January 5, 2013
Happy New Year!
Thanks for taking a few minutes to join in celebrating the activities and successes of Utah BHA over the past few months. We hope you enjoy this electronic newsletter.
2012 has been a good year for our young Utah Chapter. Since March, we have grown to 82 members, a whopping rate of over 300%. To further strengthen our voice with legislators and decision-makers, one of our goals for the coming year is to increase our membership by at least 50%. With your help, adding 40 new members to the Utah chapter is an achievable target. The recent member survey (thanks to those who participated!) revealed the majority of new members joined BHA because of a friend or family member. As our national co-chairman, Ben Long, said recently, “Word of mouth is the best advertising we have and there is no substitute for the personal touch.”
Please encourage your hunting and fishing friends and family members to join our efforts to protect Utah backcountry habitat, hunter access, and clean water.
Also, please consider volunteering some time to our chapter effort to protect Utah backcountry. Volunteer opportunities include a role for someone who would be willing to post items to our web page (an easy job, with training provided), and someone who could track news items on issues of interest to the chapter and help with composing newsletters, email alerts and news bulletins to our members.
In what we hope will be another exciting year for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, several key events are already scheduled.
International Sportsmens Exposition in Salt Lake City - March 14-17 (Thursday-Sunday)
Utah BHA will be manning an information table at the upcoming International Sportsmens Expo (ISE) at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah (15 min. south of Salt Lake City) on March 14-17, 2013. According to the Expo web page, ISE will offer a huge variety of hands-on features, fun contests, and free hunting and fishing seminars. But attendees really want to see and shop for...stuff, big and small, plus adventures nearby and around the world.
For more information about the ISE in Salt Lake City, click on this link:
We are pleased that nationally renowned backcountry hunter Randy Newberg, host ofthe Outdoor Channel’s On Your Own Adventures will be greeting visitors at our booth when he’s not presenting an Expo seminar on hunting wolves. Randy is a longtime supporter of BHA. Check out his web page:
For those who may not be familiar with On Your Own Adventures, the program focuses on “…hunting, in rugged conditions, with the challenges of public lands and public hunters.” BHA will be sponsoring a program in early 2013 featuring a mule deer hunt in the southern Rockies.
Utah BHA Social Get-together
In conjunction with the ISE show, we are planning a BHA gathering to provide members, friends and family members a chance to get acquainted, extend our BHA friendships, and swap hunting and fishing stories. This will be a social reception or gathering. The time and venue is in the planning stages; we will be sending out more information soon. BHA representatives will be on hand to discuss issues of interest and listen to any concerns members might have.
2nd Annual North American Rendezvous
We are fortunate that the second annual National BHA Rendezvous will be March 22-24 in Boise, Idaho as the relatively short drive will allow more of our members to attend. Last year’s National Rendezvous in Missoula was a terrific success and lots of fun and the event had a strong Utah showing. Many new friendships were made and undoubtedly more than a few new hunting and fishing-buddy partnerships were formed. Check out the BHA website for more details: www.backcountryhunters.org . The Utah chapter is also planning a mini-rendezvous for our chapter sometime in the spring of 2013. More information about this gathering will be provided in an upcoming newsletter.
Jay Banta recently attended a summit of smaller conservation organizations in Utah. BHA was the only organization there that was sportsmen-based and it was a real eye opener for the other groups. They recognize that speaking about habitat conservation to support the long Utah heritage of hunting and fishing is a strong message that will resonate with most Utahns and were very pleased to know that our BHA volunteers and staff work diligently towards that goal.
“It is my New Year’s wish to all that you get a bit of time out in some of our Utah wildlands. Doing so simply reinforces for me just how unique our state is and strengthens my conviction that protecting the incredible public lands opportunities to hunt and fish is duty of the highest calling.”
Member Josh Leavitt, owner of lightweight backcountry gear company Ruta Locura and an affiliate of gear company Titanium Goat (http://www.titaniumgoat.com/) continues to donate gear to our local chapter as well as to the National BHA for promotions. He has also been involved in winter range improvements in the Wasatch.
Members Bill Eckerle, Fred Sanders, and Margo Taylor, along with Utah BHA coordinator Ken Theis, have been involved in opposing the SkiLink project, an attempted congressional end-run around the Forest Service planning process for ski area development in the Wasatch Range. This past summer these BHA members requested and attended a personal meeting with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker to discuss the project. Mayor Becker is an avid bowhunter, bird hunter, and fly fisherman, and has previously expressed concerns regarding SkiLink that coincide with BHA’s stance on protecting backcountry values. Find out more about BHA’s position on the Utah chapter webpage
Dick Walter and his wife, Deb, of Moab, Utah have been active in attending meetings and writing letters protesting the BLM’s proposed leasing of four large tracts of land in the remote Dolores Triangle area of eastern Utah. The largely roadless and presently difficult-to-access area is categorized as “Critical Wintering Habitat” for deer and elk. Apparently the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources expressed no concerns about the leases and only recommended seasonal closures to surface drilling operations. Consequently, the BLM did not analyze site-specific impacts related to oil drilling or the effects of road building and subsequent motorized access. Upon hearing from Dick, BHA and other groups and individuals, the BLM subsequently dropped two of the four parcels pending further evaluation of their wilderness characteristics.
Members Jude Tuft, Moab, and Bryon Jones, Price, have reported positive interactions with resource agencies concerning ATV’s using closed trails. In one case, the Forest Service responded by installing or replacing signage on a non-motorized trail which effectively stopped ATV intrusions into areas where illegal ATV activity spoiled deer hunts for law-abiding hunters on foot. Thanks for your vigilance and dedication, guys.
As a reminder, BHA national has instituted a reward program for reporting illegal ATV activity. Check it out on the on the main BHA web page: http://www.backcountryhunters.org/ .
BHA Utah Coordinator Ken Theis, just returned from Washington D.C, where he and BHA coordinators Tim Brass (Colorado), Matt Scott (Washington) Derrick Reeves (Idaho) and our national development director Rose Caslar held meetings with staff members of legislators from Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and Utah, as well as White House staff on the Council of Environmental Quality. Discussion points included support for maintaining funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, opposition to the SkiLink project that threatens watersheds and wilderness values in the canyons east of Salt Lake, support for locally-led land use planning efforts, and most importantly--protecting wildlife habitat and non-motorized access to unroaded public lands.
Throughout the year, Ken has been working with county commissioners in Emery and San Juan Counties, getting out the word that BHA supports backcountry and roadless area protection, and that BHA wants to be involved in local land use planning efforts that affect sportsmen. Other activities include reviewing and commenting on agency environmental planning documents involving energy development in sensitive, wildlife-rich areas of eastern Utah and meeting with staff from the offices of Senator Hatch and Representative Jason Chaffetz.
One area of effort where all our members can contribute to local efforts is in the development of “Sportsmen Profiles.” These are short biographical sketches of people we know who hunt or fish in San Juan County. The idea behind this effort is to emphasize how important sportsmen are to rural economies. By sharing with the commissioners the real life experiences of real live people, the issue takes on a personal, rather than a merely theoretical aspect. If you or someone you know would be willing to share a story about their favorite hunting or fishing experience in San Juan County, please let Ken know. He can be reached by email by clicking here.