Recreational Access to Wild Landscapes by RMEF and BLM

An earlier post seems to have shared with a broken link to information about sportsmen and public land access, so I’m trying it again with this news about Recreational Access to lands. Let me know how it goes!

National Program Critical for Recreational Access

RMEF logo high resolution

MISSOULA, Mont.—A funding mechanism with a long name provides long-lasting benefits for hunters, anglers, hikers and others seeking improved access to America’s wild landscapes.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to leverage more than $1 million in appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Priority Recreation Access program to open or improve access to nearly 55,000 acres of public land across four states.

Congress recently boosted LWCF to $425 million—a $25 million increase over 2017 but it did not permanently reauthorize the program which is set to expire September 30.

“LWCF is absolutely vital if we want to continue to permanently protect and provide access to habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation calls on Congress to permanently reauthorize this crucial program.”

RMEF’s most recent LWCF project was the conveyance of a 93-acre tract of land, known as the Cow Island Trail project, to the BLM that improves access to more than 6,000 acres of adjacent public land in north-central Montana’s Missouri River Breaks region.

“Expanding access to public lands for hunting and fishing is one of the BLM’s top priorities,” said Brian Steed, BLM deputy director for policy and programs. “Partnering with RMEF allows us to utilize critical funding to secure access to parcels like the Cow Island Trail project, which in turn broadens access now and ensures it for the future.”

Below is a list of RMEF-BLM projects utilizing LWCF-Priority Recreation Access funding.

RMEF Project (Amount in LWCF Funding)
Cache Creek, California ($321,000)
Cow Island Trail, Montana ($97,500)
La Barge Creek, Wyoming ($192,000)
Tex Creek IV, Idaho ($400,000)

LWCF helps conserve wild and undeveloped places, cultural heritage and benefits fish, wildlife and recreation. Its funding comes from royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The royalties bring in $900 million annually, most of which is diverted to other federal programs.

“It takes great partners like the BLM to provide improved access opportunities for sportsmen and women but it also takes funding. These LWCF-Priority Recreation Access funds are absolutely critical in both conserving prime wildlife habitat and opening or improving access to it,” added Henning.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 227,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.3 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.


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Lory 23, Hikers overlooking the Lake and surrounding scenery, Lory

Sportsmen and Public Receive Access to Additional Lands

Here in the wild west, sportsmen take public land for granted until they’re in an area where there isn’t much. We even experience it here in Colorado; the front range (eastern half of the state) has mostly private land and the western slope has a lot of open space. Out east they’re continually asking for more access. That’s why this proposal is a bit of good news.

NRA Applauds Effort to Open Up Public Lands to Sportsmen

Thanks Sec. Zinke for Seeking to Expand Hunting Opportunities

NRA PR LOGOFairfax, Va.— The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) applauds U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for his effort to give America’s outdoorsmen and women greater opportunities to hunt and fish on public lands.

Sec. Zinke announced a proposal to open more than 248,000 acres to new hunting and fishing opportunities in 30 national wildlife refuges. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal would take steps to simplify regulations to more closely match state hunting and fishing regulations. If finalized, the proposed changes would be implemented in time for the upcoming 2018-2019 hunting season.

“Sec. Zinke and I both grew up hunting and fishing and want to ensure that our children and grandchildren have those same outdoor opportunities,” said Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA executive director. “Our young people need to get out in nature more and unplug from the digital world. Sec. Zinke’s effort to open up more of our public lands for outdoor recreation will benefit not only our youth, but all Americans for generations to come.”

The Department of the Interior’s proposal outlines expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 136 national wildlife refuges. If finalized, it would bring the number of units of the National Wildlife Refuge System where the public can hunt to 377, and the number where fishing is permitted to 312.

Note: The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 30 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register in coming days. The notice will be available at www.regulations.gov, docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2018-0020, and will include details on how to submit your comments. An interim copy of the proposed rule is now available at https://www.fws.gov/home/pdfs/Proposed_2018-2019_Hunt_Fish_Rule_signed.pdf.

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Follow the NRA on social at Facebook.com/NationalRifleAssociation and Twitter @NRA.


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New Mexico Counties Oppose Public Lands Transfer

In New Mexico, there are lands owned by the state, on which we enjoy hunting. While I have personally enjoyed hunting an guiding on some of these properties, I’m not set on allowing the state to manage additional lands. What is your outlook on these public land transfers?

