The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) is the United States' largest ever investment in infrastructure and included significant provisions for conservation. This legislation passed with a bipartisan majority in the House (228-206) and supermajority in the Senate (69-30) before being signed into law by President Biden. BHA supported provisions aimed at reclaiming public lands impacted by extractive development, maintenance and repair of Forest Service roads and trails, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat connectivity, and wildfire risk reduction. Specific conservation highlights in the bill include the following:
- Creating a new program focused on the reclamation of abandoned hardrock mines. This program was authorized for $3 billion; however, going forward BHA will be encouraging Congress to provide funding for this critical program that will restore fish and wildlife habitat contaminated by mine tailings and runoff.
- Creating a new program designed to reduce wildlife collisions on highways and roads while improving habitat connectivity for wildlife based on sound science, to be funded for $350 million.
- Authorizing $11.29 billion for the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to restore land and water degraded by coal mining.
- Appropriating $4.67 billion for the plugging, remediation and reclamation of orphaned oil and gas wells.
- Appropriating $250 million for the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trail Remediation Program, which will improve water quality and aquatic habitat while making Forest Service roads and trails more durable.
- Appropriating $1 billion for the National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Grant Program, to improve the passage and survival of anadromous fish species.
- Appropriating $3.3 billion for wildfire risk reduction.
- Removing the funding cap for the Reforestation Trust Fund, which will help the Forest Service plant 1.2 billion trees and address the backlog of 2 million acres of national forestland in need of reforestation.
The Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) was passed by the House through a partisan budget reconciliation process that avoids the filibuster. This $1.75 trillion legislative package includes funding for conservation priorities including habitat restoration, wildlife corridor preservation and the single largest investment ever in our national forests. The bill includes the following language supported by BHA:
- Appropriating $3 million for the Bureau of Land Management to revise rules and regulations to prevent the degradation of public lands from hardrock mining.
- Repealing the oil and gas leasing program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and buying back existing leases.
- Appropriating $240 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the National Wildlife Refuge System and state wildlife management areas.
- Appropriating $9.7 million for the USFWS for the conservation of wildlife corridors.
- Appropriating $38.8 million for the USFWS for grassland restoration and protection.
- Appropriating $1 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for conservation of Pacific salmon and steelhead populations and their habitat.
- Appropriating $2.5 billion for the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management for ecosystem restoration, habitat improvement and land management.
- Appropriating $27 billion for forestry and wildfire programs, including $14 billion for wildfire management through hazardous fuels reduction, $1.25 billion to the Forest Service for the Forest Legacy Program, and $450 million for the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Program.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773/S. 2372) was introduced in both chambers of Congress and received a hearing in both the House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This legislation would secure $1.3 billion in annual dedicated funding for state fish and wildlife agencies and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers for the management of at-risk species. BHA worked with our partners to create overwhelming bipartisan support for this important legislation, with our members sending over 7,000 messages to their members of Congress.
The House passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803) with a bipartisan vote of 227-200 and included a myriad of legislative proposals that would protect public lands and waters from the coast to coast, including the following priorities for BHA:
- Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act
- Central Coast Heritage Protection Act
- San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act
- Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act
- Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act
- Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
- Grand Canyon Protection Act
The House passed the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608) with a bipartisan vote of 393-33 under suspension of the rules, allowing it to expedite consideration of noncontroversial bills. BHA and a broad coalition of hunting groups support the legislation, which would fund coordinated management between the Agriculture Department and state wildlife agencies and departments of agriculture, authorizing $70 million over the next seven years. The bill also would fund CWD research and the development of educational programs to inform the public.
The relevant committees in the Senate and the House took up legislation that would prioritize the conservation of our public lands, waters and wildlife. We helped organize hearings and votes and advocated for the advancement of more than a dozen additional pieces of legislation, including the following:
- Veterans in Parks Act (H.R. 4300/S. 2580) Passed the House unanimously and was then passed through both chambers as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
- MAPLand Act (H.R. 3113/S. 607) Passed the House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
- Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 3326/H.R. 3330) Passed the House Natural Resources Committee by voice vote.
- Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act (S. 1589) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (S. 1493) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
- Ruby Mountains Protection Act (S. 609) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act (H.R. 2986/S. 607) which had a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
- REPLANT Act (H.R. 2049/S. 866) House Natural Resources Committee hearing. It was also included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684).
