While the California Chapter has been busy planning Pint Nights and staffing booths at various outdoor events. The chapter has also been working on providing comments and recommendations to our states representatives and federal agencies on how to provide and ensure recreational activities on our public lands. The largest issue BHA has been working on has been the proposed Mojave National Preserve Water Management Plan.
There is currently an open public comment period for the Mojave National Preserve Water Management Plan that ends on July 19th regarding water catchment structures and the role they play in wildlife management. BHA has been working tirelessly with several wildlife conservation groups that all share the values and ethics of being responsible wildlife managers on this desert landscape. There are more than a few concerns on the Preserve’s alternative plans and how it will affect wildlife. BHA encourages our members to provide comments on this plan and has provided some key points on why this plan should be revised.
-The scientific models used to justify the removal of 50% of the water guzzlers are insufficient and limited in scope to base assumptions on how wildlife, including bighorn sheep, will respond to the change of water availability on the landscape.
-There needs to be more discussions with all stakeholders about the benefits and consequences of the water plan.
-Except for alternative 1, all the proposed plans will have some number of water sources removed from the wilderness areas and suggest there is a possibility of a short-term population decline. These practices and assumptions do not align with Secretary Zinke’s announcement that all federal land agencies should focus their management towards expanding access and recreational opportunities, which includes hunting, on federal lands.
In conclusion, currently the only plan Backcountry Hunters and Anglers can support is alternative 1. This alternative calls for “no change” and will keep the current status quo. However, in our official comment we are calling for a complete overhaul of the proposed plans. BHA would like to see a water management plan that uses complete scientific modeling, opportunities for wildlife conservation organizations to work closely with the National Park Service and a plan that complements existing federal and state initiatives.
California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers