Randall Williams

February 21, 2020

New Film Highlights Importance of Big Game Migration in New Mexico

Scientists, sportsmen and women explain why seasonal habitat and migration routes for big game species must be conserved

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership released a film today exploring the importance of planning for migration corridor conservation in New Mexico and, more generally, across the West. The film, “Migration Corridors: Connecting the Wildlife and People of New Mexico,” features a New Mexican hunter and a hunting guide, officials from the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico Game & Fish, and TRCP staff.

The film showcases the insights offered by the most recent research into big game migration corridors, the importance of these routes to wildlife, and the impact of wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation on New Mexico’s economy.

“We wanted to make a film that would highlight the importance of migration corridors and help explain why this has become a major priority for conservationists,” said John Cornell, southwest field manager for the TRCP. “Hunters have always known how important migration routes are for the animals we pursue each fall, and the most up-to-date science keeps making a stronger case for paying special attention to these habitats.”

To survive the varied seasonal conditions found across the West, big game must be able to move freely across the landscape at key times of the year to access nutritious food. Emerging science and recent technologies can pinpoint well-defined corridors traveled by animals during these migrations and measure how much time they spend in certain places along the way known as stopover habitats.

Research also shows that human development can disrupt the normal patterns of migrating ungulates.

Subdivisions, fences, roads, and energy development all contribute to the loss of big-game habitat and impede the migrations of these animals between the seasonal habitats on which they rely.

Like many other states across the West, New Mexico is in the first stages of mapping big game migration corridors with the most up-to-date GPS technology. This research will help guide policymakers as they make decisions about how to manage wildlife and human development.

“We have a lot of historic and local expert knowledge of big game movements on the landscape: A lot of local biologists and game wardens know the animals move into or out of these areas seasonally. But we have not identified those specifically…it is more just anecdotal evidence,” said Orrin Duvuvuei, deer biologist/migration coordinator with New Mexico Game & Fish.

The film also includes Dr. Karl Malcolm, southwestern regional wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, who explained the coordinated effort that will be needed to manage for migration corridor conservation.

“If we—as a community of conservationists, government, non-government, federal, state, members of the public, NGOs— if we are going to do our job, we need to effectively consider the fact that the summer range and the winter range…need to be linked. Herds need to go where they have always gone,” said Malcolm.

In addition to Cornell, Duvuvuei, and Malcolm, the film also features hunting guide Art Martinez, local sportswoman and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers southwest chapter coordinator Katie DeLorenzo, New Mexico Game & Fish big game program manager Dr. Nicole Tatman, and TRCP chief scientist Dr. Ed Arnett.

The film can be viewed at the TRCP’s website and on its Facebook page.

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Migration Corridors: Connecting Wildlife and People of New Mexico

To learn more about this film, click here

Scientists, sportsmen and women explain why seasonal habitat and migration routes for big game species must be conserved.

To survive the varied seasonal conditions found across the West, big game must be able to move freely across the landscape at key times of the year to access nutritious food. Emerging science and recent technologies can pinpoint well-defined corridors traveled by animals during these migrations and measure how much time they spend in certain places along the way known as stopover habitats.  

Research also shows that human development can disrupt the normal patterns of migrating ungulates.  

Subdivisions, fences, roads, and energy development all contribute to the loss of big-game habitat and impede the migrations of these animals between the seasonal habitats on which they rely.  

Like many other states across the West, New Mexico is in the first stages of mapping big game migration corridors with the most up-to-date GPS technologyThis research will help guide policymakers as they make decisions about how to manage wildlife and human development.

Join TRCP to learn more about wildlife, habitat, and conservation policy.

Randall Williams

February 20, 2020

Comment Now – Help Land Management Agencies Open Access to Your Public Lands

BLM, USFS, and USFWS seek nominations from the public for high-priority landlocked or hard-to-reach parcels

Last spring, with the passage of S. 47 – the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act – federal public land management agencies were tasked with identifying parcels of public ground with no access or restricted access and developing priority lists for opening access to those lands.

Now, the US Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service are asking the public for help to identify pieces of public land that should be on the priority lists. This is your chance to get involved and make a difference.

Once parcels are added to an agency’s priority list, land managers can then coordinate with state and local governments, conservation groups, land trusts, and landowners to open access through voluntary acquisitions of land, road or trail easements, or various other measures.

As our partnership with onX has shown, access to public land can be a huge challenge for hunters and anglers. We found that 9.52 million acres of federally managed public lands in the West have no permanent, legal public access.

Details on how to nominate a parcel are below, but time is running out. Speak up today to strengthen our public lands legacy!


Lawmakers have outlined the below requirements for the agencies:

  • Parcels nominated must encompass at least 640 contiguous acres with either no public access (i.e. it is unreachable by foot, horseback, and motorized/non-motorized vehicles) or the access is severely restricted (i.e. a large block of public land with only one access point).
  • In order to be considered, nominations must be sent to the appropriate agency (i.e. the agency responsible for managing the lands in question).
  • Nominations must include the location of the land or parcel, the total affected acreage (if known), a description or narrative about the barriers to access, and any other information that should be considered by the agency.

