Mia Sheppard

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April 12, 2013

Take Action: Stand up for Backcountry in the Beaver State

Oregon offers some of the best public upland game bird hunting in the West. Chukar season ended in January, but die-hard bird hunters already are thinking about next season. Last fall, I shared a particularly fine hunt with Walt Van Dyke, retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, and Pat Wray, author of “The Chukar Hunter’s Companion.”

Watch following video for footage of the hunt and click here to take action and conserve Oregon’s best backcountry.


The weather was warm, and the heat of the day penetrated our bones. By noon sweat dripped from our brows. Nelly, my shorthaired pointer, was unaccustomed to the heat and had drunk almost all the water I was carrying. Van Dyke, Wray and I covered territory that hadn’t seen human footprints in weeks. A breeze was blowing, and the coveys of chukar flushed wild. But hitting a bird was a bonus compared to the remarkable views and solitude we found that day in southeast Oregon.

Along with supporting populations of upland birds, Oregon’s semi-arid mountain ranges hold key habitat for mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and elk. Small streams provide unique fisheries. As a sportsman and a mother, I want to return to these special places with my daughter and see that the landscape hasn’t changed. Better yet, I want to see to it that the habitat has been improved.

To maintain the high-quality fish and wildlife values of these lands, hunters and anglers are calling on the southeast Oregon BLM to implement a new, locally conceived land allocation called a backcountry conservation area, or BCA. As proposed, BCAs would protect public access, honor existing rights and conserve intact fish and wildlife habitat while allowing common-sense activities to restore habitat and protect communities from wildfire.

Under the BCA allocation, the BLM would uphold traditional uses of public land but allow wildlife managers to restore the rangeland and habitat. The proposed plan enables vegetation management to control noxious weeds, restore bunchgrass to benefit wildlife and livestock and reduce the risk of wildfire. BCAs also would allow ranchers to maintain agriculture improvements and continue their operations.

Join thousands of sportsmen working to conserve our public lands by contacting the state BLM office in Oregon and promoting BCAs as a land-management tool.

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March 25, 2013

Speak up to Save Critical Grassland Habitat

The TRCP joins partners Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited and others in urging sportsmen across the nation to contact their House representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Protect Our Prairies act (H.R. 686).

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), would reduce crop insurance assistance for the first four years for crops grown on native sod and certain grasslands converted to cropland.

Learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Reducing crop insurance assistance so it is proportionate with the production capability of this land, rather than insuring it at the same rate as land that has been farmed for years, could save taxpayers nearly $200 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate from the 112th Congress.

Importantly, this legislation does not prevent producers from making their own planting decisions.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Call your representative today and ask him or her to co-sponsor Protect Our Prairies Act (H.R. 686) and defend grasslands for pheasants, quail and other wildlife.

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New Hope for Native Grasslands

Iowa Barn
Photo by Scott Bauer.

There’s new hope that native grasslands—arguably the most threatened wildlife habitat in the nation – can be saved.  But the House of Representatives will have to follow the bipartisan lead of a couple of prairie state representatives to get that done for sportsmen.

The Protect Our Prairies Act recently introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) would help protect the nation’s remaining native sod and grasslands by reducing federal crop insurance subsidies for the first four years those acres are farmed.

This is a new version of the “Sodsaver” concept that has been around for some time, with the aim of preventing native grasslands from being plowed for two important reasons: This habitat is critical for a wide range of upland birds, migratory waterfowl and numerous other species; and they are far less productive for crops than other lands.

Outdoor writer Bob Marshall explains why the need for Sodsaver has never been greater, and how the recent push for corn-based ethanol and soaring world commodity prices have led to a dramatic increase in conversion of grasslands to row crops.

Read the full story on the Field & Stream website.

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March 15, 2013

Video: Future of the Farm Bill

Ducks Unlimited’s governmental affairs staff sit down to discuss the future of the Farm Bill with Rep. Kristi Noem (SD) and Rep. Tim Walz (MN). Watch the video below to find out where conservation, commerce and our sporting trations fit in.

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March 5, 2013

Mapping Project Brings on-the-Ground Results for Sportsmen

Montana sportsmen mapping prized areas of the state as part of the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

Involving the American sportsman in issues that affect our hunting and fishing heritage is fundamental to maintaining our outdoor heritage. Here at the TRCP we try and ensure sportsman involvement occurs at a level where impacts and results tend to be clear and immediate. To this end, the TRCP has developed a state-specific approach to capture input from local hunters and anglers called the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

As part of the project, TRCP staff members meet with sporting groups, conservation organizations and rod and gun clubs to identify “bread and butter” hunting and fishing areas in various states. You might wonder why anyone would reveal a favorite honey. When combined with critical habitat maps already in use by federal and state agencies, this information provides a powerful tool for politicians and decision-makers to use in public lands management.

The project’s goal is ensuring sportsmen are represented in management decisions by highlighting the exact areas they want to see managed for the continued and future use of hunting and fishing.

The success of the mapping project has earned recognition both at home and abroad and is largely held as a case study on how sportsmen can participate in land management and public policy. Recently, TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development Director Ed Arnett gave a presentation about the project at the Conference on Wind Power and Environmental Impacts. The conference, held in Stockholm, Sweden, was attended by more than 300 people from at least 30 countries.

The TRCP’s Center for Responsible Energy Development Director, Ed Arnett. Photo courtesy of Mark Weaver.

During the presentation, Arnett highlighted the project as tool for wind energy developers and decision-makers to use in identifying key, high-use areas warranting special conservation strategies and in avoiding conflict with sportsmen and other stakeholders. As presented, the mapping project provides valuable and previously unavailable data that will aid in balancing energy development with the needs of fish, wildlife and sportsmen.

As Arnett returns from the international conference, he continues to ensure that decision-makers balance the needs of fish, wildlife and sportsmen with the impacts of land-use management decisions across all economic sectors to ensure a strong economy into the future. The TRCP Sportsmen Values Mapping Project is critically important to achieving that balance.

The project is expected to grow in the coming years.  In Wyoming, Western Outreach Director Neil Thagard will be returning to those communities that participated in the project to present results and develop opportunities for place-based, grassroots campaigns to protect areas important to sportsmen.  The TRCP plans to expand the mapping project to more western states in the near future.

Learn more about the Wyoming mapping Project.

Learn more about the Montana mapping Project.

Get involved today by signing up as a TRCP member.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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