top of page


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.  The Club grew from 20 in 1949 to 229 in 1953 and has leveled off with a continuous membership of about  200.  It is very significant that 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 has remained strong with an outstanding record of accomplishment.


Lowell identified many Club achievements for the early years and Howard Gardner has added many more significant initiatives or activities that have made the Club an outstanding organization.  This website is dedicated to Lowell and Howard for their efforts in making the Club a sucess and taking the time to record its achievements.


The website consist of an Early History Timeline that identifies key achievement for a specific year and by clicking on the year more detailed information is provided.  The History Events includes a list of early history activities and a second window lists current Club events.  Also complete listings of Elected Officers, Club Awards, Scholarship Awards, and Club Memorials are included.  The last section is a recognition of Notable Club Members.



 According to the Club's old timers early records have been lost -  the Club was organized during the spring of 1945 with Guy Richards as first president. The first meeting on record was held on January 29, 1946.


Early activities of the Club centered around the property presently known as Berlin Camp on the Columbia River which was leased from March 15, 1946 to October 31, 1949.


The area was cleaned up, the house remodeled, painted and converted into a meeting place. Meetings were held on the first Friday of the month. John Moffat was the 1946 president and a banquet was held in Richland for the Director of the Department of Game, Don Clarke and members of the Game Department and Game Commission. Traps were installed on the grounds and trap shooting became the principal activity of the Club. The fishing committee was very active with A. C. Beltzner as chairman. They assembled information on methods of fishing and where to go and how to get there. The Club's first participation in state organizations was the Eight County Sportsmen's Association meeting at Walla Walla with Barney Wickman as Club representative.


During 1947 Max Walton served as president with emphasis on developing farms, taken over by the Government in the Richland vicinity, into a model wildlife habitat area. Bob Brownwart of the Game Department planted approximately 300 acres into crops suitable for pheasants and geese. 4-H Club members in the area raised pheasants for stocking. With the advent of a major construction program late in 1947 and 1948 in Richland and North Richland, the project was discontinued because  of the uncertain status of land about Richland.


B. 0. Wickman was the Club president in 1948. Lights were installed on the Club grounds to permit night trap shooting with Ralph Parks chairman. Late in the year interest in trap shooting declined and it was suggested that the Club consolidate with the Pasco and Kennewick clubs.


In 1949 Lowell Johnson was elected president. It was decided by an 11 to 2 vote to retain the traps and maintain the Richland Rod and Gun Club. A smelt fry and fishing trip were events led by Wendell Pope. Because of a rent increase the lease on the club house was cancelled on October 31, 1949.


Eight County Sportsmen's Association -This group with representatives from each of the eight SE. counties in Eastern Washington met each year in the spring to develop regulations for the fall hunting seasons that was then forwarded to the State Game Department for use in establishing hunting seasons. The Club started participating in this group around 1949.


Lowell Johnson was re-elected president in 1950. This was the year the Club readjusted its program with more emphasis on education type meetings, wildlife management and participation in statewide sportsmen's organizations. The place of meeting changed to the Corral Room of the Desert Inn. January and February of this year produced heavy snows and low temperatures. Between 5000 and 6000 pounds of grain were distributed in the area for game birds. The Eight County Sportsmen's Association met in Richland with B. 0. Wickman, president, Paul McMahon, secretary, and Roy Brands as Club representative.


The regular executive board meeting was set up to handle the detailed Club business and the general meeting would be devoted to interesting and informative topics.


Bass transplanting project - This project was started in the spring of 1950. Permission was secured from the Atomic Energy Commission to catch smallmouth bass in sloughs north of Richland and adjacent to the Columbia River. The bass were transplanted and released into the Yakima River with Paul McMahon, Aub Moore, Wendell Pope and Lowell Johnson as co-captains. . It was during one of these trips that club member Ray Wonnacot caught the state record smallmouth Bass on a fly. These spring transplantings continued for a number of years.


Club records show that the Wellsian Way Juvenile Pond was constructed in 1950 under the leadership of Club member Art Mitchel who lined up the volunteer heavy equipment operators and their equipment. Other Club members participating were: Ken Parchen, Rex Bissel and Al Olson. The work was done in cooperation with the Richland Recreation Unit. The Pond was first planted with trout in 1950 by the Washington State Dept. of Game.


