Randall Williams

May 27, 2020

Revised Montana Forest Plan Would Conserve Areas Important to Hunters and Anglers

Final Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest plan includes key provisions to benefit wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation

The U.S. Forest Service released a near final land use plan that will support outdoor recreation opportunities and conserve important wild trout and big game habitat on public lands stretching across seventeen counties in central and western Montana.

When finalized, the Forest Service’s revised management plan for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest will determine how the agency will manage approximately 2.8 million acres of public lands from the Snowies and the Highwoods to the Upper Blackfoot and the Rocky Mountain Front.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership helped activate hunters and anglers, local government officials, and other stakeholder groups to provide meaningful feedback throughout the process, which began in 2015. Those comments and other considerations have now been incorporated into the Forest Service’s draft record of decision and final environmental impact statement, one of the last steps in the planning process.

“Sportsmen and women spoke up in support of intact habitats, forest restoration and quality recreation opportunities throughout the process, and we appreciate that the Forest Service was receptive to many of our community’s requests,” said Scott Laird, Montana field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Overall, the final plan will support wildlife habitat and it will provide for quality hunting and fishing in places like the Upper Blackfoot and the Big Snowies, which is good news for those of us who care about Montana’s strong outdoor traditions.”

The popular public lands in central and western Montana to which the revised plan will apply help fuel the state’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land. These landscapes include Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Hunting Districts 293, 380, and 511, which offer some of the state’s best elk and deer hunting.

The revision process was formally initiated with a forest-wide assessment and the Forest Service published its draft plan with a number of proposed alternatives in the summer of 2018. Hunters and anglers spoke up and a new preferred alternative was developed after the public comment period, which saw the agency receive more than 1,100 comments.

“This plan will guide the management of millions of acres of public lands across a broad landscape, and we have chosen to evaluate the plan as a whole,” continued Laird. “We believe the forest service has done a good job of balancing uses and demands, and they have provided strong safeguards for wildlife habitat while managing for outdoor recreation. We thank the agency for their responsiveness to our concerns and ideas.”

One Response to “Revised Montana Forest Plan Would Conserve Areas Important to Hunters and Anglers”

  1. Way too long to compete the NEPA Process. Unfortunately I suggest another publication of Proposed Decisions and Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures given today’s Health Issues as they affect use and access. Alternative analysis need not be excessive or prolonged.

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Kristyn Brady

May 11, 2020

TRCP Challenges Hunters and Anglers to Take the #ResponsibleRecreation Pledge

Sportsmen and women step up to safeguard the privilege of enjoying our country’s natural resources

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to help launch the #ResponsibleRecreation pledge, which encourages Americans to enjoy outdoor recreation while adhering to proper COVID-19 safety protocols.

The coordinated campaign was created with respected conservation leaders at the National Wild Turkey Federation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

These groups are encouraging Americans to take advantage of our country’s numerous opportunities to recreate on public lands and waters, while maintaining proper social distancing and adhering to other best practices in line with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Whether participating in hunting, fishing, shooting sports, or numerous other outdoor activities, individuals and families are getting outside as a means of coping with the challenges of this health crisis,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “The conservation community recognizes that this is a privilege, one that sportsmen and women take very seriously. Just as we’ve stepped up to fund conservation efforts and recover at-risk species, hunters and anglers have yet another opportunity to lead by example and ensure that outdoor recreation can continue to delight and facilitate healing for anyone who ventures outside.”

Outdoor television personalities, gear makers, and conservation-minded decision-makers are already embracing the pledge.

“As parts of the country are beginning to reopen and the weather warms up, we will see growing numbers of Americans spend more time in the great outdoors,” says Congressman Marc Veasey. “As an avid sportsman myself, I am eager to get back outside, but in a way that will not accelerate the spread of COVID-19. That means practicing responsible recreation by continuing to socially distance, wear appropriate face coverings when needed, and follow proper health guidelines to protect our fellow Americans.”

While many of the organizations involved in spearheading the #ResponsibleRecreation pledge have their own interests—namely, hunting, fishing, or shooting sports—the hope is to engage anyone who enjoys the outdoors safely and responsibly. Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to share how they are recreating responsibly, challenge their friends to do the same, and use the campaign hashtag across social media.

“Now more than ever, Americans want to recreate outdoors for the health, physical, and social benefits,” says Jessica Wahl Turner, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “As our country begins to reopen, we encourage outdoor enthusiasts to continue practicing social distancing, respect the communities you visit, and follow the health guidelines applicable to your activities. If we work together to steward the outdoors and keep safety top of mind, we can help our public lands and waters remain open and get our recreation economy and jobs back on track.”

Visit responsible-recreation.org to learn more.

The TRCP will also ask those who take the pledge to reach out to their national decision-makers in support of legislation that can improve outdoor recreation infrastructure across the country. Visit the TRCP action center for the most pressing opportunities for advocacy.

Cory Deal

May 7, 2020

Senate Committee Advances Water Infrastructure Legislation

Bipartisan bill would create jobs, benefit aquatic ecosystems

(Washington D.C.)—The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed legislation to invest in water infrastructure, remove barriers to the use of natural infrastructure, and combat invasive species.

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 passed the committee by a vote of 21 to 0.

“Investing in water infrastructure creates jobs, benefits aquatic ecosystems, and spurs healthier habitat, fisheries, and wildlife,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We want to thank the committee for helping reduce barriers to the use of natural infrastructure, combat invasive species, and incentivize innovation.”

