Local sportsmen's clubs form alliance

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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A dozen local hunting, fishing, shooting and environmental groups are joining forces to create the Southwest Washington Sportsmen's Club Alliance.

Representatives of the groups met in an organizational session last week in Vancouver. Mike Foulke, president of the Southwest Washington Anglers, was selected chairman of the alliance.

Clubs at the initial meeting included the Vancouver Wildlife League, Southwest Washington Anglers, Lower Columbia Walleye Club, Clark-Skamania Flyfishers, Washington Waterfowl Association, Klineline Kids Fishing, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cowlitz Game and Anglers, Vancouver Trap Club, Southwest Washington chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, Friends of the East Fork and Clark County Gun Club.

Foulke said the clubs can benefit simply from exchanging information including their activity calendars.

"If we share the dates of our special events and fund raisers, then we won't be conflicting with each other,'' Foulke said. "We've got no agenda or political background. We do have some things in common like protecting habitat and maintaining access.''

Members of the various clubs share many interests and likely will help support each other's activities, he said.

At the organizational meeting, some of the clubs pledged donations to Klineline Kids Fishing to buy additional rods and reels.

"With this many clubs, if you pick up two or three volunteers from each that's a significant number,'' Foulke said.

Twenty-one clubs were sent invitations to the organizational meet. Foulke said he expects at least another half dozen to join eventually.

While the alliance does not have a political agenda, it is likely there will be some issues where the groups coalesce, he said.

"We think it will be helpful for the public and the agencies to know that we exist,'' he added.

The next meeting tentatively is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 28 at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2108 Grand Blvd.