Richland Rod and Gun Club History
The Richland Rod & Gun Club was organized in 1945 with an objective of promoting hunting, fishing and conservation in what is now known as the Tri-City area. The Club had six main objectives when it was organized in 1945 and these objectives were incorporated into the Club's By-Laws that were first adopted in 1954.The By-Laws have been revised seven times and the most recent edition of the By-Laws can be reviewed by going to its Seventh Revision, March 2015.
In 1956, Lowell Johnson who had a large influence on the development and direction of the Richland Rod & Gun Club wrote a history of the club from its formation in 1945 through 1955. Johnson's approach to the Club's organization was that old hands would step aside and give new people responsibility. This approach which has been followed over the years is the main reason that the club was recognized as the outstanding group of its kind in the state by the Washington State Sportsmen's Council. The Club was voted this top honor seven times between 1955 and 1975.
The Club remains an outstanding organization and has continued to grow to a stable membership of about 200 members. It continues to promote hunting, fishing and conservation with emphasis on training young sportsmen in wildlife management through education and examples of safety, good fellowship and sportsmanship.
Lowell wrote an early history from 1945 to 1955 and identified many Club achievements for the early years. Howard Gardner has by reviewing the Club Newsletter from 1946 to present added additional significant events that have made the Club an outstanding organization. This website is dedicated to Lowell and Howard for their efforts in making the Club a success and taking the time to record its achievements. In addition, Special Recognition is given to Russ Wyer who early on recognized that a history was necessary and he has been the main driving force for its present state of development. It is a very impressive list.
This part of the website consists of a listing of Historical Events that identify a key achievement for a specific year and by clicking on the year more detailed information is provided. Also included is a listing of outstanding State and National Awards that the Club has received over the years. These are listed in the immediate following to allow the reader to recognize their significance in the success of the club.
State and National Awards, Recognition and Commendations
Stevenson Trophy Award 1955 to 1975
The Washington State Sportsmen's Council (WSSC) annually makes an award of the Stevenson Trophy to what it considers to be the most outstanding Sportsmen's Club in Washington. Judging is based on evaluation of a scrapbook where club identifies the activity that it has been involved in during the past year. The Richland Rod and Gun Club was awarded this trophy seven times between 1955 and 1975.
Fur, Fin and Feather Club-1955
In 1955, John Cowan Junior Pres. of the Fur, Fin and Feather Club was selected as the outstanding Young Conservationist in the state and was Washington's delegate to the Young Outdoor American Conference in Chicago.
Field & Stream Article-1958
Sportsmen at Work
By Ted Trueblood
Problems? This sportsmen's club thrives on them.
It has been found out that a little sweat at the right time and place can provide a lot of sport later on when a local rod and gun club wins the annual award of the state sportsmen's organization as the outstanding group of its kind in the state, and when the parent state unit in turn walks off with top honors as the best in the nation, you can bet that the local club ranks pretty high. Maybe you couldn't call it the best in America because there is no way of judging all the individual clubs but you would certainly be safe in saying that it is one of the finest organizations of its kind anywhere.
This is the rating now held by the Richland Rod and Gun Club of Richland, Washington. Three times during the past five years in 1953, '55 and '58the Richland organization was voted top honors by the Washington State Sportsmen's Council. And this year the latter group for the second time in three years was selected for the annual award of the National Wildlife Federation for doing the outstanding conservation job in the United States. Both awards, of course, were made for 1957 accomplishments.
How does a club get that way? What does it do? What makes it tick?
I have an idea that a good portion of the readers of FIELD & STREAM belong to sportsmen's organizations. Some of them are officers, faced with the responsibility of keeping membership up interest alive, and projects moving. I think they'll be interested in the answers to these questions, and I'm going to attempt to answer them by telling something about the Richland Rod and Gun Club.
Richland, lying in the Y formed by the junction of the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, is in the southern Washington desert. It's part of the TriCity area of the Columbia BasinRichland, Pasco and Kennewick with a combined population of 85,000. Richland is the government built residential city for the 9,000 employees of the Hanford Project of the Atomic Energy Commission.