On July 10, 1950 the club voted to join the Washington State Sportsmen's Council. Lowell Johnson and John Story were the Club's first representatives to a Sportsmen's Council meeting


The Club's first Annual Banquet and Big Game Dinner were held on January 20, 1951.  Although the Club supplied moose meat for many of the dinners, they were all held at local hotels and were catered.


In February 1951 Paul McMahon was elected president. As a public service feature the Club sponsored a film on Africa by M. Schultz of Harrington, Washington. It was attended by 750 people. The Club sponsored a youth fly tying class conducted by Paul Hesselgrave and Dick Crow; 26 young fly tiers enrolled and 15 finished the course.


Bob Meigs of the Washington State Game Department talked on steelhead in April of 1951 and advised the Club that more exploring needed to be done locally for steelhead fishing, particularly on the Snake River.


Club members assisted in the spring Columbia River Goose Banding Project. A Snake River steelhead float trip was taken with 13 members participating, with Brudge Henderson chairman. The Club participated in a hearing conducted by the Army Engineers relative to use of the McNary pool and setting aside of lands for the McNary Game Range.


Guzzler Installation -  A guzzler is a water tank with an apron and slanted partial covers that catch rain.  In Eastern Washington once the tank is filled, it will hold water all year. The water in the tank is available to all wildlife and it allows wildlife to disperse from natural water sources thereby increasing their numbers. The Club installed its first guzzler in 1952 and has continued to the present to install and repair guzzlers where needed in desert areas around the Tri-Cities.


Orcas Island conservation camp - In 1952 the club started sponsoring junior sportsmen to the Orcas Island conservation camp and continues to the present day. This camp provides instruction in shooting, hunting, fishing, survival, first aid and conservation issues. Students come back from a camp with great enthusiasm for wildlife oriented outdoor activities.


The Junior sportsmen's club - the Junior sportsmen's club was organized in 1953 with Dave Jackson as chairman of the youth activities committee. Later Gene Bernard, a teacher, became leader of the Junior club which was renamed the Fur, Fin and Feather Club.


Support for conservation - Throughout the years the

Club has actively participated in legislative activities at both state and national levels.  By participating in hearings during 1953, Club member Dick Foster was instrumental in the establishment of the Lower Columbia Wildlife Refuge along Crab Creek.


Club activities - Wayne Hanson designed the club logo in 1953 and ordered the first batch of club arm patches.

The Landowner-Sportsmen relations committee developed a "Creed" or guidelines for sportsmen conduct in the field that was published in local papers.


The Junior sportsmen's club - 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.

Fundraising - A donation campaign initiated by Jean Bernard in 1955 raised funds to send two Club members to Canada on a moose hunt to secure meat for the Big Game Dinner and to help finance the Club during the year. 

1955 was the first year that the Club operated under a budget.

Hunting Trips - 1955 was the first year that the Club sent hunters on a trip to obtain meat for the Wild Game Dinner. In the early years the focus was on moose hunts. In later years it was changed to a Quality Trip of the drawing winner's choice subject to approval by the Board of Trustees


Firearm Safety/Hunter education - In 1957 a state law was passed that required that youth under the age of 17 complete a course of four hours of firearms safety training before they can buy a hunting license. Under then Pres. Howard Gardner's direction a group of Club members began teaching the training. Over the years the class length has expanded to 10 hours with additional content and the Club continues to teach several classes a year. In later years Clare Cranston established several dedicated training facilities with the current one being in the Griggs department store in Pasco.


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


Washington State Sportsmen's Council Awards

The Club was presented with the John C. Stevenson trophy for being the outstanding sportsmen's club in the state. In addition, W.O. Switzer was presented the Weisfield trophy for being the outstanding sportsman in the state.


National Award

Dr. Paul Herbert, Pres. of the National Wildlife Federation presented the Club with the first award ever given for outstanding conservation efforts by a sportsmen's organization.


Dedication of the Ringold Springs Ponds

The three Ringold ponds developed for rearing steelhead and salmon were dedicated by the chairman of the State Game Commission and the head of the State Department of Fisheries

Early History

Meetings were held in 1945 to determine sportsman interest. Potential leaders were identified and an election of officers scheduled for January 1946. Both general and board meetings were held once a month. A tract house located on the Columbia River was rented for a Clubhouse. A trap was installed for clay pigeon shooting on Wednesday evenings and Sunday.

A club sponsored annual picnic was started on June 29, 1947 for club members, families and guests. The picnic concluded Club meetings for the summer with meetings resuming the first Monday in October. This is a continuing activity.

