Our chapters are constantly working on protecting our public lands, waters, and wildlife. In 2022, they did more than ever before to make sure the North American Model of Conservation remained intact. From corner crossing in Wyoming to desert bighorn stewardship projects in California to bear hunting advocacy in New Jersey, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers chapters were instrumental in battling for the things we as hunters and anglers hold most dear.
The Inflation Reduction Act (R. 5376) was passed into law through budget reconciliation, a partisan process that avoids the filibuster. This $1.75 trillion legislative package included funding for conservation priorities including habitat restoration, forest management, drought mitigation as well as significant investments in our public land management agencies. The following provisions were supported by BHA:
- $5 billion in total funding for forest management on both public and private lands. The National Forest System received more than $2 billion, the vast majority allocated for hazardous fuels reduction projects to avoid wildfire through active management on our public lands. Old-growth forests also received $50 million for protection and to fund an inventory of mature forests located within the National Forest System.
- The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management were allocated $500 million to carry out projects for resiliency and conservation, as well as ecosystem and habitat restoration. The bill’s funding components supplement the funding these agencies need to complete important projects for the benefit of our public lands.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would receive $121.25 million for the restoration of units in the National Wildlife Refuge System and State wildlife management areas. This funding is available to be used for combating the threat of invasive species, as well as to increase resiliency of landscapes and habitat to withstand inclement weather events.
- Private land conservation received enormous benefits through the bill’s agriculture conservation subtitle, which allocated $20 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, these programs work with private landowners to ensure farmlands, grasslands and private forest lands are restored and to prevent conversion that would eliminate wildlife habitat. This amounts to the largest single investment in private land conservation in history.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received $2.6 billion in funding for coastal region conservation. This funding would be available for the conservation and restoration of coastal and marine habitats, with Pacific salmon specifically listed as a priority among marine fisheries.
- $4 billion was be allocated to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for drought mitigation, particularly in the Colorado River Basin. Along with critical mitigation measures, this funding can also be used for ecosystem and habitat restoration projects to address the impacts of drought.
- Language eliminating noncompetitive oil and gas leasing and raising minimum bids, to ensure that large swaths of public lands would no longer be acquired through speculative bidding and, in effect, locked up in leases that rarely go into production. Nearly half of all existing oil and gas leases on public land were acquired through a noncompetitive process, with no bidding cost, and a majority of these are nonproducing.
The Modernizing Access to our Public (MAP)Land Act (R. 3113/S. 904) was passed into law with support from BHA and our partners at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The MAPLand Act will provide resources to public land management agencies to standardize, compile and release digital map records to the public, tens of thousands of which are currently on paper in agency offices. The publicly available information would include the open or closed status of roads and trails on public lands, vehicle-use regulations and boundary details. This information will improve the ability of hunters and anglers to discover new opportunities on our public lands and waters. The MAPLand Act received a vote of 414-9 in the House and passed unanimously in the Senate.
The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (R. 5608/S. 4111) was passed into law after BHA and a coalition of hunting groups secured its inclusion in the Omnibus for the 2023 Fiscal Year. The bill will fund coordinated management between the USDA and state wildlife agencies and departments of agriculture, authorizing $70 million through Fiscal Year 2028. Funding will also be made available for CWD research and the development of educational programs to inform the public. More than 10,000 BHA members and supporters sent messages of support to their members of Congress, ensuring the necessary support to secure this victory.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (R. 2773/S. 2372) received a markup in both the House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where it advanced with a vote of 29-15 and 15-5, respectively. In a landmark moment this summer the House of Representatives then voted to pass this legislation for the first time ever through a standalone vote on the floor. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 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 the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife to create significant bipartisan support for this important legislation, and our members sent over 7,700 messages of support to their members of Congress.
The North American Grasslands Conservation Act ( 4639) was introduced for the first time ever. Crafted by a coalition of organizations including BHA, it would establish a North American Grasslands Conservation Strategy along with a grant program to incentivize the voluntary conservation of grasslands and the sagebrush steppe.
This legislation was modeled after the successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which has been responsible for the conservation of more than 30 million acres of wetlands to date. The grant program would support projects include conservation easements, restoring native grasses, controlling invasive species, managing with prescribed fire, as well as education and conservation stewardship assistance.
