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August 16, 2019

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August 14, 2019

New Mexicans: Support Hunting and Fishing on Our 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 Forest Service is revising its plans for the Carson and the Santa Fe National Forests that will determine the future management of more than 3 million acres of public land in northern New Mexico, including the world-class fisheries of the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers. 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 a local public meeting in the next few weeks (see schedule below) and share your perspective as a public land user.

These events will offer updates on the planning process, allow the public to share their ideas and opinions on the draft plan, and explain ways for interested citizens to stay involved.

The best way to see that our priorities are included in the plans is to have a presence and provide input at these meetings. Meeting dates, locations, and times, as well as suggested talking points are listed below.

You can also comment on the Carson NF Plan here, and the Santa Fe NF Plan here.

Thank you for taking the time to support our public lands.

Suggested Talking Points:

  • Conservation of Big Game Migration Corridors and Seasonal Habitat: I request that the USFS take steps to ensure the conservation of identified big game migration corridors, winter and summer range. This should include not only conserving corridors that are known but have not been mapped and analyzed by New Mexico Department of Game & Fish, but also in ensuring that the Forest Plan Revision is able to conserve migration corridors that will be mapped in the future.
  • Public access: Public access is necessary for outdoor recreation. I encourage the USFS to identify opportunities to increase 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 USFS lands.

 

Santa Fe National Forest Plan
(Read the plan here)
 Meeting Location  Date   Time  Location
 Santa Fe  Tuesday, Aug. 20  2 – 6pm  Santa Fe Community College (this is a joint meeting with the Santa Fe, Carson, and Cibola National Forests)
 Jemez Pueblo  Wednesday, Aug. 21  6 – 8pm  Pueblo of Jemez Welcome Center (back building; formerly Walatowa Visitor’s Center), 7413 Highway 4
 Buena Vista Thursday, Aug. 22  6 – 8pm  Buena Vista Fire Department
Pecos Monday, Aug. 26 6 – 8pm Pecos High School (Boardroom)
Gallina Tuesday, Sept. 3 6 – 8pm Gallina Elementary
Rio Rancho Wednesday, Sept. 4 6 – 8pm Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue, 5301 Santa Fe Hills Blvd.
Cuba Thursday, Sept. 5 6 – 8pm Sandoval County Fairgrounds- Community Building, 37 Rodeo Rd.
Las Vegas Tuesday, Sept. 10 6 – 8pm NM Highlands University (student union building, Rm 321)
Santa Fe Wednesday, Sept. 11 6 – 8pm Santa Fe NF Headquarters, 11 Forest Lane
Los Alamos Monday, Sept. 23 6 – 8pm Mesa Public Library
Abiquiu Wednesday, Sept. 25 6 – 8pm Ghost Ranch (lower pavillion), 280 Private Drive

 

 

Carson National Forest Plan
(Read the plan here)
 Meeting Location  Date   Time  Address
 Santa Fe Tuesday, Aug. 20  2 – 6pm  Santa Fe Community College (this is a joint meeting with the Santa Fe, Carson, and Cibola National Forests)
Taos Wednesday, Aug. 21 12 – 2pm Carson NF Supervisor’s Office
Buena Vista Thursday, Aug. 22 6 – 8pm Buena Vista Fire Department
Canjilon Wednesday, Aug. 28 5 -7pm Canjilon Community Center
El Rito Wednesday, Aug. 28 1 – 3pm El Rito Ranger District Office
Bloomfield Thursday, Aug. 29 1 – 3pm Jicarilla Ranger District Office
Farmington Thursday, Aug. 29 5 – 7pm San Juan College
Tres Piedras Friday, Aug. 30 1 – 3pm Tres Piedras Ranger District Office
Red River Tuesday, Sept. 3 5 – 7pm Red River Convention Center
Peñasco Wednesday, Sept. 4 1 – 3pm Camino Real Ranger District Office
Peñasco Tuesday, Sept. 10 5 – 7pm Camino Real Ranger District Office
Questa Wednesday, Sept. 11 1 – 3pm Questa Ranger District Office
Canjilon Thursday, Sept. 12 1 – 3pm Canjilon Ranger District Office
El Rito Thursday, Sept. 12 5 – 7pm Northern NM College
Taos Tuesday, Sept. 17 4 – 7pm Sagebrush Inn (this will be a facilitated, topic-driven workshop)
Abiquiu Thursday, Sept. 19 6 – 8pm Ghost Ranch (lower pavillion), 280 Private Drive

