posted in: Migration

November 14, 2023

West’s Senate Testimony Requests Long-Term Commitment for Big Game Migrations 

Appearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, TRCP public lands director Madeleine West encouraged lawmakers to make strategic investments in migration research and conservation

Today, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership was honored by the opportunity to participate in a hearing focused on wildlife corridor conservation held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife.

For many years, TRCP has worked with elected officials and state, Tribal, and federal agencies to support partnerships, policies, and funding that advance the research and conservation of big game migration corridors and crucial seasonal habitats. West’s testimony focused on the long-time bipartisan support for this work and the need for dedicated funding to maintain and grow several existing Department of the Interior-led programs created in 2018 through Secretarial Order 3362: Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.

“All across the Western U.S., big game herds make seasonal movements year after year from their summer ranges to their winter ranges and back again—passing down migratory knowledge from one generation to the next,” said Madeleine West, director of the center for public lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “By making sure those seasonal habitats are connected by healthy, intact migration routes, we allow a multitude of species a greater ability to adapt and bolster their resilience to habitat changes now and into the future.”

West also highlighted how support for wildlife corridor conservation has persisted across three presidential administrations and continues to earn support from a bipartisan collection of governors in the West. She further articulated how this work was elevated in 2018 with the signing of Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3362. Secretarial Order 3362 instituted a suite of programs and financial incentives to support local efforts to improve data collection, conduct research, and complete on-the-ground conservation projects. The Biden administration furthered this work and has expanded their efforts to more directly include Tribal governments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which now incentivizes big game corridor conservation on private lands.

Despite these successes, West cautioned that the discretionary nature of existing federal programs and funding sources creates uncertainty about the future of wildlife corridor conservation work, and she requested help from Congress.

“The federal programs established through SO 3362 have had an enormous impact in furthering the conservation and enhancement of big game migration corridors, but the discretionary nature of the programs and their funding raises concern for their longevity,” continued West. “With a dedicated and consistent approach, this bipartisan work could have greater predictability and durability and could benefit more wildlife species and additional state and Tribal jurisdictions.”

West specifically requested help from Congress to provide:

• Clear Congressional direction for federal agency programs that support the research, mapping, and conservation of wildlife corridors.

• Dedicated and consistent funding for research, mapping, and conservation programs.

• Increased coordination between federal, state, and Tribal agencies, as well as private landowners and hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations.

Learn more about TRCP’s work to conserve big game migration corridors here.

Watch West’s testimony below.

3 Responses to “West’s Senate Testimony Requests Long-Term Commitment for Big Game Migrations ”

  1. To survive wildlife needs to be able to move. Knowing and mapping and protecting migration corridors is a major part of this. This should be a priority for all sportsmen and women who care about wildlife survival in America. Good work has been done on this, with more work to be done. Wildlife overpasses and underpasses are also a part of this, which have proven to work well all across the world and in the U.S. and generally have wide support. These are bright spots in efforts to help wildlife thrive and survive in America.

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posted in: Migration

August 24, 2023

Idaho Hunters Have 120,800 Reasons to Celebrate

Wildlife and hunters win big in the BLM’s Four Rivers record of decision

Last week, after nearly eight years in the making, the Idaho Office of the Bureau of Land Management signed a Record of Decision on revisions to the Four Rivers Field Office resource management plan.

“This win for hunters is because Idaho’s outdoor community—hunters, outdoor business owners, wildlife professionals, conservationists, and outdoor recreationists—came together to ask for sensible, active management to perpetuate huntable wildlife populations in perpetuity,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We owe a huge thanks to our wonderful hunting and fishing community.”

The plan, which will set guidance in the 783,000-acre field office for decades to come, includes a major win for hunters: a 120,800-acre Backcountry Conservation Area where BLM “will promote public access to support wildlife-dependent recreation and hunting opportunities and facilitate the long-term maintenance of big game wildlife populations,” according to the ROD.

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.

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.

Release of the final plan follows roughly a decade-long effort by TRCP to make BCAs a reality. That path included the release of a draft environmental impact statement and resource management plan in May 2019 where the agency’s preferred alternative excluded all wildlife protections from the plan, such as the then-proposed BCA, 11 Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and one area identified as Lands with Wilderness Character.

