By Deborah Weisberg Contributing Writer
Harrisburg — Ross Huhn, the longest-serving member of the
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission board, died Aug. 14,
following complications from a series of strokes. He was 79, lived
in Saltsburg, and had represented southwestern Pennsylvania on the
board for 25 years. He was reappointed three times.
“He was a resource guy, not a raceway guy,” said his friend, Bob
Ging, of Fayette County, and an environmental law attorney. “There
are guys who salivate about building more raceways and marinas, and
we’re losing a resource where that’s going on. Ross was concerned
about the resource.”
Huhn was a conservationist active in Trout Unlimited, the Izaak
Walton League and several sportsmen’s groups. He drew praise from
Ging and others who noted his contributions over the years. Huhn
helped set up the system used to classify trout streams, and was
instrumental in developing the criteria for managing them.
He helped establish a program used to fund access to streams.
Ging also praised Huhn for his vision, though some of it has gone
as yet unrealized, he said. “He worked with our TU chapter cleaning
up the Youghiogheny River. A lot of tribs contaminated with
acid-mine drainage have been cleaned,” Ging said. “Ross recalled
when it was teeming with brook trout and wanted to see it teeming
with brookies again. He just didn’t get commission staff support to
see that through.”
Ging is on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing
and Conservation that screens candidates for the Fish & Boat
and Game commissions, when vacancies, such as the one created by
Huhn’s death, occur.
The council recommends prospective board members for the
governor to nominate, though the Senate has to approve them. Senate
Majority Leader Robert Jubelirer, R-Blair, has stonewalled the
appointment of conservationist Len Lichvar, who would fill a seat
in southcentral Pennsylvania that has remained vacant for more than
Constituents in Jubelirer’s district, particularly Don Beaver,
who rents access to blue-ribbon trout streams, have opposed
Though advisory council director Robb Miller said the governor
recently re-nominated Lichvar, there are three — and soon will be
four– vacancies on the board where candidates are needed. In
September, Ted Keir of northcentral Pennsylvania will step down.
His term expired in April, and he is finishing up a six-month
Six is the minimum number of board members the Fish & Boat
Code will allow and the number needed for a quorum. The problem
with having just six members is that, in the case of a tie vote,
there is no provision for breaking the tie and deadlocked issues
get tabled, said commission spokesman Dan Tredinnick.
The board could dip as low as five, if Gary Pflugfelder leaves
in January, when his term expires. If that happens, the board would
be unable to convene, said Tredinnick. Pflugfelder, of southcentral
Pennsylvania, could serve an additional six months, but considering
the lack of progress on the Lichvar nomination, there’s no
guarantee that candidates for other seats will be approved in a
timely manner, or at all.
Ging said candidates now are being interviewed for some parts of
the state — board members must represent the areas where they live
— and intends to see people recommended who are into resource
protection and enhancement. “It can be done,” he said.
But he questions whether Jubelirer will oppose candidates
besides Lichvar, too. “Jubelirer’s been the opposition, and that
shows a great deal of disrespect for the sportsmen. He doesn’t
respect them in his district or anyone else’s.”
Board members on the commission serve without pay and meet
quarterly. “Ross would drive for hours to attend meetings,” said
Ging. “He’d meet with anyone on anything.”
It takes dedicated people to make such a commitment, he said,
yet board service is an opportunity to help shape the future of
angling and boating in the state.
Candidates interested in applying for a board seat should
contact the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and
Conservation, P.O. Box 8767, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8767 or call
(717) 772-4285 for more information.