The comprehensive strategy would identify key areas with the highest risk of conversion, those with the highest conservation potential, ecologically significant grasslands and populations of grassland bird species of greatest conservation need. Along with identifying specific goals for increasing and enhancing grasslands the strategy would also develop baseline inventories of wildlife and goals for increasing populations and resilience of grassland species.
BHA supported the movement of legislation that would permanently conserve 3.3 million acres of public lands and more than 1,300 miles of waterways. We helped organize relevant committee hearings and votes and advocated for the advancement of more than a dozen pieces of legislation, including the following:
- America’s Outdoor Recreation Act ( 3266) which was reported after a unanimous vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act (R. 6366/S.4080) which received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee and was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act ( 1493) which received a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (R. 2794) which was reported after a favorable vote by the House Natural Resources Committee.
- Cerro de la Olla Wilderness Establishment Act (R. 2522/S. 177) which received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee and was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act (R. 7580) which received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee.
- Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act ( 173) which received a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Cottonwood legislation ( 2561) which was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act ( 4542) which received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act ( 3571) which received a hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
- Grand Canyon Protection Act ( 387) which received a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act (4752) which received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Montana Headwaters Legacy Act ( 2254) which received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act (S. 3129) which was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act ( 1589) which was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Roadless Area Conservation Act (R. 279) which received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee.
- Root and Stem Act ( 3046) which was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Ruby Mountains Protection Act ( 609) which was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Smith River National Recreation Area Expansion Act (R. 7329/S. 1538) which received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee and was reported after a favorable vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act ( 455) which received a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- Wild Rogue Conservation and Recreation Enhancement Act (R. 7509) which received a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney was appointed in September to serve on the White House Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council, which provides recommendations to the federal government, through the departments of Interior and Agriculture, that benefit wildlife resources; encourage partnership among members of the public, conservation groups and federal, state, tribal and territorial governments; and support fair chase recreational hunting and shooting sports.
President Biden used the Antiquities Act to designate his first national monument in October of this year, the Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument in central Colorado. The 53,804-acre monument supported by BHA will be managed by the Forest Service and includes important fish and wildlife habitat such as important mule deer and elk migration corridors as well as headwaters fisheries. Legislation known as the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act has long sought to conserve this landscape with the support of local communities and stakeholders including hunters and anglers. It has passed the House of Representatives five times, but has so far failed to advance from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The designation of this national monument follows tenets supported by BHA that it be locally driven, transparent, incorporates the science-based management of habitat and upholds existing hunting and fishing opportunities. In partnership with other sporting groups and outdoor businesses, in 2016 BHA produced a report highlighting opportunities for conservation through national monuments and the necessity that they adhere to these tenets.
Alongside the designation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, the departments of Agriculture and the Interior announced the proposal of a 20-year mineral withdrawal for more than 200,000 acres of western Colorado’s Thompson Divide region. The following environmental analysis and public comment period and environmental analysis will include a two-year moratorium on new leasing in the region. BHA also supports this withdrawal which would conserve 34,000 acres of elk migration corridors and 1,550 miles of wild streams and would be permanently protected by the CORE Act.
In June, the Forest Service announced a long-awaited environmental assessment (EA) which showed that copper-nickel mining in the Rainy River watershed poses a major risk to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The EA proposed a 20-year withdrawal of mineral leasing in the 225,000-acre region of the Superior National Forest which would protect the Boundary Waters from the proposed Twin Metals mine.
BHA and our partners including Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters applauded this enormous step to long-term protections for the unparalleled hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities of the Boundary Waters, the most visited wilderness area in the United States. The effort to implement this withdrawal has spanned multiple administrations, however only Congress can permanently protect the region.
Early this year in January, the Department of Interior announced they would be cancelling two federal hardrock mineral leases located adjacent to the Boundary Waters, citing the importance of this move to sustaining the Boundary Waters’ recreational, economic and fish and wildlife values. This was a critical move to ensure these improperly renewed leases do not threaten the Rainy River watershed.
In December the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced their Recommended Determination for permanent protections for Bristol Bay in Alaska under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. This would be accomplished by restricting the use of the watershed as a disposal site for mine waste. More than 2,000 BHA members signed our comments urging the EPA to finalize permanent protections.
