Daily Archives: March 25, 2015

Public land turkey hunters encouraged to use iSportsman


Turkeys can be unpredictable – one minute they’re off in the distance, the next minute they’re approaching you from behind. Every minute counts during turkey season, and time spent filling out a traditional daily hunt permit card could mean the difference between a good hunt and a great hunt. Optimize your time afield this spring by utilizing the iSportsman electronic check-in system and ensure your hunting hours are saved for the field.

The iSportsman electronic permit system, which is more efficient and economical than the paper system, offers hunters the flexibility to check in and out of select wildlife areas from any computer, smart phone, cellphone or landline. Hunters can register for a free account by logging on to https://kdwpt.isportsman.net. Upon completing the registration, hunters will obtain a general access permit. They can then log on or call in before they plan to hunt to “check in.” After a hunt is complete, hunters can then log on or call in to report harvests and “check out” of the system.

Male Turkey strutting and displaying

Male Turkey strutting and displaying

The iSportsman electronic check-in system is currently in use at the following wildlife areas: Cheyenne Bottoms, Clinton, Elwood, Isabel, Jamestown, Kansas River, Lovewell, Lyon, McPherson Wetlands, Melvern, Milford, Neosho, Slate Creek Wetlands, and Texas Lake. A similar system has been used at Fort Riley for several years.

For more information on iSportsman, call (620) 672-5911 or visit https://kdwpt.isportsman.net

Fisheries newsletters will help YOU catch more fish


Did you know that more than 93 bass per hour were sampled last fall at Bone Creek Lake in Crawford County? You would if you subscribed to the Pittsburg District Fisheries Newsletter written by fisheries biologist Rob Friggeri. Ninety-three bass per hour is a very good sampling rate, but the fact that more than 30 percent of those bass were longer than 15 inches seals the deal for bass anglers. That little tidbit was in the newsletter, too.

Or did you know that in 2014, the biologist at Perry Lake sampled the largest number of white bass he’d seen in years? You would if you subscribed to the Perry News written by district fisheries biologist Kirk Tjelmeland. Knowing that could put anglers in the right spot to take advantage of a great Perry Lake white bass spawning run this spring.

Each of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) 17 district fisheries biologists produces several newsletters each year to inform anglers of programs, projects and sampling results for the lakes they manage. Together, they manage 24 federal reservoirs, 40 state fishing lakes, and more than 200 community lakes. That’s a lot of water and fish to keep track of, but the newsletters can help. You might even discover a lake in your area you didn’t know existed.

So how does an angler get wind of this valuable information? It’s easy, and it’s just a click away at www.ksoutdoors.com. From the “Fishing” page, click on the “Newsletter Request Forms” link on the right-side menu. You can subscribe to any or all of the newsletters, which will be conveniently emailed to you when they are published. You can also download and view past newsletters. Once you receive the newsletters, you can combine the information contained in them with the 2015 Fishing Forecast and the “Weekly Fishing Reports” (also online) to make intelligent decisions on where to go for your next fishing trip.

Use these three tools to catch more fish this spring.

An open letter to America’s anglers


By Todd Tanner

Hatch Magazine


We love to fish. We love it. Not in that juvenile, sloppy-wet-kiss way that so many of us remember from high school, but with an “I come alive with a fly rod in my hand” love that’s grounded in maturity, appreciation and respect for our angling traditions. We’ve been fishing for decades and there are very few other activities that bring us so much joy or help us connect to the natural world on such an elemental level.

Unfortunately, those of us who love to fish, and who see the necessity for protecting our landscapes and waterways, are coming under attack. It turns out – and no, we’re not making this up – that we are “radicals.” As Ty Hansen pointed out in a recent Hatch Magazine piece, the energy and resource extraction industries are targeting hunters and anglers. Those of us who support conservation are being portrayed as extremists and radicals.

So what is a radical? Seriously, what does it mean? Is protecting our favorite trout stream a radical act? What about defending an Alaskan salmon river from a mining company? Or how about passing on a healthy natural world to our kids and grandkids? Because those of us who want to share clean water, clean air and healthy landscapes with future generations are being ridiculed and marginalized. It’s almost as if our love for the great outdoors is standing in the way of “progress.”