The million acre Columbia Basin Irrigation Project is converting the sagebrush desert into fertile farmland and is creating hundreds of new seep lakes, many of which are already famous for their spring trout fishing and fall duck hunting. The new power dams on the Columbia and Snake RiversMcNary, Priest Rapids and Ice Harbor, all within a 25mile radius of Richmond provide new fishing areas, but are threatening the steelhead and salmon runs and are inundating the islands used by wintering waterfowl. The new farms are creating habitat for pheasants and quail and providing food for ducks and geese, but the rapidly growing population is creating acute problems of landowner-sportsman relations.
Admittedly, the situation of the Richland club is unique. Probably nowhere else has the face of nature changed so rapidly, the population mounted so quickly, and the need been so urgent to save, restore and improve conditions for fish and game. It has been a case of act now or forever play golf.
Nevertheless the easy path would have been to let things slide, to skim off the cream while it was available and let the future take care of itself. However, the men who organized the Richland Rod and Gun Club ten years ago and those who have guided its course ever since had a different philosophy. They believed that good hunting and fishing, available to all, are worth fighting for, and every lover of rod and gun in the area has benefited from their efforts to promote better relations between sportsmen and landowners.
Here is an example. One day last spring I fished Camp Lake with Bill Foote, president of the Richland Club, Bill Clothier, and Bill Jury, also club officers. This lake, which was formed by seepage after irrigation water was brought to the Columbia Basin Project, lies completely on private land. When it filled, the owner agreed to open it to the public, and the State Department of Game stocked it with rainbow trout. After the first season of fishing, however, he reluctantly announced that he would have to close it. Thoughtless anglers had broken down his fences, littered the shores with trash and filth, and had worn a number of needless roads through the grazing land surrounding it.
The Richland club stepped in. It prevailed upon the owner to leave it open to the public, and to gain this concession they agreed to clean it up and see that it was kept clean. They established a parking area at one end of the lake and installed a toilet furnished by the Department of Game. They erected a big sign reading:
Your use of this lake is made possible by the landowner on a trial basis. The future depends on your behavior. Stay within fenced area. Build no fires. Use no boats or rafts. Feed and live bait prohibited.
Thanks to their efforts, anybody can fish Camp Lake. How much easier it would have been for a few of the boys to approach the landowner and say:
"Look, you can't put up with this. We'll post the fence and put a lock on the gate if you'll let just our gang fish." They likely could have secured a private fishing pond and a good one, too but the public would have suffered.
The six main objectives of the Richland Rod and Gun Club, which are printed on each application for membership, could well be adopted by sportsmen's organizations everywhere. They are:
1. To unite sportsmen in organized efforts to improve public hunting and fishing in the state of Washington by cooperation of the landowner, the sportsmen and the Game Department.
2. To support good management and conservation of our nation's natural resources.
3. To instruct young sportsmen in the correct technique of hunting and fishing, conservation, and firearms safety.
4. To learn how to hunt and fish more successfully by the exchange of ideas and the demonstration of methods.
5. To promote good fellowship among sportsmen and their families by holding regular social events.
6. To promote good sportsmanship based on honesty, courtesy and consideration for the rights of others.
To implement these objectives, the club has the following regular committees: big game; fish; game bird (including waterfowl); house and social; landowner sportsman; legislative; membership; pollution; biological advisory; program; publicity; finance; stream bank access; and youth activities.
When a prospective member fills out an application blank, he checks the committees on which he would like to serve. Then he's expected to do his part.
He can also indicate any of a dozen or so other activities in which he is particularly interested. Later he can attend his choice of the educational courses the club conducts on subjects ranging from fly tying to casting, from reloading ammunition to woodsman ship, and from first aid to biology.
This committee system and it's a point worth noting really works for the Richland organization. For instance, when news broke that a new pulp mill was going up on the Columbia below Pasco, Lowell Johnson's pollution committee lost no time in joining forces with the Washington State Pollution Control Commission to insist on appropriate safeguards against contamination of the Columbia. Every steelhead and salmon fisherman in the area and in Oregon and Idaho as well will benefit from its prompt action and positive stand.
Of course when a vital question or a big job comes up, the committee concerned calls on the entire membership of the club for help. With the committee already functioning and ready to provide the necessary leadership, there is no lost motion. This is evidenced in a letter written by Norman P. Knott, chief of the Land Management Division of the Washington Department of Game, to Bill Foote:
“For some time I have felt that a committee of your club working on habitat development, and the overall membership of your club supporting this committee's activities, have done an outstanding job and deserve commendation.
