This past Friday, March 18, Congressman Don Young (AK), an avid outdoorsman, a master legislator, a conservation legend, and a founding member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 88.
Congressman Young, who would more than occasionally remind those around him that he was the Congressman for ALL of Alaska, served Alaska and the United States as a member of Congress for nearly 50 years from 1973 until the time of his passing. In 2017, Congressman Young earned the title of “Dean of the House” in recognition of being the longest serving current member of Congress, a title he held until his passing. Prior to becoming the longest serving Republican in the history of Congress, Congressman Young was a member of the U.S. Army, tugboat captain, trapper, mayor, and a fifth-grade teacher.
During his time in Congress, Congressman Young Chaired the House Natural Resources Committee from 1995 – 2001 and Chaired the House Transportation Committee from 2001 – 2007. Prior to Chairing the Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation Committee, the Dean was a founding member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which he later Chaired, and served as a leading member until his passing. Without Congressman Young’s foresight and wisdom, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus undoubtedly would not be the powerful, bipartisan consortium it has grown into today.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Congressman Young’s commitment to sportsmen and women was profound. The Dean championed countless pieces of legislation of importance to sportsmen and women, including the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, Wallop-Breaux Act, sportfishing and recreational boating safety legislation, among other enduring legislative efforts, all of which continue to have a profoundly positive impact on America’s 55 million sportsmen and women.
While the Dean’s Congressional resumé is one of the most impressive in the history of the legislative body, Congressman Young may be best known for his larger-than-life personality. The rare and often unparalleled personality traits of Congressman Young gave him the unique ability to relate to people of all walks of life and an even more uncanny ability to transcend partisan lines to problem solve, advance legislation, and most importantly, develop lifelong friendships. This personality was routinely on display at events hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, including the Congressional Clays Competition, where the Dean could often be found heckling participants for missing a clay target. The personality and charisma of Congressman Young will never be replaced.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is incredibly grateful for the leadership and commitment of the Congressman for ALL of Alaska. While CSF will never be able to fully express our appreciation to the Congressman, he will forever remain in our hearts and minds, especially as we tackle the conservation challenges for America’s sportsmen and women, just as he would have expected.
CSF extends our thoughts and prayers to his beloved wife, Anne, and his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow sportsmen and women.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?