Here’s something you should know. Most people don’t give a damn whether we hold on to our fishing. They don’t care if there are trout in our streams, or bass in our ponds, or bonefish cruising our saltwater flats. We live in a culture where growth, both physical and economic, trumps everything else; where no tradition, no heritage, no single aspect of American life is deemed so sacrosanct that it can’t, and shouldn’t, be tied down and sacrificed on the fetid, blood-specked altar of progress. It’s grow or die; it’s balls to the wall; it’s greed is good. Nobody – not the President, not Congress, not Wall Street – is willing to consider that unfettered, unexamined growth might not be the best path forward, or that we should steer the good ship America toward a more sustainable, more balanced future.

Sadly, if you agree with us you’re just another radical. You don’t want the Pebble Mine? You’re a radical. You don’t want corporate farms to dump pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers into our streams and rivers? You’re a radical. You don’t want suburban sprawl to trash the landscapes you loved when you were a kid? You’re a radical. You don’t want oil and gas rigs to despoil your favorite section of National Forest? You’re a radical. You want to keep our public lands in public hands? You, dear friend, are a dyed-in-the-wool, honest-to-goodness radical.

Oh, and you say you’re concerned about climate change? Well, not only are you a radical, but you’re a communist. You should go back to Mother Russia, comrade, and take all your commie friends with you.

And that, sadly, is what we’re up against – that kind of hostile, knee-jerk, reactionary crap, which paints sportsmen as radicals working to undermine everything good and decent and pure about America. Clean air is a luxury we can’t afford. Clean water is something we should get from the private sector – but only, of course, after we’ve paid for it. Public land should be sold off to stoke the engine of economic growth. Fishing … well, fishing is probably okay, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anything important, and as long as anglers don’t try to protect America’s natural resources from aggressive exploitation.

That’s the playbook. That’s the meme coming from our opponents. But you know what? It’s bullshit.

That’s right, we call bullshit. Because we aren’t radicals. And we’re getting tired of all these morally-bereft, intellectually-challenged, “greed is good” free market fundamentalists painting us as the exact opposite – the exact opposite – of what we really are.

We’re patriots. We love America. Our sporting roots run deep, and we were raised to appreciate our outdoor heritage. We want – and this is the crux of it; this is vital – to hold on to the things that make our country great; to share them with our families, and our friends, and with generations still to come. We want our kids to have access to the same incredible fishing we’ve enjoyed, and if we’re lucky enough to have grandkids, we want them to grow up in a country that still revels in the outdoors and that still shares in the sweet, ripe fruits of freedom. America is the best country in the world for anglers because we’ve fought, time and again, for clean water and clean air and healthy landscapes. We’ve fought to give our kids and grandkids a shot at a decent future. What could be more noble, or more honest, or more ethical?

The real radicals are the people who put profits above everything else; who can’t wait to carve muscle from bone as this great American experiment in self-governance slowly collapses under the weight of their greed and ignorance. The real radicals are the rapacious profiteers who hate public lands and public waters because our landscapes are protected, at least partially, from their insane “profit at all cost” mentality. They’re the folks who, without a second thought – hell, without an initial thought – are willing to sacrifice their children and grandchildren to the cannibalistic gods of free market fundamentalism.

Enough. We have literally had enough. We’re sick of liars and sociopaths pointing at us and yelling “Radicals!” We’re tired of hired guns sitting down at their keyboards and smearing good organizations like Trout Unlimited and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. We refuse to sit silently on the sidelines while America-haters wear our flag – while they literally wrap themselves in Old Glory – to camouflage their true intentions.

So we have a message for all the haters who are attacking sportsmen. It’s a simple message, but it’s heartfelt.

We love America. We love our landscapes, and our sporting traditions, and our rich outdoors culture, and our fisheries, and we’re willing to fight for it; for all of it, for every last inch, for every river and stream and forest and meadow, for every kid who dreams of trout or salmon or bass or bluegills or tarpon. Greed will not triumph. Flat-earth idiocy will not reign supreme. Our fisheries will not fall prey to snake oil salesmen and crooked politicians. Not on our watch.


Todd Tanner

Ted Williams

Tom Davis

Tim Romano

Mike Sepelak

Chris Hunt

Steve Zakur

Chad Shmukler


Upland CRP acres available


State-specific, wildlife-targeted CRP programs currently available with competitive rates across the country


From The Outdoor Wire


While a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup hasn’t been scheduled for 2015, farmers and landowners do have current opportunities to explore eligibility in one of the many Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) practices available. In particular, the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) portion of CRP has more than 350,000 acres available for enrollment to landowners interested in creating and conserving upland habitat for pheasants, quail and other upland wildlife.

