As you’re aware, Rep. Rob Bishop, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, unveiled a discussion draft of his Utah Public Lands Initiative proposal on Jan. 20. Since this collaborative process was initiated, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has been working locally on the ground in Utah, with Chairman Bishop and other partners in the hunting and fishing community, to advance balanced solutions that provide greater certainty to business interests like energy development while simultaneously elevating consideration of fish, wildlife, water and intact landscapes. While BHA appreciates the spirit of this effort, we are concerned that some elements of this proposal prioritize other uses at the expense of our public lands, fish and wildlife, and hunting and angling traditions.
Following are BHA’s responses to specific elements of the proposal:
If you hunt or hike the High Unitas, here is a chance to comment on the grazing of domestic sheep in the high country. The best scientific evidence gathered suggest that this grazing likely has a major negative impacts on bighorn sheep populations in that area.
By Utah Coordinator, Ken Theis
Several months ago it came to light that traditional bow hunters are the fastest growing segment of BHA’s membership. My own interest in shooting my long-neglected recurve bow had been re-kindled a couple of years ago (independently of the popular movies featuring attractive young women shooting recurve bows, I might add!), so I was pleased to learn that other traditional archers are discovering that the BHA philosophy fits nicely with their chosen pursuit. The challenges and limitations of using recurves and long bows depend on having close encounters with our quarry. Such encounters are particularly dependent on having access to high quality habitat and wildlife undisturbed by motorized activity.
To encourage more support for BHA from this segment of outdoorsmen and women, I’ve been participating in discussions on an online forum devoted to traditional archery. In monitoring some of these discussions, I discovered some interesting perceptions about BHA. Not all were positive.
One fellow raised a question, “Why does it seem that BHA is opposed to everything?” Maybe he had read about BHA’s opposition to illegal ATV activity on public land. Or possibly he was aware of the debate over transferring federal lands to western states where they could be more easily sold off to private interests.
Nearly 50 years ago, while most of America was focused on the growing conflict in Viet Nam, some forward-thinking individuals were considering the needs of the nation at home. The growing social and environmental movement gave rise to a number of new laws that provided protection for clean water, clean air, and human rights as part of LBJ’s vision for America that he termed “The Great Society.”
Among the pieces of historic legislation passed in that era were the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the Land and Water Conservation Act in 1965. Both of these legislative Acts were instrumental in protecting wild habitat at a time when access to quality hunting and fishing was relatively easy. Without this legislation, however, the opportunity to hunt and fish on public land would likely be much different today.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act established for the first time a system specifically for financing acquisition of needed outdoor recreation areas while they were still available and affordable. It is important to note that the Fund is not tax payer-funded but is generated from a small percentage of the fees collected from off-shore oil and gas drilling.
By BHA Utah Coordinator, Ken Theis
Regardless of the type of equipment one chooses in the pursuit of big game, whether recurve or compound bow, muzzle loader or rifle, hunters all want the same thing—a rewarding experience for their efforts. For some, that might mean plenty of game and lots of opportunities to select an animal from among several possible candidates. It might be the chance to put some healthy meat in the freezer. Yet for others, the payoff may simply be time in the field and a chance to take any legal animal they might encounter. Any hunting experience, however, is more rewarding and exciting when the hunter encounters the game he or she seeks.
Today, despite ever encroaching motorized incursion, there are still some places where good numbers of game animals exist for those willing to make the effort to seek them out. These are the areas that Backcountry Hunters & Anglers actively works to protect.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.