Who is the Territorial Sportsmen?

Posted: Monday, July 24, 2006

Territorial Sportsmen Inc., organizer of the Golden North Salmon Derby, has done such a good job of promoting this huge annual fishing event, that the organization's other good works are often overshadowed.

"We do a lot more than the salmon derby," said TSI vice president and longtime Alaska outdoorsman Wayne Nicolls.

TSI is one of the largest regional organizations of outdoorsmen in America, with more than 1200 members, virtually all of them in Juneau, with a small contingent from surrounding Southeast Alaska communities.

"Our primary purpose is to support conservation, the consumptive use of natural resources, especially fish and game, and to be an advocate for equal access to those resources for all Alaskans, as per our state Constitution."

TSI has been an organized forced in southeast Alaska since before statehood, hence the name. It held the first Golden North Derby in 1947.

TSI takes a very active role speaking on behalf of sportsman's rights.

As you might imagine, the issues which TSI confronts have changed dramatically in those 60 years.

"One of the things that TSI has been about for years, since way back, has been helping on a volunteer basis to maintain the cabins in hinterland, like the Forest Services cabins on Admiralty," Nicolls said.

These public use cabins, offer anyone an inexpensive destination in truly wild country, receive heavy use from both hunters and fishermen.

"We have even built some cabins, four in the last 5 or 6 years on state park land. And we work in cooperation with the Forest Service to maintain the existing cabins-repairing the structures and toilets, cutting firewood. It's fun but hard work.

"Our plan is to enlarge this role, to increase our cabin maintenance program, to keep more cabins maintained and open."

The Forest Service had announced plans to close and destroy some cabins that were becoming too expensive for the service to maintain.

"We have also donated 33 boats over the years to the Forest Service for use at these cabins. Often these are boats we've received as donations, from families that care about the outdoors."

The Golden North Salmon Derby is a big part of TSI's annual membership drive, with all registered anglers in the derby also receiving an annual membership in the organization.

Lifetime memberships are also available.

"Most of our members are in the Juneau, with a few in Haines and out in the villages," Nicolls said. "But we also have people from all over the country who come to Juneau each year just to fish the derby."

Hunting and shooting safety education is another key mission for TSI.

"WE budget money every year for youth shooting education programs, and were pretty instrumental in getting the indoor range built," Nicolls said.

"Without TSI I think it's fair to say the indoor range would not be a reality. TSI was also instrumental in setting up the Hank Harmon Public Range."

The Harmon Range is open year-around and free to local shooters, a boon few communities in America can claim

Traditional education is equally important to the organization, and the driving force behind the Golden North Salmon Derby, the proceeds from which are earmarked for the TSI Scholarship Foundation.

"We have awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to over 200 recipients since 1953," Nicolls said.

Other than participating in the Derby, sportsmen can learn more about TSI at the annual meeting help each February. It is open to the public and includes a free meal.

"I want to stress that we are advocates for conservation instead of preservation," Nicolls said.

"A lot of people don't know difference."

While many sportsman organizations struggled with agenda, "We believe in doing things instead of talking about it."

For more information, contact:

Territorial Sportsmen, Inc., PO Box 20761, Juneau, AK 99802. (907) 463-3830.

Or Territorial Sportsmen Scholarship Foundation, PO Box 35014. Juneau, AK 99803. (907) 789-9423.

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