|Join BHA, help us stop this national land grab!|
A radical cry to wrest our national forests and Bureau of Land Management land away from public ownership is being heard throughout the West. That cry should alarm all Americans who cherish their freedom to hunt and fish.
The American people own 450 million acres of national forest, rangeland, wildlife refuges and national parks. Some of these lands are famous while others are obscure "secret spots." They include trout streams, elk pastures, duck marshes and huckleberry patches. Our federal land system and outdoor heritage is the envy of the world and depends on keeping federal public lands out of state ownership.
Last month, 60 elected officials from nine western states met in Utah to hear a lawyer’s twisted argument that our federal public lands birthright is somehow unconstitutional.
The following is Montana BHA's response to a recent survey conducted by the Environmental Quality Council in regards to the management of federal lands in the state.
Montana Environmental Quality Council
PO Box 201704
Helena, MT 59620-1704
Attention: EQC Members:
As a statewide hunting and angling organization, Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (MT BHA) consists of over 300 engaged Montana men and women. The following is our response to SJ 15 and the recent survey of counties re SJ15 by EQC.
Resident hunters and anglers in Montana are increasingly dependent on public lands to hunt and fish, as most private lands have become much more difficult to access. In fact, approximately 68 percent of resident hunters hunt on public land. This is important to note as only 29% of the state is held in federal ownership. To attempt to accommodate hunters and anglers on less than a third of the state will require very careful management of habitat for both wildlife and fish. Hence to retain huntable and fishable populations, protecting and enhancing habitat to support these species should be the core element considered for the management of public land.
As a big game hunter who (like over 90% of Colorado sportsmen) hunts public lands, the recent push by some elected officials and big-industry groups to transfer our federal public lands to state ownership, or to sell them off outright to private interests, is more than a little troubling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that long ago (during the Bush administration years) that similar shenanigans were taking place: former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) introduced a bill requiring the federal government to sell off 15 percent of national forest lands and 15 percent of lands managed by Interior Department agencies.
More recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget engineered by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that supports selling “unneeded acreage” of federal land on the open market. And here in Colorado, legislation sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R) and Senator Scott Renfroe (R) is aimed at “transferring” our federal lands to the state. But all such proposals are bad for sportsmen, bad for wildlife and bad for anyone who recreates on public lands.
Wyoming BHA is hosting it's 2nd Annual Pole Mountain Workday, August 2nd in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.
This year, we will also be joined by members of the local Trout Unlimited. Join us in the morning, as we work to restore habitat disturbed by illegal motorized use. We'll finish the day off around lunchtime with a wild game cook-off. Bring your friends, family and some wild game to grill!
We'll meet at the Lincoln Monument at 9:00 a.m. Lunch will be provided.
Hope to see you there!
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.