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November 19, 2015

The Crown Jewels of Sportsmen’s Country Are Mule Deer, Elk, and Trout

From river breaks to high mesas, and from sage coulees to semi-arid mountain ranges, America’s 245 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands are some of the best places to hunt and fish remaining on the planet. Sportsmen and women in the West depend on publicly-accessible, healthy BLM lands to produce quality big game, robust fisheries, and sustainable opportunities for recreation.

These lands are Sportsmen’s Country—and it’s your turn to weigh in on how they are managed:

Image courtesy of Coby Tigert.

The Idaho High Divide is possibly the most unique and important public landscape in North America. This awe-inspiring terrain in eastern Idaho provides connectivity for species dependent on large landscapes and critical habitat for fish and wildlife species that are valued by sportsmen. Opportunity is incredibly diverse here: Hunters can pursue deer, elk, black bears, mountain lions, pronghorns, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats, while anglers can land grayling in high-mountain lakes and cutthroat trout, steelhead, Chinook salmon, and sturgeon in the mighty Salmon River.

Oregon’s Beulah Wildlife Management Unit contains Westfall and Beulah buttes in Eastern Oregon, and hunters and anglers come from all over to experience the high-quality hunting and solitude here. Of course, year-round Beulah WMU is an Oregonian’s playground. During 2010’s mule deer season, rifle hunters enjoyed a 53-percent success rate, harvesting 1,348 deer, but these are popular hunting grounds for archery hunters in pursuit of elk, as well.

Then, of course, in the heart of Oregon lies the mighty Deschutes River. This major tributary of the Columbia River on the east side of the Cascade Range wanders north through basalt cliff canyons and offers world-class trout fishing for anyone who chooses to reach the river canyon through public land.

Image courtesy of Coby Tigert.

New Mexico’s Otero Mesa provides excellent habitat and hunting opportunities for mule deer, Barbary sheep, bighorn sheep, and the state’s only remaining native pronghorn antelope herds. A large portion—about 1.2 million acres of public land—is managed by the BLM, and a resource management plan (RMP) is currently in development for the area. Now is the time to speak up for this complex ecosystem featuring many native plants and more than 1,000 other species of wildlife.

Northwest Colorado is home to the largest elk herd in North America and elk hunting is a huge part of the state’s identity. Even with a booming population and trophy bulls being harvested year after year, demand is so high for public lands elk hunts in this part of the state that it can take up to 20 years to draw a license.

Not too far away, the Piceance Basin ‘mule deer factory,’ the second-largest mule deer herd in North America, has been in decline in recent years, due to development pressures and more roads weaving through the core of the population’s range. Sportsmen continue to cherish the large bucks being produced in this area and are intimately involved in decisions being made about mule deer habitat to help ensure that this herd remains healthy for generations to come.

Image courtesy of Nick Payne.

The Arkansas River valley remains a crucial area for fish and wildlife and a haven for sportsmen in central Colorado, providing opportunities for bird and big game hunting and world-class wild trout fishing. Even more prized by sportsmen in this valley are its Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Each year, a few luck hunters have the opportunity to pursue them in a mostly-intact and undeveloped backcountry setting—factors that are known to produce the hunt of a lifetime.

Thousands of sportsmen flock to South Park every year from the Front Range and around the country to fish the gold-medal waters of the South Platte River drainage. Great fishing access on several of these streams and rivers would not be possible without the surrounding federal public lands, state lands, and cooperation between private landholders and various land management agencies. The stretch of the South Platte known as the Dream Stream is well-known by flyfisherman across the country for consistently producing large brown and rainbow trout.

Want to contact your lawmakers and stand up for your favorite public lands? You can do it in just a few clicks—starting with this one.

8 Responses to “The Crown Jewels of Sportsmen’s Country Are Mule Deer, Elk, and Trout”

  1. Victor Krieger

    I concur, we are seeing too much of this between the BLM and Forest Service. These are our lands and are meant for us to use . I’m not talking about making new roads and trails, just keep open what is already out there. It seems that their goal is to lock us out of our lands!

  2. Neil Long

    Historically, grants of public lands have been generously granted to private companies to expand across the continental US to entice expansion. Great wealth was transferred to these companies by Congress. Government serves a purpose for the people, and should no longer assist corporations in this endeavor. These proposals by the BLM and USFS to deny access to public lands is beyond incredible and amounts to a ‘lockout’ because they believe that their bureaucracies are the only entities capable of land use decisions. We all know through experience they are the least qualified to ensure preservation of public lands and public usage. For future generations block this initiative.

