Conservation leaders to meet at Classic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Conservation leaders from around the country will descend on Birmingham, Ala., next week as they meet for the 2014 Conservation Summit.

The event takes place every other year in conjunction with Bassmaster Classic. The 2014 summit will be held Feb. 21-23 at the Sheraton in Birmingham.

Conservation directors from B.A.S.S. Nation chapters will attend the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Reception & Banquet, where four legends of the sport — Rayo Breckenridge, Penny Berryman, Doug Hannon and Blake Honeycutt — will be inducted into the hall of fame.

On Feb. 21, Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S., will welcome conservation directors to the summit. Conservation directors will discuss issues such as the agenda of the B.A.S.S. Conservation program for 2014, the relatively new B.A.S.S. Nation College and High School programs and how to communicate their chapters’ message to the public via social media and digital media platforms.

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Keep America Fishing will host a reception for conservation directors in the evening, after the first weigh-in of the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.

On the second day, representatives from state fisheries agencies will join the conservation directors for the summit. Leaders from ASA and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will discuss how to work with legislators on fisheries issues. Other topics the groups will work together on is how to develop relationships with state agencies and what the status is of action plans that address invasive species.

“Invasive species are always a hot-button issue,” said Gene Gilliland, conservation director for B.A.S.S., “and we have two speakers so we can cover both plants and animal invaders.”

After the weigh-in, leaders will reconvene.

“Saturday night is our awards banquet, where we recognize all the good work B.A.S.S. Nation members are doing in their states,” said Gilliland. Included will be an award for the Conservation Director of the Year.

On the final day, grant opportunities for conservation projects will be the main topic of discussion, followed by a grant-writing seminar.

Some of the grants available are funded by Friends of Reservoirs, Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Foundation, FishAmerica Foundation and the Berkley Conservation Institute.

If you have questions about the 2014 Conservation Summit or about fisheries issues in general, contact Gilliland at [email protected].