Randall Williams

June 3, 2019

BLM’s Draft Management Plan Should Reflect Sportsmen’s Priorities

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.”

 

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Randall Williams

BLM’s Proposed Plans for SE Oregon Should Reflect Stakeholder Recommendations

Proposal to balance management of important public lands is among the various options in the draft plan but is not at the top of BLM’s list

Today the Bureau of Land Management released the draft Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan amendment that – when finalized –will guide land management decisions for more than 4.6 million acres of public lands in southeast Oregon over the next 20 years or more. This plan amendment has been underway since 2010 and will determine management on some of Oregon’s most scenic and recreationally important public lands overseen by the BLM’s Vale District office within the Owyhee and Malheur River country.

This is a significant step in the planning process and will help determine how and if habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and development are balanced on BLM land. In the draft plan the BLM proposes a variety of options for management and names one preferred alternative. In this case, the agency’s preferred path does not resemble recommendations made by the BLM’s own Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council (RAC), a group of 15 individuals selected by the BLM with diverse backgrounds who worked together for more than 5 years to develop recommendations for the plan.

“A broad-based BLM advisory group rolled up their sleeves to create a well-rounded alternative within the Southeast Oregon RMP amendment, but their recommendations are not reflected in the preferred alternative of the draft RMP amendment,” says Michael O’Casey, Oregon field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We ask that the BLM honor this stakeholder process and adopt a balanced alternative in the final plan that conserves special places from development, while providing for access, habitat restoration, and ranching to continue.”

Popular public lands in eastern Oregon help fuel the state’s $2.5-billion fish and wildlife-based economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land. The Vale District manages most of the public lands within the Beulah (65), Malheur River (66), Owyhee (67) and Whitehorse (68) hunting units.

“Oregon’s Owyhee region is a critically important hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation destination,” says Karl Findling, owner of Oregon Pack Works and conservation lands director for the Oregon Hunters Association. “The BLM has an opportunity to do right by sportsmen and businesses and we are depending on them to incorporate measures in the final plan that will safeguard some of the best hunting areas in the state.”

“The BLM has an opportunity to safeguard some of Oregon’s best hunting areas and wildlife habitat through these land-use plans, and do it in a balanced way,” says Tristan Henry, board member with the Oregon chapter of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “It’s a potential win-win for the varied wildlife we love to pursue, and will help ensure that our valued hunting heritage, outdoor traditions, and way of life can be enjoyed by future generations “

Now that the draft is published, the public has 90 days to make comments and have their voice heard. “Sportsmen and other stakeholders will continue to weigh in as these planning processes move forward,” continued O’Casey. “We hope the BLM will listen.”

 

Photo: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington via Flickr

Marnee Banks

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posted in: Highlights

May 20, 2019

Rinella, Yablonski, and Hamby Join the TRCP Leadership Team

Leading conservation nonprofit welcomes three new Board members

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to announce that three experienced and noteworthy outdoorsmen will be joining its Board of Directors.

Steven Rinella, Brian Yablonski, and Terry Hamby all share a passion for the critical role that hunters and anglers play in strengthening conservation.

“We are pleased to welcome these three sportsmen to the Board,” said Katie Distler, TRCP Board Secretary and former Board Chair. “With their diverse expertise, influence, and savvy, we are strengthening our ability to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.”

Steven Rinella is the host of the Netflix original series MeatEater and The MeatEater Podcast. He’s also the author of six books dealing with wildlife, hunting, fishing, and wild game cooking, including the bestselling MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler. Rinella started hunting as a child and never looked back. Following stints as a commercial trapper and professional fisherman, he began a career as an outdoor writer. Less concerned with trophies and killshots, Rinella’s work largely focuses on the culture, process, and history of hunting and conserving wildlife and its habitat, as well as the linkage between hunting and food. Most importantly, he is known for his efforts to convey the value of hunting to a general audience and promote the work of conservation organizations and the importance of public land.

“The importance of groups like the TRCP to the future of our world and its wild places cannot be overstated,” said Rinella. “I’m honored to be part of an organization doing such great work and am eager to contribute to its efforts, which I’ve long admired.”

Brian Yablonski is the executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center, a 40-year-old market-based conservation research institute based in Bozeman, Montana. He recently served for fourteen years and two terms as chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and was the director of external affairs for Gulf Power Company. Previously, Yablonski also served as director of policy and deputy chief of staff for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Early in his career, Yablonski worked in the West Wing of the White House as a staff assistant to President George H.W. Bush, providing support directly to the president and his immediate office. President Bush named him White House Horseshoe Commissioner. An avid outdoorsman, Yablonski splits his time between Bozeman and a cabin in Emigrant, Montana, where he enjoys hiking, hunting, fly fishing, and skiing.

“Hunters and anglers are the backbone of American conservation, and the TRCP serves as their bipartisan voice to ensure the legacy of our sporting tradition continues,” said Yablonski. “I am excited to be part of an organization that brings people together and works across the aisle on behalf of conservation.”

Terry Hamby is a fifth-generation soldier and a Vietnam veteran. After his retirement from the U.S. Army Reserves, he founded a company that provides complex logistic and support services to the U.S. armed forces in the Far East, Middle East, Africa, Central America, and United States. A Kentucky native, he is a life member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and continues to lobby Congress with a private citizens group on military readiness and quality-of-life issues for service members and their families. Hamby is currently the chair of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, created by Congress to educate Americans about the sacrifices of 4.7 million WWI veterans and memorialize their service by designing and constructing a national memorial in the nation’s capital.

