvest in West Virginia occurred in 1875 according to Metro News. Two habitat locations are being considered for the reintroduction; one in the southern portion of the state that, though not ideal habitat, would allow for the least amount of possible farming and crop damage, and the other, the vast Monongahela National Forest, which could see some opposition from nearby farmers. Efforts are still in the preliminary stages, and officials predict any hunting opportunity is still at least 15 years away. http://www.americanhunter.org

American Hunter - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2013

Contents
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover1
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover2
American Hunter - December 2013 - 1
American Hunter - December 2013 - Contents
American Hunter - December 2013 - 3
American Hunter - December 2013 - 4
American Hunter - December 2013 - 5
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