Madison County is almost as famous for its hunting as its flyfishing.
So it’s no surprise the Pope and Young Club recently held their biannual board meeting in Ennis.
But this time around, it wasn’t the famed hunting in Madison County that brought the club’s board members to Ennis, but the relationship the club has had over the years with the Jack Creek Preserve Foundation, which is based in Ennis and was started by the Fossel family of Ennis.
The Pope and Young Club is most famously know as the organization that is the keeper for all archery hunting records, said president Roger Attwood. But the organization is equally concerned with conservation efforts and promoting a new generation of hunters.
“Our mission is to preserve and protect hunting for future generations,” Attwood said.
To that end, the Pope and Young Club champions fair chase hunting, wildlife conservation and ethical bow hunting, he said.
And for the last several years, they have been a natural partner for the Jack Creek Preserve Foundation, Attwood said.
The Jack Creek Preserve Foundation was started in 2005 and oversees the 4,400 acre chunk of private land between Ennis and Big Sky that makes up the preserve. The land spans the Jack Creek canyon and provides a unique link between the north and south portions of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area.
Since its inception the JCPF has started an annual summer camp, had special archery hunts for wounded war veterans, and hosted several educational trips for local schools. It also hosts a variety of archery activities, including a 3-D archery range that’s open to local archers.
Recently, JCPF broke ground on a new venture – their Outdoor Education Center, said JCPF board co-chair Jon Fossel, who oversees the board with his former wife Dottie Fossel.
The Jack Creek Preserve Outdoor Education Center is really a culmination of what the JCPF board has envisioned for the preserve, Jon Fossel said.
“The board decided they wanted to have the whole preserve utilized more significantly,” he said.
The new education center will be used by Montana State University for education, as well as local groups and families for events. It will sleep about 40 people and be self-sustained with solar panels and hydroelectric systems providing electricity and hot water.
The center will mark a new chapter for the JCPF, Fossel said.
“We just think it’s real important to do everything we can to help educate people about the outdoors,” he said.
The total cost of the facility will be about $350,000 and that was another reason the Pope and Young Club held its board meeting in Ennis.
The club donated $50,000 toward the JCPF Outdoor Education Center – a donation that shocked Fossel.
“It didn’t make my day, it made my year in terms of level of commitment we got,” he said.
But for the Pope and Young Club, supporting outdoor education only makes sense, Attwood said.
It’s hunters and sportsmen who support many of the conservation efforts around the county with either their time or their dollars, he said.
“Hunters have taken care of the wildlife for years and years,” he said.
But for conservation efforts to continue, more of the youth need to learn about the outdoors and ethical hunting, Attwood said.
“We’re excited about young people and getting them involved and that’s the thing the Jack Creek Preserve Foundation does here,” he said.
The JCPF Outdoor Education Center is projected to be completed by next summer. For more information on the JCPF, look on their website at www.jackcreekpreserve.org or call executive director Katie Alvin at 995-7550.