The 2019 AZSFWC Sportsmen’s Summit

For the third year in a row, AZSFWC held a Sportsmen’s Summit to accomplish two goals.  The first was to bring our member organizations together in one place to discuss some issues, network and socialize.  The second objective was to bring money to the coffers to pay for administrative expenses.  To a certain degree, we were successful with both objectives. 

We had half our member groups buy tables, some had two and some sent individuals.  We also had interested individuals that bought tables.  On the money end, arguably the timing of the event (August in Phoenix), coupled with banquet burnout, didn’t blow up the bank, but that’s a discussion for another day!

I had the pleasure of saying a few words about what AZSFWC has done and what we’re working on.  We had a number of accomplishments in 2018 as is reflected in our Annual Report, which can be found HERE.

This year is proving to be busier than last year was and we still have four months to go!

Commissioner Kurt Davis joined us for the evening, and had the honor of introducing Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers. 

The Speaker welcomed the group and thanked us for engaging on legislative efforts during the last Session.  He talked about some of his outdoor experience hunting and he closed out his speech with a word of caution in the coming 2020 election.  The AZ House is currently held by Republicans with a 31- 29 margin.  The AZ Senate is also held by Republicans with a 17-13 margin.

AZSFWC is non-partisan and not in the candidate endorsing business, but part of our mission is to educate and inform sportsmen and women on important issues.  You don’t have to look too far past our Arizona borders to see what is going on with wildlife and hunting in California and New Mexico.

Our newest Game & Fish Commissioner James Goughnour was up next.  He also thanked the crowd and members for engaging in several matters the Commission is dealing with.  He is a breath of fresh air to the Commission and is striving to make decisions based on what is good for wildlife, conservation and the Department.  He is a passionate fisherman, and gave us an update on what is going on at Roosevelt Lake.   

Sportsmen and women pay most of the freight in the Department, but ironically few really engage.  AZSFWC plays a large role in that respect, but it’s of critical importance to at least be aware of what’s going on all around us.

The Commissioner thanked us for our collective support on the predator contest issue.  It was contentious in some respects, but important from a social perspective.  In the end, the Commission and Department maintain control of all wildlife management, including predators and predator hunting.  Aside from the erosion of authority if the Legislature had taken this up, the Commission action also mitigated potentially broader implications if the matter was wide open and ripe for another ballot initiative.  Now we’ll see what plays out.

Arizona is blessed with many things, but one thing it seems to have drawn more than her fair share of is enviro-litigants and anti-hunters.  From the CBD, to the Sierra Club, to the Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians, Lobos of the Southwest and so on…these groups are watching every move the Commission makes or doesn’t make! 

Game & Fish Director Ty Gray spoke to us too.  He has been a great partner since taking over this role!  He and several members of his staff are at every AZSFWC Board meeting.  His direction is sound and his door is literally open.  He talked about the Department Goals and Objectives and a number of issues the Department is undertaking.

Finally we had the pleasure of Ellary TuckerWilliams joining us from Washington DC.  She is with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and their Inter-Mountain Western State’s Coordinator for five western states, including Arizona.  She’s currently residing in DC but plans on relocating west in the near future.

CSF is one of our AZSFWC Associate Members.  On a National and Federal level they are a great asset and information source for sportsmen, women and State legislatures.

The Summit would have never gotten off the ground but not for our Chairman Pete Cimellaro, and our Administrator Tracy Unmacht.

Jim Unmacht

AZSFWC Executive Director