The TRCP worked with Idaho Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Idaho Chukar Foundation, and other independent hunters and anglers to facilitate the return of wildlife friendly protections, including reinstating the Bennet Hills BCA and Boise Front ACEC, to the final plan. The Boise Front ACEC is a key piece in this public land conglomeration puzzle because the area annually hosts thousands of wintering deer, elk, and pronghorn. Like the Bennett Hills BCA, it is critical for the long-term viability of deer, elk, and pronghorn.

Thirty-nine Idaho-based sporting businesses also advocated that BLM include significant conservation measures within the final plan.

Drew Wahlin, executive director of the Idaho Chukar Foundation, echoed those comments and gave special praise to the BLM.

“BLM deserves a huge thank you,” said Wahlin. “These conservation measures wouldn’t have been possible without the thoughtful leadership of BLM.”

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


posted in: Migration

June 5, 2023

Proposed Nevada Wildlife Crossings Account Heads to the Governor’s Desk

AB112 a bright spot for bi-partisan cooperation

As the 2023 Nevada state legislative session reaches its statutory end date of June 5th, AB112 continues its meteoric ascension with unanimous votes in both the State Assembly and Senate. The bill has advanced through four committees without a single dissenting vote or comment.

The bill, supported by a broad coalition of conservation and sporting organizations, was introduced by the Joint Interim Standing Committee on Natural Resources and championed by Assemblyman Howard Watts of the 15th district. The law creates a Wildlife Crossings Account within the State’s General Fund, replete with a $5 million appropriation to be used as match money to leverage federal funding for construction of wildlife friendly infrastructure, specifically safe highway crossings for migrating big game and other wildlife. The fund will be administered collaboratively by the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“I would like to thank Assemblyman Watts for leading on this bill,” said Carl Erquiaga, TRCP Nevada field representative. “It has been gratifying to witness the bi-partisan cooperation throughout the process.”

Federal funding is now available as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by Congress in 2021. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to implement a five year pilot program to distribute a total of $350 million through a competitive grant process to projects that reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve wildlife connectivity for daily and seasonal movements.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for unanimously supporting the creation of a Wildlife Crossings Account for Nevada,” said Assemblyman Howard Watts. “This policy, combined with a $5 million appropriation, will help secure tens of millions of dollars in federal funding that improves roadway safety, reconnects wildlife habitat, and puts people to work.”

Nevada has long been a leader in the construction of highway crossings in areas where migrating mule deer face major highways, such as I-80 and Highway 93 in northeast Nevada. In the time since these crossings have been built, vehicle-wildlife collisions have decreased dramatically. The new Wildlife Crossings Account would ensure safe crossings in other high-priority migration corridors around Nevada and can also be leveraged by the state to compete for federal funds.

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Lombardo for his signature.

Photo credit: Kent Miller


posted in: Migration

May 11, 2023

Six Major Investments in Conservation Announced This Spring

An influx of conservation funding will have an impact from our nation’s streams and migration corridors to imperiled grasslands and waterfowl habitats

After years of advocating for stronger funding of fish and wildlife habitat improvements, it’s an exciting time for sportsmen and sportswomen—these dollars are beginning to hit the ground and have an impact where we hunt and fish.

In 2021 and 2022, our community played a critical role in ensuring that once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s infrastructure and climate response also create more quality places to enjoy the outdoors. We pushed for projects that have layered benefits, including stronger fish and wildlife populations, better habitat connectivity, more climate resilience, and safeguards for communities that face increasingly intense flooding, drought, and wildfire.

Now, federal agencies are rolling out their plans to address top-priority projects using these and other funds. Here are six major investments that hunters and anglers should know about.

Gannon Castle/USFWS

More Than $13 Million for Migration Routes

Most recently, the deputy secretary of the Interior announced a plan detailing how $4 million in grants and $9.2 million in matching funds will power 13 projects that conserve key migration paths and other habitat important to pronghorns, elk, and mule deer across nine states. According to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which administers the grants, these projects will create new easements, improve 890 miles of fencing to encourage animal movement, improve management of 900,000+ acres of rangeland, treat 13,000 acres for invasive plants, and restore more than 200,000 acres of public, private, and tribal lands.


