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Proposed G&F 'club' would do what, exactly?


The Arizona Game and Fish Department will be hosting a series of public meetings around the state seeking the opinion of sportsmen on a proposed fee-based online club, although none of the meetings will be in Kingman or anywhere in Mohave County.

This has been in the works for a while, and it may come as a shock.

They are creating a fee-based online "club" that, according to the department, "will provide some exclusive and unique services to hunters."

The meetings will start at 7 p.m. and end an 9 p.m. in:

• Phoenix, Mesa (July 8-9)

• Flagstaff (July 15)

• Tucson (July 17)

• Glendale (July 22)

• Payson (July 24).

According to the department, membership benefits under consideration include:

1) The ability to return an unused tag and get back your bonus points; 2) Priority opportunities to surrendered tags; 3) Early access to draw results; 4) AZGFD apparel available for purchase by members only.

Other topics to be discussed at the meetings are the proposed cost of membership, other benefits and services, and membership requirements.

So here is my question: Why is there not a public meeting here in Region III? Are not the opinions of sportsmen in this region as important as those in other parts of the state?

I've told the department that they should get someone from this region up on what is being proposed and then let them do an in-house program for locals from Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City.

Until I know a heck of a lot more information, I have questions about this proposal.

My first concern is this: Why should we, as sportsmen who faithfully purchase hunting and fishing licenses every year, need to join an online "club" which is department-operated? Isn't it enough that we support the department with our license and tag dollars?

I have read over the minutes of the commission meetings in April and May when this idea was presented. It bothers me that sportsmen, who are the base of support for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, are being asked once again to open up our wallets to pay for services that in my opinion should be offered to the public at no additional cost.

Is it fair that only a sportsman who has paid to join their semi-exclusive club before they apply for a tag is eligible to surrender his/her tag?

Here is what was presented at the May commission meeting on the tiers of this program and the benefits associated with them.

If you are a Basic Hunt Club Member, you get:

• Unique personalized license background

• Tag surrender for one species

• Early access to draw results

• One year online subscription to Wildlife Views.

Pay some more and you can be in the Ultimate Club. Your benefits include:

• Unique personalized license background

• Tag surrender for all species

• Priority opportunity for surrendered tags for the hunt/unit you applied for

• Early access to draw results

• One year online subscription to Wildlife Views.

The department also says they will do more for members in the future by allowing automatic renewal of memberships, obtaining an online digital Hunter Education certificate, exclusive sales or special offers (tied in with guides/retail partners).

Members will also have the opportunity to obtain department gift/credit cards, personalized fish stocking reports, and the department will explore cross marketing/conversion opportunities with hunters and shooters.

The department told the commission they are currently developing a working prototype of this proposal as was presented to the Commission and is on schedule for release in January.

I don't know about you, but right now I don't have a "warm and fuzzy feeling" about all of this.

I'd sure like to know some background as to why this program being proposed, as it looks like it is nothing more than a big money generator to me, and again it's at the expense of the very core of support that the department has.

I know that almost all of our local sportsmen are not going to be able to attend any of those meetings that are scheduled around the state.

The department is saying that if you can't make a meeting, then you can email your thoughts, ideas, questions and concerns to portal@azgfd.gov

You can also view the commission minutes and read for yourself what is being proposed by going to www.azgfd.gov and following the link to commission minutes.

There is currently a Facebook posting about this issue from the Region III office and if you search the web, you'll find that just about all of the sportsmen websites are talking about this.

I have no doubt that someone from the department reads those too, so go to them and see what other sportsmen think about this proposal.

But make sure you send in your comments. And tell them you want a meeting here in Kingman to explain all of this. After all, we are just as important as sportsmen in other areas of the state.

And right now, it is obvious that this online club proposal is on a fast track to get implemented.





 

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