AFTCO continues its strong conservation heritage by providing support for five Conservation Grants to B.A.S.S. Nation Clubs in 2023. The contribution for this year amounts to $25,000 spread across the five recipients. AFTCO's total contributions to this program have now exceeded $120,000 since its start in 2018. The following five grant recipients have been selected from the pool of applicants for 2023:
1. Central Tennessee Lake Improvement Project with Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation
2. Iowa B.A.S.S. Nation Release Trailer with Iowa B.A.S.S. Nation
3. Kentucky and Barkley Lakes Cypress Tree Planting Project with Kentucky B.A.S.S. Nation
4. New York B.A.S.S. Release Boat Refit with New York B.A.S.S. Nation
5. Upper Bay, Maryland Stocking Program with Middle River Bass Anglers
These programs will provide support for stocking bass, establishing habitats, and ensuring that tournament fish are returned to lakes and rivers in the best possible condition. These programs are all being coordinated locally with the aid of B.A.S.S Nation chapters, governmental fishing agencies, local businesses, and the valuable support of volunteers and youth organizations contributing their labor. “These grants are a great example of the efforts our B.A.S.S. Nation clubs are putting forth to enhance the fishing in their local lakes and reservoirs. Our state chapters are blessed to be associated with a company like AFTCO that takes conservation to heart. That continued commitment to the B.A.S.S. Nation and to the fishery resources that our sport depends on is unmatched.” - Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. Conservation Director
The first project in Tennessee is centered around placing fish habitat in Normandy and Center Hill Reservoirs. Both lakes have seen significant loss of habitat. The AFTCO grant will be used for education on proper habitat as well as the placement of fish attractors in those lakes by the Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation in conjunction with the TWRA, TBN High School Team, and TBN Adult Clubs along with donations from local businesses. This project is expected to put between 1000-2000 structures into these lakes.
The second project will bring a new release trailer to the Iowa B.A.S.S. Nation. This trailer will be critical to return tournament fish safely to lakes and rivers in Iowa and surrounding states. Many of those include summertime events with higher water temperatures where safe release is even more critical. The AFTCO grant will be used to aid in the construction of this new trailer in 2023. The trailer will be used at dozens of events each year, including youth tournaments to safely release fish and distribute their release across the body of water. Iowa B.A.S.S. Nation will operate and maintain the trailer.
The goals of the third project are to improve bass and sunfish spawning habitat and decrease siltation by increasing shoreline stability through the planting of bald cypress trees in Lake Barkley. The Kentucky B.A.S.S. Nation is directing the program in conjunction with USACE and KDFWR with the labor being provided by a mix of adult and youth volunteers. The goal of this project is to plant 675 bald cypress trees that are native to this area and provide great habitat and erosion control.
The New York B.A.S.S. Nation has successfully operated a tournament release boat for many years. This fourth AFTCO grant will be used to refit and update the current release boat allowing it to provide better service in the coming season. Their boat is used at over 10 events each season and is operated by youth volunteers and New York nation members. The boat has safely returned thousands of fish back to New York waters and this refit will help it continue to provide top notch fish care in this region.
The final grant recipient in 2023 is the Middle River Bass Anglers. They will be using the grant funds to aid in a stocking program for Chesapeake Bay. There was a devastating fish kill in the Middle River in 2015. The Middle River Bass Anglers with support from the DNR and local business purchase adult bass from a DNR supported vendor to replenish bass populations in this area. Volunteers will distribute the adult bass throughout the three bodies of water.
“AFTCO has been fortunate to work with great partners at B.A.S.S. and all their passionate B.A.S.S. Nation state chapters. Together we’ve been able to make a big impact to enhance these fisheries across the country and give back to both the resource and the angling community.” - Matt Florentino, AFTCO Marketing Director