Forest Service: Comment period has closed.

 

Fish and Wildlife Service: Comment period has closed.

 

BLM: Comment period has closed.

 

 

Randall Williams

February 14, 2020

TRCP Recognizes Governor Gordon’s Leadership in Executive Order on Migration Corridors

Stresses need for long-term commitment to see the conservation of vital big-game habitats

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed an executive order this week prioritizing the conservation of big-game migration corridors.

The TRCP responded to the directive:

“We appreciate Governor Gordon’s leadership on big-game migration corridors with his Executive Order,” said Nick Dobric, Wyoming field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We have incredible wildlife populations and hunting opportunities in Wyoming, and we hope that the Governor’s directives will help conserve these resources for decades and generations to come.”

During the summer of 2019, Governor Gordon tasked an advisory group of eight citizens—each representing various interests, including sportsmen—with devising a solution for migration corridors that would conserve the corridors while being consistent with multiple uses of the land. After three long sessions, the group recommended the governor could best address the issue through an executive order that would set up a process for more public involvement and limit development in designated corridors, with emphasis on stopover and high-use areas.

Subdivisions, fences, roads, and energy development all contribute to the loss of big-game habitat and impede the migrations of these animals between the seasonal habitats on which they rely. Land-use planning decisions on state and federal lands can have a determinative effect on the function of these habitats. This includes the proposed management objectives in the Rock Springs draft Resource Management Plan that is expected this Spring and will have implications for the Sublette Mule Deer herd, which depends upon the 150-mile migration corridor commonly known as the Red Desert to Hoback.

“This week’s action should be viewed as a renewed commitment, not a final step, to see migration corridors conserved over the long-term in Wyoming. Sportsmen are hopeful that the governor’s directives will be applied to the Rock Springs draft RMP, which overlaps with the designated Sublette corridor,” said Dobric. “We are counting on the BLM to support state management objectives for this deer herd and apply conservation measures that protect its future.”

Many of Wyoming’s big game herds depend on migration corridors in areas that have yet to be formally identified and designated. While the Order does not apply to areas outside of designated corridors, the science does support similar measures to conserve habitats and allow for multiple uses in other areas. Wyoming Game and Fish has been at the forefront in the West due to their efforts to gather the best science to inform their big game management. Years of captures and collaring, funded by sportsmen and others, gives the state a strong foundation for expanding its efforts so that conservation measures can be put into practice on the ground for migrating big game.

“Wyoming has been a leader of migration science, as well as the policy, for over a decade,” said Dobric. “The TRCP will continue to work with the Governor, state and federal agencies, sportsmen, and other stakeholders to implement this Order and ensure the continued functionality of big-game migration corridors.”

 

Photo courtesy: BLM Wyoming

Four Rivers BLM Land Use Plan Revised to Address Priorities of Hunters and Anglers

Final plan includes key provisions to benefit wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation

The Bureau of Land Management today released a land use plan that will support outdoor recreation opportunities and conserve important big game habitat on public lands north of Mountain Home and east of Boise in western Idaho.

When finalized, the BLM’s proposed Resource Management Plan for the Four Rivers Field Office will determine how the agency will manage approximately 750,000 acres of public lands, including the Boise Front, the eastern flanks of Brownlee and Oxbow reservoirs, and the Hixon Sharptailed Grouse Area.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership worked with landowners, local government officials, and other stakeholder groups, and helped activate hunters and anglers to provide meaningful feedback on the draft plans that was then incorporated into the final proposals.

“Sportsmen and women spoke up in support of additional management emphasis for hunting, access, and habitat improvement under the final plan, and we appreciate that the BLM listened to our community’s requests,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho Field Representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This plan will benefit quality wildlife habitat and recreational access in places like the Bennett Hills, which is great news for those of us who care about Idaho’s strong outdoor traditions.”

The popular public lands in central and western Idaho to which the revised plan will apply help fuel the state’s $7.8-billion outdoor recreation economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land. These landscapes include IDFG Hunting Units 39, 43, 44, and 45, which offer some of the state’s best mule deer hunting.

“The Bennett Hills provide vital winter range and outstanding hunting opportunities for one of Idaho’s most important mule deer herds,” said Ford Van Fossen, conservation and content manager for First Lite, a Ketchum-based manufacturer of hunting apparel. “We want to thank the BLM for adopting measures in the Four Rivers RMP that prioritize wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation.”

The revision process was formally initiated with a scoping phase in early 2016 and the BLM published its draft plan with a number of proposed alternatives in May 2019. While several wildlife- and recreation-friendly provisions to improve access and habitat were considered in the draft plan, most were not included in the preferred alternative at that stage of the process. Hunters and anglers spoke up and requested changes in management, and those comments produced meaningful improvements to the proposed plan.

“The hunting and fishing community owes the BLM thanks for the agency’s responsiveness to our concerns and proposals,” Thornberry said. “Public lands in Idaho are some of our state’s greatest assets and the revised Four Rivers plan will help ensure that future generations can enjoy these places as we do now.”

“I have hunted this area 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, and I applaud BLM’s decision.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

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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