“CRP remains the most expansive, impactful conservation program in the country. Historically, landowners have looked to a general signup and its competitive bid process to enroll in the program. But landowners should consider SAFE acres, as well as other continuous programs, as valuable additions to existing contracts,” says Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s vice president of government affairs. “CRP SAFE practices are the best thing going for pheasant and quail habitat creation. The programs are open until allocations are reached and they pay competitive rates. If landowners have an expiring CRP general contract, SAFE practices – or one of the other continuous CRP practices – are something they should strongly consider.”

Created nearly a decade ago, SAFE practices allowed states to design CRP practices that maintained the program’s hallmark soil and water conservation benefits while targeting specific wildlife species. Because of continued, and in some cases, rapid upland habitat loss, many states tailored their programs to benefit pheasants and quail. The nationwide SAFE allocation is 1.35 million acres. There are nearly 1 million acres enrolled in the various 100 SAFE practices across the country, leaving more than 350,000 available to landowners for enrollment. Among the SAFE practices geared specifically or primarily to the creation of pheasant and quail habitat include:

State                 SAFE Practice                         Acres Available for Enrollment*

Arkansas         Grass SAFE (quail)                        803

Iowa                 Pheasant Recovery                   22,524

Kansas             Upland Game Birds                    8,569

Missouri          Bobwhite Quail                               532

Nebraska         Upland Bird                               14,910

Oklahoma       Mixed Grass Prairies (quail)    8,081

South Dakota  Pheasants                                   14,432

*Statistics updated in January 2015 / Source: USDA

Continuous CRP Signup

Environmentally desirable land devoted to certain conservation practices may be enrolled in CRP at any time under continuous signup. Offers are automatically accepted provided the land and producer meet certain eligibility requirements and acres are available. Offers for continuous sign-up are not subject to competitive bidding. Continuous sign-up contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. To offer land for continuous signup, producers or landowners should contact their Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist or visit their local USDA Service Center.

Historic Heads-and-Horns exhibit moves to Springfield, MO


From The Outdoor Wire


The National Collection of Heads and Horns, an exhibit dedicated in 1922 to “the vanishing big-game animals of the world” and helped spark America’s conservation movement, is relocating to a new home in Springfield, MO.

The collection, owned by the Boone and Crockett Club, will reside at America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium.

Formerly known as Wonders of Wildlife, the facility is expanded, renovated and targeted for reopening in spring 2016. Located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops’ flagship store, the all new, state-of-the-art showcase of hunter-and-angler led conservation is the vision of Bass Pro Shops founder and Boone and Crockett Club member Johnny Morris.

Tony Schoonen, Club chief of staff, said, “Boone and Crockett is honored to share our historic collection with what will be the most elaborate conservation education attraction in the world. Johnny’s museum builds on a rich legacy of conservation and ensures that future generations will join us in sustaining wildlife and stewarding habitat.”

The National Collection of Heads and Horns, housed for many years at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., originally opened at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

At the time, many believed that big-game species were fast tracking toward extinction. Bison, elk, white-tailed deer and others had been largely decimated by market hunting, unregulated subsistence hunting and habitat loss. Boone and Crockett Club member William T. Hornaday worked industriously to establish the collection so that future generations could see animals that had once inhabited North America.

Visitors to the exhibit were both saddened and infuriated to learn the plight of wildlife. More importantly, they were motivated to do something about it, fueling one of the most successful wildlife restoration, conservation and management stories in history.

The collection also was the genesis of Boone and Crockett’s scoring system, which also originated as a way to collect details on species once thought headed for extinction.

“Now, the National Collection of Heads and Horns stands as a testament to hunters who were then, and still are today, determined to keep wildlife populations healthy across our continent. The collection is an important, historical artifact that helped shape the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” said Schoonen.

The collection includes many fine specimens such as the L.S. Chadwick Stone’s sheep, acclaimed by many as the finest specimen of North American big game ever taken. It is an outstanding collection that will give much enjoyment to the hunter and other serious students of native North American big game.

Boone and Crockett’s website has more info and a photo archive of the collection.

After layoffs, NWF chief vows to build ‘conservation field army’


By Phil Taylor

E&E reporter

The National Wildlife Federation is beefing up its field staff and intensifying its push to protect wildlife, restore landscapes and get Americans outdoors, CEO Collin O’Mara says.

Since taking office in July, O’Mara has trimmed NWF’s Washington, D.C., staff while empowering its field offices and 49 state affiliates to recruit and galvanize a nation of citizen stewards, he said.