- Legacy Roads and Trails Act (H.R. 2816) House Natural Resources Committee hearing. Provisions were also included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684).
- Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (H.R. 577/S. 173) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. It was also included in the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803).
- Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (H.R. 999/S. 455) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. It was also included in the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803).
- Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act (H.R. 980) House Natural Resources Committee hearing. It was also included in the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803).
- PUBLIC Lands Act (S. 1459) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. Provisions were also included in the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803).
- Recreation Not Red Tape Act (S. 1864) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
- Simplifying Access for Outdoor Recreation Act (H.R. 3670/S. 1229) Passed the House Natural Resources Committee by voice vote and had a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
- Federal Interior Land Media Act (S. 1616) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
- Cape and Antler Preservation Enhancement Act (S. 2886) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
- Outdoor Recreation Act (S. 3266) Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
BHA coordinated with the sportsmen and women and environmental organizations to educate lawmakers about the appropriations provision that prohibits funding to be used to list the Greater sage-grouse on the federal threatened and endangered species list. We were successful in removing the provision from the House and Senate fiscal year 2022 funding legislation.
BHA voiced support for a wide-ranging proposal by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) that would invest $33.5 billion to facilitate restoration of wild salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers while sustaining agriculture and economic interests. Breaching the dams is predicted to result in a two- to threefold increase in salmon abundance in the Snake River basin.
With encouragement from BHA and other partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented the biggest-ever expansion of public hunting and fishing opportunities within the National Wildlife Refuge System. First initiated under Director Steve Williams and President George W. Bush, access expansions on refuges are the culmination of science-based evaluation and thoughtful management processes that required significant analysis. This new expansion will enhance public access to 2.1 million acres, encompassing 88 national wildlife refuges and one national fish hatchery. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit to legally challenge these expansions, and BHA was one of the first organizations to publicly respond in defense of the USFWS - and will be engaging with partners to support the USFWS as we fight for expanded access and opportunity.
At the urging of BHA and many of our conservation partners, the departments of Agriculture and Interior took action to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watershed from industrial mining. The announcement included an application for a 20-year mineral withdrawal including sulfide-ore copper mining on federal public lands in the watershed of the most visited wilderness area in the United States. This application process kicks off a comprehensive study of the potential effects of sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed. BHA will be working with our partner organizations to submit public comments for the record supporting a stop and study approach to any proposed sulfide-ore copper mineral leasing or development in the proposed withdrawal area of the Superior National Forest. We are requesting that the environmental analysis for the proposed minerals withdrawal study impacts associated with hardrock mineral development to nearby fish and wildlife, downstream public lands and waters and impacts to public access to the BWCAW. In addition to the action taken the administration, legislation that would permanently protect the BWCAW, the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 2794) was reintroduced by Rep. McCollum (D-MI) with support of BHA.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is reinitiating the process of utilizing the Clean Water Act to protect specific areas in Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest remaining wild salmon fishery. The announcement from the Biden EPA follows actions undertaken by the Trump administration, which worked to slow development of the Pebble Mine, a gold and copper mining project proposed for Bristol Bay, by requiring the Pebble Partnership to develop strategies for mitigating the project’s adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat. Today’s EPA action takes a critical next step, as the Trump administration decision is being appealed by the Pebble Partnership.
The Department of Agriculture announced it will end large-scale old-growth timber sales in the Tongass National Forest, focusing management practices instead on restoration, outdoor recreation opportunities and addressing factors such as climate change. This included the announcement of the rulemaking process to restore Roadless Rule protections to more than 9 million acres of the Tongass, the largest intact old-growth forest which serves as one of the world’s largest salmon spawning areas and a higher concentration of brown and black bears than anywhere else in North America.
The Department of the Interior suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge following their earlier temporary moratorium on new leasing in the refuge. While the coastal plain of this wildlife refuge unit had been off limits to leasing and development for 60 years, the first-ever lease sale was held in January of 2021 after being authorized by Congress. These decisions heed the calls of BHA and our partners, who have consistently urged decision-makers to utilize the best available science and avoid pursuing development in sensitive wildlife habitat across Alaska’s Arctic regions.
