Fernie Rod & Gun Club - Conservations

The Fernie Rod and Gun Club (FRGC), formed back in 1899, now stands as the oldest Wildlife Club in British Columbia. The Club nearly tripled its members in the past three years, with membership sitting close to 400.

Many members were drawn by the active Archery Program, the new archery range, and the youth archery and shooting evenings. By the end of 2009 FRGC hosted four successful 3-D Archery Shoots, built a roofed shelter at the archery range and through community fundraising purchased multiple youth bows and equipment. FRGC hosts an archery shoot every Thursday evening in the summer, for adults and kids alike.

by Kevin Marasco

The youth rifle shooting program runs Monday evenings in May and June and kids compete against others in the same age division. FRGC supplies all youth-sized equipment as well as instructors and volunteers.

This spring/summer, FRGC is introducing a Youth Fishing Program in collaboration with the Elk River Guiding Company. The kickoff will be a trip to the Kootenay Hatchery to learn about fish and fishing. Kids will tour the hatchery and then fish at the hatchery ponds. FRGC is sponsoring this whole day event, including lunch, snacks, fishing rods and tackle. All the kids have to do is show up!

This spring FRGC is focusing on a Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project slated on the Wigwam Flats. This is "Class 1" winter range and in tough winters, this is the only class of range that will sustain wildlife. What we have in the valley is very limited so it requires extreme care and protection. FRGC has been working on this winter range for 35 years with controlled burns, mechanical thinning, hand slashing and noxious weed control.

Club members and members of the community will head out on April 17 to the Mt. Broadwood area to slash over one hundred hectares which will improve the quality and quantity of winter range forage. No heavy equipment is allowed, members will head out with chainsaws, brush cutters and gloves to clear as much area as possible. In the winter months the Wigwam Flats sustain thousands of animals including sheep, elk, mule deer and whitetail deer. Many wolves and coyotes also keep a hungry watch over these ungulates. Slashing creates a better and larger growing area that all animals depend on. Without a healthy winter range, animals will not get the nourishment they need to survive and produce healthy offspring.

FRGC is currently preparing for the Annual Awards Night and Fundraiser. This important function will be held on April 10 at the Fernie Community Center with an expected sellout crowd of 400. Members will receive approximately 100 awards for outstanding achievements in 2009. Many awards will be given for fishing, hunting, shooting and photography. This event is the FRGC’s main fundraiser and all money raised stays in the Elk Valley. The main use of money is to sustain youth programs, wildlife enhancement projects, and continue conservation efforts in the Elk Valley.

It’s going to be a great year for the FRGC with the membership numbers continuing to rise, a huge wildlife enhancement project on the go, two 3-D Archery Shoots scheduled and the launch of the New Youth Fishing Program. For more information or to get involved, please email primekm@shaw.ca.