All hunters and anglers should join me in calling for conservation of intact and undeveloped backcountry areas
Like most of my neighbors, I live in eastern Idaho because of the outdoors. Some days that is the clear water of the Henry’s Fork. Other days it is the sweet convergence of sage and timber, where I hunt grouse.
Last fall, I spent a day on the High Divide between Idaho and Montana. It was one of the coldest days of the year and there was a stiff breeze as I climbed the ridge. Hunting seasons were closed, so a camera was my only gear.
During a quick break to catch my breath, I spotted nine bull elk trying to sneak back toward the cover of timber. Two spikes, a rag horn with a misshapen antler and six bruisers stood on the ridgetop, providing a great photo and making my heart race with a hunter’s anticipation.
These elk were standing on Bureau of Land Management public lands, which belong to all of us.
The High Divide includes three million acre area of BLM land that runs west from Sand Creek winter range, over the Gilmore Summit, and to high benches of the Pahsimeroi River. It is the Donkey Hills and the foothills of Bell Mountain. It is a place where cellphones are rendered largely useless and solitude is easily found.
The plans that help guide how the BLM manages these lands are decades old and in need of revision to ensure the future of these unique landscapes with the best science and public input. Revisions to the BLM Upper Snake plan have been in the works for a number of years but are yet to be completed. Planning for the Salmon and Challis areas will begin in coming years.
It is important that the BLM does not delay and moves forward with planning across this landscape. I’d encourage all hunters and anglers to get involved in this public process and join me in calling for conservation of intact and undeveloped backcountry areas that are prized for hunting and wildlife habitat.
Many will – and should – have a say in BLM’s resource and travel plans, but it is up to the sporting community to band together and stress the value of these important wildlife corridors, mating grounds and winter ranges.
In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.”
Roosevelt made conservation a top-tier national issue. We should follow his lead. To ensure the viability of critical habitats and solitary places, we must plan carefully today.
For more information, visit SportsmensCountry.org and speak up for BLM public lands.