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August 21, 2023

Video: A Farm Bill Conservation Story

A Wisconsin family farm harnesses the power of Farm Bill programs and leads the way in conservation.

Join Ashly Steinke as he takes you on a turkey hunt and shares the inspiring story of his family’s journey raising sustainable grass-fed beef while harnessing the power of Farm Bill conservation programs. Witness firsthand how they have successfully restored grasslands, wetlands, and forests while building a profitable ag business.

In the video, Ashly shares how Farm Bill programs have enabled his family to improve habitat and boost wildlife populations on their farm and how the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) has helped them to make a positive impact.

Thanks to Farm Bill support and a commitment to conservation, the Steinke family’s Wisconsin farm has undergone a remarkable transformation. Join them in spreading the word about the remarkable impact these programs can have and discover how you can get involved too. 

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August 18, 2023

Sportsmen and Sportswomen Cheer BLM Decision to Conserve Bennett Hills

120,800 acres of big game winter range will be managed for the benefit of Idaho’s hunters and anglers

Idaho sportsmen and sportswomen today celebrated the Bureau of Land Management’s official move to conserve 120,800 acres of valuable big game habitat in the Bennett Hills north of Mountain Home.

The Idaho BLM state director has signed the Record of Decision for the Four Rivers Resource Management Plan, a document that will guide the agency’s management actions for more than 783,000 acres of public lands in central and western Idaho for the next two decades. Within the plan, BLM officials took action to conserve game migrations, winter ranges, and public access by creating the 120,800-acre Bennett Hills Backcountry Conservation Area.

When successfully implemented by the BLM, the Bennett Hills BCA will be managed to:

  • Protect and enhance public access to world-class hunting.
  • Conserve intact wildlife habitat, including crucial big game winter range and migratory habitats for six distinct mule deer, elk, and pronghorn herds.
  • Prioritize management practices that restore habitat and control noxious weeds (i.e. treat cheat grass, control conifer encroachment, and allow water developments).
  • Support and maintain traditional uses of the land such as ranching and hunting.

The new plan culminates roughly a decade of planning efforts by the BLM, state wildlife biologists, and the hunting community. Thirty-nine outdoor-related businesses and eight hunting and fishing organizations supported conservation measures in the Four Rivers RMP.

“The Bennett Hills are 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,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation.

The BLM Four Rivers Field Office includes Idaho Department of Fish and Game Hunting Units 39, 43, 44, and 45 in the central and western portions of the state. These popular public lands help fuel Idaho’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support various traditional uses of the land.

“The Bennett Hills form key winter range for several of southern Idaho’s mule deer herds and provide local habitat for sage grouse and other upland birds,” said Ford Van Fossan, director of brand at First Lite. “As a member of Idaho’s hunting industry, First Lite is excited by efforts to conserve and enhance this critical part of the state’s natural heritage.”

“This area is prioritized by IDFG for the conservation of migratory habitats for six distinct mule deer, elk, and pronghorn herds,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “From limited-entry big game hunting in Units 44 and 45 to the over-the-counter opportunities in Units 39 and 43, you aren’t going to find a better place to hunt mule deer than on public lands managed by the Four Rivers BLM field office.”

In addition to the conservation of the Bennett Hills, the new resource management plan will continue wildlife-friendly management in the Boise Foothills and the conservation of habitat for both long-billed curlew south of Emmett and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse near New Meadows.

“Sportsmen and sportswomen thank the BLM for these management prescriptions that will help conserve a vast suite of wildlife species, including huntable species such as mule deer, elk, chukar, and sharp-tailed grouse,” continued Thornberry.

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to public access here.

August 17, 2023

TRCP to Engage Members in BLM Rock Springs Management Plan Comment Period

We encourage the BLM to conserve big game habitats & hunting and fishing areas

Today the Bureau of Land Management released a draft plan that—when completed—will guide land management decisions for 3.6 million acres of public lands overseen by its Rock Springs Field Office in southwest Wyoming. This area includes habitats that support the Red Desert-to-Hoback mule deer migration corridor, the longest of its kind in North America.

