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Boat races, Betters and back to work

July 5, 2008
Joe Hackett, outdoors columnist

There is a lot of breaking news in the world of outdoor recreation, not the least of which is the return of the 46th Annual Willard Hanmer Races.

The Hanmer is recognized as the grandaddy of all guideboat races hosted in the park. It features some of the finest oarsmen and women participating in several hotly contested races.

The races begin at 11 a.m. starting from the Riverside Park in Saranac Lake following a course around Lake Flower, which permits excellent opportunities for spectators.

On a state level, word comes from both the New York Assembly and the Senate that the Youth Hunting Bill has been passed in both houses.

The bill is on its way to the Executive Branch, where Governor Patterson has already committed to signing the legislation into law.

New York, which has maintained the nation's most restrictive rules governing youth hunters, will finally join the ranks of the rest of the country in allowing teenagers to hunt.

The anticipated legislation will provide 14 and 15-year-old license holders with a license to hunt big game in New York only when accompanied by a person over 21 with at least three years of hunting experience. Among other things, the bill will require both the youth and mentor to wear hunter orange, and stipulates that the mentor must maintain physical control over the minor at all times.

The inclusion of the blaze orange requirement helped the bill gain the support of legislators who had previously fought similar proposals.

Numerous sporting groups and organizations across the state worked hard to get the bill approved, despite opposition from down-state. So did Bob Brown of Saranac Lake; who used his connections in the Chambers of Albany to see it through.

While most sportsmen spent the fall and the spring hunting or fishing, Bob has been toiling away the days in Albany, lobbying legislators at a considerable expense of time and money. If you plan to hunt with your teenager this fall, Mr. Brown deserves a thank you call.

Commissioner Pete Grannis and his team also played an important part in the bill's passage. Regardless of those that will argue the bill did not go "far enough" or carried too many clauses, it is still a giant step forward for New York hunters. The new laws will be immediately implemented to allow youth hunters to participate in this year's Big Game Season.

On the national stage, in a major decision delivered this week by the United States Supreme Court, Justices affirmed the right of individual citizens to own and possess a gun. This was accomplished when the court struck down a District of Columbia law which had restricted gun ownership. The Court's decision will likely prove to be one of the most important rulings affecting individual gun rights in the last 100 years.

Francis Betters

named one of the best

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum in Livingston Manor has announced inductees for inclusion in the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame Class of 2008.

It is a great honor! And I am pleased to learn that one of our own has made the cut.

Induction ceremonies will be on Saturday, Oct. 18 at a gala event hosted in the Center's Museum.

Francis Betters, renowned fly fisherman, fly tyer and owner of the Adirondack Sportshop in Wilmington will be at the head of the class of 2008. His shop has become a fixture of the landscape, as much a slowed- down part of the Wilmington scene as Whiteface itself.

Fran, long recognized as the Dean of the AuSable, is surely the Adirondack's most well known fly fishing advocate.

He is an instructor, conservationist, historian and innovative fly tyer and has likely introduced more people to the sport than Brad Pitt and a "River Runs Through It".

For years now, I have used a custom flyrod that he built, to cast flies that he tied, while attempting to catch a few of the trout that lurk in the river that he knows so well.

The son of a well known river guide, Fran grew up with a flyrod in his hands and has fished with such legendary anglers as Curt Gowdy, Lee Wulff and Ray Bergman. However, hobnobbing with celebrities never found him removed too far from his roots.

Since the 1940's, Fran has maintained a shop on the AuSable where he has served as an Ambassador to the Adirondacks for legions of prospective anglers. Fran was a veritable Adirondack tourism office before anyone even dreamed of the words "I love New York".

Through his books and personal writings, Fran continues to keep Adirondack waters very much alive in the eyes of both local and traveling anglers.

In fact, the angler's maps and information that he first developed with Bill Phillips over 40 years ago, remain pertinent and in active use to this day.

Likewise, the many unique fly patterns that were developed through years of observation and experimentation by Fran are still catching fish and drawing anglers to his shop. Adirondack flyfishing just wouldn't be the same without Fran's skills, knowledge and experience.

While his pace may have slowed a bit due to health concerns, Fran's enthusiasm for the sport has not dwindled, nor have his efforts to bring newcomers to the sport.

If you happen to be driving through Wilmington, stop by his shop, say hello and shake hands with a legend.

He remains as passionate about fishing now as he did as a kid. And that twinkle in his eye may just be the memory of a legendary trout, once sought by a legendary angler. It's a story I'll bet he's willing to share. Congratulations Fran!

Get a job-Get outside

Although many students already have summer employment, there is a fresh crop of graduating seniors currently on the prowl for viable employment.

Many of these individuals prefer opportunities that will allow them to work in the outdoors, rather than in the confines of an office; corralled by the plastic and foam walls of a requisite cubicle. While the main requirements for a professional guide are still considered to be a strong back and a weak mind; the face of the industry has changed considerably.

In current times, potential hires must add to the equation a number of certifications including emergency medical certifications, leadership training, search and rescue capabilities and the ability to put words to paper in an accurate and concise format.

It is no longer acceptable to be just a trout bum, ski bum or raft rat. There is much more required of today's outdoor professionals. They must bring a whole new set of skills to a whole new game.

And the game has a whole new way to pick players off the bench. No longer is who you know going to get you there. It's going to be the skills, knowledge and experience that cinch the deal.

Online jobseekers have kept the Web Site at the top of the search list. The job-search site is a favorite of job seekers and employers, with over 4,000 resumes and more than 6,000 profiles in their database.

With employers searching for leaders for bicycle touring, action sports, conservation projects, fitness and fishing industries, the field of opportunity for those who wish to remain in a field continues to grow.

A sampling of positions reveals the ever changing nature of natural employment. Here's a look at what's out there.

Online Community Organizer Intern, Natural Capital Institute, Sausalito, CA: Trail Programs Internship, American Hiking Society, Silver Spring, MD: Education & Outreach Assistant, The Student Conservation Association, Poughkeepsie: Webmaster / IT Internship, Reptile Research, Tucson Ariz: Forest and Water Litigation Intern, WildEarth Guardians, Santa Fe, NM: Education Assistant I, The Trustees of Reservations Islands, Martha's Vineyard, MA: Environmental Program Associate, Citizens' Environmental Coalition, Albany, Stewardship Crew Leader, EarthCorps, Seattle, WA.



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