Protections for a popular chukar hunting destination and important big game winter range are included in one alternative, but not in the preferred
The Bureau of Land Management today released a draft plan for the Four Rivers Field Office in western Idaho. The plan, when completed, will guide land management decisions for 783,000 acres of public lands over the next several decades.
This area includes one of Idaho’s critical mule deer winter ranges and a popular chukar hunting destination, and sportsmen from across the Gem State are asking the BLM to reconsider its priorities going forward.
The draft Resource Management Plan is a first step in a public process of land-use planning that determines how habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and development will be balanced in the future. The BLM typically proposes four management options for a planning area and names one preferred alternative.
The agency’s preferred alternative for the Four Rivers Field Office doesn’t properly consider management approaches that would conserve the Bennett Hills. Sportsmen-friendly conservation measures for these intact and undeveloped lands with outstanding big game habitat were drawn up, but not fully incorporated into the BLM’s preferred approach.
“A final Resource Management Plan should fully incorporate backcountry hunting areas and expand upon the limited opportunities currently included in the preferred alternative,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We urge the BLM to complete what they started.”
Thirty-nine outdoor-related businesses and eight sportsmen’s organizations support revising BLM’s Resource Management Plan to better serve the interests of Idaho’s hunters and other outdoor recreationists.
“I have hunted the Bennett Hills for almost 50 years, and I can state emphatically that it is a haven for an enormous amount of wildlife,” said Drew Wahlin, president of the Idaho Chukar Foundation. “It is a bird hunting destination and an essential winter area for the famed King Hill mule deer hunt. It is worthy of protections that help wildlife and sportsmen.”
These popular public lands in central and western Idaho help fuel the state’s $7.8-billion outdoor recreation economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land. These include IDFG Hunting Units 39, 43, 44, and 45.
“The Bennett Hills are an important hunting destination just a short drive from Boise and Twin Falls,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. “The BLM has an opportunity to do right by sportsmen and businesses through the resource management plan, and we are depending on the agency to incorporate measures in the final plan that will safeguard one of our best backcountry hunting areas near Mountain Home.”