“The diverse landscapes of the Rock Springs Field Office contain critical winter range for migratory big game, core sage grouse habitat, and world-class hunting and fishing areas such as the Greater Little Mountain Area,” said Josh Metten, Wyoming field manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Wyomingites love this wild and working landscape and want to ensure that these public lands are managed so future generations may also experience their richness.”

The TRCP and partners have been involved in the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan revision efforts since scoping began in 2010. The draft RMP is an important step forward in a lengthy public process that determines how habitat, recreation, development, and other uses will be balanced in the future. This release kicks off a 90-day comment period where the public will have an opportunity to provide input on the preferred alternative and other management options developed by the Rock Springs Field Office. 

“Thousands of sportspeople recreate, hunt, fish, and work on the lands that will be managed by the Rock Springs RMP, all of whom have a vested interest in the outcome of this revision,” added Metten. “TRCP is committed to working with our membership, partners, state and local governments, and other key stakeholders to facilitate a successful outcome for the Rock Springs RMP that will benefit sportspeople.”

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to public access here.

July 20, 2023

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to Host Wyoming Public Land Access Listening Sessions

TRCP and the Wyoming chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will organize six sessions this August

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Wyoming Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers have announced a series of six public land access listening sessions throughout Wyoming slated for early August.

The recent corner crossing case that drew national attention to Wyoming has again sparked controversy around public access. A federal judge ruled in favor of four Missouri hunters, which means they did not trespass when crossing corners on their 2020 and 2021 hunting trips. Despite this victory for public land access, the legality of corner crossing remains uncertain.

TRCP and BHA are taking steps to be proactive about improving access to inaccessible public land in ways that can be broadly supported, while respecting private property rights. The organizations encourage the public to attend these sessions to share their personal experiences and ideas about improving access to public lands.

The event details are as follows:

August 1 – Pinedale, WY, Wind River Brewing, 6pm, register here

August 2 – Buffalo, WY, Bond’s Brewing Company, 6pm, register here

August 3 – Cheyenne, WY, Blacktooth Brewing, 6pm, register here

August 8 – Evanston, WY, Suds Bros Brewing, 6pm, register here

August 9 – Rock Springs, WY, Square State Brewing, 6pm, register here

August 10 – Casper, WY, Blacktooth Brewing, 6pm, register here

“Wyoming has over 4 million acres of inaccessible public land, and it is important that we identify collaborative solutions to improve access, while respecting private property rights,” said Sabrina King,  BHA’s Wyoming chapter lobbyist.

“The value of public lands in Wyoming is incredible,” said Alex Aguirre, Wyoming community partnerships coordinator for the TRCP. “These millions of acres have brought residents together for years to enjoy and cherish. That’s why we hope you can join us for an evening to discuss the importance of accessing these precious acres.”

The sessions will include a short presentation followed by a Q & A regarding public land access in Wyoming. Interested parties should register for an event through the corresponding links above. 

Photo Credit: Josh Metten

June 7, 2023

In Alaska, A Big Plan for Big, Wild Country

The Central Yukon Resource Management Plan will guide future management of BLM lands in an area larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland combined

Later this year, the Bureau of Land Management is slated to publish a revised management plan for 13.3 million acres in Alaska’s Interior and Arctic regions. This region, known as the Central Yukon planning area, is familiar to many hunters and anglers as the home of the Dalton Highway Corridor. This unique recreation destination allows for remote, yet road accessible, hike-in and float trips, and hosts some of the most iconic big game species in Alaska—including Dall sheep, moose, and caribou—and 25 species of fish.

The Central Yukon plan has important implications for our fish and wildlife resources as it will guide landscape-level management and balance the various uses allowed on BLM lands in this region for approximately the next 20 years. That’s why the TRCP has been advocating for the priorities of hunters and anglers in the Central Yukon throughout the BLM’s multi-year planning process.