Early Club History

The Washington State Sportsmen's Council was created in 1934 to provide a voice for sportsmen to interact with wildlife managers and the public in the interest of ensuring a sustainable harvest in wildlife populations and conservation of state lands. The WSSC was very politically active in successfully moving wildlife and conservation management from the archaic county level to the state Game and Fish Department level through their formative years.

The club joined in 1950 and a continuing share of the Club's activities were involved with the quarterly meetings of the WSSC. The Club sent delegates to each meeting which was held in different parts of the state. Unfortunately, because of a lack of Club member interest, membership in the WSSC was discontinued in 1989. However, it continued sending youth to the summer WSSC Conservation Camp.  This is a continuing activity.

Mitch Kershaw, a local Game Protector and Club member, was responsible for the Club's first Big Game Dinner in January 1951. He gave the Club two deer that had been road killed on the Hanford project. The deer were prepared and served to the Club at the Desert Inn. The meal was excellent and the Big Game Dinner became an annual affair. Tickets were $ 1.50 apiece and 155 were sold including 14 complementary tickets. There was a loss of $45 for the dinner.

RRGC members installed their first guzzler on the John Mills Ranch in Horse Heaven Hills in December 1952.  Since then a total of 253 guzzlers have been installed and are repaired and maintained in the Tri-Cities area. This is a continuing activity.

This photo shows a modern guzzler

In August 1952, for the first time, three boys: Gary Sanson, Roger Anderson and Leland Arnold were sent to the Washington State Sportsmens Council sponsored Orcas Island Conservation Camp for a one week campout. The boys were exposed to a wide variety of outdoor related activities including overnight survival. The club paid a $25.00 fee for Arnold and the other two boys went at their own expense. The boys were selected based on an essay contest that the club conducted. This is a continuing activity.

In April 1955, The Club voted to sponsor a Big Game Hunt in Canada for a moose. To raise money for the hunt, 539 raffle tickets were sold at $1.00 each. The raffle item was a $90 outdoor sportsman item. In June, Club members D.T. Thonn and H.C. Ellsworth were selected by drawing to go on the fall hunt in British Columbia. Both Thonn and Ellsworth got a moose and 417 pounds was made available for the Big Game Dinner. This is a continuing activity.

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.

1953-Conservation Pledge Established


Supporting information:

The following information was obtained from a 1953 Outdoor Life Magazine booklet “ How to Form A Sportsmen’s Club” : “America’s Conservation Pledge, developed in a national competition sponsored by Outdoor Life is yours to use. Have it recited at all your Club’s meetings. Print it on your stationary. Take it to your schools and see that it is recited regularly by the students. Help guarantee your sport by calling everyone's attention to this Conservation Pledge”.

“I give my pledge is an American to save and faithfully defend from waste the natural resources of my country - It's soil's and minerals. It’s forests, waters and wildlife:. 

The Pledge was first recited at a Club meeting on May 4, 1953 by Lou Roos, then President.

Field & Stream Article 1958

Sportsmen at Work



Problems? This sportsmen's club thrives on them.


It has 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 clubsbut 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 yearsin 1953, '55 and '58the Richland organization was voted top honors by the Washington State Sportsmen's Council. And this year the latter groupfor the secondtime in three yearswas 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 Kennewickwith a combined population of 85,000.  Richland is the governmentbuilt residential city for the 9,000 employees of the Hanford Project of the Atomic Energy Commission.

The millionacre 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 Richmondprovide 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 sincehad 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 pondand 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; landownersportsman; 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 woodsmanship, and from first aid to biology.


This committee systemand it's a point worth notingreally 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 handplanting phase of our Rod and Gun ClubDepartment habitat project and that, instead, sixtyeight 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 seventyfive 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 thisto 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 wellinformed sportsmen's group.


Ted Trueblood (with pipe), famous outdoor writer for Field & Stream talks fly-fishing techniques with Bill Foote, President of the Richland Rod and Gun Club. True blood visited the Tri-City area in 1958, went fishing in several places including this one at Camp Lake north of Pasco

Wellsian Lake


Club records show that the Wellsian Way Juvenile Pond was constructed in 1950 under the leadership of Club Member Art Mitchel who lined up the volunteer heavy equipment operators and their equipment. Other Club members participating were: Ken Parchen, Rex Bissel and Al Olson.  The work was done in cooperation with the Richland Recreation Unit. The Pond was first planted with trout in 1950 or 1951 by the Washington State Dept. of Game. The first record of the Club arranging for trout planting with the Dept. of Game was in the spring of 1956. Also, in March 1957, Club members installed an intake pipe and weir box to help maintain the water level. A fish screen was also installed, the total effort required 150 man-hours of effort. Members involved were: Dave Byrd, Jerry Zeitler, Lane Bray, Ernie Berreth, George Houtrouw, Pat Hogan, Ward Lyon, Ted McKenzie, Kenny Schulz and Howard Gardner. Smallmouth Bass were planted by Club members in April 1957.