“I really want National Wildlife Federation to be America’s conservation field army,” O’Mara, 35, said in an interview last week during a visit to NWF’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center in downtown Denver. “We’re better positioned than any other organization to do that. But to do that, you have to be much more present in the field.”

The goal is to stitch together a diverse coalition of hunters and anglers, bird-watchers, gardeners, farmers and recreationists who share the desire to protect wildlife and their habitat, O’Mara said. The group has just shy of 6 million active members and supporters now, he said.

NWF is also expanding efforts to expose kids to the outdoors in an age when electronics consume a growing portion of their lives, O’Mara said.

He is hoping NWF’s broad constituency can ease partisanship in Washington that has hampered funding for wildlife and passage of conservation bills like the “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act” (S. 405).

“The wildlife message works,” he said. “I can talk to the most conservative tea party crowds in some places and the most liberal crowds in the Northeast, and there’s a consistency there. My biggest goal is to de-politicize.”

O’Mara previously led Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, a position he began in 2009 as the nation’s youngest state Cabinet official.

In his short tenure as CEO, O’Mara has visited 37 states, met with 31 affiliate groups and logged 30,000 air miles, he said.

‘Cut as deeply as you need’

His transformation of NWF did not happen without pain.

The organization last summer faced an $8 million annual deficit, he said. By last August, O’Mara had laid off about 50 NWF employees, reducing total staff to 272. The organization downsized its national office and shed some of its federal capacity on climate change, O’Mara said.

The cuts were “very surgical,” he said. They targeted senior management positions in an effort to achieve a more horizontal structure.

In July, NWF parted ways with it chief operating officer, Jaime Matyas, one of its highest-paid executives. Matyas became CEO of the Student Conservation Association a few months later.

It also laid off Felice Stadler, senior director of NWF’s climate and energy program, and longtime employee John Kostyack, who was serving as vice president of wildlife conservation. Kostyack in August was named executive director of the Wind Energy Foundation, a nonprofit industry-funded group that promotes public awareness of wind as a clean energy source and supports research.

Last October brought two other high-level departures: Ann Morgan, who had led NWF’s regional office in Boulder, Colo., since February 2012, and Anthony Caligiuri, senior vice president for conservation and education at NWF headquarters. Caligiuri now leads Colorado Open Lands, a land trust based in Denver.

NWF also laid off its chief financial officer, Dulce Gomez-Zormelo.

The group is in the process of selling its Reston, Va., headquarters and plans to integrate operations with its National Advocacy Center at 1990 K St. NW in Washington, D.C., O’Mara said. In recent months, it moved its Rocky Mountain office from Boulder to downtown Denver a few blocks from the statehouse. The move aimed to cut costs but also to get closer to NWF’s state and federal partners, he said.

O’Mara’s overhaul has parallels to his work in Delaware, where he was credited with engineering one of the first significant revamps of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control since 1972, a move aimed at boosting efficiencies during lean economic times.

“My model in Delaware is you cut as deeply as you need to have a balanced budget, but not at the expense of core competencies,” he said.

‘We are delighted’

Bruce Wallace, the incoming chairman of NWF’s board, said the terrain is “rapidly changing” for environmental nonprofits — with new funding challenges and political polarization gripping the U.S. Capitol. He said O’Mara has navigated those challenges with aplomb, having faced a similar organizational challenge in Delaware.

He credited O’Mara for leveraging NWF’s regional offices, state affiliates and geographic spread.

“We are delighted” with O’Mara’s work, Wallace said. “We are stable and growing at a time when the country could not need us more.”

While NWF lost some federal capacity in climate change, it has increased its ability to address the issue at the state level, O’Mara said. He said NWF will have more “boots on the ground” to support compliance with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which will mandate that states reduce emissions of global warming gases 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

In part, O’Mara is returning NWF to its roots.

The organization was founded in 1936 by Iowa cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, a waterfowl hunter who was appointed in 1934 to lead the U.S. Biological Survey, now known as the Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling designed the first duck stamp, a federal permit to hunt waterfowl that has funded the purchase or leasing of more than 6 million acres of wetlands habitat.

In that era, wildlife lacked a national constituency to prod lawmakers to support conservation funding and policies, Darling warned in one cartoon. In 1936, at Darling’s urging, President Franklin Roosevelt invited thousands to Washington’s Mayflower Hotel for the first North American Wildlife Conference. The goal, according to Roosevelt, was to “bring together individuals, organizations and agencies interested in the restoration and conservation of wildlife resources.”

