By Brian Jennings
When the U.S. Forest Service was formed in 1905, it was charged with managing our public forests for the greater good of all. We all own them and have a right to use them. But the Forest Service is also charged with protecting the natural resources in our forests, and sometimes that means policy decisions don’t square with the wishes of everyone. A prime example concerns off-road travel on public lands in Northeast Oregon. Those who prefer OHV travel in the forests often clash with those who don’t, and in 2014 the USFS finds itself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to managing travel in Oregon’s largest national forest – the Wallowa Whitman. When forest supervisors rolled out a plan to close nearly half of the forest’s 9,100 miles of roads in 2012, local citizens objected so strongly the plan was rescinded. So, it’s back to square one, and a new process to develop a travel management plan is underway. In the meantime, cross - country travel is basically unrestricted in the Wallowa Whitman. Such travel often leads to habitat degradation. I saw it firsthand in a weeklong trip through the Blue Mountains while touring both the Umatilla and Wallowa Whitman National Forests.
By Ed Arnett and Greg Munther
The forthcoming decision on listing the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act has sparked controversy, fear and anger among Westerners. As expected, legislators are politicizing the issue — and not necessarily for the greater good.
Reps. Steve Daines of Montana and Cory Gardner of Colorado recently joined other members of Congress to introduce legislation that would delay the listing for 10 years. In Utah, legislators decided to use $2 million of taxpayer money on a controversial lobbyist-for-hire to fight for an unnecessary delay.
“Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
The secret’s been out for quite some time, Gunnison County is a sportsmen’s paradise, boasting some of the best backcountry hunting and fishing in the state of Colorado and arguably, the country. With numerous storied wilderness areas, miles-upon-miles of incredible and publicly accessible cold water fishing and plenty of wide-open public land to explore, sportsmen have good reason to work towards protecting the wild public lands and waters that make Gunnison County what it is.
Named by the Boone & Crocket Club as one of the top 125 counties for trophy hunting of all-time (68th), there’s good reason that many people wait years to hunt this storied and undeveloped landscape. Until the extremely controversial “spider bull” was killed recently, Gunnison County held the world record typical elk, taken in what is now the Raggeds Wilderness in 1899. While Gunnison’s hunting fame is centered on elk and deer, the area also offers great hunting for bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, waterfowl and grouse.
June 3, 2014
As sportsmen-conservation organizations representing millions of hunters and anglers nationwide, we ask you to oppose any legislation that would block the administration’s very deliberate and vital action to clarify and restore longstanding Clean Water Act protections for headwater streams and wetlands across the country.
America’s 47 million sportsmen rely on clean water for access to quality days in the field hunting, angling, and enjoying other outdoor-based recreation. When wetlands are drained and filled and streams are polluted, we lose the ability to pursue our passions and pass them on to our children. Moreover, pollution and destruction of headwater streams and wetlands threaten America’s hunting and fishing economy – which accounts for over $200 billion in economic activity each year and 1.5 million jobs, supporting rural communities in particular.
Since its enactment, the Clean Water Act has been highly successful at improving water quality and stemming the tide of wetlands loss. However, Clean Water Act safeguards for streams, lakes and wetlands have been eroding for over a decade because of a pair of Supreme Court decisions (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook Cty. v. Army Corps of Engineers (2001) and Rapanos v. United States (2006)) that cast doubt on more than 30 years’ worth of Clean Water Act implementation. As a result of the decisions, 60 percent of stream miles in the United States, which provide drinking water for more than 117 million Americans, are at increased risk of pollution and destruction. Wetlands are at risk as well. In fact, the rate of wetlands loss increased by 140 percent during the 2004-2009 period – the years immediately following the Supreme Court decisions. This is the first documented acceleration of wetland loss since the Clean Water Act was enacted more than 40 years ago during the Nixon administration.
REPORT (PDF): Plan ahead so hunting and sage grouse can thrive alongside energy development
Proactive strategies save sage-grouse habitat, protect treasured wildlife-based recreation and economy, provide needed certainty to oil and gas industry – without sacrificing energy output
MISSOULA—In advance of the annual Western Governors’ Association meeting next week, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers released a study today showing how sound planning can benefit severely-threatened sage grouse habitat areas – which are also prized hunting and recreation areas – without sacrificing energy development in the American West.
The sportsmen’s conservation group released the report, entitled “Conserving Greater Sage-Grouse: A Sportsmen’s Priority,” which shows that conserving the greater sage-grouse is crucial for Western states’ wildlife-based recreation and economies, and will also provide much-needed certainty and stability to the oil and gas industry.