Dan Richards, new Fish and Game commissioner, reveals a little about his outdoor commitment
Dan Richards, the current chairman of the San Bernardino County Fish and Game Commission, was appointed to the state Fish and Game Commission by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday, Feb. 14. Richards, 55, of Upland, is the chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Commercial-Inland Empire, which he founded in 1983. He's been married 34 years to his wife Judy Kirk, a retired school teacher in Upland. He has one daughter, Kendra, who is married and works in the fashion district in Los Angeles. He is an avid outdoorsman and a member of the San Clemente Trap and Skeet Club, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and Quail Unlimited. He replaces Judd Hanna, who resigned last year at the request of the governor.
Richards agreed to a question and answer session. Here are the questions and his responses:
Question: We've had a succession of state Fish and Game commissioners who aren't avid hunters or fishermen. What kind of hunting and fishing background do you have and what are your favorite outdoor activities?
Answer: I grew up in West Virginia and have been hunting and fishing, literally, all my life. I got my first gun at 10, which was a family tradition. It was a .410 single shot. During those years, I shared a lot of awesome weekends with family and friends in the woods and mountains of West Virginia. Many times we camped out for the weekend. I was a Boy Scout, and we always left the woods cleaner than we found them. West Virginia was a great training ground and allowed me to spend special times hunting and fishing with older sportsmen. They were my early role models and true environmentalists. They were very protective of the field and stream, and they left a lasting impression on me.
Today, Judy and I own a [second] home in Idaho that sits on the Snake River, and I love to fly fish. I have enjoyed deep sea fishing in California and used to really enjoy the albacore run but have sort of replaced that with the fly fishing these days. I have a good buddy who will occasionally run up to Baldy [San Antonio Creek] with me and get a line wet for our local fix. Given the perfect day, I'll go for big browns on the lightest tackle that is reasonable. They are tough to catch and great fighters.
I also love duck and goose hunting. I believe in using the best and most advanced weapons available. So I use the Benelli Super Black Eagle II with a 26-inch barrel, and also the Beretta Extrema, also with a 26-inch barrel. Both are camo guns, and both accept 3 1/2-inch shells. I love to keep my shotgun skills sharp, and I shoot at both San Clemente [Trap and Skeet] and Raahauge's [Shooting Enterprises]. I don't do it nearly enough, so I'm an average shot, at best (laughing).
My early hunting in West Virginia was mostly for squirrels and rabbits and -- when I was a little older -- deer. Then, I always used a .30-30 for the deer. We never had a shot over 75 yards. I've done a lot of big game hunting since then. Three years ago I bagged a Royal elk – seven points per side -- at 275 yards with a Weatherby .30-06 in Idaho.
I could tell stories for an hour.
Question: Do you think it's important that Commission members, who set hunting and fishing regulations, are insiders -- people who hunt and fish -- and why?
Answer: I think it's important -- but not the only criteria. Fishing and hunting are rights we've had from the beginning of this country, but with that come responsibilities. I'm hopeful I can be a Commissioner of reason and be a proponent of hunting and fishing. But I also intend to be Commissioner who will be very mindful of our environment and its safe-keeping.
Question: Do you think it is appropriate that sportsman's money -- hunter's and fisherman's license and tags fees and the excise taxes they spend on sporting equipment -- is used for programs that may not directly benefit game animals or game fish?
Answer: I believe that if the fees were collected for a specific purpose, they should be spent on that purpose. Otherwise, it's really misleading and unfair to the sporting public. Just like most people believe that gas taxes should go to take care of the roads, and school assessments should go to building schools, our license and tag fees should go directly back to supporting and sustaining that habitat.
Question: What can you do as a Commissioner to directly benefit sportsmen in California?
Answer: I'm going to try to listen and be responsive to reasonable and prudent issues California sportsmen have. We live in a very diverse state, and the need for all sides to be fairly represented and heard is important. I hope I can be a person of balance, fairness, and a willingness to compromise -- but not to the detriment of sportsmen. I have a history of taking my time and investigating the facts so that when I make a decision, I have some first-hand knowledge. I will make every effort to personally view, review, and participate so that I can make an informed decision.