Three New Mexico Counties Oppose Transfer of America’s Public Lands to the State


RooseveltEddy, Harding, and Mora county commissioners join a growing list of local decision makers issuing official statements of support for public lands in their communities

MORA, N.M. — The Board of County Commissioners for Mora County, N.M., passed a resolution affirming their commitment to keeping public lands in public hands. This action underscores a local movement, with Eddy and Harding county commissions having approved similar resolutions this summer, and a groundswell of support for public lands across the West.

This local opposition to the state takeover of public lands supports every American’s ability to hunt, fish, and find solitude in the outdoors. Each county resolution recognizes the importance of public lands for basic economic activities such as:

  • Providing fish and wildlife habitat and opportunities for outdoor recreation—including hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife-watching, horseback riding, and bicycling—that are essential to residents’ quality of life.
  • Attracting outdoor recreation tourism that drives local spending and employs hundreds of county residents.
  • Preserving historically significant and irreplaceable cultural sites and landscapes.

“Public lands provide unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunities in our state,” says Jim Bates, an avid sportsman from Las Cruces, N.M. “I’m proud to live in a place where elected officials value public lands and see how unworkable and unnecessary the idea of state takeover is to millions of Americans. I hope that other counties across the West will take up this banner in support of our outdoor heritage.”

Mora County is home to the Mora River and Canadian River, which offer excellent trout fishing, as well as Ocate Peak and Old Santa Fe Trail, which are popular with hunters pursuing elk, pronghorns, mule deer, bears, cougars, turkeys, and various small game animals.

Eddy County—where commissioners passed a similar resolution on June 27— has approximately 2.5 million acres of public lands that are valued by sportsmen and women for their abundant opportunities to pursue elk, mule deer, Barbary sheep, pronghorns, bears, pumas, doves, quail, waterfowl, trout, and bluegills.

In the northern part of the state, Harding County passed its own resolution of support for public lands offering fishing, camping, hiking, and backpacking in the Canadian River Canyon, Mills Canyon, and Mosquero Canyon. The Kiowa National Grasslands is also a very popular deer hunting area.

“These elected officials have proven their commitment to America’s public lands and they should be commended by sportsmen beyond their county limits,” says John Cornell, New Mexico field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This movement of support for keeping public lands accessible and well managed, which has been echoed in county governments across the West, further proves that New Mexico can be the posterchild state for strong coordination and multiple-use on our public lands.”

A total of 29 pro-public-lands resolutions have been passed by county and municipal governments across the West in the past two years—eight have now been passed in New Mexico. For links to these resolutions and other public statements of support for public lands, visit sportsmensaccess.org.

View this press release on the web.
For more information on the TRCP visit our website.
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Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing. By ensuring access to quality fish and wildlife habitat, we’re also safeguarding the $887 billion that sportsmen and women help contribute to the American economy.


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House Votes to Eliminate Sportsmen’s Voice on Public Land Use

House Votes to Eviscerate Rule Giving Sportsmen More Say on Public Land Use
Representatives would revert BLM land-use planning back to an ineffective and outdated rule and prevent positive changes from being included in future revisions
Roosevelt
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Using an obscure legislative process, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block the BLM’s new land-use planning rule, known as Planning 2.0, and roll back the additional opportunities the rule affords the public to voice concerns about land management decisions on 245 million acres. The Senate is expected to vote on a similar resolution next week.

Nineteen sportsmen’s groups, conservation organizations, outdoor recreation trade associations, and businesses that rely on public lands sent a letter to congressional leadership this week opposing the move to roll back Planning 2.0 through the Congressional Review Act, a little-known law that enables Congress to strike down regulations within 60 legislative days of their enactment. Once repealed through this process, a substantially similar rule cannot be rewritten.

The letter urges lawmakers to allow the incoming Secretary of the Interior a chance to address concerns with the new rule, rather than scrap it altogether.

“A Congressional Review Act repeal of the BLM planning rule would eliminate Planning 2.0, revert BLM planning to a problematic decades-old planning process, and likely eliminate the BLM’s authority to revise its planning regulations ever again in the future,” says Joel Webster, director of Western lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This aggressive path benefits no one. We urge Congress to take a different course and address remaining concerns by working collaboratively with the new Secretary of the Interior.”

Many groups are frustrated by the potential lost momentum for improvements that would benefit wildlife habitat along migration corridors and in seasonal ranges. New technology has revealed critical data on these important areas, which are not considered under the old planning rule, which was largely developed in 1983.

“Under the spirit of Planning 2.0, improvements are already being made to the way we conserve once overlooked habitat that elk, mule deer, and other big game animals rely on, even if it’s just for a portion of their journey,” says Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Increased coordination under the rule will only mean that the best possible science is used to our advantage, not ignored.”

