2017-10-05 / News

To Continue, Sportsmen Need New Members

The longstanding Sault Ste. Marie sportsmen’s club, responsible for community projects, including the Sault Ste. Marie Kids Fishing Pond, is poised to disband if new blood isn’t found in the coming weeks.

The Soo Area Sportsmen’s Club, formed in 1983, will discuss its current membership predicament and more when it meets Wednesday, October 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Chippewa County Shooting Association upper range on Ridge Road in Sault Ste. Marie.

“The club has done a lot of good for the community over the years, but we have fewer members than we used to have and even fewer who are able to do the work that’s needed,” said Bud Willis, Soo Area Sportsmen’s Club president. “Many organizations have a similar problem

– we’ve been relying on the same few people to guide the club for many years. We need new members who are willing to maintain the club’s traditions and its standing as a group that promotes all aspects of the outdoors in the Sault and surrounding area.”

Over the years, the Soo Area Sportsmen’s Club has provided funding for city boat ramps, equipment for the Lake Superior State University Aquatic Research laboratory, LSSU student research projects, and its biggest project to date – the Sault Kids Fishing Pond, which is the site of the club’s annual Connor Gorsuch Kids Fishing Day. The pond alone costs thousands of dollars to maintain and keep stocked. It is used daily through the summer by youth age 16 and younger and enjoys a good amount of financial support from volunteers.

The list of club projects continues with funds and manpower for the improvement of wildlife habitat for sharp-tailed grouse, waterfowl, and more, along with assistance for cormorant control and forest cleanup.

The club has also promoted youth activities, including firearms safety training. It provided start-up money and support to establish a youth archery club at Sault Area High School and has provided fishing opportunities for youth through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The club also funds an annual Sault High scholarship for students intending to study a natural resources program, and has provided donations for the Sault High senior party for many years.

The club has stepped up to help with solutions for local projects, such as when the Sault fish cleaning station needed a new grinder. The club also has organized the longstanding Sault Salmon Derby and the annual walleye ice fishing tournaments on Munuscong Bay, which have been around for nearly as long as the club has been.

“This gives people an idea of some of what the club has been involved with over the years,” said Roger Greil, a past president and coordinator of the Kids Fishing Pond and Kids Fishing Day. “We could go on and on.”

The mission of the club has always been to facilitate, coordinate, and promote access to quality and affordable natural resources in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. It strives to promote sound conservation practices and procedures, to defend natural resources from waste, and to promote sound environmental programs.

Mr. Willis said he would hate to see all of it come to an end, but current officers and organizers have been guiding the efforts for quite some time. He said he would welcome new members at the October 4 meeting.

The club, he said, “has been a part of the Eastern U.P. for many years, and it would be a real shame to lose it. If we don’t get new, active members, we will be forced to dissolve. I hate to see the advocacy of this longstanding group come to a halt, and I encourage anyone with an interest in the outdoors, our community, and our young people to show up to this meeting.”

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