Question: The number of hunters and -- to a lesser extent -- fisherman has been steadily declining every year. What to you see as the biggest threats to continued participation in fishing and hunting?
Answer: I truly believe the biggest single reason for the decline is the breakdown in the family. Hunting and fishing were, for so very long, an important part of the fabric of our country. It still is in many parts of the country, but not like it was – and, in particular, it's not in California. We have a lot options for "entertainment" in California, and when you see all of the negativity aimed at hunting and fishing through various media outlets, that regular bombardment has an effect.
Having said that, as fuel prices rise, license fees increase, and the attempts by some to limit access to public lands, we see less and less young people in the field. When dads and moms don't take their children in the field, whether fishing or hunting, we lose a very important part of our history and the fabric of life in America become a little more frayed. As any true outdoorsman knows, it's not about the catching or killing, it's about the experience, the sharing, the friendships.
I'm adamantly opposed to those who break the law and abuse our public lands, but I also know that these bad actors are a small percentage of the people in the field. I know how much I value that time outdoors with my dad, brother, family and friends and also how much I have enjoyed it with my own children. I know what it means to them and what it meant to me. It is important we encourage the proper and reasonable use of our natural resources by responsible, educated, and licensed citizens.
Question: Do you think we can we turn these declines around and get more people back into these traditional outdoor sports?
Answer: I don't know. I hope so. There are so many factors involved. As our country matures, we see lots of declines in a lot of activities we once enjoyed universally. I know it's not declining in my world, and I certainly don't want to ever do anything that would further enable that decline or restrict folks from enjoying the great outdoors.
Question: Do you see Dan Richards as a go-along, get-along Commissioner, or will sportsmen be reading your name and liking what they see, saying to themselves, "This guy is fighting for me even when it's not a popular position to take"?
Answer: I hope both (laughing). I am a sportsman and have been my whole life -- not just lately, but since I was a small boy. I like sportsmen. I like the outdoors and I value and respect the things that make it so special.
Having said that, I think reality demands someone who can work with others -- who may not appreciate the greatness of the outdoors and value the things we hold so dear. Anytime someone in a position of great authority, like the state Fish and Game Commission, is too much of a proponent or opponent on one issue, they lose a lot of credibility. It's no secret what I love and enjoy or where my passion lies. I admire what Governor Schwarzeneggar has been able to accomplish. He has made the deals he needed to make in order to keep the ship a float while steering a course that is reflective of his convictions. I hope to try to do the same.
Question: (Laughing) Whoa, Dan, that last comment sounds like a flagrant suck-up to the governor and the legislature. Is this your way of making sure you'll be confirmed?
Answer: (Laughing) Actually, I really mean it. I can only hope to bridge some of the divides as deftly as he does. Not easy, but I'm going to give it a hell of a try. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
Jeff "Jesse" James - Owner of Jesse's Hunting & Outdoors
You can always tell who's in 2nd place by who's whining and crying the most. - Old hockey coach.
Dum spiramus tuebimur
Advertise on JHO / Blogs / Fishing Guide/Outfitter reviews / Facebook - JHO / Gear Reviews / Home, Main Page / Hunting Guide/Outfitter Reviews / Links / Online Store / Photo/Video Gallery / Sponsors / Turkey Scratchins blog / Twitter - Follow JHO / YouTube Channel
"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a brave and scarce man, hated and scorned. When the cause succeeds, however, the timid join him... for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -Mark Twain
I like what I hear. Certainly better than what we have had.
Sounded OK until the end. He kind of gave himself an out.
"One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted..." Jose Ortega y Gasset
Sounded good to me.
Any day in the outdoors is a damn good day.
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>That means, I can't make a stand on any controversial issues or I will lose my job.Anytime someone in a position of great authority, like the state Fish and Game Commission, is too much of a proponent or opponent on one issue, they lose a lot of credibility.[/b]
"through yesterday comes tomorrow, when life comes alive the past moves aside no regrets and no remorse."