  3. Neil Long

    Furthermore, in Northern California I have personally witnessed the gross incompetence of the US Forest Service in fire fighting and scheduled burns gone horribly wrong specifically due to their unbelievable inability to make ‘common sense’ decisions regarding whether to proceed or stop pending well known disastrous conditions; the result, Multi-millions of casualty losses ultimately paid by taxpayers. I’d really like to know what in the hell they actually do to earn a living as well as do it correctly?

  4. Neil Long

    Interestingly, I am under the impression that public lands are owned by the citizens of this Country to enjoy and use. Under what authority does Congress have a right to sell any public lands without a voter referendum?

  5. Neil Long

    In the RMEF January-February 2016 Bugle magazine issue on pg. 33 is an exceptional article written by Jack Ward Thomas, retired Chief of the Forest Service (penned in 1996) that is very relevant today regarding “Who should own public lands?” Please take the time to read this article. It has changed my ignorance and perception about the Forest Service and the BLM.

  6. bombastic bob

    Mr. Long you need to take a deep breath, the Bundy”s want to take your land away from you and you need to realize that these people are not your friends.. When the USFS and BLM are properly funded you will notice addition management and service, the the current attitude in congress is to starve the land management agencies into making bad decisions such as in fire fighting. Tell your congressman to fund the BLM and Forest Service and you will see any improvement.. Let the Bundy’s take over and you have no public land.. If you can drive there, the hunting is probably no good, from a hunter for over 40 years.

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Sportsmen’s Act Moves One Step Closer to Senate Floor – and to Improving Your Access

The bipartisan package of bills would prioritize recreation on federal lands and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance S.556, “The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015,” which would protect and enhance public access for hunting, fishing, and target-shooting on federal lands. The legislative package would require federal land managers to consider how management plans affect opportunities to engage in hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting and that the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service keep lands open to these activities. The bill also includes reauthorization of two key conservation programs.

Image courtesy of National Parks.

“Lack of access is one of the major barriers to sustaining our uniquely American heritage of hunting and fishing—one that powers local economies and provides local jobs,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, who testified before the committee in support of the Sportsmen’s Act back in March. “We’re eager to see this legislation move forward and empower our federal land managers to make these assurances for the next generation of sportsmen and women.”

The Act mandates that, barring an emergency, publicly accessible hunting, fishing, and shooting areas cannot be closed without consultation of state fish and wildlife agencies or public notice. “For recreational fishermen, guides, and outfitters who drive spending in their local communities, the weather and water conditions can be unpredictable—but access to public waterways and boat ramps shouldn’t be,” says Ben Bulis, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. Other provisions would allow the vehicular transport of safely secured bows and crossbows within federal parks and promote the use of volunteer hunters for wildlife management.

First introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Martin Heinrich in February 2015, the legislation also deals with reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act.

“It is just as important to uphold the public’s ability to access key lands and waters as it is to conserve them, so we thank Committee Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell for including compromise language for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of our nation’s most popular and successful conservation programs, in the bill,” says Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 is a path forward for funding conservation programs that enhance fish and wildlife habitat and secure public access for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. We appreciate the committee’s commitment to advancing their portion of this important legislation.”

Hunting, fishing, and conservation groups are calling for both chambers to make floor time for a comprehensive sportsmen’s package as soon as possible, and certainly before the end of the 114th Congress.


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November 17, 2015

Meet our next #PublicLandsProud contest judge: Bryan Huskey

Bryan Huskey is a photographer and filmmaker in Boise, Idaho inspired by the mountains, rivers, and skies of the Northwest. His photography often features intimate macro and fine details of trout and steelhead along with paused moments during the pursuit of fresh sign and lofting bugles in the high country. His fly fishing, archery elk and big game hunting films have been favorites of the Fly Fishing Film Tour, Full Draw Film Tour, and Hunting Film Tour. Recent works have turned to habitat conservation and stream restoration projects in Idaho. Bryan is also the originator of the popular “Keep ’em wet” hashtag/slogan, and founder of Keepemwet Fishing.

From now through November 23, Huskey is guest judging your best big-game photos for this round of the #PublicLandsProud photo contest. He’s looking for a winning photo that calls the viewer into the moment, so make sure your big-game moments beckon!

Image courtesy of Bryan Huskey.

TRCP: So, Bryan, how do you like to spend your time outside?

Huskey: I enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities that are very important to me. From fly fishing trout and steelhead to archery hunting elk, adventure motorcycling and racing to mountain biking and trail running, throughout the entire year these activities overlap and keep me busy. 

TRCP: What makes a great photo of day spent afield chasing big game? What will you be looking for in winning photo?