"Jim Stout recently brought to my attention the fact that during this past planting season he requested the assistance of approximately twelve men to help on the hand planting phase of our Rod and Gun Club/Department habitat project and that, instead, sixty eight people showed up, including club members, junior club members, Explorer Scouts and Boy Scouts. Certainly a response of this type is something over and above our normal experience."
This, of course, was just one day's work. It isn't hard to generate enthusiasm for one day. To sustain that enthusiasm is something else again. During 1957 the Richland club and the Game Department, working together, planted seventy five miles of trees and shrubs to provide food and cover for wildlife and create windbreaks on seventy irrigated farms in the area!
The club fought actively to maintain and improve steelhead fishing in the Columbia, Yakima and Snake Rivers. It conducted a bass transplanting program. It installed "guzzlers," watering devices for upland birds, in areas where the birds had not been able to utilize good food and cover for lack of water.
It distributed HUNTING BY PERMISSION signs to landowners and did a great deal more work toward obtaining public access to private landCamp Lake was one example of this to the extent that it won the commendation of John A. Biggs, director of the Department of Game.
Judging from the outstanding example of the Richland Rod and Gun Club, I believe that the first requirement for a successful organization is enthusiastic officers. A club president doesn't have to be an authority on everything from Robert's Rules of Order to the life history of the smallmouth bass, but he must have an enthusiasm that will inspire others. And he must have help. His fellow officers and committee chairmen must share this enthusiasm.
Needless to say, if you are going to elect enthusiastic officers you must have at least a small group of dedicated members from which to choose. These must be men who believe in conservation and good sportsmanship, who honestly feel that they can accomplish at least some good, and who are willing to devote the necessary time and effort to doing it.
This simmers down to the fact that a handful of good men make a good club. In every town there are a lot of nice guys who will go along. They'll help if called upon, pay their dues and attend meetings. They'll follow willingly, but they won't lead.
Given good officers, there is one other requirement for a successful club: it must be active. It must do things. There must always be something that it is trying to accomplish. Time after time I have observed that the successful, growing clubs are the working clubs.
The Richland boys are workers. Talking with them was an inspiration. Though the struggle to maintain good public hunting and fishing will never end, there would be little need to worry about the future if every town in America had an equally aggressive and well informed sportsmen's group.
State and National Awards-1962
In June of 1962 the Washington State Sportsman's Council had their quarterly meeting in Richland. In addition to normal business, two significant events were scheduled for this meeting: Presentation of State and National Awards and Dedication of the Ringold Springs Ponds.
Presentation of the Washington State Sportsmen’s Council Awards
Presentation of the National Award.
(Spokesman Review News Release)
As the result of winning the National Presidents Award from the National Wildlife Federation an acknowledgement of this event was publicized in Sports Illustrated in 1962.
Ringold Springs Rearing Ponds-1952
After the 1960-1961 discovery of the springs seeping from the base of the bluffs at Ringold by local game warden Mitch Kershaw and the recognition that the water was not coming from an irrigation line break. Lowell Johnson of the Richland Rod and Gun Club thought that the quality and quantity of the water could be used to establish ponds for rearing salmon and steelhead that could be released to the nearby Columbia River. Consultation with the Washington State Game Department resulted in the decision to build ponds for use of the seepage water in rearing salmon and steelhead smolts for release into the river.
As described in the following 1962 news release, three ponds were developed and dedicated by the chairman of the State Game Commission and the head of the State Department of Fisheries.
Service to Conservation Award-1964
Lowell Johnson was one of five citizen leaders that received an award for “Outstanding Service to Conservation”. He was selected for this award from the area of Washington, Alaska and Oregon for his unusually good and dedicated work as President of the Washington State Sportsmen's Council in 1964. He was instrumental in reorganizing the council and developing new leadership. The plaque was awarded at the annual meeting of the WSSC in Yakima
Cooperation With State Game Department-1966
A letter was received from John Biggs, Director, Dept. of Game, congratulating the Club on our fine example of close cooperation with the Dept. of Game and for our leadership and initiative in this State's Wildlife Programs
Appointment to State Environmental Council-1971
In view of his background and knowledge of conservation related issues, Lowell Johnson was appointed by the State Governor to the newly formed Washington Environmental Council.