The Department of the Interior restored clarity to the implementation of and elevated conservation and access programs in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, reversing damaging measures put in place by former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The department also reinstated bipartisan language passed overwhelmingly by Congress in the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act and the Great American Outdoors Act. By rescinding the order from the previous administration, they removed a litany of rules governing deployment of LWCF funds that effectively eliminated funding for land acquisition projects by the Bureau of Land Management and stipulated that state and local officials could veto LWCF-funded land acquisitions from willing sellers — thereby infringing on the rights of private landowners. Interior’s new order also restores the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, LWCF’s only competitive grant program dedicated to underserved recreation needs in urban areas, a program experiencing increased demands and needs.
The Biden administration released a comprehensive “America the Beautiful” initiative that prioritizes collaborative conservation models that ensure accountability and public transparency, incentivize voluntary stewardship by private land owners, and focus on the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat important to public lands hunters and anglers. This builds upon the administration’s previous ambitious conservation goals, committing to an objective of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 in an approach steeped in active engagement by a broad range of stakeholders, including leadership by hunters and anglers through the https://www.huntfish3030.com initiative.
Chapter and Program Policy Accomplishments
- Policy – The Alaska Chapter submitted comments on a large BLM resource management plan, a BLM travel plan, federal subsistence proposals, and continued to engage on national priorities, some of which have reached large milestones. BHA has also been working towards the expected restoration of 2001 Roadless Rule fish and wildlife habitat protections on the Tongass National Forest. BHA remains invested in working with the EPA to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from Pebble Mine.
- Education – Alaska BHA hosted a virtual Small Game Hunting in Alaska event with special guests Rick Merizon and Cameron Carroll, biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The event was focused around the management of small game in Alaska, challenges of managing small game in a big state, ongoing research and how hunters can get involved.
- Stewardship – Alaska BHA partnered with the Bureau of Land Management on repairs caused by illegal ATV use on the Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail.
- Policy - The Alberta chapter of BHA successfully helped stop the development of two controversial coal mine development projects, which would have had disastrous impacts on fisheries and wildlife populations in the area.
- Education - The Alberta chapter hosted a Veterans Skills Camp in the foothills of Alberta through which attendees got hands on experience with various hunting techniques to help broaden and hone their abilities. Ground blinds, tree stands, and still hunting were some of the techniques that were covered.
- Stewardship - In January 2021, the Arizona Chapter assisted the Arizona Department of Game and Fish in using discarded Christmas Trees to create fish habitat at Saguaro Lake.
Armed Forces Initiative (AFI)
- Policy - The AFI program assisted with advocating for the passage of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act (AVROA) through direct engagement with key members of Congress and showing strong support of the bill through chapter social media accounts.
Education - Over the past year the AFI Active Duty Pillar conducted over 26 R3 Training & Education events. These events provided military members with the knowledge to begin hunting and sharpen their skills. Approximately 90 military members have received education through these classes.
- The AFI Veteran Pillar held three train-the-trainer dual skills camps, where we trained 40 veterans, representing 14 different states, not just on tactical hunting or fishing skills but also on the history of public lands, how public lands are managed and funded, the legislative process, and how to optimally engage with policy makers for public lands advocacy. In addition to this we held five state-based dual skills R3 camps for 45 veterans in their home states.
- Stewardship - The AFI program secured four wildlife guzzlers for Camp Pendleton and coordinated the installation in July. These guzzlers were half paid by the CA Chapter of BHA and half paid by Black Rifle Coffee Company.
- Policy - The Arkansas chapter led the fight to keep Pine Tree Research Station, a popular parcel of public hunting ground, in the public domain. This public property was originally transferred to the University of Arkansas by the U.S. Forest Service under the condition that the land would stay accessibly to the public. The Arkansas chapter worked with state agencies, legislators, and other nonprofits to stop the proposed sale of the property to a private owner and find a beneficial solution to all parties and #KEEPITPUBLIC.
- Education - The Arkansas chapter held multiple learn to hunt events which covered the introduction to archery, tree stands/saddles, gear scouting and navigation. Additionally, the chapter conducted two CWD presentations in conjunction with the Arkansas Game and Fish commissions.
- Stewardship - The Arkansas chapter conducted public land cleanups across the state, removing considerable amounts of waste from the landscape.
- Policy - BC BHA has been working as part of the Fish, Wildlife, Habitat Coalition to elevate the voice for wildlife and habitat and push for meaningful change. The coalition is made up of a diverse range of groups, hunting groups, outfitters, environmental groups and commercial interests. In tandem with this effort, BC BHA has worked to gain stakeholder representation on regional and provincial wildlife committees to have a more active voice in wildlife and habitat management.
