Utah had a rather rainy spring, but that has not stopped our members from getting outside! The Utah board is continuing to plan several exciting events to engage our members. At the end of February, we hosted a chapter meeting at Western Rivers Fly Fisher, which included various guest speakers from the Utah DWR, Utah Women’s Fly Fishers, the Attorney General’s office, Wasatch Wildlife Watch and other key stakeholder groups which focused primarily on stream access issues. Western Rivers has proven to be a very valuable partner in conservation and has even collaborated with BHA to organize our first ever Women’s Fly Fishing Clinic which took place at the end of April. This clinic consisted of two days of classroom and “in the stream” training for beginner women. We hope to make this an annual event to continue introducing more women to fly fishing!
Additionally, in April we hosted a pint night which drew many current members and several new faces. The venue, Fisher Brewing in Salt Lake City, has an impressive set-up for outdoor film showings. We showed The Wildlife Society’s short film, “Horse Rich and Dirt Poor,” which highlights the impacts of feral horses on public lands and ecosystems.
Utah never seems to have a shortage of conversation topics surrounding public lands. In March several chapter members represented BHA at the Walter Stegner Symposium. Academics, conservation organizations, politicians and land stewards gather at this annual event to discuss issues surrounding public lands, specifically recreation challenges. BHA board members were able to engage with other stakeholders in the public lands arena and share ideas.
The chapter continues to work diligently on the seemingly endless issues surrounding public lands popping up in the state; one of which surrounds the petition that was issued by the Governor’s office last year to roll back protections on areas covered under the 2001 Roadless Rule, effecting over 1.1 million acres of land in Utah. While the state argues that the roadless protections prevent adequate management practices in these areas, the removal of these protections has the potential to jeopardize Utah’s wildest places, clean air, water, habitat and recreation. Furthermore, the Utah BHA chapter is increasing its presence in the Utah wildlife management space. We have recently obtained a seat for a Utah BHA board member on the DWR’s Mule Deer Committee, giving BHA a voice regarding issues surrounding the management of mule deer in the state. Moving into the summer, our chapter will continue to work hard to develop strong relationships with key organizations, ensuring that the BHA mission is heard where it matters most.