Starting probably in 1950-51, the Washington State Game Dept. Game Fish regulations listed the Pond as Wellsian Lake with an April opening date and it was open through Oct. 31 for juveniles only(under 14 years of age).  The Pond was managed this way through 1981. Through the years the Club arranged for the trout plants with the Washington State Dept. of Game and had periodic work parties for maintenance and cleanup. One reference states that the Pond was stocked with 25,000 trout in 1963. Also, in April 1965 the Club received a letter from Ernie Curtis, Recreation Director, City of Richland thanking the members of the Junior Richland Rod and Gun Club for their assistance in cleaning up the Pond on March 13 prior to its opening in April. Another reference acknowledges their assistance in the 1966 cleanup. Other references for the Club's activities with the pond were in May 1973 and April 1974.


There is no information on why the last trout stocking was in 1981. The most probable reason is that water was shut off to the pond.  The pond was located on the southern part of the Carmichael Middle School athletic field.


Ringold Springs Rearing Ponds.


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.

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 (see Early Club History - Ringold Springs).  As the result of winning the National Presidents Award from the National Wildlife Federation an acknowledgement of this event was publicized in Sports Illustrated in1962.

Presentation of the Washington State Sportsmen's Council Awards

Presentation of the National Award

Spokesman Review News Release

Award to Lowell Johnson


In 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

During his three-year term as Chairman of the Upland Bird Committee in the Washington State Sportsman’s Council, Howard Gardner gathered information from other states and with the support of Columbia Basin farmers concerned about pheasant depredation, succeeded having the Washington State Game Commission approve a hen pheasant season for 1964. It was also approved for 1965 and 1966 and was a success for all three years, harvesting about 50,000 hen pheasants a year. It was stopped because of unsupportable claims by a sportsman’s group in Spokane

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.

First Club Brochure and Membership Application


In 1969, Howard Gardner wrote and published the first brochure describing the Club's objectives and positions on wildlife related issues plus an application form. It is used as a handout when dealing with the public and has been revised/updated several times

The Ben Franklin Dam was proposed by the Corps of Engineers to be constructed on the Columbia River a few miles north of Richland. It would have generated 425 megawatts of power and help make the river navigable for 57 mile upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.

In 1968 the Columbia River Conservation League (CRCL) was formed for the express purpose of leading the fight to preserve the last 57 miles of free flowing Columbia River. The Richland Rod & Gun Club was one of eight original charter members of the CRCL. Lowell S. Johnson who had a large influence on the development and direction of the Richland Rod & Gun Club actively served on the CRCL. The CRCL supported the construction of a nuclear power plant rather than a dam to provide needed electrical energy. Additionally the CRCL proposed the establishment of a national recreation area in the reach of the Columbia River.

In September 1970, the Office of Management and Budget recommended to the Secretary of the Army that the Upper Columbia River Navigation Project not be authorized because it was uneconomic. Very little was said about the detrimental environmental aspects of the project although the letter mentioned that many individuals and organization had expressed concern about the effects it might have on the environment.

[Note: The U.S. environmental movement didn't start until the early 1970's and the efforts of the CRCL had to focus heavily on the economics of the project. The Dam project would only return 72 cents on every dollar invested. Regardless the CRCL, RRGC, other groups and the environment won.]


First Big Game Dinner Cooked by Members


In 1971 with the donation of 100 pounds of boned moose meat from a moose shot by Delia Teeple and Dorothy Smith, Delia and Bruce Teeple decided that Club members could cook the Big Game Dinner by themselves. Everett Weakley and Bob Zinsli arranged for use of the Knights of Columbus facility which was well equipped for food preparation and cooking large amounts of food plus a large room which could seat up to 200 people. The dinner was a huge success and set the precedent for continued cooking of the Big Game Dinner by Club members. This is a continuing activity.

1974, Club members Ray Burns, Lowell Johnson, Harold Mickle and Art Mitchell were recognized for their 25 year membership in the Club.