The conference resulted in the creation of the General Wildlife Federation — later called the National Wildlife Federation — and Darling was its first president. Today, NWF calls itself the nation’s “largest big tent conservation federation.”

O’Mara said the organization is returning to its hook-and-bullet base, even as it continues to advocate for members including bird lovers and gardeners. On Feb. 24, O’Mara spoke to the Garden Club of America about the threats facing pollinators and the importance of backyard habitat.

“We all agree we need wildlife funding, we need protections of the Endangered Species Act, protections of the Antiquities Act,” O’Mara said. “We’re trying to find that commonality and put that original coalition back together.”

Preaching climate change through wildlife

Wildlife has helped NWF bring attention to climate threats, he said.

“If it’s just carbon, it doesn’t span all those groups,” he said. “It’s a different kind of center of gravity, or rallying cry for what the organization is. That doesn’t mean we’re stepping back from climate in any kind of way. But it means it’s through a lens of wildlife, and local impacts on wildlife and not just global issues.”

Rather than talk about polar bears and puffins, glacial ice melt, or the Maldives being subsumed by rising seas, NWF is tailoring its message to how climate change will affect moose in New Hampshire, mule deer migration in Colorado and the temperature of trout streams.

“You can build a much more bipartisan coalition by focusing on the wildlife impacts than you can if you’re just focused on the man-made question,” O’Mara said. “It’s a very different kind of debate.”

The wildlife message has resonated particularly with Republicans who may be less swayed by academic warnings about climate change, which can sound abstract, O’Mara said. Showing the impacts “to someone’s backyard,” he said, “it’s easier to foster conversations on global warming solutions.

O’Mara, who graduated in 1997 from West Genesee High School outside Syracuse, N.Y., where he was class salutatorian and played baseball and basketball, has supported both Republicans and Democrats.

He took a break from Dartmouth College to serve as a staffer for former Rep. James Walsh, a Republican from central New York. As class president at Dartmouth, O’Mara organized hundreds of students in support of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) first presidential bid, and was later named McCain’s youth coordinator for New Hampshire.

O’Mara would later serve as executive director of the Onondaga County Democratic Committee. In 2012, while he was secretary of environment in Delaware, he donated to President Obama’s re-election campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.

NWF’s political action committee in 2010 spent $22,000 — all on Democratic candidates. But in 2014, it spent $15,000 on Democrats and $6,000 on Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

O’Mara said NWF’s priorities moving forward will be to preserve “big landscapes” that host species like bison and bighorn sheep, while defending public lands against state takeover bids.

NWF will continue to support dedicated funding for wildlife both in Congress and in states such as Missouri, where some lawmakers have proposed undoing a dedicated sales tax for conservation, O’Mara said.

Another major effort will be to preserve major waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River and Mississippi River Delta.

NWF will also redouble its efforts to connect Americans to nature through existing programs like eco-schools and backyard habitats, O’Mara said.

It recently signed a partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service to save the imperiled monarch butterfly, whose population has plunged 90 percent in the past 20 years. NWF’s role will be to inform the public about the importance of milkweed to monarchs and promote its planting across the United States (E&ENews PM, Feb. 9).

‘Richard Louv-style connection’

Youth engagement will be a signature campaign, O’Mara added.

Many of today’s parents grew up on video games and can’t be counted on to get their kids outdoors, O’Mara said. A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans between ages 8 and 18 spend about 7.5 hours a day in front of some electronic device.

While kids know to turn off lights and recycle, they typically prefer to sit in front of a computer than play in a stream, O’Mara said.

“Kids are doing sustainable things, but it’s not connected to nature,” he said. “We need to have that Richard Louv-style connection to nature.”

Louv is the author of the 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

Key to those efforts will be NWF’s partnerships with the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and state and county parks, O’Mara said. NWF is also urging schools to incorporate outdoor learning into biology, chemistry and physics classes.

NWF worked behind the scenes on the White House’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which was unveiled last month to give all fourth-grade students and their families free admission to national parks during the next school year. By NWF’s estimate, the more time kids spend in nature, the more they’ll become attached to it.

NWF also hosts more than 3,000 eco-schools in the United States, where it supports “‘green’ management of the school grounds, the facilities and the curriculum.” Roughly 4,400 schools have certified NWF habitats. It reaches younger kids through its Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. magazines, which have a combined circulation of 625,000.

