I don't hunt or fish very often, but it's not hard to recognize that our region here in southwest Iowa is a hotbed for outdoor enthusiasts.
Through interviews and other project events, I've had the chance to meet with some of these outdoor enthusiasts — people like Doug Jones, Tom Lesan, Bob Berning, Jeff Lamb, Marc Roberg, among many others.
Many of them belong to a nonprofit group called High Lakes Outdoor Alliance.
Members from that group first called me last September and asked if I wanted to come take a picture of a walleye release at Green Valley Lake. It was their second release and they'd purchased 1,500 walleye fingerlings to be released.
Since then, we've worked together to do several stories about an 80-acre, shooting-range area they're in the process of completeting on the north side of Three-Mile Lake.
The gun range is currently partially open to members for the pistol, smallbore and long-range rifle ranges. High Lakes Outdoor Alliance has future plans to continue to improve the shooting-range complex, adding trap and skeet shoots, proper lighting and cement walkways and constructing a 100- by 60-foot building on the site to be used for cold storage, event sign-ins and as a meeting location.
They've always gotten involved in the McKinley Park fishing contest, and have a true interest in teaching and instilling their enthusiasm for outdoor sports in the next generation.
I had a chance to attend their seventh annual fundraiser Thursday. How could I pass up a complimentary ticket (from my boss) to a prime-rib dinner, auction and raffle? At the event, I also saw some old classmates of mine including Mike Hilger, Jeff Baker and Chancy Walters.
In total the event, held at Three-Mile Lodge, had attendance estimated at more than 275 people. Lesan said the fundraiser netted more than $20,000 in fundraising for High Lakes Outdoor Alliance.
I can't say enough about this group.
In a time when we wonder if America really is broken, especially in Washington, this small group exhibits what's right.
They are a local group, who work together cordially, who raise funds locally and puts 100 percent of that money back into Union County conservation projects.
This group is truly making a difference.