- Stewardship - BC BHA wrapped up a major habitat cleanup effort on Little Mountain on Vancouver Island this fall with the last helicopter loads coming off the mountain on Nov. 21. This was a multi-year, collaborative project that removed a total of 49,000 pounds of trash from the mountain.
- Policy - BHA’s Collegiate Program hosted their first Field to Floor series during the spring semester focused on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which included a virtual panel in collaboration with The Wildlife Society, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. During the fall semester, students sent over 100 postcards to their senators urging them to pass RAWA.
- Education - BHA celebrated our second year of Hunting for Sustainability as a credited course through the University of Montana. The program also established our first waterfowl focused H4S program, also through the University of Montana, at the Teller Wildlife Refuge near Hamilton, Montana.
- Stewardship - The program successfully wrapped up the first year of the Public Land Owner Stewardship Fund with five clubs completing stewardship projects on their local public lands and waters.
- Policy - The California Chapter was very active in helping to defeat ill-advised legislation (SB252) that would have banned all bear hunting in the Golden State. CA Chapter board members went on podcasts, wrote blogs and made phone calls to get the word out about this legislation that would have derailed scientific management of the state’s robust and increasing bear population.
- Stewardship - With huge support from the U.S. Marine Corps, BHA Pendleton’s AFI club and the California Chapter of BHA helped to conduct a critical helicopter water haul operation to support big horn sheep in Southern California. Working with several state and federal organizations as well as numerous NGOs, volunteers helped to fill three different remote guzzler systems to support wildlife during a critical drought year.
- Education - The Capital Region Chapter hosted a series of educational evens in 2021, both virtual and in-person, including events aimed at basic and advanced turkey hunting, archery and upland bird hunting.
- Stewardship - The Capital Region Chapter partnered with Boy Scouts of America Troop 117 and the U.S. Forest Service to place seven fishing line collections bins at public fishing areas in the Lee Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.
- Policy - Following years of hard work by BHA members and supporters to expand public hunting and fishing access on state trust lands, a full 500,000 acres of new public hunting and fishing access was made available to all in 2021. CO BHA has been actively engaged on the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre Gunnison forest plan revision for years. In 2021 CO BHA officially published a GIS tool that they utilized to advance wildlife priorities, mobilize engagement from wildlife partners and highlight wildlife issues with the forest planning team and state agency partners leading up to and during the DEIS public comment period. You can read the chapter’s DEIS comments by following the link below.
- Education - The Colorado Chapter of BHA hosted a series of wildly successful and popular “Women in the Woods” outreach events aimed at equipping women hunters with the skills needed to head afield.
- Stewardship - Colorado BHA partnered with federal land management agency staff throughout the state to improve wildlife habitat corridors through the removal of dozens of miles of abandoned fence.
- Policy - The Florida Chapter engaged with state agencies in opposition to hunting buffers. These buffers were considered to be a dangerous precedent, as many cities and towns are actively hoping to eliminate hunting on public land and waters in the state.
- Stewardship - The Florida chapter hosted its first invasive fish fry. This event served to educate on invasive fish species and encourage Floridians to catch invasive fish through showing they can be delicious.
- Education - The Florida chapter hosted a deer scouting cookout and fundraiser. This event was an in-the-field opportunity to learn from experienced hunters and gain a new perspective on viewing the landscape.
- Policy - The Idaho chapter joined a number of other organizations to form United Payette, a coalition dedicated to conserving state endowment lands around Payette Lake. The chapter submitted comments on issues including federal land use management plans, Idaho Transportation Department plans, Forest Legacy Program, Resource Advisory Committees, land trusts, legislative actions and IDFG management.
Stewardship - The Idaho chapter completed multiple stewardship projects, including the following:
- Trail maintenance in the Frank Church Wilderness utilizing pack stock and non-motorized and non-mechanized tools.
- Floating volunteers down the Salmon River near Challis to remove spotted knapweed and trash.
- Removing a remote section of old, downed barb wire fence in the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness.
