Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
December 2011

A Message From The Commissioner
The Gift of The Outdoors

By Cora Campbell
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Patti Berkhahn, (Habitat Division), with her grandson. It was his first fish.

As I write this, it’s the time of year when the hustle and bustle tends to overwhelm our days and obscure the details of what’s really important. During this time, we often spend a lot of time thinking about presents. I’d like to humbly submit that this year we should spend a little less time thinking about presents, and a little more time considering gifts.

What was the best gift you ever received? I’d wager that it didn’t have a price tag. Maybe you treasure the shotgun your grandfather gave you, but it was the hours spent in the field with him that even now warms your heart. Perhaps you still have your childhood fishing rod, but it’s the thought of passing it on to your kids after teaching them how to wet a line that brings a smile to your face. I have fond memories of my dad teaching me to enjoy Alaska’s sport fishing opportunities, and now I’m passing the secret family halibut jig on to my children. That’s what makes hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits special. They are both a present and a gift.

If, for example, you buy your annual 2012 Alaska hunting, sport fishing, and trapping license (and I hope you do), your purchase isn’t just a present to yourself. It’s a gift to Alaska, and future generations of hunters and anglers, because every dollar you spend on any Alaskan license or stamp goes directly to supporting fish and wildlife conservation, management, and research across the state. In addition, state license dollars are matched by federal excise taxes on outdoor equipment like fishing rods, tackle, guns, ammunition, and boat fuel. These are taxes that manufacturers have opted to levy on themselves to help preserve our outdoor heritage and, in the process, their businesses and our state and national economies. These federal programs triple every dollar spent on hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses. All of this funding is directed back to the department to help ensure there will always be wild game to hunt, fish to catch, and places to pursue our time-honored traditions. In years such as these where financial support has become more and more challenging, the importance of your annual purchase of a license cannot be overlooked.

However, buying a license is still just half the equation. A license becomes a gift only when it’s shared with someone else. It becomes a conduit for one generation to share our heritage and traditions with the next, and a means to spend time with family and friends making priceless new memories. And yet, the newest generations to become parents have often grown up completely disconnected from the nature and the outdoors. They lack the knowledge and skills to actively participate in outdoor pursuits, or share those traditions with their families and friends.

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Samantha Oslund, Division of Sport Fish, helps coach a BOW participant who is learning how to shoot.

That is why the work of the department’s non-profit arm, the Outdoor Heritage Foundation of Alaska (OHFA), is so critical. As our official non-profit, the Outdoor Heritage Foundation serves as the financial backbone of many of our most popular outdoor skill-building programs. Without their fundraising efforts some of the department’s exceptional educational offerings including Becoming an Outdoors Woman, Alaska Youth Conservation Camp, and Outdoor Youth Days wouldn’t be possible.

We are committed to continuing to share the gift of the outdoors by teaching both kids and adults how to safely and responsibly get outside and take part in activities that in some ways define our great state, including fishing, hunting, trapping, and shooting. Together, the work ADF&G and OHFA accomplish bolsters the state’s economy to the tune of billions of dollars every year, and helps Alaska’s children and families enjoy better mental and physical health and wellbeing.

But we need your help. You, Alaska’s sportsmen and women and outdoor enthusiasts, are the key to our past and future success. In this upcoming year, please remember: buy a license at, support OHFA (, and take someone out and pass on your favorite outdoor traditions. We promise to continue working tirelessly for the conservation of Alaska’s fish and wildlife and preservation of our outdoor traditions. With your help, we are confident that we can successfully face every challenge the coming year brings.

Cora Campbell is the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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