California's BHA’s Habitat Watch Volunteers serve as our “eyes, ears and muscle,” for issues impacting specific national forests and other public lands. Join the Habitat Watch Team!
If you’re interested in volunteering for any national forest, BLM, grassland, MPA or other public lands unit, let us know by taking this quick survey:
California BHA Habitat Watch Volunteers
California BHA Habitat Watch Volunteers serve as BHA’s “eyes, ears or muscle.” They are the points of contact for issues impacting specific National Forest, BLM & CDFW lands in California. Habitat Watch Volunteer suggested duties/responsibilities include:
Staying up-to-date with proposed management actions on National Forest, BLM and CDFW lands in their region. These actions might include travel management planning, wildlife crossing infrastructure improvements, roadless area protections, energy development, timber sales, grazing, etc.
- Schedules of Proposed USFS Actions (SOPAs) are generally published/updated quarterly and posted on their website. The link below provides general information on SOPAs (what they are, how to read the SOPA legend, etc.) and is very useful for interpreting actions: http://www.fs.fed.us/sopa/components/sopa-dscr.shtml#whatis
- To identify actions proposed for California's National Forests, visit their SOPA page: https://www.fs.fed.us/sopa/state-level.php?ca
- For an overview of proposed activities and management actions on California BLM-managed lands, go to https://www.blm.gov/california
- To determine what is being planned requires a little searching. One option is to go to the Programs drop-down menu and choose Planning and NEPA. The E-Planning page provides two navigable maps – one showing land use and the other NEPA planning activities. Or you can go to the California page under Plans In Development and search the three options there for ongoing or planned actions. If you know the general name of the BLM’s activity, you might use the Search line in the upper right of the https://www.blm.gov/california Note that the Get Involved drop-down list shows ways California BHA might volunteer for projects on public lands.
- Fish & Game Commission Meetings are posted here https://fgc.ca.gov/Meetings and meeting agendas will identify if there are proposed rule-making changes or petitions that might impact hunting and fishing in local or regional areas.
- Communicating with the California BHA Habitat Watch Coordinator regarding actions that could potentially impact backcountry hunting and angling on their local lands; and working with the coordinator to determine if and how BHA should be become involved. Co-chairs and Chapter Coordinator will provide state level support and help with coordinating national level support and coordination where needed.
- Meeting with USFS District Rangers and BLM Field Office Managers on issues deemed of importance to California BHA. One-on-one meetings with managers and/or their staff are encouraged to facilitate open, two-way communications.
- Attending USFS or BLM public meetings when time/circumstance permits on issues deemed of importance to California.
- Providing the California BHA Habitat Watch Coordinator with draft comments regarding Forest Service and BLM issues that may impact backcountry hunting/angling on public lands. Co-chairs & Chapter Coordinator will promptly review all comments before submission and may assist with writing/developing comments.
- Providing the California BHA Habitat Watch Coordinator with informal trimester summaries of significant forest actions and any comments/letters submitted or meetings attended. Trimester summaries should be submitted by April 15th, August 15th, December 15th of each year.
- Communicate through Basecamp, as issues arise, in real time, with the policy committee members so that issues can be addressed as they come up.
- Reach out to California BHA Regional Leaders within your respective lands/waters (as time/circumstances permit), specifically those who are willing to periodically assist with Habitat Volunteers or other California BHA tasks/duties.
- Plan, host or co-host one event per year on public lands to benefit fish, wildlife, access or citizen science.
Guidelines and Procedures for
California BHA Habitat Watch Involvement
The following questions should be asked by Habitat Watch Volunteers (HWV) to determine if California BHA should get involved in public lands issue:
- Does the proposed action add or remove access to hunt or fish on public lands?
- Does the proposed action impact public lands with high-to-moderate value fish or game habitat?
- Does the proposed action impact other high-to-moderate value fish or game habitat?
- Does the proposed action facilitate/promote continued or new overuse and abuse (e.g. grazing, mining, timber harvest, OHV travel) of high-to-moderate value fish or game habitat?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, each HWV must determine what can be accomplished (e.g. participate in planning, comment on proposed plan, etc.) and how much impact California BHA involvement can have.
Coordinating with California's Habitat Watch Coordinator, the HWV will inform the California BHA coordinator and Chapter board of her/his overall goals and approach. With the board’s approval, the HWV will take charge of moving forward while keeping the board posted on their activity, and providing draft comments to co-chairs. The Habitat Watch Coordinator and California Chapter Coordinator will finalize comments to the agency.
Although California BHA tends to focus its limited resources on roadless or wilderness areas and high value wildlife or fisheries habitat issues, HWV's may determine it's in the interest of California BHA to get involved in other issues whose impacts do not directly impact these resources and recommend doing so to the co-chairs.
While limited human resources may require restricting HWV involvement to major issues affecting entire forest or BLM districts, California BHA encourages any member take on a more local issue so long as they keep the co-chairs informed on what they plan and will be doing under the auspices of BHA.
HWV's should initially contact their chosen Forest, or BLM office and ask to be added to the agency's mail/email list for SOPAs or proposed BLM actions. California's USFS and BLM office contact information is listed in the PDF below.
HWV's should strive to make personal contact with appropriate managers and open a direct line of communication. HWV's will need to determine which level is appropriate for each action. For the USFS, it could be the supervisor's office or a district office. For the BLM, it could be a district or field office. If possible, there should be more than one HWV for each Forest or BLM District. The HWV's could work as team on each issue or duties can divided based on interest, expertise, familiarity with the area, available time, etc. Once a personal relationship is established, many HWV duties can be accomplished remotely via email, mail and phone.