“I want to do my part to leave creation better than I enjoyed it all my life and preserve it for our great grandchildren to enjoy,” said Hamby. “By serving on the TRCP Board of Directors, we can truly make a difference for the next generation of sportsmen and women.”

See TRCP’s full Board roster here.

Randall Williams

May 16, 2019

BLM’s Proposed Plans for Montana Public Lands Should Reflect Sportsmen’s Priorities

Plans to conserve popular elk hunting destinations are among the various options in the draft plans, but not at the top of BLM’s list

Today the Bureau of Land Management released draft plans that – when finalized – will guide land management decisions for more than 800K acres of public lands over the next 20 years or more. This includes some of Montana’s most scenic and recreationally important public lands overseen by the agency’s Lewistown and Missoula field offices.

This is a key step in a public process of land-use planning, which helps determine how habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and development are balanced in a particular area. The BLM proposes a variety of management options for a planning area and names one preferred alternative—in these plans, the agency’s preferred paths forward lack important measures that would conserve some of Montana’s best hunting areas.

Specifically, hunters, anglers, and other stakeholders have been calling for sportsmen-friendly conservation measures on intact and undeveloped lands with outstanding big game habitat in both the Missouri River Breaks as well as in the Garnet and John Long Ranges just east of Missoula.

“After an initial review of the two plans, we’re encouraged to see that conservation measures for key backcountry hunting areas are among the options, but it is disappointing that they were left out of the BLM’s preferred alternative,” says Scott Laird, Montana field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “At the start of these processes, the BLM received reasonable proposals to conserve some of Montana’s finest elk and deer country—measures that had broad buy-in and support from the governor’s office, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council, timber interests, local business owners, and public land users of all kinds. We now ask that the BLM adopt sportsmen-oriented management for our best hunting areas in the final Missoula and Lewistown plans.”

Numerous outdoor-related businesses and conservation organizations support revising the two Resource Management Plans to better serve the interests of Montana’s hunters and other outdoor recreationists. “The Garnet Range is an often overlooked but important hunting destination just a short drive from Missoula and other surrounding communities,” says Casey Smith, owner of Straight6Archery in Missoula. “The BLM has an opportunity to do right by sportsmen and businesses through the Missoula resource management plan, and we are depending on them to incorporate measures in the final plan that will safeguard our best backcountry hunting areas near Chamberlain and Marcum Mountains.”

Popular public lands in central and western Montana help fuel the state’s $7.1-billion outdoor recreation economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land. These include Montana FWP Hunting Districts 410, 412, 417, 426, 281, 291, 292, and 298.

“The BLM has an opportunity to safeguard some of Montana’s best hunting areas and wildlife habitat through these land-use plans, and do it in a balanced way,” says John Borgreen, a Great Falls-area hunter who has been engaged in local conservation efforts for more than 45 years. “It’s a potential win-win for the varied wildlife we love to pursue, and will help ensure that our valued hunting heritage, outdoor traditions, and way of life can be enjoyed by future generations.”

“Sportsmen and other stakeholders will continue to speak up as these planning processes move forward, and we hope the BLM will listen,” says Laird. “We are talking about common-sense management provisions that would benefit our sporting traditions and wildlife habitat, while providing the flexibility to manage for other uses of these lands. It should be a slam dunk for the agency.”

 

Photo: Charlie Bulla

Randall Williams

May 14, 2019

Sportsmen Applaud Senate Committee for Considering Ruby Mountain Protection Act

Hunters and anglers call for swift passage of this critical public lands legislation

The Sportsmen for the Rubies, a coalition of 14 hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation groups representing thousands of individual sportsmen and women, expressed appreciation for a subcommittee hearing Tuesday on the Ruby Mountain Protection Act (S.258). This development, which took place in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining, marks the first progression for the bill since its introduction by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

If passed into law, the act would conserve Nevada’s Ruby Mountains by permanently withdrawing from oil and gas exploration 450,000 acres in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Ruby Mountain Ranger District.

“Hunters, anglers, and a wide array of stakeholder groups have been vocal supporters of the bill from its inception,” said Joel Webster, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Western Lands. “The Ruby Mountains, known as the Swiss Alps of Nevada, contain some of the region’s finest outdoor opportunities and serve as the foundation of a $165 million outdoor recreation economy in Elko County.”

Last week, the Sportsmen for the Rubies coalition sent a letter to the committee chair and ranking member, urging a speedy vote on the bill so that it can proceed to the Senate floor.

The groups highlighted the importance of the area as fish and wildlife habitat in addition to its tremendous economic value as a recreational destination. The Ruby Mountains are home to a number of unique species such as the Lahontan cutthroat trout and the Himalayan snowcock, as well as Nevada’s largest mule deer herd.

“The Rubies are an incredible fish and wildlife resource as well as an economic engine for rural Nevada, said Pam Harrington, Nevada field coordinator with Trout Unlimited. “We are pleased the Nevada delegation is working with the sportsmen’s community to protect the Rubies.”

“Sportsmen and women throughout Nevada appreciate the subcommittee’s timely hearing on this bill,” said Tom Smith, the vice president of the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife. “We hope that leadership will commit to a markup and move this legislation to the floor for passage, so that future generations can enjoy the Ruby Mountains as we do today.”

 

Photo: USDA Intermountain Forest Service via Flickr

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