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August 9, 2019

Failing to Modernize the Pittman-Robertson Act is Like Trying to Recruit Hunters With One Hand Tied Behind Your Back

The law that is broadly and affectionately known as PR ironically doesn’t allow state wildlife agencies to market hunting to a new generation of license buyers—the sportsmen and women we desperately need to keep funding conservation

By now, you probably know that every time you buy a hunting or fishing license and certain gear, you’re paying into a hugely successful system of conservation in America—where those of us who enjoy and take something from our natural resources also give back to fish and wildlife. You’re probably even aware of the two laws that made this happen: the Pittman-Robertson Act for hunting-related spending and the Dingell-Johnson Act for fishing-related spending.

[Need a refresher on all the biggest sources of federal conservation funding? We got you.]

But there’s a major difference between these policies that has become glaring as fishing participation has crept back up and hunting participation has taken a steep nosedive.

Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of hunters declined by 16 percent. Hunters spend fewer days afield and less money on equipment on average than they used to. In that same time period, 2.7 million more Americans started fishing, and spending on fishing equipment increased by more than 36 percent.

This could be because about $12 million in funds created by the Dingell-Johnson Act annually go toward national efforts to recruit, retain, and reactivate (R3) anglers. Meanwhile, no such provision is made in Pittman-Robertson.

Besides the next generation of sportsmen and women, state wildlife agencies have the most to lose if hunting and fishing participation declines, because many of these conservation-focused departments depend entirely on P-R and D-J dollars. But, as the laws are written, even a state department of natural resources with an excellent apprentice hunter program can’t so much as print up a poster to advertise it using P-R funding.

The ability to communicate with and educate the public about hunting is so much more important today than it was in the 1930s when this bill was written. At that time, more than half the country hunted or had access to someone who could likely show them how. This just isn’t the case anymore.

The Bottom Line

It’s time to modernize Pittman-Robertson and allocate just a small portion of its funds to R3 activities—the return on investment is likely to be millions of more active and engaged outdoorspeople paying into a conservation model that supports some of America’s greatest traditions. Failing to do so could create a conservation funding crisis like we’ve never seen before.

Legislation called Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (H.R. 877) has been reintroduced this Congress and debated in a House Natural Resources Committee hearing earlier this year. After the August recess, we need to move this bill forward without delay and before we lose lawmakers’ attention to the chaos that comes with an election year.

Have you seen state agency efforts to attract and educate new hunters that deserve more of a PR spotlight? Tell us in the comments.

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August 8, 2019

In the Arena: Doug Duren

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

Doug Duren

Hometown: Cazenovia, Wisconsin
Occupation: Site and land management consultant and contractor; part-time manager of a 400-acre family farm
Conservation credentials: Helped raise $5,500 and led the effort to provide six dumpsters for the proper disposal of deer bones and carcasses to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease in southwest Wisconsin. This kept an estimated 1,400 carcasses from being moved or disposed of in areas where CWD could infect other deer.
Conservation motto: “It’s not ours. It’s just our turn.”

Doug Duren has some stories, and you may have even heard a few. He’s a MeatEater podcast regular and good friend of Steven Rinella, but he’s also a lifelong conservationist who has lived closer to the land than many of us can say. In his neck of the woods, chronic wasting disease prevalence has been growing steadily, and Duren is concerned about the role that hunters are playing in the spread of this always-fatal deer disease.