- Habitat improvement work in the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
- Education - 25 approved applicants to Idaho BHA's annual learn to hunt program began their course work in August. This is Idaho BHA's program for new and inexperienced hunters to learn basic hunting skills such as scouting, gear selection, shooting skills and butchering wild game, culminating in a BHA mentored hunt this season.
- Policy - The Illinois Chapter has led an effort to maintain public recreational access to the Dupage River to which access has been threatened by adjacent land owners. The action alerts by the chapter have resulted in more than 1000 letters and emails to decision makers.
- Stewardship - Indiana BHA worked with Department of Natural Resources to hold an invasive species removal event at Yellowwood State Forest in southern Indiana’s Brown County.
- Policy - Provided written testimony to the Kansas legislature against a bill that privatized wildlife by allowing land owners to sell whitetail deer tags. The bill was defeated at the committee level of the state legislature. Provided oral testimony in support of the addition of nearly 500 acres of prime habitat to the Byron Walker Wildlife Area. This addition will provide additional hunting, fishing and possibly canoeing opportunities to one of the most heavily populated areas of the state.
- Stewardship - Conducted six Public Land Pack-Out events across the state where trash was picked up from state parks, state wildlife areas, tires removed from the Kansas River and even the body of a car was removed from the riverbed. As a result of these activities, our state sponsors donated over $7,000 to our chapter.
- Policy - Kentucky BHA backed and applauded the appointment of BHA Member, Brian Mackey to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission.
- Policy - Missouri BHA joined a coalition of public water access advocates in effectively fighting to restore public hunting, fishing and recreational water access to the Finley River at the Lindenlure access site, which had been illegally blocked by a neighboring private landowner.
- Stewardship - The Michigan chapter worked with the USFS in the Huron Manistee national forest to remove more than 5 miles of dilapidated fencing to facilitate future habitat projects.
- Stewardship - For more than 2 years Minnesota BHA has fought for a state land purchase in Laq qui Parle county. In December the Minnesota state land exchange board approved the sale of 80 acres of land owned by Jo’s Family Farm, LLC to the DNR. This ends an two year-plus battle by the landowner to sell his land to the state of Minnesota.
- Policy – Montana BHA was extremely busy during Montana’s biannual legislative session. We engaged in more than three dozen bills and enabled 2,570 sportsmen and women of Montana to send 57,942 letters to our state representatives and senators asking them to consider the voices of Montana’s sporting community.
- Education – In an attempt to protect our outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, BHA offers rewards of up to $500 for information of illegal motorized use leading to a conviction. The goal is to protect the resource and preserve our quiet recreation opportunities by giving potential lawbreakers pause knowing that sportsmen and women are continuing our longstanding tradition of policing our own ranks. This summer, a Montana BHA life member, Hannah Nikonow, collected this reward (which she then donated back to the UM BHA Club) for the information she provided to local law enforcement officers in the spring of 2020; it took a year for a conviction to stick, but thanks to her report, photos and videos, and diligent work by local LEOs, we were able to use this incident to educate not just the lawbreakers but also fellow public land owners.
- Stewardship – Montana BHA participated in more than ten stewardship events in 2021. We removed more than 500 pounds of trash from rivers in the Flathead; picked up 1,400 pounds of rusted metal from a new fishing access site on the Bitterroot River; cleared more than three miles of trail and removed invasive thistle in the Bob Marshall Wilderness; pulled a couple miles of unnecessary fencing and improved wildlife migration in SW Montana; and much, much more. Check out our event recaps here.
- Stewardship – PF Mentor Hunt: Nebraska BHA Members volunteered at PF Youth Pheasant Hunts as mentors at Republican Valley and Lower Platte Chapter hunts. As mentors, members worked with youth hunters to go over firearm safety and handling and then went into the field to watch dogs work birds and the possibility of getting a shot on and taking home a pheasant. At the Family Fishing and Cleanup event at Pawnee State Rec Area, folks were invited to bring their children for some fishing. Extra rods and tackle were on hand, and fishing was followed by shore cleanup and lunch.
- Policy - The chapter continues to lead the charge for BHA in advocating for more effective management of feral horses and burros on public lands. Nevada BHA engaged other chapters to sign onto a letter from the Coalition for Healthy Nevada Lands to DOI Secretary Haaland. The letter urged immediate actions by the department to address the excess number of horses and burros on BLM lands in the west. Nevada is home to over 50 percent of the nation’s wild horses, with approximately 45,000 horses on Bureau of Land Management lands in 2021.
