Phoenix, Ariz. Specialty automotive parts business owner
Clark has led Arizona Elk Society volunteers in removing 75 miles of unnecessary barbwire fencing and repairing an additional 70 miles of wildlife-friendly fencing around riparian areas since 2005. He has helped retire 17 cattle grazing pastures encompassing 24,000 acres of elk habitat, positively impacting 40 miles of stream in the process.
The first Time I had a big bull elk come screaming in to my call, I was hooked on hunting them. But there was no one moment that inspired me to save their habitat. I just started to notice organizations doing good things and thought, I should be giving back, too.
Many people assume that the Arizona Elk Society is a species-specific group, but the reality is that our fencing is allowing riparian areas to recover from overgrazing, and spawning grounds there will produce more native Apache trout. The water tanks we rehab also benefit bats, turkeys, raccoons, and deer. The Buck Springs pasture allotment, which we successfully retired in March 2009, is important elk habitat that also happens to be one of the most sensitive areas for endangered species in the whole country.
I’m not looking for pats on the back. The accomplishment of the work itself is what pushes me to do more. Looking forward, our biggest challenge won’t be finding volunteers—maybe 30 percent of ours are nonhunters who just want to spend time outdoors—it will be politics and inspiring youngsters to join this culture of giving back. With hunting and fishing license sales declining all over, we’re losing a whole generation of conservationists. The kids are there, and we have to reach them. We just have to.