National Hunting & Fishing Day-1972
Based upon a proclamation by President Richard M Nixon, National Hunting and Fishing day was established on the fourth Saturday of every September starting in 1972. The Club put together a display of game bird and waterfowl skins plus representative antlers from big game animals, that was exhibited in the Columbia Center Mall on September 23, 1972
Salmon trap on Yakima River-1977
A letter received from Gordon Sandison, Director of Fisheries, commending the Club for our assistance in the operation of the adult Chinook Salmon trap on the Yakima River to help preserve the salmon resource.
Ringold Springs Memorial to Lowell Johnson-1980
The fish rearing ponds at Ringold worked as planned and when Lowell passed away on January 17, 1980 a Memorial reader board was fabricated and installed. The memorial was dedicated during a meeting of the Washington State Game Commission on Monday, October 6, 1980.
Lowell was a charter member of the Richland Rod and Gun Club and President in 1949 and 1950. He had also been President of the Washington State Sportsman's Council in 1963. One of his most significant accomplishments was his recognition of the potential of the Ringold Springs area. He persevered to bring the Ringold Salmon and Steelhead trout rearing ponds into existence.
Inscription on Sign:
Lowell Johnson (1907-1980) was a sportsman and conservationist who wasn't willing to sit by and watch. He worked ceaselessly during his lifetime to protect and preserve the lands, waters and wildlife that he loved. His special dedication was to the preservation of the free-flowing reaches of the Columbia River. Lowell was a good friend to all of us whose lives are made better because a part of the Columbia still runs free and the steelhead and salmon runs still persist.
Lowell was a charter member of the Richland Rod and Gun Club and its President in 1949 and 1950. He was President of the Washington State Sportsmens Council in 1963 and was a principal organizer of the Northwest Steelheaders and the Columbia River Conservation League. It was largely through his personal efforts and through the collective efforts of those organizations he was associated with that construction of Ben Franklin Dam was stopped in 1969
Lowell Johnson was one of the first to recognize the potential of Ringold Springs as a water source for rearing salmon and steelhead for the Columbia River. These facilities and the fish runs they maintain are monuments to the foresight and perseverance of this dedicated sportsman.
Commemorated October 4, 1980
Richland Rod and Gun Club
RRGC is the WDFW Organization of the Year-1993
Jack Pickard, Larry Martin, and Mike Estes traveled to Spokane on October 8 to represent RR GC at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting. Jack accepted a plaque from chairman John MGlenn and Assistant WDFW Director Pat McClain on behalf of the members of the Richland Rod and Gun Club. The following Proclamation was read by Pat McClain.
“Recognizing the hard work and dedication to the principles of preserving Washington's wildlife heritage, the Richland Rod and Gun Club is named the Organization of the year for 1993. This is an organization that puts “Service” at the top of it's agenda. With limited time, I can only mention a sample of their many efforts. Volunteers from the club have put in thousands of hours and dollars to such efforts as the Upland Wildlife Restoration Project, the Central Washington Warmwater Fisheries Project and Columbia River Wild and Scenic Legislation.
These efforts alone have greatly increased both the hunting and fishing opportunities in our state.”
“The membership of this organization is involved and committed to the quality of life that fish and wildlife offers our community. In addition to the “on the ground” projects, this is an organization that understands that protecting our fish and wildlife also requires a political commitment. The Board of the Richland Rod and Gun Club has met countless times with State legislators and members of Congress to offer their support for legislation to benefit the state’s natural resources.”
“Whether working for a specific project, assisting in the political process with landowners and agencies, or raising money to benefit fish and wildlife the Richland Rod and Gun club sets an example of commitment. Therefore, it is with pleasure that I present their President Jack Pickard, with the “Organization of the Year” award.”
“Jack acknowledged that this is truly an “organization” award and credited the unselfish contributions of many many people working on a variety of projects. RRGC was nominated for this award by WDFW regional managers Larry Popejoy and Ray Duff. Many thanks to Larry and Ray for their support.”
RRGC was nominated for this award by WDFW regional managers Larry Popejoy and Ray Duff. Many thanks to Larry and Ray for their support.”
CHREST Brick - 1998
The story of the brick - It is located at the CHREST (Columbia River Exhibition of History. Science and Technology) Museum and the engraved brick was a token of appreciation for the Club's cooking of salmon for the 1998 Columbia River Salmon Pow Wow. As Howard Gardner recalls the Director of CHREST asked if there was anything they could do for the Club. Howard's response was "how about a brick?