That’s why he spearheaded a project with Hunt to Eat to raise enough funding to place six deer carcass disposal dumpsters across the region for the duration of the 2018 hunting season. (The brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen of a deer are the parts most likely to hold the prions responsible for CWD, and bringing carcasses home, to a deer processor, or left in a traditional gut pile could pass the disease on.)

We’re proud to showcase Duren’s incredible work and conservation ethos. Here’s his story.

The person who introduced me to hunting, fishing, and the outdoors was my father, Vincent Duren. But, growing up in Wisconsin farm country, outdoor activities of all sorts were just a part of our lives.

Cazenovia is built around an 80-acre mill pond where all the local kids swam and fished. The hilly terrain of the Driftless Area is filled with trout streams and the farms are a mix of fields, wetlands, and woodlands. So, in the late 1960s and 70s, when I was a kid, my friends and I spent much of our time—after our farm chores were done, that is—exploring, fishing, and hunting this area.

These days, if I could hunt or fish anywhere, I wouldn’t have to go very far. I still love the Driftless Area of the Midwest and all the hunting and fishing opportunities it has to offer. My family has lived in this very special place for five generations, and I feel very fortunate to spend my days working and hunting in this part of the world.

Honestly, it’s enough for me.

Up Close with a Grizzly

But I’ve been fortunate enough to make a lot of memories wherever I find myself in the outdoors. I’ll tell you about a recent one. First, it’s important to note that I’ve known Steve Rinella for a decade or so now, and he and I have become pretty good friends who hunt and fish together fairly often—both on and off camera. I’ve made a lot of friends through Steve and the folks on his crew are some of my favorite people in the world.

Recently, Steve asked me to go on an Alaska caribou hunting trip that would be filmed. I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We were joined on the trip by some of my favorite guys from the MeatEater crew: Janis Putelis, Chris Gill, Garrett Smith, and Brody Henderson. Also joining us on the trip was Mark Kenyon, a fellow Midwestern whitetail hunter.

And it turned out to be a series of amazing experiences: Driving through some amazing country. Pushing the weight limit of a Super Cub (much to the chagrin of the pilot.) Landing on what seemed like a postage-stamp-sized area in the alpine tundra. Seeing and being close to more than 5,000 caribou—never mind harvesting one of those amazing animals. The meals, the camaraderie, the incredible vistas, and even the weather couldn’t be beat.

The most amazing part of the trip for me was the encounter we had with a boar grizzly bear. It was the first evening, and we were all setting up camp, prepping gear for the next day, and settling in. Janis was looking for a good water source and was some distance away. Suddenly, I heard him yell, “Grizz!” from across the ridge, and we all stopped what we’re doing to look. Sure enough, there was a light-colored grizzly working its way up a ravine near our camp, eating blueberries “like he was angry at them,” as Steve says.

Photo by Garret Smith/@dirtmyth.

Steve and I walked over to the edge of the ravine with our binoculars to get a better look, and I was just dumbfounded by the beauty of it all. We were traded guesses at its age while tracking the bear as it worked its way up the ravine. Soon, I realized Steve was no longer at my side. A minute later was back with his .300 WinMag over his shoulder.

I said, “Well, clearly I’m in good hands, because I would have stood here like a dummy and watched that bear until he was on top of me.” Steve smiled and said we’d watch him a little bit more, but “we’ll have to let him know he’s not welcome here soon. If he wants to, he can cover the distance between us in a few seconds.”

We made some noise and tried to look as large as we could, to which the bear just stood up, regarded us with no expression, and then slowly wandered off. Even if nothing else happened on that trip, I would have gone home happy. The memory makes me smile with wonder and awe.

A Conservation Legacy

Conservation, too, has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. My family was in the timber and sawmill business for three generations, and the forest on our family farm has been sustainably managed for even longer than that.

I took a couple years off from college and worked for a reforestation company, traveling around with a bunch of other gypsies and hand-planting trees throughout the South. I went for the adventure, but that experience really showed me how important conservation was, no matter what I did or where I lived.

