Rob Thornberry

June 17, 2019

Idahoans: Show Up and Speak Out for Public Lands

This is YOUR chance to play a role in how our public lands are managed and ensure that sportsmen and women have a say about the places where we love to hunt and fish

The Bureau of Land Management’s Four Rivers Field Office manages more than 780,000 acres of public lands across western Idaho from the Bennett Hills to the eastern shores of Brownlee Reservoir. These landscapes provide some of the finest hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities in western Idaho, as well as important habitat for big game, upland birds, and wild trout.

Currently, the BLM is revising its plan that will determine the future management of these lands for the next 20+ years, and public meetings are scheduled that offer an opportunity for the public to share their ideas directly to the BLM. Sportsmen and women must get involved to ensure that the best habitats are conserved and public access for hunting and fishing is maintained.

Please attend one of four local public meetings and make your voice heard – meeting dates, locations, and times, as well as suggested talking points are listed below.

Where and when

Public meetings (All meetings run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.)
June 18: Boise District Office 3948 S Development Avenue, Boise ID 83705
June 25: Weiser High School 690 W Indianhead Rd, Weiser, ID 83672
June 26: Emmett Junior High School 301 E 4th St, Emmett, ID 83617
June 27: Mountain Home Junior High School 1600 E 6th S St, Mountain Home, ID 83647

Suggested talking points

• It is important to me that the Four Rivers BLM Field Office’s RMP revision conserve valuable big game winter range and popular hunting areas. The BLM should adopt a Backcountry Conservation Area for the Bennett Hills that would conserve valuable big game range, sustain sportsmen’s access, and prioritize habitat restoration for one of Idaho’s best mule deer hunting areas.

• I encourage the BLM to identify places where public access acquisition should be a priority, including the creation of access to public lands that are landlocked or difficult to access because there are few or no access points across private land that enable the public to reach BLM lands.

• I request that the BLM take steps to ensure the conservation of identified big game migration corridors and winter range. This should include not only conserving corridors that have already been mapped and analyzed by Idaho Fish and Game, but also migration corridors that will be mapped in the future.

4 Responses to “Idahoans: Show Up and Speak Out for Public Lands”

  1. Douglas Bair

    All Blm that is land locked should have access point marked by sign where to enter and protected for future generations ! Idaho is growing in population very rapidly Idahoans need all the space we can get to recreate ,hunt ,fish ,camp ,hike,many other activities. So all blm lands should have access to every inch of land with reasonable access for all people as well as forest service land ,state land any other public land no land owner should be able to block access for any reason period

  2. John Leavell

    How do I find out more information and support from afar as I’m in the field fighting fire. As a native Idahoan, I have explored most of these remote areas all over the owyhees, Bennett’s, cascades and much of area in question.

    I also have a lot of contacts in older generation who votes and will be active but is behind on social media.

    Thank you for your work!

  3. I contacted our state representative Christy Zito regarding the Wilks brothers blocking another forest access road and why they killed Senate bill 1089. She seemed to be unaware that the bill even existed but was supportive of holding BLM and forest service accountable and said they were the greatest perpetrators of blocking access. I shared this post with her and asked if she would attend the Mountain Home meeting. I intend to be there as well. Hopefully we see her there too!

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Kristyn Brady

June 14, 2019

In the Arena: George and Amidea Daniel

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

George and Amidea Daniel

Hometown: Beech Creek, Pennsylvania
Occupation: George – Flyfishing guide instructor
Amidea – Educational specialist for the PA Fish and Boat Commission
Conservation credentials: Spreading the gospel of flyfishing, the mental health benefits of the outdoors, and bringing balance to areas where a growing populations puts extra demands on water resources.

These high-school sweethearts have been married for nearly 18 years, but their commitment to the outdoors runs just as deep. George says flyfishing is his life, and he spends close to 280 days on the water, while also serving as a coach for the U.S. Youth Flyfishing Team. In her work, Amidea leads a statewide initiative designed to promote and encourage more women to take up fishing. Oh, and that’s when they’re not busy raising two little water bugs of their own.

Here is their story.

George was born in Potter County, along the headwaters of Kettle Creek and started flyfishing at the age of six. Amidea was introduced to the outdoors by her father, who would take her and her brother out on camping trips at a very early age. So, both of us found a connection to the outdoors early on, which is why we spend so much time with our two children in the same capacity.

Collectively, our family has floated hundreds, maybe even a thousand miles, on our FlyCraft boats—in PA and throughout the country—especially when we first started taking our children fishing. It can be challenging and sometimes dangerous for a 5-year-old to wade, so our boats have taken us to waters they wouldn’t have been physically able to stand in.

