Rob Thornberry

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posted in: General

March 29, 2016

The legacy of Idaho’s High Divide

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.

Image courtesy of Mike Clements.

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.

One Response to “The legacy of Idaho’s High Divide”

  1. Praveen Sawh

    Wishing my American friends all the best with the current challenges public lands face. I feel like we need someone like Teddy Roosevelt back in office so this treasure can be respected and taken care of.

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posted in: General

March 24, 2016

One Day Could Make a World of Difference for Water and Fish

The first-ever White House Water Summit opens a dialogue about real solutions for drought and habitat decline

Fish require a delicate balance of adequate and timely water flows, suitable temperatures, and healthy water conditions in order to survive. When any of these factors go awry, sportsmen are shut out of fishing areas, or worse, fisheries collapse.

Image courtesy of TRCP.

The current drought in the western United States highlights serious risks to fish and wildlife habitat—including rising temperatures, falling water levels, and more demand from humans than ever before—and sportsmen are seeing similar conditions across the country. Salmon in the Pacific Northwest are dying because the rivers are too low for them to make the round-trip journey from mountain streams to the ocean, and water temperatures are too high for them to survive. Algae blooms in coastal waters are depriving the water of oxygen, suffocating fish even miles offshore. The Colorado River doesn’t even reach the ocean anymore; it simply dries up after crossing the border with Mexico.

As a country, when we lose access to these places or allow habitat to decline, we’re letting down future generations of Americans. That’s why the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and our conservation partners are focused on securing water for healthy fish and wildlife habitat.

Just One Day

On March 22, 2016, in honor of World Water Day, the Obama administration hosted the first-ever White House Water Summit to start a dialogue about solutions to our water problems. Sportsmen at this event stressed the importance of securing a water future that supports fish and wildlife, while providing water to cities and farms at the same time. In fact, the TRCP delivered a petition with the names of nearly 1,000 sportsmen calling for flexible and reliable water systems so we can better weather the next drought or flood. These hunters and anglers are calling for federal officials to take action to keep rivers and streams healthy, so we continue to have places to pursue our sports.

Image courtesy of Mia Sheppard.

At the summit, our Oregon field representative Mia Sheppard spoke to the crowd of 150 federal officials, state representatives, private-sector leaders, and others about the conditions she has personally experienced on the Deschutes River and why we need to act now, so her eight-year-old daughter can spend her days on the water for years to come.

The summit follows on the heels of the July 2015 White House Drought Symposium, which the TRCP helped organize. Out of those talks, sportsmen’s groups have developed 20 recommendations to help make the country more drought resilient, some of which the administration has already addressed. Notably, the administration has invested heavily in water conservation projects and prioritized flexible and voluntary water-sharing agreements, both of which sportsmen have recommended.

A Better Water Future

For months, sportsmen and conservation groups have called for a stronger response among federal, state and local agencies to protect the Colorado River and other drought-stricken waterways, and at the White House Water Summit, sportsmen chalked up another win for fish and wildlife: The administration agreed to increase coordination of federal resources and expertise to promote drought resilience. This is an important step that will improve on-the-ground—or, if you prefer, on-the-water—results and better utilize federal resources to combat drought and protect vital water resources.

The White House Water Summit was an important milestone in the national dialogue about what the federal government should do to manage our water resources. The needs of fish and wildlife have been well represented by the TRCP and its partners so that streams, lakes, and rivers stay open to sportsmen. And we’re hopeful that this dialogue will lead to a future with enough water for everyone—including the fish that help us enjoy our time outdoors.

Learn more about TRCP’s work to ensure the future of water for fish, wildife, and sportsmen.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: General

Critter Madness Fan Prediction: The Monarch of the Mountains Will Reign Again

PLUS: This steelheader just got a little cooler

Image courtesy of Dennis Reasoner.

We want to send a big thanks to everyone who has voted in Critter Madness—here’s hoping your bracket is still going strong in the Final Four. We’re also happy to announce our round-one prize winner: Dennis Reasoner from Red Bluff, Calif., who has been following Critter Madness since the beginning. He will receive a cool new pair of Costa sunglasses—the better to spot steelhead with!

Reasoner’s money is on the elk—or “the monarch of the mountains,” as he says—to go all the way for the second year in a row, and we’ll soon get to see if he’s right. Round-three voting is on NOW! Make sure your favorite critter makes it to the finals, and register for the chance to win some great gear, including a Yeti cooler and a Mossberg shotgun.

Congratulations, Dennis! We hope you have great hunting and fishing this year.

