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June 7, 2016

ARIZONA’S COCONINO COUNTY OPPOSES EFFORTS TO TRANSFER FEDERAL PUBLIC LANDS TO THE STATE

News for Immediate Release

Jun. 07, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Board of Supervisors supports sportsmen’s access and local economies over short-term economic gain

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Today, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution formally opposing wholesale efforts to transfer America’s public lands to the state of Arizona or local governments. The vote was held amid efforts by an Arizona State Legislature committee to examine processes for transferring or disposing of public lands within the Grand Canyon State.

The final resolution recognizes that:
• Tourism related to federal public lands and recreational amenities accounts for more than $1.1 billion in annual economic impact in Coconino County, 40 percent of which is comprised of federal public lands.
• Coconino County has productive and effective working relationships with local, state, and federal partners that have allowed for collaborative development and implementation of critical initiatives, such as the response to the 2010 Shultz Flood, the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Program, and the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.
• Arizona currently lacks an adequate budget to fully support and manage its own state lands, including state parks, forests, and other areas—the state often relies on federal support for wildfire and flood emergencies.
• There is broad consensus on the need to improve public land management and public access by focusing on effective and cooperative management of our federal public lands that includes the appropriate federal, state, tribal, county, and private agencies, plus other local stakeholders.

“Coconino County’s resolution positively recognizes and places value on our traditions of access, recreation, and the application of multiple-use principles on our public lands,” says Art Babbott,Coconino County commissioner for District 1. “It is clear that efforts to transfer or sell our public lands will negatively impact our citizens, communities, and the regional economy. Access and management of our Western landscapes would be significantly altered if the state government attempts to take control of these public assets.”

The resolution emphasizes that the state does not have the financial resources to responsibly manage public lands—and sportsmen’s groups agree. “While federal land management certainly isn’t perfect, transferring these public lands to the state is not a viable solution, especially considering that the vast majority of Arizona sportsmen and women depend on public lands for hunting and fishing,” says John Hamill, Arizona field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Arizona simply does not have the funds to maintain roads and recreation facilities, prevent and fight wildfires, restore damaged wildlife habitat, and enforce laws or prevent abuses. Ultimately, the state would be left with no choice other than to sell these lands, which, once privatized, would be off-limits to hunters and anglers forever.”

County support for public lands has been crucial at a time when the state legislature is considering a study of land transfer. “Coconino County appreciates the importance of federal public lands to the citizens of our state,” says Tom Mackin, the Regional Director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “In 2012, voters here and throughout Arizona overwhelmingly rejected the idea of transferring ownership of public lands to the state by a two-to-one margin. Today the Board of Supervisors recognized this fact and affirmed that the latest attempt to circumvent the loud voice of public opinion is a bad idea.”

A growing number of Western counties in states like Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado have recently taken formal positions to oppose the sale or transfer of national public lands. To learn more about the land transfer movement across the country, visit sportsmensaccess.org.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

May 24, 2016

IDAHO’S BLAINE COUNTY OPPOSES TRANSFER OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS TO THE STATE

News for Immediate Release

May. 24, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Board of Commissioners supports sportsmen’s access and outdoor recreation spending over short-term economic gain

HAILEY, Idaho — In a meeting yesterday, the Blaine County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to formally oppose efforts to transfer or sell America’s public lands to the state of Idaho or local governments.

Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said the resolution highlights the value of public lands to county residents and supports every American’s ability to hunt, fish, and benefit from a public lands system that is the envy of the world.

“We want that message to be crystal clear,” said Schoen. “Stakeholder groups in Blaine County have worked collaboratively, openly, and productively with the federal agencies for years on a range of issues to protect these resources and improve public access, management, and outcomes.”

The county’s resolution recognizes the importance of public lands for:
–  Providing fish and wildlife with habitat, while offering opportunities for outdoor recreation—including hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife-watching, horseback riding, and bicycling—that is essential to residents’ quality of life.
–  Attracting outdoor recreation tourism that drives local spending and employs hundreds of county residents.
–  Preserving historically significant and irreplaceable cultural sites and landscapes.

