IOGA – President’s Report
By way of introduction, this is my first President’s Report as your new IOGA Board President, Jeff Bitton.
After many years providing leadership, Steve Burson decided to step down from the Board President role in order to concentrate more of his time and energies in his business. He will, however, continue providing his invaluable insights for the next 3-years on the Board of Directors.
My willingness to take the position and motivation to fulfill its duties to the extent of my abilities is the outcome of my personal connection to the industry and long term involvement in IOGA:
I have been a member of IOGA for the past 38 years as an Outfitter at Mystic Saddle Ranch in Stanley, Idaho, where we provided services to hunters–summer pack trips and trail rides. By nature of its location, I also had the opportunity to interact with and get to know many river outfitters and guides passing through. My personal involvement in IOGA continued in the wake and example of my father, who was active in the Association as far back as 1969.
I served as Hunt Section VP when the allocation law was developed and passed in the legislature, and have been involved for the last 2-years in developing the revised proposal on legislative changes to Allocation.
Not least, my wife, Deb, and I have retired from outfitting and so have the time to help give back to the industry that has given so much to us. We are passionate about this industry, especially this organization, and hope to help to move it forward, to grow and make your businesses more supported and successful as a result.
I was voted into the office at the annual meeting in December along with:
- Darl Allred (re-elected as Treasurer)
- Ari Kotler (re-elected as VP Rivers), as well as
- Dagny Deutchman and Skip Volpert (elected as Directors)
- Stephanie Ellis (re-elected as Director), and
- Kelsey Helfrich, replacing Ken Helfrich on the Board of Directors (with Ken also taking more time for his business).
Aaron Lieberman, our new Executive Director, came on board in late November. He is young, enthusiastic, a problem-solver and goal-driven. His first real introduction at the winter meeting came fast on the heels of starting with the organization and provided a great opportunity to soak it all in, meet members and agency officials and generally introduce himself to our membership in attendance. If you weren’t able to attend the meeting or to pull him aside while there, make sure that you come into the office and say hello. He’s motivated to connect with members across all sectors in our organization, connect personally on issues of importance to their businesses or sections and to generally be an available and engaged resource to you all. You’ll be hearing more from him as he continues to address issues that affect us all.
Recap of the Winter Meeting
- IOGA awarded Will and Barbara Judge and Al Bukowsky Honorary Lifetime Membership for their dedication and contributions to IOGA and the outfitting industry at large. Our sincere thanks go out to them for their many hours of service in betterment of Idaho’s Outfitting industry.
- River Section:
- The IOGA River Section meetings were highlighted by an overflow, standing-room-only attendance for the panel session on issues surrounding the steelhead fishing season closure that continues to affect specific sections of the Main Salmon River and the associated rural Idaho economy. IOGA is continuing its efforts and outreach, working with all parties involved with this issue.
- BLM and Forest Service River Managers provided updates regarding their 2018 activities to maintain access and quality customer service for all public users. Main Salmon and Middle Fork Salmon outfitters met with respective river managers and district rangers.
- Hunt Section:
- Met with IDFG personnel to hear about updates on:
- Wolf populations and control state wide,
- Elk and deer herd trends and an update on the new statewide deer plan, which is being developed for approval in March.
- Be sure to attend regional Fish and Game meetings on deer and elk seasons for more information regarding this updated deer plan.
- USFS Region 2 Representative presented to the group about trading outfitter use fees for trail work.
- Carol Hennessey has been working with Clearwater National Forest outfitters. The FS is still in the proposal stage and they hope to have agreements prepared by this coming summer.
- ACTION ITEM: Outfitters on Clearwater National Forest need to contact Carol if interested in participating.
- The Region 4 representative, Chris Hartman, talked to the group about whether outfitters in Region 4 Forest were interested in this program.
- Those of us from Region 4 assured him that we were–including those forest in the Salmon/Challis, Sawtooth, Payette, and Boise.
- He indicated that he would visit with those forest supervisors to start putting together proposals that could work for both outfitters and the forest. Stay tuned.
- Allocation: We spent parts of three different sessions listening to the presentations on the proposed allocation legislation.
- Presenters included myself, IDFG staff and our lobbyist, Jeremy Pisca. I presented details of the proposed plan, while Brad Compton presented the IDFG view point and Jeremy presented steps to become a bill.
- Outfitters had a chance making suggestions to change the proposal. Those changes have since been incorporated into Draft #11A of the allocation proposal.
- We continue to move forward with making changes to this proposed legislation, and have been sending out updates and calls for feedback to Hunt Section members. Please let us know if you have not received these messages so we can ensure (1) we have updated contacts emails, and (2) that we make sure you’re able to review and respond to the messages as soon as possible.
- Met with IDFG personnel to hear about updates on:
- Exhibitors: We very much appreciated the attendance and support of our exhibitor vendors, many of whom are longtime IOGA business associate members.
- Meeting Feedback:
- Following the meeting, Aaron put together a survey soliciting attendee feedback on the event. Many of you have already submitted your surveys, and we appreciate valuable feedback they have provided. If you have not completed the survey yet, please consider taking a couple minutes to do so by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/87MFMNF
A Short List of New Things
As we begin this new chapter at IOGA there are many new beginnings.
IOGA is now operating from the new office at: 9450 W. Fairview Ave, #110, with a new Executive Director, new president and several new board members. To name just a few of the new things we are doing or of note (though there are many more):
- Monthly board meetings via phone/video-conference
- Strategic Planning. We will be meeting in mid-January for 2-day strategic planning meeting in McCall to:
- Review and refine our Mission Statement,
- Identify key values, concerns, opportunities,
- Discuss our vision for the organization going forward and establish strategic direction and goals, and
- Create a plan for accomplishing those goals.
- The board voted to move the annual meeting to Lewiston for 2019 and back to Boise for 2020 as part of an effort to reinvest in the diversity and statewide representation of our organization.
The IOGA Lobby Days are scheduled for January 30 and 31 in Boise. The purpose of this signature event is to make contact with elected leaders both at the Statehouse and during our dutch oven reception at the Basque Center in downtown Boise. We need commitments from 25 to 30 outfitters and guides to ensure the success of this event. Please call IOGA Office Manager Janey Bruesch at 208.342.1438 if you can help with this event.
Recommended Reading from our Blog
It’s a new year and a new day for IOGA. Take a minute to read the newest update from and to our blog, from a new addition to our Board–Dagny Deutchman. https://ioga.org/2019/01/10/iogas-new-years-resolutions/