Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Paying respects with lifetime licenses

Folks who live in California might remember that there was a terrible helicopter crash here in January in which three Department of Fish and Game biologists and the pilot died while on a routine aerial deer survey. At the time, a memorial fund was set up for their families.

Last week I heard the rest of the story while attending the Legislature's Outdoor Sporting Caucus annual dinner: Two of the biologists, Clu Cotter and Kevin O'Connor, had children, and apparently a number of outdoors organizations had come together to purchase lifetime hunting licenses for those kids.

Nearly five months later, though, they hadn't raised enough money to purchase lifetime fishing licenses, and I think that effort deserves a little help.

We all know that a fishing license couldn't possibly take the place of a dad, but it is a small way that Californians can let these kids know that their dads' work was appreciated, and that we all mourned their loss. Let's keep in mind that biologists are the people who make the science behind the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation work: They monitor wildlife populations to determine how much hunting and fishing is possible without damaging a species. Under this model, no game animal in America has gone extinct. This is important work.

It turns out they need another $7,500 to get lifetime fishing licenses for Cotter's and O'Connor's kids. If you'd like to help, you can do a couple things:

First, share this post with all your friends who are avid anglers and see if they'd like to be a part of this effort. Anyone who cares about getting kids into fishing can certainly relate to this cause - these kids no longer have dads to help them.

Second, write a check for whatever you can afford, made out to COHA (which stands for the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance), and write "Lifetime License Fund" in the memo line. Mail the check to:

1600 Sacramento Inn Way, Suite 232
Sacramento CA 95815
ATTN: Bill Gaines

If by some chance they collect more than enough money for the licenses, the surplus will go to those children through their memorial fund.

Yesterday was payday for me, and I'm writing my check tonight. I hope you'll join me.

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


Cheryl Hargraves said...

Hi Holly,

Thanks for mentioning this. I'll send a check to them later tonight.

I've never commented on your blog before, but I am here and reading :) I've never been hunting before, but I love hearing your stories about it, as well as the rest of the diagolue that happens in the comments.

Have a great week,

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

So sad, Holly. And a fitting tribute. Thanks for the heads-up.

Cork Graham said...

Great tribute to the fallen, and also just a worthwhile purchase for a hunter/angler in California.

I purchased the full Sportsman Lifetime License in 1999 and it paid for itself within 5 years: especially as the wildboar tag was only $1 or $3 then, and you get 5 pig tags a year automatically with the lifetime license. The only other purchases you have to make to enjoy all tha CA offers is an extra deer tag, an abalone card, bear tag and the federal waterfowl stamp.

...Even during the two years I was in Idaho as a resident of that state during the early part of this decade, I still received my lifetime licenses stamps and tags: best deal from any DFG in the US, I think!

Anonymous said...

What if the kids don't like to hunt?

Why not a college fund?

Holly Heyser said...

Cheryl, thank you so much for breaking out the checkbook!

Anonymous, I thought about that myself. As I mentioned, there's already a memorial fund for the families, which is fantastic, because it give families a choice of how to spend the money. (The same question, of course, could apply to a college fund: What if the kids choose not to go to college?)

The nice thing about buying the kids the licenses is that even if they never hunt or fish, conservation efforts - which is what licenses pay for - are now being done in their names.

If you object to making donations for hunting or fishing, you're welcome to send a check to the general memorial fund:

State Biologists Memorial Fund
c/o California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS)
455 Capitol Mall, Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95814

Marni Cotter said...

HI Holly,

My husband Clu was on board that helicopter and he leaves behind our two sons, now ages 13 and 10.

I want to thank you for your post and the efforts of all the hunting and fishing community to secure these lifetime licenses. It is a beautiful gesture that is not lost on my children.

Kevin and Clu's kids will be presented lifetime fishing licenses at the Fish and Game Commission meeting this week. These licenses will not only give them opportunities to stay engaged in the outdoors that their dads loved and worked hard to protect and conserve but also say a lot about Clu and Kevin's legacy and how much their work and commitment to sustainable wildlife and fish populations was appreciated by the sporting community.

You have articulated that well. And we are again so grateful for everyone who made it happen.

Marni Cotter

Holly Heyser said...

Oh, Marni, thank you so much for writing!

I am so sorry for your and your sons' loss. I can't fathom how difficult that would be, and I can't even bring myself to try, because it is such a heartbreaking thought.

But I am so glad that gestures like this effort to provide those lifetime licenses provide some measure of comfort. We can't change what happened; we can only tell you that we care.

Again, thank you so much for writing!