Public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service comprise 62 percent of Idaho and 78 percent of Blaine County. These areas are cherished for their top-notch fisheries, beautiful open landscapes, and exceptional wildlife habitat, says Joel Webster, Western lands director at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “There’s no doubt that the county is doing the right thing for its residents, and all Americans, by supporting one of our nation’s greatest treasures—our public lands.”

First Lite is a growing leader in the hunting world, and a growing outdoor business in the Wood River Valley,” said Ryan Callaghan, the hunting apparel manufacturer’s director of conservation public relations. “We have grown from an office of two to 14 employees since 2012, and I think we owe a great deal of our business to the simple fact that American outdoorsmen have so much access to public lands. We are certainly grateful that the commissioners are willing to formally oppose efforts that would take away that privilege here in Idaho.”

A growing number of Western counties in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona have recently taken formal positions to oppose the sale or seizure of America’s public lands. To learn more or take action, visit sportsmensaccess.org.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

May 18, 2016

House Passes Dangerous Sage-Grouse Rider in Defense Bill

 

State and federal progress to keep iconic Western gamebird off endangered species list could be undone by Congress

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act. Contained in this ‘must-pass’ legislation that funds America’s military readiness was language that would force the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to abandon successful sage-grouse conservation plans. These federal plans resulted from years of collaboration and millions of taxpayer dollars that successfully kept the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species Act list.

“Sportsmen across the country are very disappointed with the House’s action to play politics with our national defense by inserting unrelated and detrimental language about sage-grouse conservation into the bill,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “If language contained in the House bill were to become law, it would throw into question decades of statutory precedent, scores of environmental laws, and the subsequent legal decisions around those laws. This legislation is a Trojan horse for transferring public lands to the states and stands to have lasting repercussions beyond curtailing conservation efforts in sagebrush country.”

Opponents of the 2015 conservation victory would rather see state-developed plans implemented instead. The shift in management, elimination of judicial review, and long-term delay of any future listing decision erodes the implementation of bedrock conservation statutes—such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. While many of the 11 western state plans are good, some do not fully address threats to sage-grouse and need to be complimented by federal plans.

“Success for the greater sage-grouse was achieved in 2015 through the combination of strong conservation plans on federal public lands, coupled with state conservation plans and voluntary efforts from private landowners,” said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute. “Future success depends heavily on immediate and consistent implementation of all these combined efforts. Congressional efforts to eliminate federal plans would negate effectiveness of all efforts and result in a waste of both state and federal funds expended to date.”

“We are disappointed to see this effort by the House to snatch defeat from the jaws of a victory that has already been achieved,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. “The eleven western states, federal agencies, and private landowners must continue with their unprecedented efforts to conserve and manage sage-grouse. Congress simply needs to fund implementation of these combined efforts, especially private landowner efforts to conserve sage-grouse and 350 other sagebrush-dependent species.”

Sportsmen organizations continue to communicate to lawmakers that the best thing they can do for sage-grouse is ensure that adequate funding goes toward implementation of federal plans, that necessary resources go to the states, and that private lands conservation continues. If implemented, these plans would be a windfall for habitat of species like mule deer and pronghorns, not to mention a boon to sportsmen. Undoing those conservation plans might be the best way to ensure a listing—bad news for just about everyone.

The Senate is expected to consider their version of the NDAA—which currently does not include the detrimental sage-grouse provisions – sometime next week. “This issue has no link to military readiness and it’s simply playing politics to suggest otherwise,” continued Fosburgh. “Our community looks forward to working with the Senate to ensure that these provisions to undermine sage-grouse conservation are kept out of their version of the legislation.”

May 12, 2016

WATER CONSERVATION FUNDING IN SENATE SPENDING BILL WILL BENEFIT RIVERS AND FISH

News for Immediate Release

May. 12, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Increased funding will go to proactive, collaborative projects that leave water in the river for fish and wildlife, with new aid available for drought-stressed areas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Senate passed a bill that sets funding levels for energy and water development and includes increased investments in conservation that would benefit fish, wildlife, riparian habitat, and sportsmen, especially in drought-stricken states.