The brick is an example of how the Club supports the local community groups and it is important for the Club to ensure the brick is incorporated into the new Hanford Reach Monument's Museum to be located at the west end of Columbia Park.
The following is an excerpt from the Club's October 1998 Newsletter:
Return of the Columbia River Salmon Pow Wow: CREHST put on a successful Pow Wow on September 11 and 12th. Club members Howard Gardner, Dave Myers, Jerry Zeitler, Dennis Spore, Eddie Manthos, Paul Logan and Paul Kison cooked salmon from 11 AM to about 8 PM on Saturday, September 12 for the Pow Wow. They cooked about 550 pounds of salmon for about 1300 people that afternoon and contributed to making the Pow Wow a success. They received many compliments concerning the cooked salmon. It became hectic several times that afternoon when the line of people waiting to buy the salmon was at least 50 feet long. The Pow Wow was spectacular. There where Indian tribes present from throughout the Northwest. The native costumes they wore were striking and the dances and music they performed were well worth seeing and hearing. Many thanks to Howard, Dave, Jerry, Dennis, Eddie, Paul and Paul for representing the Club. Howard did a very good job planning and organizing the cooking. A thank you note from the director of CREHST to Howard and the Club was received and is shown below.
Sept. 21, 1998
What can I say ? All the you from the Rod the Gun Club were lifesavers for CREHST and the Pow Wow. You saved us from potential liability claims and established a reputation for your club as being the best salmon chefs in the area. You also established for CREHST the quality we wanted for the first event. I have ordered a brick for our walk-way engraved with Richland Rod and Gun Club. Howard, again thank you for providing unlimited hours of help. I have heard nothing but the best about the quality of the salmon. Do you share your secret marinade recipe???
Gwen Leth, Director
Field and Stream Heroes of Conservation Award-2012
Washington Association of Conservation Districts Award-2014
The Washington Association of Conservation Districts at their annual meeting presented Dale Schielke of the Richland Rod and Gun Club their 2014 Special Recognition award for their Wood Duck Nesting Box Program. The plaque reads “In recognition for their tireless work in building, installing and maintaining Wood Duck nesting boxes in Benton County, Washington.” The Richland Rod and Gun Club currently maintains over 400 nesting boxes in the Tri-City area in the program that was started in 1983. The education and involvement of youth has been a major focus in the program. Recent purchase and use of on-line streaming video cameras allows viewing of nesting wood ducks in selected boxes.
Volunteer of the Year Award-2016
Dale Schielke was selected by the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife as the "Volunteer of the Year" for his volunteer work that has benefitted wildlife and habitat. He is best known for the Wood Duck Nesting Boxes program that he initiated. The Nesting Boxes are also used by kestrel hawks and screech owls as well as the wood ducks. Dale has provided numerous years and countless hours of volunteer efforts and it is fitting that Dale has been recognized statewide. Dale is a great representative of the Richland Rod and Gun Club. Our congratulations to Dale and a very special thanks to his wife LuAnn for her obvious support of Dale's many hours provided to our community for which we have all benefitted.
Washington Association of Conservation Districts Special Service Award-2017
60 year Award for Teaching Hunter Education-2017
At the 2017 Richland Rod and Gun Club's Wild Game Dinner,
Howard Gardner was given a Special Recognition Award for 60 years of Hunter Education instruction.
WDFW Region 3 Volunteer of the Year Award-2019
Larry Martin received the Region 3 Volunteer of the Year Award by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for his outstanding contributions to wildlife and habitat enhancement. The honor comes after more than 35 years of volunteering on habitat projects.
He started with the Richland Rod and Gun Club in 1981, and that led to a long term project with the department—guzzlers
Guzzlers collect rainwater to supply to animals in the dry seasons and Larry is in charge of their maintenance. There are over 300 guzzlers within a 100 mile radius of the Tri-Cities that get inspected periodically. Normally the only maintenance required involves raking tumbleweeds from the water tank and sometimes repairing fence damage. More severe damage occurs from fire and cattle and sometimes requires replacement of the guzzler.
He also helps with duck banding, burrowing owls, habitat planting, deer surveys and other projects.