“We just have to make it easy enough for parents and schools and at the same time attractive enough for kids that it’s worth putting down the iPad,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara was in Denver last week to announce a partnership with FWS to help students build wildlife habitats in their schoolyards that mirror local ecosystems. Two Denver schools will partner with employees at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge north of the city to build habitats that support pollinators, migratory birds and wildlife.

NWF sees the program as an investment in kids’ health, intellectual development and happiness, in addition to recruiting a new generation of conservationists.

Morale at NWF has improved considerably since staff layoffs concluded last August, according to one former NWF employee. O’Mara is credited with having an open door policy and inviting constructive criticism from staff.

The organization has stayed financially solvent thanks to its endowment, which totaled $54 million in mid-2013. But the endowment suffered as a result of NWF’s recent financial woes.

The group has yet to file its financial 990 form for the year ending August 2014.

“The budget is balanced, revenues are up, staffing is probably stronger in the field than probably any time in 30 years,” O’Mara said. “We’re showing strength. We’re showing how we can mobilize a conservation army in a way that nobody else can. If we can do that consistently and efficiently across the entire country, our best days are definitely ahead.”

National monuments matter to Americans — Preserve the Antiquities Act

By Judith Kohler

From Wildlife Promise


Top-down or grassroots — it’s all a matter of perspective.

Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho has introduced a bill, S. 228, to block presidents from establishing national monuments. In a news release, Crapo criticized “top-down national monument designations” as potentially harmful to the local economy and public access.

But from the perspective of communities in Crapo’s home state, to Montana, Colorado and New Mexico, federal legislation blocking use of the Antiquities Act might look like a “top-down” response to public-lands management.

In fact, recent monument designations have been the result of years of work and lobbying by diverse community coalitions. In other words, the president was responding to grassroots campaigns, just as other chief executives from both political parties have since 1906.

After Rio Grande del Norte in northern New Mexico was declared a national monument in 2013, Kent Salazar, the Western vice chairman of National Wildlife Federation’s board of directors said: “We’ve been working on this for 15 years. Hunters and anglers support protecting Rio Grande del Norte. Environmentalists, ranchers and businesses support it. Native Americans have been hunting and fishing this area forever.”

National monuments matter to Americans

Approval of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014 was propelled by widespread public support. “We’ve been working on this for more than a decade. Sportsmen, many of whom own local businesses, have been diligently reaching out to community leaders and elected officials to make permanent protection of these important lands a reality,”  John Cornell of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation said after President Barack Obama proclaimed the nearly half-million-acre area a national monument.

In Idaho and Colorado, many hunters, anglers, wildlife advocates and other outdoor enthusiasts would like to join the celebration. Members of Sportsmen for Boulder-White Clouds support using the Antiquities Act as the “clearest path” to conserving the world-class fishing and hunting country in central Idaho because legislation has failed so far.

“I think sportsmen and conservationists in Idaho are tired of waiting,” Idaho Wildlife Federation Executive Director Michael Gibson told a reporter. “People have been working on protections in the Boulder-White Clouds for 50 years.”

For more than two decades, Coloradans have been hoping to see Browns Canyon made a national monument to maintain the rugged backcountry, hunting, fishing and whitewater rafting that draws people from across the country. Former Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper called on President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to establish a monument after legislation failed to advance in the 113th Congress. More than 500 people signed up to speak during a meeting in December that was attended by federal officials seeking public comments. Former Rep. Joel Hefley, who saw his Browns Canyon bill stall in 2006 due to “Washington-style politics at their worst,” wrote a recent op-ed urging action.

“I’m hoping that we’ve finally pushed this thing through. It certainly deserves that protection after all these years and all the support we’ve generated,” Bill Dvorak, NWF public lands organizer and longtime rafting guide in Browns Canyon, told The Denver Post after the meeting in December.

Conserve our public treasures; Preserve the Antiquities Act

All the public, grassroots support would mean little if a president, who, after study and listening to community requests, would still have to win congressional approval to establish a new national monument. After all, congressional gridlock and ideological objections to conserving public lands are the reasons people to push for action under the Antiquities Act in the first place.

“It is critical that states and affected stakeholders where a monument could be located play a key role in the decision-making process,” Crapo said when he announced his bill to fundamentally change the Antiquities Act.

What really is critical is that Americans have another avenue when Congress ignores affected stakeholders and communities. It is critical to preserve the Antiquities Act, which gave us Grand Canyon National Park, Muir Woods National Monument, the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Dinosaur National Monument…and many, many more.