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June 27, 2024

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June 26, 2024

TRCP Celebrates New Wildlife Management Areas in the Final Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests Plan

823,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas a positive step to limit disturbance of sensitive big game habitats and migratory routes

Recently, the U.S. Forest Service finalized a revised Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests Plan after nearly a decade of planning and public input.

The new GMUG Forests Plan sets the guidelines that Forest Service staff must follow when planning and managing for multiple uses across over 3 million acres of national forest in southwest Colorado. This new plan enables the Forest Service to utilize the most up to date science to inform multiple-use management decisions, such as wildlife habitat improvement projects, timber harvest, road and trail development, off road vehicle use, fire mitigation, wildfire response, and disease management.

“The TRCP joins Colorado’s hunters and anglers in thanking the Forest Service for establishing 823,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas and adding Rocky Mountain and Desert Bighorn sheep to the GMUG’s list of Species of Conservation Concern,” said Liz Rose, Colorado field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These concrete management priorities will ensure the big game species that rely on the Forests are conserved.”

Within the new WMAs, Forest staff must consider wildlife habitat function and connectivity when making management decisions. In an attempt to minimize habitat loss and provide a minimum threshold of security habitat for big game and other wildlife, the final plan has set a cap on the total miles of Forest Service roads and trails that can be built within each WMA. Establishing a total route density limit for WMAs is valuable to influence future project-level decisions that prevent road and trail construction through the most sensitive habitats, ensuring that habitat connectivity and function remains at the forefront of management considerations.

“I’d like to personally thank TRCP members and supporters who attended public meetings and submitted comments to the USFS regarding the GMUG Forests Plan revision during the scoping period in 2017, on the draft plan in 2019, and during the objection period in 2023,” continued Rose. “Taking action and describing our collective values and priorities to federal agency staff is an integral part of the planning process.”

These WMAs also set a valuable precedent for other relevant forests within Colorado and the West on how to plan responsible, multiple-use management that conserves the most sensitive big game habitats.

“We encourage other Forests to build on lessons learned to establish productive WMAs elsewhere that will capitalize on the growing body of science related to minimizing disturbance to big game and maximizing habitat connectivity and function so herds remain healthy and stable,” concluded Rose.

Learn more about TRCP’s work in Colorado HERE.


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.

Photo Credit: Ray F.

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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

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In the Arena: Joshua Torrez

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

Joshua Torrez

Hometown: Denver, CO
Occupation: Founder of Afuera Outdoors
Conservation credentials: Torrez, founder of Afuera Outdoors, an organization dedicated to introducing and enhancing the outdoor experience to Spanish-speaking communities, also sits on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

Since his first memories of fishing the streams outside of Leadville, Colorado, Torrez has been spending time outdoors and sharing his passion with others. Torrez founded Afuera Outdoors after recognizing a knowledge gap, particularly among the next generation of diverse hunters and anglers due to limited access, and has been driven to empower others with the understanding that we can actively conserve our natural spaces by voicing our concerns and uniting our efforts.

Here is his story.

Torrez (right) poses with a successful young angler at a recent Afuera Outdoors event with the Couer d’Alene Tribe in Idaho.

I was introduced to fishing by my father on the streams of Leadville, Colorado, where we bonded over the joys of catching and eating brook trout. To this day, my dad remains my best fishing partner. One of my most memorable outdoor adventures was rafting through Browns Canyon in Salida, Colorado. I was a newer fly fisherman at the time. During the trip, I had the exhilarating experience of catching the largest brown trout of my life using my fly rod. The moment of the catch was particularly thrilling as it happened while navigating through a set of challenging rapids. After some tense moments stabilizing the boat, I successfully reeled in the fish. This experience left a lasting impression on me and even inspired me to speak up during the public comment session for the Arkansas River National Monument.

If I could fish anywhere, I would choose a trip to Chile and Argentina, specifically Patagonia, to fly fish the Limay River, Malleo River, Simpson River, and the Palena River. Not only would I have the opportunity to pursue my passion for fly fishing in some of the world’s most renowned waters, but I would also immerse myself in the rich culture of the region. Additionally, the trip would provide an excellent opportunity to continue my life-long Spanish practice. I have a deep admiration for South America, and I aspire to experience it fully as an angler.

Torrez (left) poses with wardens and fisheries biologists at a recent Afuera Outdoors event with the Couer d’Alene Tribe in Idaho.

Conservation enhances my outdoor life by ensuring that the natural environments where I fish and hunt remain healthy and accessible. It ensures that future generations, including my own, will have the opportunity to experience the same joys of outdoor activities that I have enjoyed. Conservation efforts also help safeguard and restore habitats, ensuring diverse ecosystems, and thriving populations of fish and game, which ultimately enriches my outdoor experiences.

I initially identified as just an angler who cherished the outdoors. However, my perspective changed when I was approached to join the Board of Directors for the Colorado Wildlife Federation following a speech I delivered at the Arkansas River National Monument meeting. Through this experience, I’ve come to appreciate the influential role that both hunters and anglers play in conservation efforts. Attending National Wildlife Federation meetings further solidified my commitment to conservation, leading me to establish Afuera Outdoors. Recognizing a knowledge gap, particularly among the next generation of diverse hunters due to limited access, I am driven to empower others with the understanding that we can actively conserve our natural spaces by voicing our concerns and uniting our efforts. It has become my mission to advocate for responsible conservation practices.

Conservation should matter to the next generation of hunters and anglers because it ensures the natural environment they rely on for their activities. By educating children in both Spanish and English about the value and joys of fishing, we instill in them a love for the outdoors and a desire to conserve it. Just as I was shown, they need to understand that they can make a difference.

Learn more about Afuera Outdoors and participate in an upcoming event HERE.

Photos Courtesy of Joshua Torrez.


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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

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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