Pictured here are members of the Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance: Brian Brooks, executive director, Idaho Wildlife Federation (3rd from right) with organizing committee members (from left) Tim Reynolds, Mary Van Fleet, Jean Bjerke, Bonnie Altshuld, Ann Schenk.
(Originally published in the Standard Journal on June 20, 2019)
ISLAND PARK, Idaho — The recently formed “Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance” recently formed to strengthen and grow the wildlife population in the Upper Henry’s Fork Watershed.
“The new group, aims to educate and advocate on issues that impact wildlife in the Upper Henrys Fork Watershed,” said the group in a press release.
According to the press release, the Alliance is associated with the Idaho Wildlife Federation. The federation is the oldest and largest Idaho sportsmen group that’s been dedicated to the conservation of natural resources and wildlife, it said.
“This watershed is a critical part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and lies within one of the last intact mountain ecosystems left on earth. We live here and are stewards of a special treasure,” said organizing committee member Jean Bjerke, a longtime homeowner in Island Park. “Residents of Island Park live here for the quality of life, and wildlife is the cornerstone of our lifestyle. We need to have conversations about how we can live with wildlife, keep them healthy. We need to have scientific data and facts guiding those conversations and policies.”
Bjerke says that HWFA is the sole organization in the region to work toward promoting a healthy wildlife population in the community.
HWFA founding member Tim Reynolds reported being disappointed in the division created among Fremont County residents during the recent wildlife overpass controversy last year. Reynolds hopes that through HWFA, residents will become unified through their mutual love of the region’s wildlife.
“People in Island Park value wildlife,” Reynolds said. “We live with wildlife and want to do everything possible to maintain robust wildlife populations.”
Fourth-generation Idahoan and Island Park resident JoAnn Shults reports that her family moved to the region because their love of wildlife.
“We should protect what we love,” she said.
The group announced its formation during the Wildlife Passage Appreciation Dinner held at Harriman State Park recently.
“Wildlife issues may be the last nonpartisan issues left in our country,” says Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. “There is no such thing as a republican elk or a democrat mule deer. All they need is food, habitat, and the ability to get from point A to point B. Partisanship and misinformation keep us from having substantive conversations and good policy. Bringing folks together to inform decisions that keep Island Park and the Upper Henrys Fork a great place to live, visit, and hunt is critical now. HFWA will be a uniting organization with this in mind.”
The group’s mission is to educate and advocate to protect and conserve the native wildlife and its enjoyment by the public in the Upper Henrys Fork Watershed, said the press release.
“Its vision is that the iconic wildlife of the Upper Henrys Fork Watershed will thrive in connected and sustainable habitats because citizens treasure diverse and healthy wildlife populations and understand what is required for their continued success,” it said.
For more information on the group visit henrysforkwildlifealliance.org.