- Education - Nevada BHA members hosted a Backpack Hunting 101 event in Reno. Presentations were made to display tactics, gear and information for multiple scenarios.
- Stewardship - The Nevada chapter partnered with the Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Backcountry Horsemen to improve trails in the Arc Dome Wilderness.
- Policy – The New Jersey Chapter of BHA advocated for expanded hunting opportunity at four national wildlife refuges: Cape May, Great Swamp, Supawna Meadows and Walkill River. In August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the proposed expansions at all four refuges.
- Policy – Building on the chapter’s ongoing legal efforts to defend public fishing and recreational access to New Mexico’s public waters, in August the chapter helped stop the approval of five applications for “Landowner Certification of Non-Navigable Water” by the New Mexico Game & Fish Commission.
- Stewardship – This spring the New Mexico Chapter provided the muscle to modify almost 30 miles of allotment fencing for the benefit of pronghorn on the Kiowa National Grassland. Working with the U.S. Forest Service, NMDGF, private landowners, and more than 30 volunteers, the work crew verified or raised the bottom wire of allotment fencing to improve habitat connectivity and permeability to help pronghorn access the food, water, space and cover they need to survive.
- Policy - The chapter was busy with policy work across the region. Highlights include the huge win in Maine with the appropriation of $40 million for Land for Maine's Future; the chapter taking a leading role in the fight for shoreline access in Rhode Island; the call for Massachusetts to join the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact; and working with the NY Chapter on striped bass management along the East Coast.
- Education - New England’s mentorship program has continued to evolve throughout the pandemic. The chapter has done several in-person, workshop-style events, sometimes in collaboration with state fish and game agencies. Also, there has been a series of successful, biweekly virtual mentorship workshops that has proven to be quite popular.
- Stewardship - The chapter has done habitat improvement projects in all six New England states. These have included the removal of thousands of feet of abandoned maple sugar lines and barbed wire fence; the demolition and construction of bridges; and the removal of hundreds of pounds of trash by boat, canoe and kayak.
- Policy - The New York team tackled several legislative issues, including work on lead ammunition bans and opposition to a bill that would take deer management control out of the hands of the Department of Environmental Conservation in some units. In the case of the statutory antler restrictions, the State Leadership Team sent a memo of opposition to the governor, who later vetoed the bill. New York also worked alongside the New England chapter to protect the future of the striped bass fishery by providing testimony and using action alerts to engage our membership with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Amendment 7 Document. The chapter became a partner in the Stay Connected Initiative, which works to create and improve landscape connectivity.
- Education - This summer at the West Kill Brewery, the chapter hosted this year’s Muster in the Mountains. The event was a huge success with BHA members traveling from around the East to attend. Several staff from HQ were also in attendance, including Land Tawney. Several chapter members served as mentors in a collaborative deer hunting mentorship event with Hunters of Color, National Deer Association and The Nature Conservancy. The multiday event covered all aspects of deer hunting and minted eight new hunters. A virtual space, called the NYC Envoy, was created to connect members in the city with each other. Two pint nights were held, one in New York City, and the other in the Adirondacks along with the Adirondack Council.
- Stewardship - The chapter completed two habitat improvement projects: in Jersey Hill State Forest and High Tor Wildlife Management Area.
- Policy - NC BHA worked hard throughout 2019-2021 to open public lands in our state to hunting on Sundays, and for the first time in 150 years that became a reality in 2021. Through active and engaged membership, strong collaboration with conservation groups across NC, and a fruitful relationship with our state fish and game agency, our chapter helped the 2021-22 hunting season become one for the history books. While there is much more hard work to do on Sunday hunting in NC, we celebrate this win and humbly thank our partners and especially the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for advancing public access in our state.
- Education - NC BHA hosted multiple education events for both members and the general public. Through notable events like Women in the Woods, Bragg n’ Blast, Getting Started Outdoors, and Dog Training 101, we utilized the pursuit of small game, upland birds, waterfowl, deer, and turkey to train outdoor skills and develop a clearer understanding of how conservation works in America and the inestimable role hunters and anglers have always played.
- Stewardship - Our most successful Trashy Squirrel Hunt happened in 2021. Over the course of just two weeks, members in NC picked up a literal ton of trash off our public lands. Additionally, through the attention and sponsorship of the hunting-focused outdoor clothing company First Lite, TSH ‘21 inspired even more mentor/mentee relationships, bringing new life to the original inspiration for the annual stewardship event. Can’t wait for 2022!
