(Note: Ontario BASS Federation Nation Conservation Director, Wil Wegman, wrote this article that first appeared in the Georgina Advocate, a local newspaper on the shores of Ontario's Lake Simcoe. We wanted to share his article with the Angler Conservation Team. Please note that this is one in a series of Focusing on Fishing articles in the Georgina Advocate.)
Last week we had a look at several local fishing-related clubs. One common denominator was the willingness of members from all these clubs to work on a variety of fish habitat and enhancement projects, clean-up efforts, fish tagging and other research or conservation projects. If it were not for the efforts of these club volunteers, a lot of this important work would simply not get done and our resources would be just that much poorer. So, our "Focus on Fishing" hats go off to all those dedicated club volunteers who help make our natural environment just that much better.
Ah ... but what about the rest of you Focus on Fishing readers who don't belong to a club but would still would like to help out on some of the projects just mentioned? For many years, participation in these projects was strictly for members only ... due oftentimes to insurance restrictions and other administrative matters that would deter groups from seeking outside help. That is beginning to change as a result of the new Angler Conservation Team (ACT). ACT is a network of leisure anglers like you who volunteer to protect and enhance fish habitat and work on other local conservation projects.
The ACT program is a Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) initiative that the BASS Conservation department hopes to grow throughout the United States and Canada. There is no charge to join ACT, and this program is not just for BASS members, nor is it in place to solicit new members. The goal is to obtain a solid resource of volunteers who have signed up through the BASS Web site (Bassmaster.com) and are available to do volunteer conservation work for agencies like the Ministry of Natural Resources, The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and groups such as the fishing clubs we wrote about last week. It gives folks not affiliated with a club the opportunity to volunteer their services and help work alongside others to get a variety of conservation projects completed.
Dienne Wenzel, manager of Conservation Special Projects at BASS, says, "With the expansion of the program and its projects, we have seen our ACT membership increase as well. There are incentives for joining the program, such as free ACT T-shirts, an upcoming photo gallery for posting photos and a section with firsthand accounts from volunteers and project coordinators. We have had a very positive response, and we are always looking for conservation related projects where the ACT program can help out," said Wenzel.
You can find upcoming ACT projects at Bassmaster.com/Conservation.