In a victory for sportsmen, the bill did not include a rider to block the Clean Water Rule, which will restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands that are critical for fish and the majority of the country’s waterfowl. The Senate rejected Sen. Hoeven’s attempt to add the rider in late April.

“Hunters and anglers understand the essential nature of clean water and healthy river systems as well as the threats posed by drought and falling water levels,” says Jimmy Hague, director of the Center for Water Resources with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Senate’s investments in water conservation will bring about tangible benefits for all species, improve our days afield, and begin to restore balance to the wild places we cherish.”

Senators voted to match the president’s request for critical funding in the WaterSMART Program, operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. With $24 million available for WaterSMART Grants, projects can move forward that leave more water in our rivers for fish and wildlife. The appropriations bill also includes $100 million to help address Western drought issues, and increases the amount that can be spent on cooperative water conservation efforts for the benefit of the entire Colorado River system.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with drought, and Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Feinstein have wisely chosen to fund programs that will help us find adequate water for fish and rivers, as well as for farmers and cities,” says Steve Moyer, vice president of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. “We are also pleased by the amendment offered by Nevada Senators Reid and Heller, which will strengthen a new and promising effort to develop water solutions for the Colorado River basin.”

The House still needs to vote on its energy and water appropriations bill, which contains the harmful rider that would block the Clean Water Rule.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

BLM’S PLANNING RULE FOR PUBLIC LANDS WILL GIVE LOCALS MORE OF A VOICE, NOT LESS

News for Immediate Release

May. 12, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Stakeholders call on House subcommittee to support Planning 2.0 when county commissioners voice their concerns today

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sportsmen, Western landowners, and other public-lands stakeholders are expressing clear support for the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed land-use planning rule, dubbed “Planning 2.0,” as House lawmakers convene a May 12 oversight hearing to discuss county commissioner concerns about this revision to the planning process.

“We appreciate the careful and thoughtful approach BLM used in revising its planning regulations,” says Ed Shepard, president of the Public Lands Foundation, which represents a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience in public land management. “This rulemaking makes clear that the BLM, the public, and others have matured in their approach to planning, based on results achieved on the ground. It will be critical to garnering valuable public input.”

The effort to update how the agency creates Resource Management Plans (RMPs), which are the basis for every action and approved use of BLM-managed lands, represents the first substantial revision to the land-use planning process since 1983.

“Many Western landowners depend on BLM-managed public lands to make a living,” says Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance. “We believe that the BLM Planning 2.0 proposals are a positive step forward, because they would create more transparency and opportunity for public involvement when decisions are made about the management of our public lands. Enabling earlier and more meaningful participation by stakeholders in assessing resource values and management needs should result in higher quality information, better plans, and better outcomes.”

The proposed rule would also see that the BLM is planning at the landscape level to account for resources that span jurisdictional boundaries, like a mule deer herd that might migrate beyond the borders of a local BLM field office. “The agency should be able to take into account the landscape conditions, not just what they see inside the drawn lines on a map,” says Joel Webster, director of Western lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

According to the oversight hearing memo, some county commissioners are concerned that landscape-level planning will move decision making out of their communities, reducing their influence over the process. Yet, some commissioners have questioned the agency’s recent move to create additional opportunities for the public to comment, saying that it undermines their special cooperator status.

“If county and federal lawmakers are truly interested in creating better management of our public lands and increased community involvement on land-use decisions, they should be giving Planning 2.0 a big thumbs-up at this hearing,” says Webster. “The proposed revisions would increase public engagement and satisfaction with the use of our public lands, while also giving local, state, and tribal governments more chances to participate in BLM land management decisions.”

The comment period for the proposed BLM planning rule closes on May 25, and the final rule is expected to be published later this year. Many public lands stakeholder groups are encouraging their members to comment in support of the overarching principles of the proposed rule.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

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.

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