- OHV Road Marker Signage Project - This project helped identify and sign established USFS trails in a particular area of the Little Missouri National Grassland, west of Medora along West River Road.
- Sheyenne River Water Trail Project - Volunteers installed primitive canoe launches on the Sheyenne River water trail at three different access points in the Sheyenne Grasslands.
- Jamestown Reservoir Clean Up - ND BHA volunteers joined forces with some friends from the National Ecological Observatory Network to do a little public land cleanup around the Jamestown Reservoir.
- Policy - The Oklahoma Chapter led an aggressive charge against SB 776, which proposed to modify the Wildlife Conservation Commission’s authority relating to the acquisition of land. Utilizing the tools and assets providing by BHA and in partnership with other local NGOs, the bill did not make it out of review.
Stewardship - Volunteers from the Oklahoma BHA chapter gathered at the Holdenville Hatchery to construct and place “spider blocks” for fish habitat.
- The volunteers loaded 150 blocks and then began construction on 255 more. After construction of the new blocks was complete, volunteers went out with the fishery biologists and sunk the blocks at Lake Okemah. In total, the volunteers sunk 150 blocks, constructed 255 new blocks, used over 4,000 feet of pipe, and contributed over 50 man hours. This event was a partnership between Oklahoma Wildlife Department and 2% For Conservation Community Conservation Day, joining other conservation-minded volunteers around the country for projects like this one.
- Policy - In June, the OR BHA Chapter board voted in support of a $10,000 donation toward Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and ODFW's efforts to purchase land to expand the Minam River Wildlife Area northeast of La Grande. At the Aug. 6 ODFW Commissioners meeting, after months of deep engagement with fellow sports groups and ODFW staff, the Oregon Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers testified in support of the final proposal presented by staff, most notably the continuation of a statewide general archery season and the creation of the Eagle Cap Zone.
- Stewardship - Ohio BHA worked with multiple organizations and pulled off an amazing river cleanup on the Mad River.
Policy - The Pennsylvania Chapter of BHA executed a full-court press in 2021 to establish itself as an advocate for hunting, fishing, and conservation policy issues in Pennsylvania. This was accomplished through attendance and participation in relevant meetings of state agencies as well as more than 40 face-to-face meetings with BHA chapter officers and key legislators/regulators. This activity took place in the state capitol and in legislative districts. The result is an elevated status for BHA in Pennsylvania. BHA is now considered the "go-to" organization by legislative and regulatory staffs when developing policy.
- Legislative achievements include advancing the cause for Sunday hunting as well as eliminating the fishing license requirement for full-time college students from out of state. These requirements were and are seen as barriers to hunting and the outdoors.
- Joined with at least eight other conservation organizations in Pennsylvania (most are national level with state chapters) by actively participating in the "Pennsylvania Sportsmen’s Policy Group." This group of organizations, while generally focused on individual conservation matters, has banded together to organize on common goals and help advocate as a unified force. BHA's Pennsylvania Chapter is one of the founding members.
Education - The PA Chapter executed an educational series called “Becoming a PA Hunter.” The series consisted of a dozen virtual and in-person events aimed at building confidence among participants to become or rejoin the ranks of hunters. Programming included basic licensing and hunter education, finding places to hunt, deer scouting, live butchering demonstrations and more.
- The Chapter also presented a virtual and in-person Introduction to Fly Fishing series. This effort included a weekend-long campout and on-stream instruction for 15 new anglers.
- Stewardship - The PA Chapter executed several Pack-Out Cleanups.
- Policy - The Southeast chapter has successfully brought attention to a proposed rule that reduces hunting access by 40 acres along the border of Malmaison WMA and a private hunting club. The chapter is continuing engagement with state agencies.
- Education - The Southeast chapter contributed members as educators to multiple intro to hunting seminars. These courses included the basics of firearm and hunting safety.
- Stewardship - Participated in the chapter’s annual Pearl River cleanup. The Pearl River in Mississippi is broken into sections, and groups float each section pausing to remove trash from its banks.
- Policy - Members engaged at in-person meetings to advocate for the addition of Sunday hunting on public lands in South Carolina.