98 Forest Service Projects to Boost Access and Habitat

Earlier this month, the administration announced that $36 million would go to nearly 100 projects that improve water quality, roads, trails, bridges, and fish habitat on national forests and grasslands nationwide. The Forest Service’s Legacy Roads and Trails Program will distribute funds for habitat and access improvements in 51 national forests across 25 states. More detail on the specific projects can be found here.

USFWS Robert Keith

Strategic Distribution of Duck Stamp and NAWCA Funds

Beyond investments driven by recent infrastructure and climate legislation, funds have also been released for longstanding conservation programs that are well known with hunters. In April, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved more than $146 million to help conserve or restore 242,000 acres of wetlands and uplands. This includes $50.9 million in North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants that will be matched by more than $73.4 million in partner funds. (Good to know: NAWCA has had a proven impact on waterfowl populations since 1989 and serves as the model for the new North American Grasslands Conservation Act, which would empower private landowners to improve native prairies and sagebrush habitat.) Another $21.7 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund—drawn primarily from the sale of Duck Stamps—will conserve and expand five national wildlife refuges across four states, enhancing public hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation access.

USFWS Katrina Liebich

39 Projects to Restore River Connectivity

In April, the Department of the Interior unveiled a $35-million investment for fish passage projects in 22 states that will address outdated or obsolete dams, culverts, levees, and other barriers fragmenting rivers and streams. It is one piece of a $3-billion commitment to improving aquatic habitat connectivity using funds authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. In a statement, the department described the locally led, collaborative development of each of the nearly 40 projects, nine of which will be implemented by Tribes. Atlantic salmon, American shad, Pacific salmon and steelhead, and other fish species will benefit.


Millions to Boost Irreplaceable Waterfowl Habitat

Interior also announced in March that it will invest $23 million in landscape-scale conservation and restoration in the Prairie Pothole Region as part of its plan for $120 million in new conservation funding authorized by legislation in 2022. This investment will prevent habitat loss in an area that supports more than half of North America’s waterfowl. DOI’s plan also includes $20 million for projects in the Lower Mississippi River Valley and $10 million for habitat restoration in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River. Taken together, these three pots of funding signal a significant investment in the health of the river and the Central and Mississippi flyways. We covered this in more detail here.

Nearly $1B for Private Lands Habitat

The administration announced in mid-February that $850 million from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act will be distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help fund oversubscribed private land conservation programs at the Natural Resources Conservation Service. These dollars will benefit fish, wildlife, habitat connectivity, and hunting and fishing opportunities in rural America by supporting a diverse range of voluntary activities that also boost climate resilience, such as planting filter strips and grassed waterways, improving grazing management, and restoring wetlands. We covered this in more detail here.


posted in: Migration

May 8, 2023

BLM Proposes Near-Final Plan for Key Idaho Winter Ranges

Big game habitat and hunting areas to benefit in proposed Four Rivers RMP

Idaho sportsmen and sportswomen applaud the Bureau of Land Management for taking a vital step toward completing a revision of the Four Rivers Resource Management Plan, a move that will conserve crucial big game migrations and winter ranges in some of Idaho’s most popular hunting units.

In today’s announcement, the BLM issued a Notice of Significant Change to the Record of Decision with modifications to the proposed plan, which include increased conservation measures for elk and mule deer winter range along the Boise Front and the Bennett Hills. The BLM has reopened the draft to one final round of public comment for 30 days and is expected to issue a record of decision later this year.

“The TRCP appreciates the continued refinement of the BLM’s Four Rivers Resource Management Plan because of the benefits it will provide to wildlife habitat and our hunting opportunities,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We will take a detailed look at the nearly completed plan and provide comments during this final opportunity.”

The 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.

“From the Boise Front to the Bennett Hills, you will be hard pressed to find more productive big game habitat and hunting country than the lands managed by the BLM’s Four River Field Office,” continued Thornberry. “We appreciate BLM’s increased consideration for wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities in the near final plan.”

Click here to contribute your public input on potential updates to the proposed Four Rivers Field Office Resource Management Plan.

Photo Credit: James Brower



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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