One of our fondest memories is of taking our two children to Montana for the first time. We spent four full weeks exploring Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas, and from sun up to sundown, we were outside. The expressions on our kids’ faces as we drove through the park and witnessed all the wildlife and beautiful scenery is something we’ll never forget.

There’s a reason why we still live in central PA—it offers almost everything an angler could want. From freestone streams to legendary limestone rivers to the recovering West Branch of the Susquehanna, we have all our bases covered. Plus, we have so many miles of fishable water within a 30- to 90-minute drive from our home.

Clean water means everything in what we do. Trout, obviously one of our favorite species, demand high-quality water conditions, and without clean water, our angling opportunities would be reduced to a fraction of what we currently enjoy.

Most of our family activities revolve around the outdoors, and not having clean water and natural areas to access would have a negative impact on our lives. Technology and our smartphones can be wonderful, but we notice a difference in our mental health when we haven’t been outside for several days, either to walk, hike, float, or fish.

Numerous studies have shown the positive impacts of spending even 20 minutes in a natural environment. So, not only is conservation important to our planet, but we also feel it is imperative to Americans’ mental health and wellbeing.

In our area, development and urban sprawl are major concerns, especially because some of the aquifers that feed our limestone streams are also being tapped for drinking water. This may not be significant now, but eventually we may meet a threshold where we begin to see it having an obvious effect on our streams and water table.

Establishing a healthy balance, whether that’s between our indoor and outdoor lives or between increasing demands on our water resources, is crucial to the future of fishing and our family’s traditions.

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

June 7, 2019

In the Arena: Dave Rothrock

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Dave Rothrock

Hometown: Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Retired Social Security Administration official, flyfishing guide, writer, educator
Conservation credentials: Currently co-chair of the Trout Management Committee at the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. Previously served as council president and vice president, as well as a chapter president and officer.

For Dave Rothrock, picking up a fly rod as a boy was just the next natural step in a continued fascination with and pursuit of all things trout. He started tying flies before he even knew how to fish them, and he tells us that he still likes to photograph the bugs that trout like to eat. Rothrock’s most memorable fish encounter was his very first wild brown, which he landed after years of only having access to stockers, and it has ignited a lifelong commitment to clean water in Pennsylvania’s trout streams.

Here is his story.

I was set on my journey in the great world of the outdoors—from my first fish at the age of six to hunting for pheasants and deer—by my father. But really it was my love of trout that has made me what I am today. The wild trout fishing we have available here in Pennsylvania is arguably some of the best in the nation. Apparently, many others agree, since we have more trout anglers on the water throughout the year than any other state.

It was here that I caught my first wild brown trout. For about ten years I had only fished for hatchery-reared fish, but I was old enough to drive out to the Little Lehigh Creek in Allentown, Pa., for this trip. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on the 8-inch brownie that I had something special. Of course, back in the mid-1960s, I wasn’t familiar with catch and release as a concept, so all trout were harvested to be eaten. Wild trout were special in more ways than one!

These days, even though I have fished for trout from Michigan to Maine and Austria and Slovenia, I would choose my home state every time. (Maybe with a side trip to Maine for trophy brook trout—it’s the last remaining stronghold for native brookies here in the U.S.)

As a fanatic flyfisherman, and one who values wild trout over any other, I have come to realize that what I hold most dear would not exist without clean water. I have written about flies and flyfishing in numerous publications, and I enjoy guiding and teaching anglers of all skill levels with the goal of enabling them to be more effective and successful on the water. Clean water is the number one essential for any of this to be part of my life.

I was introduced to Trout Unlimited back in the earliest 1970s. It was at TU meetings that I first began to hear about conservation. I’ll confess I don’t remember any of what I heard at first, but it must have instilled in me this concept of giving back to something from which I’ve taken.

I also began to realize the connection between the trout I enjoyed catching and the need to protect the water they inhabit. I heard reports of streams holding more trout as a result of stream habitat improvements made by conservation-minded anglers and others. I learned that mayflies and brook trout, in particular, can help indicate the quality of the water and any trouble brewing.

Over the years I’ve tried to make good on my belief that I need to give back to the resource that provides me so much opportunity. It is only by so doing that we have the quality trout fishing that so many of us hold so dear.

The next generation of anglers recognizes the value of wild trout, and they are quick to point out weakness and flaws in management practices. Yet, when the opportunity arises for them to provide constructive input, or when a call goes out to help a stream in need, it seems they are nowhere to be found. I hope this starts to change.

Unless we see more young people taking an interest in fishing, to the point of being willing to speak up and take action when needed, the future of our traditions is in jeopardy.

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

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.”

 

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

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The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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