North Dakota's chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has been on the state's conservation scene for just over a year, and in an effort to boost its growing membership, the public lands advocacy group is holding one of its informal "Pint Night" events this week in Grand Forks.
The Grand Forks Pint Night-the BHA chapter's first in Grand Forks-is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, at the Crooked Pint Ale House, 1930 S. Columbia Road. Those who attend could win a pair of Vortex binoculars courtesy of Cabela's, and there'll also be BHA swag for sale and opportunities to join the group, which calls itself "the sportsmen's voice for public lands, waters and wildlife."
Based in Missoula, Mont., BHA has chapters in 39 states, the District of Columbia and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. North Dakota's BHA chapter, formed in April 2018, now has more than 400 members, said Adam Leitschuh of Minot, chairman of the state BHA chapter.
Tuesday's Pint Night will be an opportunity for anyone who's interested to learn more about BHA or perhaps even join; BHA's annual membership is $25.
"Generally, our Pint Nights are pretty low key," Leitschuh said. "It's just a gathering of like-minded individuals who come together to talk about hunting, fishing and conservation, share a beer and tell a hunting story."
The chapter's first year has been kind of a "feeling out" process, Leitschuh says, setting up a board, learning more about public lands issues and priorities in the state and working with agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service on various improvement projects on federal lands.
The North Dakota BHA chapter is divided into six regions, Leitschuh says, and plans are in the works to set up committees in each region to address public lands, along with organizing Pint Nights and other events to grow membership.
This year, the North Dakota chapter has several work projects on tap with the U.S. Forest Service, both in the Sheyenne and Little Missouri national grasslands, Leitschuh says.
That work includes everything from swapping out signage to reshingling outhouses and planting native species to enhance wildlife habitat. The chapter also helped out with signage projects last year, Leitschuh says, but the scale was smaller.
"Last year, we kind of kept that first signage project close to the board and some other members just because we were feeling out the system and working with the Forest Service," he said. "This year, with trying to get the boost in membership across the state, we're really going to try to get everyone's involvement with these projects. We've had good feedback, and I think we're going to have a really good turnout for people who want to get involved."
So far, there's been a broad cross-section of people joining North Dakota's BHA chapter, judging by the turnout at Pint Night events, Leitschuh says.
The goal is to have a Pint Night somewhere in the state at least once a month, he says.
"Honestly, on the Pint Nights we've had over the past year, there's definitely a wide range of people that come out-women, too," Leitschuh said.
During Tuesday's Pint Night, Leitschuh says copies of BHA's quarterly Backcountry Journal will be available, and there'll be an opportunity for people to ask questions and learn more about upcoming events and projects.
"The big thing this year, now that we've kind of felt our oats, we're going to try to get all the members involved," Leitschuh said. "Hopefully, that will grow and the word will travel and membership will continue to grow, and we'll keep expanding projects and working the state."
For more information on Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and BHA in North Dakota, check out the chapter's Facebook page, the BHA website at www.backcountryhunters.org or the North Dakota chapter's link at www.backcountryhunters.org/north_dakota_bha.