A Plan in Need of Fixing

The draft plan, published in 2020, recommended that 98 percent of all BLM-managed lands in the planning area be opened to industrial resource extraction. This recommendation is unbalanced and would result in unacceptable consequences for the sporting community and subsistence harvesters. In response, the TRCP organized comments from more than 500 supporters who urged the agency to develop a more fish and wildlife friendly preferred alternative and offered specific recommendations for improving habitat in the planning area.

As the agency moves this plan closer to completion, our team continues to leverage every opportunity to ensure that the final plan adequately reflects the values of hunters and anglers.

Priority #1: Avoid or minimize the impacts to fish, wildlife, and important habitat

The final plan should align with the BLM’s goals and objectives for managing fish and wildlife in the planning area, which include but are not limited to:

  • Provide habitat of sufficient quantity, quality, and connectivity to allow for stable populations of wildlife, in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Effectively avoid or minimize impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitat.
  • Apply mitigation measures that effectively maintain wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Under the draft plan, wildlife could be affected by mining in 100 percent of the planning area—as opposed to 52 percent under the existing plan—since all lands would be open to locatable mineral entry. The agency’s own analysis acknowledges that the preferred alternative would adversely impact high-value fish habitat, increase the loss of important habitat for Dall sheep, and could result in caribou population declines. The final plan should strike a better balance between habitat conservation and responsible resource development.

Recommended action: Adopt Dall Habitat Areas, Dall Sheep Movement Corridors and Dall Sheep Study Area. Include additional conservation measures for sheep, such as restrictions on development activities within 0.5 miles of mineral licks.

Recommended action: Adopt Core Caribou Habitat Areas. Include additional safeguards for caribou, such as restrictions on OHV use and other surface-disturbing activities during calving periods.

Recommended action: Adopt Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) and Research Natural Areas (RNAs) as proposed in Alternative B. Of the 31 ACECs under consideration, six are proposed to protect Dall sheep habitat and four are proposed offer additional safeguards to caribou.

Priority #2: Plan for Growing Recreational Demand

The revisions to the Central Yukon RMP should also support public access for hunting, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The planning area provides outstanding recreation opportunities for Alaskans and non-residents throughout the year, including sightseeing, fishing, hunting, river trips, day hikes, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and photography. Recreational demand is expected to increase along the Dalton Highway through the life of the plan.

By adopting the proposed Dalton Corridor Backcountry Conservation Area, the BLM could conserve big game habitat, provide world-class backcountry recreation experiences, and allow for traditional uses of these lands to continue.

Recommended action: Adopt the proposed Dalton Corridor Backcountry Conservation Area. This tool would specifically provide for high-quality hunting and other recreation opportunities in the outer Dalton Highway Corridor.

Priority #3: Maintain existing conservation safeguards

Finally, we recommend that the RMP retain long-standing public land orders to ensure that some lands remain withdrawn from mineral entry.

Approximately 7.4 million acres in the Central Yukon planning area—including the Dalton Highway Corridor—have been withdrawn from mineral entry since the public land orders were issued in the 1970s. Revoking the PLOs would negatively impact subsistence access for rural community residents in the planning area. Unique recreational hunting opportunities—such as the 5-mile bowhunting-only corridor along the Dalton Highway—could also be threatened if these lands are conveyed.  

Recommended action: Maintain the Dalton Highway Corridor (PLO 5150) in its entirety.

Recommended action: Maintain all ANCSA d-1 withdrawals.

Create a Conservation Success Story

Alaskan hunters and anglers, local businesses, wildlife managers, and other recreationists who enjoy these places are counting on the BLM to manage our public lands in a way that protects our investment in Alaska’s fish and wildlife, outdoor resources, and sporting heritage. Working together, we can ensure that the Central Yukon RMP revisions create the best management plan for the habitat and quality hunting and fishing areas that makes this vast region of Alaska a world-class destination. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.

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