I also taught high school for a number of years in northern New Hampshire, where I worked on a trail maintenance crew in the White Mountains during the summers. The work was hard, the people were incredible, and I spent a lot of time in and caring for access to places that are awe inspiring.

I’ve worked in land management for nearly 30 years now, and conservation is one of the key elements and considerations in everything I do. There is such joy in it.

It’s from this perspective and with all this experience that I say chronic wasting disease is the biggest conservation challenge where I live. There are other concerns, like water quality, resource protections, and access issues, but nothing is as bigger crisis than CWD.

So, in 2018, the Adopt-a-Dumpster Program was born out of a need for proper deer carcass disposal in the CWD Endemic Area of southwest Wisconsin. The intent was to mitigate the spread of CWD by providing dumpster locations around the area where hunters could properly dispose of deer bones and carcasses, thus removing possible infected deer parts from the landscape. And in some cases, dumpsters were located at CWD testing locations.

Six dumpsters were fully funded for the 2018 hunting season, with partial funding provided for three other locations run and monitored by two organizations and one business. Throughout the season, we collected more than 39 tons’ worth of carcasses, and we learned valuable lessons that could help this effort expand.

We saw that our Adopt-a-Dumpster Program and other Adopt-a-Kiosk programs, because they involve and empower hunters and landowners, provide an opportunity for discussion and education about CWD and proper carcass disposal. This kind of interaction and advocacy is invaluable, especially as some efforts to control CWD get twisted to look like a loss of hunting rights.

Some areas were unable to secure a dumpster because there was not a solid waste provider in the region who was willing to take deer carcasses as part of their services or to their landfill. It would help if the Wisconsin State Legislature considered legislation requiring licensed landfills to accept and properly dispose of deer carcasses. Lawmakers could also allocate funding specifically for the disposal effort. A voluntary check-off box on deer license applications could be another source of dedicated funding for disposal.

Hunters will likely continue to support this kind of effort. And it follows that organizations and businesses concerned about the health of the deer herd or the future of hunting should get involved, too.

 

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

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August 7, 2019

Sportsmen Respond to Forest Service’s Plans for Southwestern Colorado

New management guidelines address some priorities for hunters and anglers, while other important areas were excluded from needed management direction

Yesterday, the Rio Grande National Forest released its Final Environmental Impact Statement and final Land Management Plan for the forest. The planning process involved nearly five years of engagement by hunters and anglers and provides high-level direction for management of these crucial resources over the next 20 years. The final Rio Grande National Forest plan will be the first to be finalized under the new planning direction and will serve as an example for future forest plans.

Overall, sportsmen and women are considering the pluses and minuses regarding a new plan for the management of 1.86 million acres in southwestern Colorado that includes important big game winter and migratory habitats, vital riparian and aquatic areas, a stronghold for Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and thousands of acres of excellent backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities.

Some important aspects of the new planning rule will have big impacts on hunting and fishing. The Forest Service will be placing greater focus on landscape-level management, social and economic sustainability, ecological sustainability, plant and animal diversity, and the use of the best available scientific information. The Rio Grande plan addresses these areas of focus, but also lacks sufficient management direction for some areas that are crucial for fish and wildlife in the field office.

“This plan does well to ensure quality hunting and fishing opportunities over the life of the plan in some regards, while other areas need improvement” said Nick Payne, Colorado representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We’re glad that that the Forest Service took our community’s input throughout this process and incorporated some of it into the final plan. This includes the addition of bighorn sheep to the list of species of conservation concern, and the clear direction from the planning rule.”

“While the positive changes are appreciated,” Payne said, “it’s also important that the Forest Service take steps during the objection period to address ‘Special Interest Areas’ so they’re managed as needed to help maintain our outdoor traditions on the Rio Grande National Forest and surrounding lands. This 60-day objection period is our last chance to get this right.”

The release of the draft plan starts a 60-day objection period, ending October 1st, during which members of the public can raise objections to specific parts of the proposed plan.

Details on how to comment can be found here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=46078

 

 

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.

Learn More

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