Outdoor businesses deserve better, but sportsmen and women will not stay quiet on this issue, says Ben Bulis, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “If recent public outcry against bad public land policy proves anything, it’s that we’ll be heard either way—we’d just rather be part of the democratic process.”

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Congress Overreaches to Roll Back Americans’ Say in Public Land Management

Lawmakers pursue obscure legislative process for blocking a new rule created to give the public more say in management plans for 245 million acres of BLM public lands

RooseveltWASHINGTON, D.C. – Sportsmen, landowners, and former Bureau of Land Management employees strongly criticized a move by senators and representatives to overturn the BLM’s revised land-use planning rule, known as Planning 2.0. Using the obscure and rarely used Congressional Review Act, federal decision makers took a first step toward repealing the new rule and rolling back opportunities for the public to have more say in land management decisions.

In a statement, Senate co-sponsors of a Congressional Review Act resolution cite bad information about the final rule, namely that it fails to prioritize feedback from all stakeholders, including local governments. However, if lawmakers are successful, the BLM would be forced to continue using outdated guidelines for land-use planning established in 1983, which keep the public in the dark until very late in the planning process.

“It has been publicly recognized by county commissioners and conservation districts that the BLM took meaningful steps between the draft and final planning rules to accommodate requests from local governments and the public to improve the process,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now, Congress is working to reduce agency transparency and limit the public’s ability to have a say in how their public lands are managed. While a few concerns might remain, Congress is going about this the wrong way.”

 

CLICK TO SHOP

The Congressional Review Act is a little-known law that enables Congress to roll back regulations within 60 legislative days of their enactment. The BLM planning rule, while under development since 2014, was finalized in December 2016, so it falls within the window of eligibility for repeal by the CRA. The process has only been successful once.

 

“The Western Landowners Alliance supports the BLM’s efforts in updating planning to meet today’s needs in the West,” says Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance. “There are opportunities for improvement, but not to the detriment of eliminating all the good progress that has been made to date. We believe working  through the Secretary of Interior is the best way to achieve our goals and constructively address any remaining concerns with the rule.”

Most disturbingly, once a rule is overturned through the CRA, no new rule that is “substantially the same” can be developed.

“A Congressional Review Act repeal would eliminate Planning 2.0 and likely eliminate the BLM’s authority to revise their planning regulations ever again in the future,” says Jesse Juen, president of the Public Lands Foundation and a longtime BLM employee. “Instead of stripping the incoming Secretary of the Interior of his authority before he takes office, lawmakers should work with the new administration to make refinements to a planning process that many stakeholders championed.”

Hunters and anglers in Western states can click here to write their lawmakers and urge them to let Planning 2.0 stand.


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No Sale or Transfer of Public Lands – RMEF

RMEF Maintains Stance:
No Sale or Transfer of Public Lands

RMEF logo high resolution

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation maintains its long-standing stance in adamantly opposing the sale or transfer of federal lands to states.

“We have always been against the sale or transfer of our public lands but now we’re seeing some western state legislatures mulling or taking action that could lead to that happening. We’re also hearing some chatter on the federal level,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This is dangerous for two reasons. First, it could result in the privatizing of these lands and the subsequent permanent loss of public access for hunters, anglers, hikers and others. Second, this discussion is a smoke screen of sorts that does nothing to address the real issue of the crucial need for active management of our forests.”

RMEF released a detailed position on the issue in 2016. In addition to stating an opposition to the wholesale disposal, sale or transfer of federal land holdings, it also highlighted the urgent need for active land management.

 

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The lack of active management has a detrimental impact on the landscape in the form of ailing forest health, an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and a reduction in quality habitat for elk and other wildlife.

 

RMEF maintains litigation reform is essential to limit non-stop, frivolous lawsuits by environmental groups that use their political agendas to frustrate the implementation of badly needed land management practices as they also seek to eliminate any consideration of multiple use in many national forests.

Additionally, RMEF maintains that some within public land management fundamentally oppose active management of forest and range resources in favor of a hands-off preservation approach to landscapes which has a detrimental effect on wildlife and wildlife habitat.

“We call on RMEF members across the nation and America’s sportsmen and women to contact representatives in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to urge them to provide federal land managers the tools and direction to develop and implement effective active land management procedures. We also call on them to strongly urge state and federal lawmakers to speak out against the sale or transfer of public lands to protect our ability to hunt, fish, camp, ride and recreate, and then hold them accountable for their actions.” added Allen.


About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 222,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” atwww.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.
Take action: join and/or donate.


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