To promote through education, lobbying, and programs the conservation and utilization of fish and wildlife resources, the protection and enhancement of habitat, and the safe and responsible practice of the shooting sports.
HISTORY OF THE SPFGA
Reproduced from Conservation Pride and Passion, The Alberta Fish and Game Association 1908-2008, with permission from The Alberta Fish and Game Association.
The Sherwood Park Fish and Game Association was founded in the fall of 1962 with a complement of 30 members. Some of the founding members were Dr. John Woytuck, Reg Gray, Jim Robinson, Don Atha, Dave Voss, Roy Stannard, Willy Kadetz and Paul Morck. In November 1962 the club amalgamated with the Sherwood Park Pistol and Rifle Club, including the range facilities four miles south of Sherwood Park. This property was provided by the County of Strathcona and was enjoyed until encroaching development forced it to be closed in 1972. In 2006 the club’s membership was over 1,200.
The conservation and hunter education program has been a large part of the club’s activities through the years. Instructors who have taken the executive chair and run the courses are Keith Burrows, Don Chapman, John Hendricksen, Clarence (Bill) Middleton, John Dickinson, Jim Lukion, Ken Lengert, Ed Tremblay and Zeta Sawchuk.
Projects – Gun Range
As a result of the closure of the gun range in 1972, there was a strong desire to find a permanent, secure recreation area where a new range could be built. In 1974 George Page found a quarter-section of land for sale south of Hastings Lake in Beaver County. George and Steve Witiuk inspected the area and mounted a campaign to convince members to acquire it. To purchase the land for $23,000, the club took out a mortgage of $18,400.
In 1986 Frank Lee, then president, started a personal venture to purchase for the club as much of the surrounding land as possible and create and area around the gun range as a cushion or buffer from encroaching acreage development and to conserve wildlife habitat. It took a few years and considerable effort in negotiating the land deal and the money to make the purchases. Most of the land was secured by 1990, but the final parcel didn’t fall into place until 2005, when prices had increased significantly.
Frank worked with Brad Fenson, the AFGA habitat development coordinator, to strike a deal with the landowner and raise the $208,000 for the final 160 acres. The Alberta Conservation Authority, Ducks Unlimited Canada, zone 5 of the AFGA and individual members of the Sherwood Park club all contributed funds to complete the purchase. As a result, there is a solid block of 720 acres of prime conservation land at the Ketchamoot Creek Recreation Property.
Back in 1974, George Page spearheaded a group, including Clarence (Bill) Middleton, Steve Witiuk and others, to apply and receive grants to build a road, clear trees and construct a rifle range on the original quarter-section. A fish pond was dug, followed by the construction of a clubhouse and pistol range. In 1986 Frank Lee applied for a grant and supervised construction in 1987 to bring the rifle range up to the recommended standards as set out by the federal Attorney General.
In 1988 Frank Lee applied for and received a grant from Alberta’s Buck for Wildlife program to develop nature trails, that could be used for biathlon, on the club’s conservation land. Garnet Anthony and Ken Steinhouer headed up a group that laid out and cleared a black powder trail in 1989. Ron Kalaitis security a substantial community enhancement grand ($58,000) in 1990 to upgrade the facilities as well as construct a new camp site.
Upon completion of the handgun range in 1980, Alex Scharzer hosed the Canadian Metal Silhouette Handgun Championships. In 1987 the club hosed the .22-rifle metallic silhouettes shoot as well as the big-bore handgun demonstration at the Strathcona 1987 Summer Games.
Garnet Anthony hosted the first-ever Western Canada Black Powder Championships at the club’s property in 1989. For his endeavour, Garnet was presented the 1990 member of the year award by the Alberta Black Powder Association. Rick Crossen headed up a group in 1991 that hosted the Alberta Cup biathlon race and in 1992 the Western Canadian Biathlon Championships at the club’s range.
The club helped sponsor surplus elk transplants from Banff to Spirit River in 1965. Member Keith Burrows was instrumental in starting the first Junior Forest Wardens chapter in Sherwood Park in 1968.
Pat Fredrik spearheaded the creation of the club’s pheasant raise-and-release program in 1975. He applied for funding from the AFGA to build pens and organized a group of club members – George Page, Steve Witiuk, Bill Middleton, and Chris van der Meer – to construct the pens on the properties of Martin Smigelski, Walter Saruk and Adalbert Missel. The Alberta government’s Fish and Wildlife Division supplied the birds and shipped them free of charge to the clubs. The club raised and released pheasants in the region for the next 10 years.