Huskey: Any number of things make for great photos, and great images don’t need to come from great cameras. Images that capture any form of emotional expression or mood are my favorite. That may or may not include a person in the shot. Sometimes landscape photos can possess this quality, a calling to the viewer, an invitation to imagine what it would be like to be standing in the photographers shoes in that moment. Where would our next step take us if we were in those shoes? What would we expect to see if we looked to the left or right? What’s about to happen next? I like moments like these that engage us to crawl into that moment, escape the computer screen we’re looking at now, and be there in that place! 

Image courtesy of Bryan Huskey.

TRCP: What makes you #PublicLandsProud?

Huskey: With each passing year I become more aware of just how important public lands are. They really do shape the lifestyles so many of us enjoy. Intact swaths of public land shape communities, both short- and long-term with the kinds of jobs they support and the culture of how those lands are managed. I’m #publiclandsproud every time I’m out enjoying areas that exist because of the wisdom, foresight, and hard work by  individuals and groups in the past who have established the very conditions for quality public land. Priceless resources for the entire public to keep and call their own. 

Show us your #PublicLandsProud moment and you could be featured on our blog and win a new pair of Costa sunglasses and a copy of Steven Rinella’s new book, The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game.   


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Glassing the Hill: November 16 – 20

The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress

The Senate and House are both in session this week.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

More money, more… well, you know the rest. Last week, the Senate passed the first of twelve appropriations bills, the Military Construction and Veterans Affair Appropriation. This is the first step towards the creation of a Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus appropriations package from Senate and House leaders before the December 11 shutdown deadline, but spending priorities are only half the battle. Controversial riders, including those that could undermine the Clean Water Act, Clean Power Plan, and the Endangered Species Act, could threaten the path forward for a funding bill.

Now is the time to tell your lawmakers what is important to sportsmen, including clean water, conservation funding programs, healthy fish and wildlife habitat, and access to public lands. That’s why the TRCP and 27 partners sent this letter  to House and Senate appropriators today.

A Senate panel will vote Thursday on the “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015,” which would improve access for hunting, fishing, and shooting on federal public lands. The legislation is considered popular. Dozens of other public-land and water bills are also on the docket for that hearing.

And keep your eye on the Highway Trust Fund—its short-term extension expires Friday and conferees from both chambers met today to begin negotiating the long-term packages each has passed. A conference agreement could come up this week, but the House is planning on passing another short extension, in case the conference doesn’t wrap up in time, especially with adjournment for the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.

What We’re Tracking

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

  • International negotiations on climate, in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing
  • The Land and Water Conservation Fund, to be discussed in a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Chairman Bishop’s (R-UT) legislation to reform the expired program

Thursday, November 19, 2015

  • Energy regulations, in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Well Control Rule and other offshore oil and gas production regulations



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November 12, 2015

See the Wet-Nosed, Waggly-Tailed Winning Photos That Make Us #PublicLandsProud

We know there’s nothing better than seeing your dog retrieve ducks in the marsh, hold a point in the brush, investigate the trail ahead, or curl up next to you after a long, cold sit in a treestand. Having a great gun dog by your side makes for a better outdoor experience—and we’d argue that having access to millions of acres of public lands does the same.

So, thank you to everyone who submitted pictures of their furry, four-legged friends for the latest round of our #PublicLandsProud photo contest, which continues to help us highlight the value of our uniquely American public lands heritage. Here are the three shots that our guest judge, wildlife photographer Bill Buckley, chose from weeks’ worth of fantastic canine contenders:

First Place: Instagrammer b_rio802

“This image has great light, color, and a perfect catch light in the shorthair’s eyes,” says Buckley. “The hand holding the rainbow trout leads right to the dog’s face in a wonderful example of great composition. Perhaps best of all, this shot shows that hard-running pointing dogs also make perfect fishing companions. I loved this picture!”

First Runner-up: Instagrammer wildrums.media

“I love the perspective of this shot: low, from the dog’s viewpoint, with an interesting sky and environment,” says Buckley. “Rich in detail and color, the underneath of the pheasant’s tail against the dog’s fur really grabs my attention. If only the dog’s head was turned slightly toward the camera, enough to show one eye!”

Second Runner-up: Instagrammer upland_ish


“I can’t help smiling every time I view this image! I think it’s a familiar scene for anyone who’s owned a bird dog that can’t get enough of birds, even the dead ones inside a hunting vest,” says Buckley. “To me this captures, in a funny way, a bird dog’s intensity. Brings me back to when my last pointer was young!”

Submit your best big game photos for the next round of our photo contest! You could win a new pair of Costa sunglasses, a copy of Steven Rinella’s lastest book, or even our grand prize—a Yeti cooler packed with great swag. Keep showing us what makes you #PublicLandsProud, and we’ll continue to protect your access to quality fish and wildlife habitat.



Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

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