June 25, 2024

The Secret Is Out, Now It’s Time to Speak Up for Eastern Idaho’s Wildlife and Habitat

With the region’s population increasing, this is hunter’s and angler’s best chance to help shape future land use plans

Eastern Idaho is a place where a morning elk hunt can give way to an afternoon chasing sharp-tail grouse and conclude with an evening casting to rising brown trout on one of the region’s world-famous rivers.

The region known as the High Divide spans from the Salmon-Challis National Forest in the north to Yellowstone National Park in the east. It includes four Bureau of Land Management field offices and the entirety of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest that stretches from Montana to Utah along Idaho’s eastern border. The region is rich with world-class hunts for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, goat, and sheep. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has mapped 29 deer, elk, and pronghorn migrations that cross into eastern Idaho. (16 mule deer, 11 elk and two pronghorn migrations). It is also home to sage grouse, dusky and ruffed grouse, sharp-tails, and several species of waterfowl. Throw in salmon and steelhead runs that churn up the Salmon River annually and the trophy trout fishing on the Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River, the bounty these wild, working lands provide makes it one of the premier hunting and fishing locations in America.

Before you convict me of spot-burning, understand that the secret of eastern Idaho’s impressive recreation offerings is out, and the region’s population is growing like antlers in June because of these qualities. Since 2020, the state has added on average 38,600 people annually – many of them landing in eastern Idaho. Population research – and anecdotal conversations daily at the grocery store or the neighborhood park – shows that newcomers come to the Gem State to secure proximity to the outdoors. Whether they want to be closer to Yellowstone, expand mountain bike playgrounds in the Tetons, or explore the Lemhi Mountains in an off-road vehicle, increased recreation use of the region’s 10.5 million acres of public ground is putting a new and impactful strain on our fish and wildlife and their habitat.

This issue provides hunters and anglers with an opportunity to speak up for the habitats and animals that we enjoy and pursue. In the coming years, public land managers of our National Forests and Bureau of Land Management acres are anticipated to begin updating decades-old land use plans, and they will request public comment when they do. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is here to help you engage in these upcoming comment periods, and we currently support grassroot conservation collaborations, such as the Targhee Forest Collaborative, that are actively meeting now to discuss how to address forest and recreation management issues.

The map above highlights the High Divide region. Many big game migration routes in the region have been identified, but there are many that have yet to be researched. Hunters must speak up to ensure biologists have the support they need to conduct this important research and to advocate for land managers to responsibly steward the region’s public lands.

Outdoor recreation such as the increased biking, OHV usage, and overall growth in the number of public land users serves as an important economic opportunity for many rural communities within this region, but we must thoughtfully update management plans to ensure our fish and wildlife continue to have the intact and connected habitats they need to complete their daily and seasonal movements and birthing and rearing cycles. It will take a prolonged effort to shape public land use plans so they are both smart about recreation growth and the needs of wildlife, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership will be present and active at every step.

Idaho hunters and anglers must be active participants in conserving the quality hunting, fishing, and wildlife of the region. As mentioned above, one group you can join now is the nascent Targhee Forest Collaborative. This diverse group of citizens and government officials represent specific interests and meet regularly to find resolutions to the complex issues facing natural resource management on the forest. Sportspeople like you must have a seat at the table. Such topics include conserving documented migration routes for big game near St. Anthony, constructing wildlife-friendly infrastructure near Rocky Point to help mule deer cross a hazardous highway to access both winter and summer ranges, and supporting culvert replacements to help native fish spawn.

While not glamorous, your involvement in the collaborative is the ground game needed to keep our hunting and fishing traditions alive for our children, their children, and their grandchildren. Please join us by reaching out to Rob Thornberry, TRCP’s Idaho field representative at rthornberry@trcp.org.

To learn more about TRCP’s work in the Pacific Northwest, visit our PNW webpage.

The TRCP is your no-B.S. resource for all things conservation. In our weekly Roosevelt Report, you’ll receive the latest news on emerging habitat threats, legislation and proposals on the move, public land access solutions we’re spearheading, and opportunities for hunters and anglers to take action. Sign up now.

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June 24, 2024

Hunters Cheer Bipartisan, Bicameral Introduction of Wildlife Movement Through Partnerships Act

Act would formalize migration conservation programs that provide financial and technical assistance to states, Tribes, and private landowners

Today, hunters and conservationists celebrated the bipartisan Wildlife Movement Through Partnerships Act, introduced in the Senate by Senator Padilla (D-Calif.) and in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Zinke (R-Mont.) and Beyer (D-Va.).