Envir 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


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

1975, Early in the year following his Presidency, Paul Telford recommended that an Award be established to recognize hard-working Club members. This resulted in the Distinguished Service Award, the criteria are provided at the end of the Bylaws. This is a continuing activity.

Wood Fired Cookers


1977 was the first year that wood fired cookers were used to cook salmon for the Club picnic. Delia Teeple identified the ingredients that were used to marinate the salmon fillets before cooking. Bruce Teeple built the cooker's based on a design that he got from the Department of Fisheries when they cooked salmon with their cookers for a Club banquet. The cooked salmon fillet's were delicious and provided the basis for the 1985 decision to sell cooked salmon dinners at the Allied Arts Festival as a money making project. This is a continuing activity.

Club Shelter


In Columbia park near the Kiwanis's pond the Club built a shelter consisting of a table and benches on a concrete floor with a roof. The construction was completed in November 1976 and was a result of a dedicated group consisting of Art Mitchell as the leader and Bruce and Delia Teeple as assistants with sporadic help from other Club members.

1977, A was 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 on the Yakima River.

In Franklin County during the 1976 hunting season as a result of an altercation between a trespasser and a landowner, the trespasser shot and killed the landowner. In an attempt to resolve anticipated issues in the coming 1977 hunting season, the Richland Rod and Gun Club instigated a series of meetings.  In 1977 payments of the $100 reward were made to two Franklin Co, landowners.


September 1977 Meeting

Discussion of six points of concern related to hunting in the Basin City area of Franklin County has developed information which may help reduce problems, Howard Gardner, president of the Richland Rod and Gun Club, said today.


The meetings and discussions took place with representatives of the Basin City Farmers Association, the Washington State Game Department, the Franklin County Sheriff's office and the Richland Rod and Gun Club.

The six points were:


1.  Posting and notice by the landownerare no longer required for arrest.

2.  Upon observing trespassers, landowners have been instructed to contact the county sheriff or Game Department who are prepared to respond and make the arrest.

3.  Both the Game Department and the Sheriff's office are pledged to be more responsive in apprehending trespassers.  Enforcement patrols will be increased to the maximum possible.  The game Department will be in radio contact with the Sheriff.

4.  Where appropriate, law enforcement agencies will recommend suspension of hunting privileges.

5.  Irrigation ditch and canal roads are the landowner's private property and persons using them are subject to arrest for trespass.

6.  Permission must be obtained before hunting or fishing on private property.


Discussions also took place with Judge M.W. Felsted of the Franklin County District Court to make him aware of the trespass problem and to request that he consider jail sentences and maximum fines for trepassers.


Taking part in the discussions were landowners Steve Halvorsen, Tom Bailey, Loris Jarret, Kenny Dickman and Lyn Price, Franklin Count Undersheriff Rick Corson, Game Protectors Jim McColgin and John McIntosh and Richlan Rod and Gun Club officers Howard Gardner and Ed Wells.

Game Violations Donations


In 1977 resulting from decisions by the Superior Court of the State of Washington, the Probation Treatment Services division of the Benton-Franklin Counties Juvenile Department has asked boys found guilty of game violations to make donations to the Richland Rod and Gun Club. The donations would nominally be less than $15. It was recommended that 14-year-old Richard Clark be sponsored by the Club for a week at the Conservation Camp on Orcas Island. We did and got a nice thank you note from him.

Fly Tying Class


In 1979, members of the the Richland Rod and Gun Club and Columbia Basin Fly Casters started teaching a free, fly tying class for members of both Clubs and guests. Prospective students were requested to bring their equipment and learn how to tie fly's that can be used not only locally, but in lakes and streams of the Northwest.


Ringold Springs Memorial



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


 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's 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

Delia Teeple on the left

Annual Banquet and Big Game Dinner


The first Annual Banquet and Big Game Dinner was held in 1951. In 1955, the Club sponsored two hunters on a moose hunt in British Columbia to obtain moose for the dinner. In later years, a donation drive/raffle was used to raise money to send hunters to Canada for moose. Up until 1971 the venue for the dinner was in various hotels and other establishments


It wasn't until the Teeples got involved in 1971 that the club members cooked and served the wild game supplied by club members. The Teeples organized and with the help of other club members cooked and served wild game until 1981, 11 years. The dinners were held in the KC Hall. After that various club members cooked and served the wild

game for the dinner.


In later years, Jerry Zeitler was in charge from1994 to 2010 (17 yrs).  Currently Marilyn Steele is in charge of the dinners.