The club hosted AFGA conventions in 1977 and 1982. Steve Witiuk organized the 1977 convention and George Bull organized the 1982 convention. Steve Witiuk also hosted the 1996, 1999 and 2008 conventions on behalf of zone 5.
In 1986 Pat Frederick spearheaded the raising of funds ($21,700) to pay for transporting excess elk and moose out of Elk Island National Park to the wild. The club ran this program under Pat and later Frank Lee until the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation took it over in the mid-1990s.
From 1989-91, Frank Lee planned and implemented a ruffed grouse habitat enhancement project with the help of students from the Biological Science Tech program of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. They clear-cut small two-and-a-half-acre plots and planted 6,300 trees acquired through the Fish and Wildlife Division’s Buck for Wildlife program.
From 1989-93 the club, in co-operation with the County of Strathcona and the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, took are in the “ConservACTION” program to improve local wildlife habitat. The program was funded by the Government of Canada’s Environmental Partners Fund and involved 617 projects and over 4,000 volunteer hours for a cost of $417,000.
The club became the lead partner in the purple loosestrife eradication and awareness project from 1994-1998, in co-operation with Alberta Agriculture and Ducks Unlimited Canada. Seven locations were eradicated of purple loosestrife, with over 5,400 volunteer hours involved.
Over the years the club has built a multitude of birdhouses. Bill Middleton built birdhouses almost continuously in his basement until he moved out of his home in Sherwood Park. In 2003 Frank Lee received a grant from the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) for $1,500 and oversaw the building of 164 birdhouses and three large colony bat houses. In 2006 Frank again received an ACA grant for $1,020 and headed up a work part that built four 12-compartment purple martin houses, including metal poles.
Frank Lee involved the club in the annual Alberta Fish and Wildlife hunter harvest survey in 1986 and headed this up until 2000. Lyall Kortzman has carried on since.
A dinner and awards night is held in March of each year. The winners of the club’s trophy competition receive their prizes and club members are recognized for special service to the club.
The club sponsors the Non-Typical Whitetail Trophy for the annual provincial AFGA awards. The club received an Alberta Emerald Award in 1996.
Paul Morck, a founding member of the club and president from 1964-65, served as secretary manager of the AFGA, a paid employee position, from 1967 to 1988.
Steve Witiuk has been a very active member of the club since he joined in 1966. He joined the executive committee in 1972 and was president in 1977 and 1978. With the exception of four years, he has served as zone 5 director since 1982, and has represented the AFGA on many issues.
Andy Boyd has had an executive position in the club since the 1980s, including a term as president for 1990-91. He has served as the political action chair or the environment char in the ensuing years to the present. As well, he has represented zone 5 and the AFGA on many committees on a variety of issues.
Garnet Anthony received the Order of the Bighorn in 1985 and a Special Minister’s Award in 1995 for work on the Bull Trout Task Force. Reg Gray was the recipient of the Strathcona County Award of Excellence – Reeves Metal in in 1989. Frank Lee was presented with the Strathcona County Award of Excellence in 1997. Ed Scarlett received the Order of the Bighorn in 2004.
Life members of the Sherwood Park Fish and Game Association as of 2006 are Reginald Gray, Paul Morck, Steve Witiuk, William Middleton, Frank Lee, Lloyd Hakes, Andy Boyd, Al Wagner, Dennis Perka, Al Giacomazzi, Garnet Anthony, Steve Ujvarosy, Ed Scarlett, Norman Honish, Robert Lowen, Bill Abercrombie and Lyall Kortzman.
The presidents of the Sherwood Park Fish and Game Association include: Dr. John Woytuck, 1962-63; Paul Morck, 1964-65; Jim Pollock, 1966-67; Dave Voss, 1968-69; George Allebrand 1970; Don Chapman, 1971-72; Clarence (Bill) Middleton, 1973-74; George Page 1975-76; Steve Witiuk, 1977-78; Alex Schwarzer, 1979-80; Ted Hendriks, 1981; George Bull, 1982-83; Alex Schwarzer, 1984-85; Frank Lee, 1986-87; Lloyd Hakes, 1988-89; Andy Boyd, 1990-91; Dennis Perka, 1992-94; Norman Honish, 1995-97; Lee Schurman, 1998-2000; Lyall Kortzman, 2001-03; Lloyd Hakes, 2004-05; Ken Sobkiw, 2006-07.