- Policy – Upholding its commitment to support and collaborate with private landowners, conservation organizations and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, while also advocating for the health of our publicly held wildlife, the Texas Chapter of BHA provided written and public testimony in support of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s CWD plan.
- Policy – During the 2021 legislative session the Utah chapter worked closely with Rep. Casey Snyder to provide input on a bill aimed at prohibiting baiting for ungulates and directing the DWR to regulate trail cam use. The final bill signed into law by Gov. Cox upheld fair chase hunting tenets and supports objectives in the DWR’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Plan to minimize disease transmission in our big game herds.
- Education - The Utah BHA Chapter donated $1500 in support of forest grouse research performed by chapter supporter Dr. Dave Dahlgren with the Utah State University Extension.
- Stewardship – Members in the Utah BHA Chapter collaborated with the Wild Utah Project to install Beaver Dam Analogs in Toll Canyon to restore the stream in a low-tech and non-intrusive manner. Toll Canyon BDA Stream Restoration - Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Toll Canyon BHA Stream Restoration - 2nd weekend - Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
- Stewardship - The Wisconsin Backcountry Hunters & Anglers chapter has sponsored a deer carcass disposal dumpster for the 2021 hunting season at Goose Lake Wildlife Area to keep possible CWD positive deer carcasses off of the landscape.
- Policy - During a hectic 2021, we have been hard at work fighting for public lands on the policy front. We signed on to multiple letters to combat mining projects that threaten native habitat and wildlife such as the BC Copper Mountain Mining project and the proposed construction of an open-pit mine in the Green River Valley by Mount St. Helens. We also are continuing to follow and support bills such as the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which would protect pristine wilderness and wild rivers on the Olympic Peninsula from destruction and extraction.
- Education - This year's fire season in Washington was intense with a high number of ignitions and wildfire smoke so thick that some places in Washington experienced the poorest air quality of anywhere in the world. As part of an ongoing series, our chapter worked to educate our members on wildfire and how we can restore fire resiliency to our forests.
- Stewardship - WA BHA made two financial contributions to repair an existing fence and install a new secondary fence that will help mitigate the threat of vehicle collisions and disease transmission for the Swakane bighorn sheep herd. In addition, the Washington Chapter of BHA held our third fence removal work party in the Methow Valley and pulled the remaining old woven wire and barbed wire fencing down from the Golden Doe Wildlife Area, an important wintering ground for mule deer.
- Policy - West Virginia BHA was effective in stopping a proposal to turn the East Lynn Lake Wildlife Management Area into an off-highway vehicle park. The chapter provided input on management decisions in the Monongahela National Forest. The FS liaison is a BHA member, so he was excited to get us involved. This work will be complimented by the additon of two new board members who have professional backgrounds in policy and natural resources management.
- Education - We have partnered with other eastern chapters to create an OHV white paper and Powerpoint presentation that we can use in our fight to keep OHVs off of current non-motorized public lands in WV. Our policy leads are in the process of writing the white paper now.
- Stewardship - Held a river cleanup event and social media contest called Trash & Trout and a river cleanup and pint night on Howards Creek in Greenbrier County.
Policy - Columbus Peak. WY BHA has been actively opposed to a contentious land swap in Sheridan County. After significant research and engagement on this issue it is the WY Chapter’s belief that the value discrepancy, the quality of the wildlife habitat, and the intrinsic backcountry value of the property that the state would lose would amount to a net loss to sportsmen and women. The chapter has been actively engaged with community stakeholders, the state, legislators and proponents of this land swap. Please see the chapter comments below.
- WY BHA recently became aware of a criminal trespass citation in Carbon County WY. In this case, four out-of-state hunters were cited for criminal trespass for corner crossing. WY BHA set up a fundraising campaign that (at the time this post was published) had raised over $60,000 to help with the hunters’ legal fees. The remaining balance of these funds will be donated to the WYGFD Access Yes program. Please take the Sportsmen and Women’s Corner Crossing Pledge.
- The chapter also led a yearlong campaign that resulted in expanded access to Raymond Mountain, a difficult to access 33,000 acre Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The WY Chapter worked with WGF Commissioner Gay Lynn Byrd, RMEF, the BLM and WGFD to raise the necessary funds to acquire an access easement and develop the necessary infrastructure to access this WSA. WY BHA raised and directly contributed $47,000 to this project.