“Successful migration conservation requires collaboration between local, state, Tribal and federal governments, private landowners, and the NGO community,” said Becky Humphries, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill would authorize existing federal programs that support locally driven, collaborative conservation projects that restore and conserve the most important areas wildlife need to migrate and move to fulfill their lifecycle needs. TRCP thanks Senator Padilla, Representative Zinke, and Representative Beyer for introducing this critically important, bipartisan legislation.”

Migration corridor conservation has been a priority of elected officials and state, Tribal, and federal agencies for years, and this legislation provides Congress the opportunity to support collaborative partnerships, policies, and funding that advance the research and conservation of big game migration corridors and crucial seasonal habitats.

The Wildlife Movement Through Partnerships Act would formally authorize existing federal programs initiated by the Department of the Interior during the Trump Administration through Secretarial Order 18-3362, signed by Secretary Zinke, to conserve big game migration corridors. These programs have been supported and expanded by the Biden Administration but remain discretionary. Congressional action to formalize these discretionary programs guarantees that the work will persist regardless of future administration changes. This is important because state and Tribal wildlife agency annual budgets are unable to meet the full demand for resource management. The financial and technical assistance from these federal programs would help to bridge that gap.

The legislation would:

Establish the Wildlife Movement and Migration Corridor Program at the Department of the Interior, to be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to fund projects that improve or conserve habitat quality in movement areas including habitat treatment projects, fence modification, and wildlife crossings.

Establish a State and Tribal Migration Research Program at the Department of the Interior to provide funds directly to state fish and wildlife agencies and Tribes for research that improves understanding of wildlife movement and migration routes.

Allow for funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners undertaking voluntary conservation projects that support wildlife movement and migration routes on their land.

Support the U.S. Geological Survey’s Corridor Mapping Team to provide technical assistance to states and Tribes to map priority routes.

“While this Act codifies programs established within the Department of the Interior for big game, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Transportation also have programs that contribute to migration corridor conservation,” said Madeleine West, Center for Public Lands director for the TRCP. “The legislation would direct DOI, USDA, and DOT to coordinate together, and with states and Tribes, to further migration corridor conservation.”

This past spring, West appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife where she encouraged lawmakers to make strategic investments in corridor research and conservation. Senator Padilla is Chair of the subcommittee. Support for wildlife corridor conservation has persisted across multiple presidential administrations and within state governments, both Republican and Democrat.

“We thank Senator Padilla and Representatives Zinke and Beyer for leading this legislation and supporting voluntary, cooperative conservation that will build on successful frameworks,” said Chuck Sykes, director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and president of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “State fish and wildlife agencies have developed conservation plans identifying and integrating wildlife movement and migration routes but need the funding to put these projects on the ground with their partners.”

“The Mule Deer Foundation applauds the introduction of this much needed legislation to ensure that conservation partners can continue to work with federal and state agencies in sustaining big game and other wildlife populations that move from place to place,” said Steve Belinda, Chief Conservation Officer for the Mule Deer Foundation. “This bill allows the partnership approach that is already happening to continue and provides essential funding to ensure future collaboration and management of wildlife and their habitat is successful.”

“The Wildlife Movement Through Partnerships Act is directly aligned with the mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and we thank Senator Padilla and Representatives Zinke and Beyer for introducing this bipartisan and bicameral legislation,” said Kyle Weaver, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “RMEF has successfully advocated in Washington D.C. to prioritize migratory areas through Interior Secretarial Order 3362, the Wildlife Highway Crossings Pilot Program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and USDA’s Migratory Big Game Initiative. Generous contributions by RMEF members and partner organizations have allowed us to make these valuable habitat investments critical to conserving and improving elk and wildlife habitat. RMEF’s mapping work has accelerated through partnerships with U.S. Geological Survey researchers at the University of Wyoming and partnerships with state wildlife agencies and the federal land management agencies in the Interior and Agriculture Departments. Passage of Wildlife Movement Through Partnerships Act will send a clear message that Congress prioritizes big game migration and habitat enhancement now and in the future.”

Photo Credit: USFWS

June 21, 2024

TRCP to Engage in Forest Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement for National Old Growth Amendment

Organization encourages the U.S. Forest Service to support conservation that includes proactive forest management within nation’s old growth forests

Today, the U.S. Forest Service published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that will amend 122 land management plans across the National Forest System to direct future management of old growth forests. The national amendment aims to establish consistent management direction and develop adaptive management strategies that maintain and enhance old-growth forest conditions.

“Hunters and anglers have long been key stakeholders engaged in shaping management decisions across our nation’s 193-million-acre National Forest System,” said Michael O’Casey, deputy director of Forest Policy and Northwest Programs for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The sporting community understands the importance of forest diversity, including old forests, and TRCP is encouraged that the agency’s modified proposed action supports active stewardship which will ensure key forest management tools remain available.”