The bill contained several conservation components, including:

  • Investing in natural infrastructure
  • Addressing toxic algal blooms in the Everglades and Great Lakes
  • Remedy issues caused by invasive species
  • Funding watercraft inspection and decontamination stations
  • Modernizing aging irrigation delivery systems to reduce pressure on river systems that face drought

Founded in 2002, the TRCP is the largest coalition of conservation organizations in the country, uniting and amplifying the voices of sportsmen and women by convening hunting and fishing groups, conservation organizations, and outdoor businesses to a common purpose.

Top photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife

Randall Williams

May 5, 2020

New Report on Big Game Migration Demonstrates Colorado’s Commitment to Key Conservation Priority

Sportsmen and women applaud the state’s assessment of threats to winter range and migration corridors and recommended conservation actions

Today Colorado Parks & Wildlife released its 2020 Status Report on Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors, a significant milestone in its work to conserve critical seasonal habitat and a direct result of Governor Jared Polis’ 2019 executive order on this issue. Sportsmen and women welcome the publication as a valuable resource to improve the conservation of big game winter range and migration corridors, as well as the agency’s commitment to this opportunity.

The report provides the public with a foundational understanding of the best-available science regarding Colorado’s migratory big game populations, including mule deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and moose. It also provides a snapshot of ongoing research on big game and areas requiring further study. Furthermore, Colorado Parks & Wildlife includes in the report a series of recommended actions to address the various threats to big game migration in the state.These recommendations set the stage for the next of the directives in Governor Polis’ order: a report to be completed by July 1 that includes policy actions necessary to conserve big game and their habitat.

“One of the biggest issues facing the conservation of big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats is ensuring policy is grounded in the most current science,” said Dr. Ed Arnett, Chief Scientist for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This report provides a good foundation to tackle that challenge and offers a blueprint to guide the work of state and federal agencies as well as their partners. Colorado Parks & Wildlife should be commended for their work and vision for big game conservation.”

In addition to outlining how the state manages and studies these big game animals, as well as summarizing the most up-to-date science regarding their populations, seasonal habitats and migration routes, and the threats they face, the report provides a forward-looking assessment of what is needed to ensure Colorado’s big game migrations continue well into the future. For each general category of conservation threat, such as transportation, the agency identifies specific problems and actions it will take to mitigate potential harm to big game populations. Along similar lines, Colorado Parks & Wildlife has produced a multifaceted list of short- (1-3 years) and long-term needs for additional data and better management.

“Colorado’s wildlife resources and hunting opportunities are second-to-none across the West, and the leadership shown by decision-makers and agency staff to conserve big game migration corridors will ensure that legacy continues well into the future,” said Madeleine West, Director of the Center for Western Lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and a Colorado resident. “This report has established a strong model that we hope other states will emulate.”

This report builds on a recent announcement from the Bureau of Land Management, included in a press release regarding its revision of the Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan, that the Colorado BLM has committed to updating its land use plans in the state to ensure management allocations are in accordance with the best-available habitat and migration science. Existing federal agency plans generally do not account for recent advances in science and technology demonstrating increased precision on how and where big game species move across the landscape.

“The Colorado BLM deserves a pat on the back for its commitment to updating management plans for the special consideration and management of habitats that allow big game animals to migrate,” continued West. “The hunting and fishing community looks forward to engaging productively in the BLM’s planning process to ensure the success of these efforts.”

What others are saying:

“We commend the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife for their continued focus on big game migration corridor conservation, in keeping with Colorado’s executive order and the Interior Department’s secretarial order. This report is a testament to the tireless work of Colorado’s wildlife managers and professionals in documenting the behavior of Colorado’s big game species over the last several decades. With one of the largest elk herds in the country, and a deer population that is struggling to maintain its numbers, the report provides a great foundation to move forward with collaborative planning efforts that safeguard Colorado’s big game herds, migratory corridors and important wildlife habitats, as well as Colorado’s outdoor legacy.”

Robin Knox

President, Colorado Wildlife Federation

“Mule deer populations in some parts of Colorado have been in decline for several years, and sporting groups like ours have been working with Colorado Parks & Wildlife and other partners throughout the state to improve the health of our herds. As research shows, winter ranges and migratory habitat are vital for mule deer survival and recruitment. This report brings home the connection between scientific data and boots-on-the-ground conservation, and hunters appreciate the seriousness with which wildlife managers in Colorado are approaching the issue of big game migration.”

Steve Belinda

Conservation Director, Mule Deer Foundation

 

Photo: Larry Lamsa via Flickr

Kristyn Brady

April 29, 2020

TRCP Launches Interactive Map of Organizational Accomplishments

2019, by all accounts, was an outstanding year for conservation and TRCP’s efforts to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released its annual report showcasing organizational accomplishments from 2019 in an interactive digital graphic.

Highlighted achievements include working with partners to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, passing legislation to support hunter recruitment, and securing investments in chronic wasting disease research and wildlife-friendly highway crossings. Overall, TRCP points to 2019 as being an amazing year for conservation and its organizational efforts.

“Hunting, fishing, and conservation have never been partisan issues,” says Rod Nelson, TRCP board chair, in an opening letter to supporters. “But today, a profound appreciation for the outdoors provides common ground for policymakers across the political spectrum to tackle some of our top priorities.”

“There are still many challenges, such as efforts to legitimize the overfishing of menhaden, roll back the Clean Water Act, or mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “But our united front, and that of sportsmen and women across the country, is proving to be a formidable force for good.”

Explore TRCP’s interactive report here.

 

Top photo by Dusan Smetana.

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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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