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posted in: General

March 23, 2016

Critter Madness Highlight Reel: The Race to the Final Four

The best and brightest of the backcountry, ag country, inshore, and offshore are represented 

The second round of Critter Madness has come to a close, and your votes have determined the top four game and fish species of the tourney. Here’s how it played out:

The elk once again proved they are the dominant big-game species in this competition by running away with a victory over their east-coast rivals, the whitetails. It’s going to be hard to knock these sure-footed critters out of the Final Four. Meanwhile, in the battle for CRP bragging rights, the turkeys strutted past their Midwestern foes, the pheasants, to advance to the semi-finals. This matchup was neck-and-neck entering the final hours of competition, when a late surge of votes went to the turkeys.

On the wetter side of the bracket, the blue marlins just didn’t have what it takes to best the mighty Chinooks in this round. The salmon took out some line and ran away with almost 100 more votes than their billed competitors. The number-one seed will now swim against the freshwater contender, the rainbow trout, which won one of the most highly-contested battles of the entire tournament. The ‘bows move on after beating the largemouth bass by A SINGLE VOTE in a very tight race. Our condolences to BASS nation.

Semi-Finals Preview

On land, the elk now move on to face the turkeys, and both critters have huge fan bases. Look for big-game hunters all across the west to rally behind the elk, as they have in the first two rounds, but don’t count out the turkeys just yet. We know that turkey hunters are a passionate bunch, and they just might scratch out a win.

And on the heels of World Water Day, saltwater and freshwater fish face off first. The trout are looking to become the only lower-seed critter to advance to the finals, while the powerful Chinooks are looking to show why they are the top-seeded fish still left in this tournament. It could be a toss-up, but the fish that advances will take on a heavyweight: either last year’s champion or the big bird.

Make sure you vote for your favorite critter to advance! You could win more awesome gear, like a new Yeti cooler, or the final-round prize—a brand new Mossberg shotgun!

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: General

March 22, 2016

Sportsmen’s Community Highlights Conservation Goals at White House Water Summit

Groups call for federal action supporting healthy fish and wildlife habitat on World Water Day

Image courtesy of Marty Sheppard.

To mark today’s international observance of World Water Day, hunting and fishing organizations participated in the White House Water Summit, where 150 diverse stakeholders highlighted a shared commitment to building a sustainable water future.

“We’re pleased that the administration is focusing its attention on how we use and conserve water,” says Scott Gudes, vice president of government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association. “We need to find ways to work together and find innovative solutions to the water issues that impact not just humans, but our fish and wildlife, as well.”

Gudes points to Chinook salmon in California as one example of an iconic fish species for recreational and commercial anglers that is being stressed by persistent drought conditions. But strong dialogue between federal agencies and stakeholders could help plan for future water crises.

Image courtesy of Jimmy Hague.

The White House Water Summit archived webcast can be found here. Our own Mia Sheppard, the TRCP’s Oregon Field Representative, gave an impassioned speech highlighting the importance of cool, clean water for fish and wildlife, citing various issues with her home waters on the Deschutes River.

As participants in the summit, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced that its petition recognizing serious risks to the country’s water supply—including rising temperatures, falling water levels, and more demand than ever before—has been signed by over 1,000 sportsmen. And these Americans are calling for action from federal officials.

“The message from hunters and anglers across the country is that we need to create flexible water systems that can better weather the next drought or flood,” says Jimmy Hague, director of the Center for Water Resources with the TRCP. “We also need to promote healthy fish and wildlife habitat while providing water to cities and farms.”

Today Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum and supporting Action Plan on building national capabilities for long-term drought resilience. “This move to increase coordination of federal resources will better protect vital water supplies, especially in places like the drought-stricken Colorado River,” adds Hague.

Read the full report of commitments made in honor of the summit here.

Image courtesy of Colorado River team.

Sportsmen have been setting the agenda on drought since last summer, when ASA and the TRCP joined B.A.S.S., Berkley Conservation Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Trout Unlimited in delivering recommendations for federal actions to make our country’s waterways more drought resilient. These recommendations include a call for greater coordination between federal agencies and more investment in water conservation projects and voluntary water-sharing agreements—both of which the administration has made moves to address.

“Every antiquated water infrastructure problem is an opportunity to create new benefits for river health and drought resiliency,” says Laura Ziemer, senior counsel and water policy advisor for Trout Unlimited. “This is why we are calling for federal grant criteria to require that water infrastructure or supply projects selected for federal funding also create benefits for fish, wildlife, and recreation through improved instream flows, while improving water supplies for agriculture and cities.”

To learn about one such grant program through the Bureau of Reclamation, watch this video.

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