The proposed Pebble Mine would threaten the watershed by removing miles of streams in addition to storing more than 10 billion tons of mining waste in upstream from the fishery. For decades hunters, anglers, tribes and commercial fishing companies have sought to conserve this irreplaceable fishery which supports the largest run of sockeye salmon in the world, alongside every other Pacific salmon species and 30 other fish species.
In January, BHA applauded the Biden administration’s decision to reinstate previous protections for more than 7 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The Reserve, located on Alaska’s North Slope, is the largest unit of public land in the United States with a total of more than 23 million acres. Returning to the previous management plan will allow for extractive development in over half of the Reserve while restoring protections for key areas such as Teshekpuk Lake.
We encourage the administration to coordinate with Congress to permanently protect Special Areas, including the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, from development. This incredible landscape is home to a wide diversity of wildlife, including the Western Arctic and Teshekpuk Lake caribou herds, grizzly bears and wolves. The Teshekpuk Lake Special Area in provides critical summer nesting habitat for tens of thousands of geese, ducks, swans and other waterfowl. It has been labeled the most important goose molting area in the Arctic – not just Alaska's Arctic, but in the entire world.
- Weigh In On the Ambler Road By Nov 4
- West Susitna Access Road
- Alaska "D-1" Lands Withdrawal Comment Period Open Until October 17
Armed Forces Initiative
- Guzzler tank replacement with the Marine Corps in Anza Borrego Desert State Park (October 2022)
- BHA Awarded $165K for Post-fire Rehabilitation and Connectivity in California
- BHA Compiles Scientific Data in Report to CDFW on Bear Ban Petition
- BHA Partners with BLM to Improve Riverine Habitat & Fisheries in CA
- Catch + Cook for a Healthy Ocean Recap
- Feather River Closure Lifted in California
- BHA Highlights Thomas Creek Parcels for LWCF Acquisition to the Sanhedrin Wilderness
- 2021-2022 PLO Grant Recipients and Projects
- Hunting for Sustainability Grows through BHA's Collegiate Program
- Hunting for Sustainability Continues in Colorado, Montana, and Arizona
- Colorado Legislature Considers Crossings Bill
- Stream Access Navigability Case Goes to Colorado Supreme Court
- BHA Commends Administration Designation of National Monument in Colorado
- Idaho BHA Improves Trail Conditions in the Frank Church Wilderness
- 2022 Idaho Legislative Recap
- Trident Proposal for Payette Endowment Lands Rejected
- Drew Kazenski: It's time to expand public access to Illinois waterways
- Please Help Ensure Public Recreational Access on Illinois Waters
- KY Proposed Turkey Bag Limit Changes Affects Public Land Hunters
- Kentucky Public Land Hunting Etiquette
- Fight for Good Management of Kentucky's Fish and Wildlife
- Montana Hunting and Conservation Groups Solidify Court Standing in Legal Defense of Elk Management
- EVENT RECAP: Antelope Creek Stream Restoration
- Montana Land Board Approves Purchase of Thousands of Acres of Prime Deer and Elk Habitat
- New England BHA Celebrates a Series of Victories in Massachusetts
- BHA Podcast & Blast, Ep. 136: Striped Bass with Mike Woods and Chris Borgatti
- A $40 Million Win for Public Access in Maine
- New Mexico Supreme Court Rules in Support of Public Access to Public Waters
- NMBHA Leads Charge Opposing Unnecessary Road Closure
- BHA Podcast & Blast, Ep. 136: Striped Bass with Mike Woods and Chris Borgatti
- Help Give Hunters & Anglers a Voice in New York DEC East of Hudson Unit Management Plan!
- Help Legalize Sunday Hunting on Public Lands in South Carolina
- South Carolina Signs Sunday Hunting Letter
- Utah's Elk Management Plan Moves Ahead
- Book Cliffs Highway Application Withdrawn
- Utah BHA Teaches 12 New Hunters Big Game Basics
- WA Chapter Joins Statewide Coalition
- WA Chapter Awarded Organization of the Year
- Spring Bear is only the Beginning
- Mandates must be upheld in the WDFW GMP
- WA Chapter Provides Testimony on Why Hunting is Conservation
- Jury finds four corner-crossing hunters not guilty of trespass
- Corner Crossing Legal Fee Fundraiser
- BLM Unlocks 75,000 Acres of Private and Public Land With Major Purchase in Wyoming