Resilient, functioning forest ecosystems provide clean air, water, viable plant and animal populations, carbon sequestration, and cultural values to society. Old growth stands are integral components of these ecosystems, and the hunting and fishing community also recognizes the importance of supporting young and middle-aged stands to sustain wildlife habitat.

Forests are dynamic, evolving landscapes, requiring adaptive management across varied ages and stages to thrive. The Forest Service’s proposed action on old growth demonstrates that the agency recognizes active restoration is critical to maintaining older forests in many places on the landscape.

“Proactive stewardship activities like controlled burns, mechanical thinning, and stewardship contracting help to maintain and restore forest health by mitigating the risk of severe wildfires, disease outbreaks, and insect infestations, which are the leading threats to forest health today,” continued O’Casey. “Forest stewardship also supports mill infrastructure and forest industry jobs, components that are necessary to increase the pace and scale of needed restoration projects across the country.”

Over the next 90 days, the TRCP will work closely with our partners and engage our members to provide detailed comments that ensure a final policy will benefit the health and resilience of our forests.

Learn more about TRCP’s recent work on our nation’s forests HERE.

Photo Credit: Jack Lander

New Video Highlights Why Investments in Arizona’s Sky Islands Will Benefit Hunters for Generations

TRCP’s new video explains how BIL and IRA investments in Arizona’s Sky Islands will benefit hunters for generations.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act presenting a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the restoration and renewal of our nation’s public lands, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is sharing a short video, the final video of a three-part series, highlighting the benefits of these critical investments to hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationalists in Arizona’s Sky Islands landscape.

The hunting and fishing-focused conservation nonprofit has posted the video (embedded below) to their YouTube Channel to ensure that hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationalists are aware of the significant benefits to fish, wildlife, and habitat.

Arizona’s mountainous Sky Islands, often rising over 6,000 feet above the surrounding Sonoran desert grasslands, boast extraordinarily diverse ecosystems that are seldom found in other parts of the West. This unique landscape harbors a distinctive mix of game species such as pronghorn, mule deer, and numerous species of quail, offering incredible, year-round hunting opportunities across the southern part of the state. Through a $9.59 million investment, complemented by $2.3 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the BLM is working to restore Sonoran grassland habitat, protect crucial migration corridors, and improve hunting opportunities for present and future generations of Americans.  

“We are thrilled to highlight how these investments are accelerating the restoration and resilience of this iconic landscape, while improving hunting opportunities for present and future generations,” said Christian Fauser, TRCP’s western water policy associate. “The BLM has needed these resources for a long time, and this is a huge win for public land conservation.”  

At the heart of the video is the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, where dedicated professionals are spearheading efforts to breathe new life into the region’s soaring landscapes. Featuring commentary from BLM’s Gila District staff as well as representatives from the Arizona Antelope Foundation and Arizona Fish and Game, the video emphasizes the critical role these investments play in safeguarding habitat for wildlife and ensuring recreational opportunities for the next generations of hunters and anglers.   

Watch the video HERE 

The TRCP is your resource for all things conservation. In our weekly Roosevelt Report, you’ll receive the latest news on emerging habitat threats, legislation and proposals on the move, public land access solutions we’re spearheading, and opportunities for hunters and anglers to take action. Sign up now

June 18, 2024

In the Arena: Jamie Dahl

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters, anglers, and conservationists who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation.

Jamie Dahl

Hometown: Fort Collins, CO
Occupation: Assistant Professor, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University
Conservation credentials: Natural resources educator and forester who uses fieldwork experiences to instill a conservation ethic – and an appreciation for hunting and angling’s role in conservation efforts – in the next generation.

Jamie Dahl is a dyed-in-the-wool outdoorswoman of Pennsylvania roots. She’s been everything from a certified wildland firefighter and chainsaw course instructor to a professional forester and volunteer coordinator. In her personal life, she’s a hiker, hunter, angler, and mother mentoring two sons on sporting ethics and natural resources stewardship. Her career currently centers on teaching college students how our natural environment and social justice issues connect to everything and everyone

Here is her story.

Photo Credit: Bill Cotton/Colorado State University

One of my most memorable hunts came while turkey hunting with my husband in Colorado. Being from Pennsylvania, we were still figuring out turkey hunting in the West (really, we still are). We were sitting in some ponderosa pines on public land in the Estes Park area, where we often heard gobblers, but most commonly far off or on the next slope. That morning when we heard the gobbler my husband and I got set. He made a good mouth call and started to call the gobbler in. The bird was responding, getting closer.

Eventually, he came into view. It was my first time seeing the full-on strut, colors, and performance so close. The gobbler’s colors were so striking.

“There’s nothing quite like the quick adrenaline rush when you hear that gobble on a crisp spring morning.”

