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It's a great time to get involved

I am not sure how old I was when I accompanied my dad to my first wildlife club meeting of many. To be honest, I'm not sure whether it was his suggestion, my request or mom's way of getting me out of her hair for a few hours. Whatever the case, s...

I am not sure how old I was when I accompanied my dad to my first wildlife club meeting of many. To be honest, I'm not sure whether it was his suggestion, my request or mom's way of getting me out of her hair for a few hours. Whatever the case, something stuck with me.

Over the course of years, my attendance became more frequent. Memories such as planting trees or placing round bales on lakes for Canada goose nesting remain.

The annual winter North Dakota Wildlife Federation meeting was a family vacation - much to the dismay of my older sister.

I accompanied dad to most wildlife club activities, events and work days. My point in bringing all this up is two-fold. Number one, if you like to hunt, fish or shoot, get active and involved in a local club. And two, don't be hesitant about bringing a youngster along as well.

There's no wrong time of year to jump into an organization. Truth is, some clubs take summer months off, and with spring approaching, now is a great time to get involved.

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Within the matrix of a club, individual members have varying backgrounds and passions. The diversity of members creates many lasting efforts for the betterment of North Dakota wildlife and fisheries. Between the habitat projects and story-swapping, group members can also get involved in issues crucial to the future of hunting, fishing, trapping and conservation.

Many conservation issues have a degree of politics attached to them, and within a group differing views can foster a better understanding of the issues and more effective input.

Take the Conservation Reserve Program, for instance. While the benefits of this nationwide program are countless, the program itself has many different facets and can be confusing. Sometimes, individual stakeholders with valuable input are hesitant to engage in the politics of contacting elected decision-makers.

On the other hand, with the support of a group and insight from guest speakers or other available information, members can individually voice their concerns, or collectively make their thoughts known locally, regionally and on a national scale.

Through an organized group we can all better provide input to decision-makers on issues like CRP rental rates or using qualified volunteers as part of any effort to address the elk population at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The Game and Fish Department does its best to get habitat projects started or to provide biological information relating to outdoors issues. However, with the complementary support of individuals and groups, much more can be accomplished.

Now is a good time to take a few moments, find out about your local options, and engage in the process. You'll most likely find others who share your same outdoors interests. And if you are already part of group, find someone who isn't, and urge them to join you.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov Leier's blog can be found online

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