posted in: Press Releases

September 20, 2023

TRCP Applauds Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposal to Support SW Montana Working Lands

New conservation area would sustain voluntary agreements with willing landowners utilizing LWCF dollars

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to create a new conservation area in southwest Montana. As proposed, the Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area would advance a vision for the future of working agricultural lands in this region by allowing the use of Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars to conserve working lands through voluntary agreements with landowners in portions of Beaverhead, Madison, Deer Lodge, Jefferson, and Silver Bow Counties. 

“The proposed support from the Fish and Wildlife Service for private lands conservation means ranching will remain a strong pillar in this valley,” said Jeff Johnson, a rancher from Dell. “Ranching is tough work, and the development pressures on farms and ranches make it that much tougher. These financial resources are what we need to make sure working lands remain productive.”

The proposal would not allow fee title acquisition and—as proposed—would limit the scale of voluntary conservation easements within the project area to 250,000 acres. Given increasing development pressure on Montana farms and ranches, the conservation area would offer private landowners additional financial options to maintain their agricultural operations, while conserving valuable wildlife habitat.

“Southwest Montana provides some of the finest wildlife habitat and hunting country found anywhere,” said Chris Marchion with Anaconda Sportsman’s Club. “The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal for southwest Montana will make funding available to keep agricultural lands in production, while maintaining the wildlife habitat that supports our hunting traditions.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service has an extensive history of working with landowners to create private land conservation areas in Montana, and similar project areas have long existed on the Rocky Mountain Front and in the Blackfoot River Valley.

“Voluntary private lands conservation has been a success story for wildlife and working lands across Montana for decades,” said Joel Webster, VP of western conservation for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We are excited about this proposal to support Montana farms, ranches, and wildlife habitat, and we encourage the Fish and Wildlife Service to listen to local landowners as they refine the proposal.”

A public comment period is expected to commence on Sept. 20 and run through Oct. 26.

Learn more about TRCP’s conservation work in southwest Montana here.

Photo Credit: James Wicks

One Response to “TRCP Applauds Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposal to Support SW Montana Working Lands”

  1. Mark Consigny

    This article is next to useless. I knew as much after reading the title as I did after reading the whole thing. Are these permanent conservation easements or short term rentals like CRP? Why limit it to 250K acres? What are the criteria for participation? What species will benefit?

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August 31, 2023

TRCP Ready to Engage in BLM’s New Recreation Blueprint 

Group supports access priorities and urges proactive planning to conserve habitat

Today, the Bureau of Land Management unveiled a new plan for managing outdoor recreation on the agency’s 245 million acres of federal public lands. The plan was dubbed by the BLM as a necessary step for the agency to “proactively meet modern demands for exceptional and unique outdoor experiences.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership agreed with the agency that a proactive recreation plan is needed for the BLM and responded favorably to the new proposal.

“Given skyrocketing visitation pressure on BLM lands, we concur that the agency needs to proactively manage recreation to provide access while prioritizing habitat conservation,” said Joel Webster, VP of western conservation with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We appreciate BLM’s recognition of the importance of securing access to landlocked public lands, implementing the MAPLand Act, and completing travel management planning, all while protecting sensitive resources like wildlife habitat.”

The BLM’s plan highlights four pathways to success. Each of those pathways offer specific directions for numerous management issues, including the need for the agency to acquire access; prioritize and embrace partnerships; expand diversity, equity, and inclusion to programs, exhibits, and signs; and to protect sensitive resources.

“TRCP plans to weigh in with the BLM on how to implement the plan, including ideas for expanding access for the public and providing for outdoor recreation, while ensuring fish and wildlife habitat continue to function on our public lands,” continued Webster. “We can have both expanded outdoor opportunities and robust wildlife populations, and it will require funding and a shared commitment to effectively manage for these different resource values.”

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish here.

Photo Credit: James Wicks


posted in: Press Releases

TRCP Commends USFS for 834,000 acres of Proposed Wildlife Management Areas in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests

Newly established Wildlife Management Areas and critical management updates seek to protect and enhance high-value habitat for big game

The over three million acres of public land that make up the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests in Western Colorado will soon have an updated management plan thanks to the hard work and years of public and partner engagement by Forest Service staff.

The GMUG National Forests comprise hunting units where approximately 50,000 big game hunting licenses are allocated annually, and support nearly 20 percent of the state’s iconic mule deer and elk populations. The GMUG currently hosts 3,000 miles of sanctioned recreational trails, four scenic byways, six peaks over 14,000 feet, 10 Wilderness areas, and over 3,600 miles of perennial streams. If the Forest Service adopts its preferred alternative in the final environmental impact statement and approves its draft record of decision, 834,000 acres (28% of the GMUG Forests) would be managed with a focus on conserving important seasonal habitats for big game and other wildlife species.

“The management objectives and guidelines specific to over 800,000 acres of newly defined Wildlife Management Areas that seek to maintain and improve habitat connectivity and function, including vegetation management projects designed to improve habitat long term, will benefit hunter and angler opportunity,” praised Liz Rose, TRCP’s Colorado field representative.

The proposed GMUG National Forests’ Revised Land Management Plan aims to protect and reinforce the forests’ value to recreationists, local communities, and wildlife through active and adaptive management as social and environmental pressures continue to change. A century of fire suppression combined with ever-increasing risks from drought and wildfire and unprecedented increases in recreational use means that planning, active management, and monitoring, all informed by the best available data and science, is needed to restore diverse, healthy, natural systems across the GMUG Forests. 

“Wildlife need healthy forests in the near and long term and status quo is not an option for maintaining them,” explained Patt Dorsey, west region director of conservation operations for the National Wild Turkey Federation. “Forest restoration activities that maintain forest resilience are crucial on the landscape and project level.”

The proposed plan aims to steer future recreational trail expansion away from Wildlife Management Areas, designated and proposed Wilderness, and other special areas such as Research Natural Areas. Furthermore, in Wildlife Management Areas, the Forest Service intends to maintain a lower density of roads and trails in order to minimize habitat fragmentation and year-round disturbance to wildlife. This management standard will help make Wildlife Management Areas high-quality habitats for deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, Gunnison sage-grouse, and other wildlife. The TRCP looks forward to working with the Forest Service to finalize the proposed GMUG to benefit Colorado’s fish, wildlife, and outdoorspeople.

The Forest Service will accept formal objections during a 60-day objection period. Following this period, the Forest Service may revise its plan then issue a record of decision and adopt the plan as final. The TRCP encourages the Forest Service to adopt a final plan expeditiously so GMUG staff can begin 2024 with updated direction to improve fish, wildlife, and watershed health, and provide opportunities for people to safely, confidently, and successfully utilize and enjoy time spent on Colorado’s special public lands.

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish here.

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.


posted in: Press Releases

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.



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.

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