I never had a clean shot because several hens protected that gobbler. It seemed like they knew it was a trick. They blocked and surrounded that gobbler the entire time, who just strutted and seemed to be clueless. There’s nothing quite like the quick adrenaline rush when you hear that gobble on a crisp spring morning.

I actually started hunting later in life. My uncle hunted throughout my childhood, and though I was not interested back then, I would often eat the meat he harvested. When I went to Penn State University to study forestry, my boyfriend at the time hunted, as did his family. I would sometimes join them in late-muzzleloader season in Pennsylvania to just observe.

Photo Credit: Jamie Dahl

I later met my husband, Chris, at PSU, who also grew up hunting. He and his family were also supportive of my interest. Eventually, a Penn State colleague invited me to participate in a special hunter education program for students and faculty called “Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow.” That program gave me the knowledge and skills to feel more confident and truly start hunting in my early 20s.

My favorite time to hunt is still late-muzzleloader deer season in Pennsylvania, with family. The family part is the key. My husband’s family and friends have an awesome tradition of gathering during that season, particularly the first week, which is late December and January in Pennsylvania, so it can be very cold. If we’re lucky, there’s snow. I harvested my first deer there with a flintlock muzzleloader, a special experience, and friends and family were right there.

We hunt in small groups and generally stop for a hot lunch together at someone’s home. The social part is what makes it memorable. There are usually three generations participating, and since we live in Colorado now, we especially cherish times when we can join. If we are lucky enough to harvest a deer, we process it together and folks still in need will share the meat. If we aren’t lucky? Hunting and fishing licenses and equipment dollars help pay for conservation, so I joke in the many seasons I don’t harvest an animal that I still did my part to support conservation.

Besides hunting and fishing for fun, I work in environmental communications and education. So when I think of challenges to conservation my brain goes to the need for changing behavior related to the land, air, and water we’re all connected to. In Colorado, we have extreme recreation pressure, climate change, pressure on limited resources, wildland fire, and habitat and species loss. But the real challenge is getting people to understand these complexities, so they want to take day-to-day actions to help.

Photo Credit: Bill Cotton/Colorado State University

As I discuss with the students I teach at Colorado State University (CSU), the environment and social justice connect to everything and everyone. How can we provide solid natural resources education and messaging to get people to conserve and steward this one planet? To get everyone to care about climate change? We all have a stake in it, yet they are complex issues that we do not all agree on. We need all different types of people involved, or we will not find practical solutions that fit. Some groups have historically been left out of the decision-making, and that has to change.

Our own tactics to communicate about environmental problems are often lacking; most conservation professionals are not trained in communication and outreach. There are also barriers for some to access the outdoors; this is another key area that gets overlooked. Who is participating, and who is not? Why? Where is the decision-making power? These are some questions I like to ask. I do not have many women friends who hunt (and I look for them); when I hunt and fish, I also do not tend to see much racial and ethnic diversity, though that is very slowly changing.

“If you’ve ever harvested your own food, you can likely connect to a greater appreciation for it.”

The fact is hunting and angling participation has decreased in recent decades. There are many reasons for this, but one is that many families and youth are further removed from the outdoors. There is also research that shows folks’ value orientation is changing. I respect those who say hunting and fishing are not for them; however, if you work in natural resources and the environment, it is essential to understand these activities as conservation tools.

Photo Credit: Jamie Dahl

People are more likely to care about the environment, and to vote for and volunteer for it, if they are exposed in their youth. In our household, both parents hunt, so our children (ages 10 and 4) are exposed to the harvest of game. Our oldest son has been interested in hunting and fishing since he was a toddler, and being outside keeps us off our electronic devices.

He especially loves fishing. It is an activity the whole family can easily access and presents a challenge. We learn things together when we do it: what bait or lure do we need, where are the fish today, how do we take care of a fish if we catch one requiring release, and, if we keep one, how will we clean and cook it? Youth gain many important benefits from this experience.

Photo Credit: Jamie Dahl

If you’ve ever harvested your own food, you can likely connect to a greater appreciation for it. We know food does not just appear in plastic wrap at the grocery store. We scout, hike, and practice our aim or cast to potentially harvest some of our dinner for the day or the year. And we appreciate the sacrifice of the animal to help sustain us.  

I’ll take a day in the woods over a device any time.

Banner photo courtesy of Jamie Dahl

Learn more about nature-based solutions to climate change through habitat conservation.

Support TRCP’s Campaign for Conservation, Habitat, and Access

The TRCP is your no-B.S. resource for all things conservation. In our weekly Roosevelt Report, you’ll receive the latest news on emerging habitat threats, legislation and proposals on the move, public land access solutions we’re spearheading, and opportunities for hunters and anglers to take action. Sign up now.



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.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

Learn More

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