$460,000 Raised For WRD’s Adaptive Hunting And Fishing Program
DNR’s Weekend For Wildlife helped fund a new WRD hunting and fishing program that caters to those with mobility challenges.
There’s a new push within WRD that will create hunting and fishing opportunities for those with mobility challenges. The state program received a big boost with donations during DNR’s Weekend For Wildlife fundraiser for the Wildlife Conservation Section on Sea Island this past weekend.
“Saturday night event goers heard from DNR employee Chip Madren about his dream of seeing Georgia expand hunting and fishing opportunities for those with mobility impairments. His story resulted in over $460,000 being raised from the direct appeal to support DNR’s expansion of the Adaptive Hunting and Fishing Program,” said DNR Commissioner Walter Rabon.
For the last few years, Chip, who is a brain cancer survivor, has been working to lay the foundation for a program that would allow outdoor opportunities and equipment for those who deal with mobility challenges.
“Last year we held one (adaptive deer) hunt, this year we’re looking at doing three hunts and a fishing event and growing it year after year and around the state,” said Trevor Santos, DNR Deputy Commissioner.
The sky appears to be the limit on where these adaptive hunting and fishing opportunities could take place and who all could get involved.
“We want to touch all parts of the state because we have people who could benefit from these opportunities, whether we are doing it on public or private land,” said Santos. “We recognize that public-private partnerships are crucial. We also recognize there are companies who are going to want to support those efforts. Another state agency asked to come meet with us to see what kind of role they could play. We are going to look at hospitals across the state who can push out this information for people who are leaving a rehabilitation center and looking for those outdoor opportunities and what we as a state are able to offer.”
One of the biggest expenses in growing a program of this nature will be equipment costs. DNR currently owns eight Action Trackchairs, which can cost upward of $28,000 each. These all-terrain wheelchairs feature rubber tracks and the ability to navigate a variety of obstacles. The utilization of these vehicles allows participants to better navigate the woods and outdoor situations.
“Chip’s Trackchair stands him up, so he could show the crowd as he stood in his chair at the podium when he spoke at Weekend For Wildlife,” said Lacey Creech, WRD’s communications manager. “The majority of the states in the nation are trying to provide access to people, but what Chip is hoping is that Georgia can lead the nation in providing access to people. The hope is to provide not only the chairs but to provide the technical equipment, like the swinging arms and the trigger pulls, that can help these hunters be successful in the field.”
Chip doesn’t just deer hunt, so his vision for the new program—along with WRD’s—certainly doesn’t stop in a deer blind. There’s already been talks of a fishing event, a turkey hunt and even dove, waterfowl and quail hunts as the program grows.
“We can open our arms and say, ‘Here we are, come join us,’ but I think it’s that encouragement that we also need to provide to those people to say, ‘Come on out, we have you taken care of,’” said Santos. “There’s so many barriers associated with getting involved with hunting in the first place. You throw in some mobility impairments, and the barriers are too great at times to overcome, so we want to play that role in removing some of those barriers and encouraging people to come out and join us, and all they need to do is just show up.”
Although still in its infancy, if you would like to inquire more about WRD’s new Adaptive Hunting and Fishing Program, contact Lacey Creech at 706.557.3324
Weekend For Wildlife
The Feb. 2-3 Weekend For Wildlife event that allowed Chip the opportunity to share his vision celebrated its 36th year and raised a record-setting $3 million for the Wildlife Conservation Section of WRD.
“This section performs critical work relating to our state’s non-game species,” said DNR Commissioner Walter Rabon. “It was a weekend filled with education and fundraising for a great cause. Attendees participated in a host of excursions led by DNR staff, having the opportunity to see and learn firsthand from our wildlife professionals.
“Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp addressed Saturday evening’s crowd and ultimately helped raise significant dollars for conservation efforts. We are grateful for the continued support for this event from Governor Brian Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp and the entire First Family. Their commitment to Weekend for Wildlife helps raise significant funds for our department’s conservation efforts.”
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