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Alaska Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (AK BHA)

Co-Chair: Mark Richards
Co-Chair: Dave Lyon

We are the Alaska state chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a recognized non-profit group dedicated to quality and ethical hunting and fishing opportunities in the wild public lands of North America, and the protection of big, natural fish and wildlife habitat upon which our great outdoor traditions depend.

AK BHA members are resident Alaskan hunters and anglers who raise families on game meat and fish, who respect all wildlife as having a role in our diverse ecosystems, and who seek to ensure future generations of hunters and anglers have the same opportunities available to us now.

We formed an Alaska chapter in order to provide a much-needed voice for Alaskan hunters and anglers who are concerned that the voice of wilderness and conservation is not being heard in policy debates.

Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers offers a unique voice of moderation and common sense that harkens back to the conservation ethic of Aldo Leopold and Theodore Roosevelt. We work for wilderness and believe all wildlife makes our outdoor experiences richer. We are for prudent fish and wildlife management based on what's best for the ecosystem as a whole.

We believe the non-hunting public respects hunting and angling that is grounded in stewardship of the land and waters, fair chase, hard work, and respect for all the fish and wildlife we depend upon. We want to tell that story, to build stronger support for Alaska's hunting and fishing traditions.

Co-Chair: Mark Richards

Mark Richards was raised in Los Angeles, California. Even as a boy, he had a dream to live in the wilderness beyond the concrete and smog.

Mark and his high-school sweetheart, Lori, married and made the big jump to Alaska in 1980. They arrived by canoe, descending the mighty Yukon River. They moved to the remote bush of the eastern interior the next summer, lining their laden canoe scores of miles up a Yukon River tributary and building their log cabin from dead-standing spruce with only an axe and bowsaw. The rugged bush life must have agreed with them, for they've been there ever since, more than one hundred miles from the nearest faraway village, living a subsistence lifestyle and raising a family of three children and several generations of beloved sled dogs.

Mark is by neccessity a hunter and gatherer, fisherman, and also a trapper. He has been dependent upon Alaskan game meat and fish, wild plants and berries, and fur for over twenty years, and this dependence has taught him a profound respect for the natural world and for all fish and wildlife. He tans and sews his own fur hats and mitts and mukluks for his family's winter travels, and still uses only snowshoes and dogteam to access the backcountry in winter. His wilderness skills match his knowledge of interior-Alaska flora and fauna.

Mark is also a freelance writer and crafter of traditional Athapaskan birch-bark baskets, and dabbles in the technological side of what he calls his "techno-primitive" lifestyle. While the Richards family still haul buckets of water from the river and heat and cook only with wood, their cabin roof sprouts solar panels that power a ham-radio station and satellite-internet system for education and communications.

Co-Chair: Dave Lyon

Dave Lyon grew up in the foothills of the coast range near Palo Alto in California. Long before Silicon Valley, Dave was riding his bike to small ponds near his house to fish for bluegill and bass. The rest of the time he was pestering his dad to teach him to fly-fish.

After escaping high school he came to Alaska for summers in the early 1980s, messing around in canneries and on fishing boats. In 1984 he moved to northern California where he attended Humboldt State, majoring in fisheries, then game management, but only attending classes occasionally when not diving for abalone, or following salmon and steelhead runs and quail season.

When it became apparent that pursuing paper was not as satisfying as other quarry he moved back to Homer, where he found work with the state as a fisheries technician, and eventually as a fishing and then hunting guide in western Alaska, where he guided for moose and caribou.

In 1995, Dave married and he and his wife bought land outside of Homer where they camped out while building a cabin. The roof went on the day before it snowed in October of 1996, and they have spent the last 10 years working on their home and starting a family.

Dave and his wife hunt and fish for their protein, grow a garden, live off the grid, haul water from their spring and heat with wood, and enjoy skiing and mushing their old dogs on the trails in the country around their home. Moose, bears (both black and brown), coyote, wolves and wolverine are all occasional visitors on the 30 acres they call home.

Dave retired from big game guiding in the fall of 2005. He is now running a water taxi and freight-hauling business on Kachemak bay, hauling hikers and kayakers as well as doing a little fishing and clamming between jobs.