Dale Schielke built one wood duck nest box in 1983 to see if it would work and it did, very well. He continued to build a nest boxes and got students involved, so that currently there are 450 nest boxes installed in the general Tri-City area. Not only was that a lot of work but each spring the nest boxes have to be cleaned out and made ready for the female Wood Ducks to lay eggs. Other users of the boxes are western screech owls and squirrels until the support for the boxes were made squirrel proof. This is a continuing activity.

Wild Game Dinner 1984

Sampling Hours D'oeuvres

The Chefs

Serving Wild Game Dishes

Raffle and Prizes

Great Food

Salmon Booth

In1985, as a fundraising activity. the Richland Rod and Gun Club and the Columbia Basin Fly Casters decided as a joint venture to operate a Booth selling salmon dinners at the Allied Arts Show in Howard Amon Park. The Clubs would alternate years for the responsibility of operation of the booth which was very successful. The salmon was cooked in Richland Rod and Gun Clubs cookers over an alderwood fire. In addition to salmon dinners, salmon sandwiches and roast chicken were sold. This is a continuing activity.

Guzzler Construction mid-1980's

Richland Rod & Gun Club

Excavation for Collection Basin

Guzzler Framing

Installed Basin

Installation of Rainwater Collection System

Finished Guzzler

Construction Crew

Wild Game Dinner 1985

The Chefs
Heading 6
Buying Tickets
Waiting For Dinner Bell
Serving Wild Game Dishes
Enjoying Wild Game Hors D'oeuvres

BBQ & Award Ceremony 1985

Richland Rod & Gun Club

Master of Ceremony

25 Year Belt Buckle

Award Criteria


To receive this award a Club member must be a 25 year member in good standing with the Club. There is no requirement that the years must be consecutive. An individual can be a member, dropout and then rejoin as long as the total membership time is 25 years.

This is a continuing activity.

Rear left to right: Fred Scott, Ernie Berreth, Ted Deobald, Hal Riches Jr., John Waite, Howard Gardner

Front left to right: Bruce Teeple, Howard Chitty, Everett Weakley, Jay Maple, Russ Thorson, John Williams, Henry Bellarts

RRGC members receiving the 25 year award but were not in the photograph,

Dennis Getchell, Glenn Gunn, Gordon Hanson, Harold Heacock, Dr. W. D. Norwood, Dr. Richard Pettee, David Thonn, Max Walton, John Williams and Joe Woodhead

At a December 1989 meeting with Bob DeWolf, Club Treasurer, Howard Gardner agreed to be President if Larry Martin would be Vice President. No other club members would come fourth. Thus the continuity of the Club was secured.


Fitzner Scholarship

The Richard Fitznerl Memorial Scholarship was created to memorialize a Club member and a Biologist who was killed in a tragic plane crash while surveying for Sage Grouse. Any student in a wildlife related curriculum can apply for the $500 scholarship. Students are urged to apply in groups and then are judged on their reply to a scholarship application form. The first scholarship was awarded in 1994 to William Moser, a student in Wildlife Biology at Washington State University. To date, a total of 27 scholarships have been awarded. In 2008, the scholarship award was increased to $1000.

Fishing Pond and Pellet Range

Starting in 1994, at the Sportsman show in Pasco, the Club has operated a large fishing pond (Lunker Lake) and a pellet rifle range for youth to catch trout and shoot a pellet rifle. Lately, with the help of the WDFW, the Club has raised the trout. 

This is a continuing activity.

1994-Revision to Conservation Pledge


Supporting information:

The new Pledge is presented on the cover of the April 1994 newsletter. It was prompted by a revision in the Outdoor Life Pledge which the Club has used since 1953. The Board of Directors deliberated long and hard to come up with a final wording that they felt depicted the Club’s role and responsibility towards conserving our natural resources and educating others to do the same. The new pledge is a derivation of the old and new Outdoor Life Conservation Pledges but the wording is unique to the Club:

“I give my Pledge as an American to save and faithfully defend from waste the natural resources of my country; it's soils and minerals; it's forests, waters and wildlife. I will help educate future generations to be responsible  caretakers of the resources of America”.

NW Sportsfishing Industry Assoc

In 1994 Clare Cranston was appointed as the Club's representative to the Northwest Sportsfishing Industry Association. It's function is the protection and restoration of fishery resources and the protection of the rights of sports anglers.

The CREHST Brick - 1998

The story of the brick - It is located at the CREHST (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 CREHST 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:

bottom of page