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Daily Archives: August 14, 2016

USFWS plan to expand hunting, fishing on wildlife refuges provides important access

 

Katie McKalip

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

 

Enhanced access would benefit public lands sportsmen on 13 refuges in nine states, including new hunting opportunities in Colorado and Michigan

 

New hunting and angling opportunities on national wildlife refuges provide increased public access for sportsmen during a time when access is shrinking, said Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, commending a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand hunting and fishing on 13 national wildlife refuges in nine states.

 

USFWS Director Dan Ashe announced the proposal, which encompasses migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting opportunities, as well as sport fishing, and would modify existing regulations on more than 70 other national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts.

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney welcomed the announcement from Director Ashe.

 

“National wildlife refuges occupy a special place in the hearts of most American hunters and anglers,” said Tawney, who has hunted waterfowl on refuge system units his entire life. “Our refuge system provides accessible, high-quality fish and wildlife habitat, as well as havens for sportsmen to experience solitude and tranquility - experiences central to our identity as public lands recreationists.

 

“Public lands also play a central role in the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers mission,” continued Tawney. “We’ve stood up for them, consistently and strongly, and will continue to defend the right of citizens to partake of the wealth of opportunities they offer. Our thanks go to the Service and Director Ashe for his unwavering dedication to sustaining - and expanding - these opportunities.”

 

BHA members in Colorado commended the announcement, whereby elk hunting would be opened for the first time in parts of Baca National Wildlife Refuge and expanded in the Alamosa and Monte Vista national wildlife refuges. All three refuges are located in the Centennial State.

 

“Enjoying our public lands - including by hunting and fishing - is a way of life in Colorado,” said David Lien, chair of BHA’s Colorado chapter. “Expanding hunting opportunities on the Alamosa and Monte Vista national wildlife refuges, as well as opening the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, currently closed to public use, to bird and big-game hunting, is some all-too-rare good news for sportsmen. We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for its commitment to the responsible management of our nation’s refuges, and we thank Director Ashe for upholding our outdoor traditions.”

 

The Michigan chapter of BHA highlighted the importance of the announcement to sportsmen in the Wolverine State.

 

“The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is located within the greater Detroit metropolitan area, a place with limited public lands hunting access,” said Jason Meekhof, chair of BHA’s Michigan chapter. “An expansion of opportunity here will be of great value to an area where quality hunting options are scarce - and will be particularly important to waterfowlers due to the vast amount of birds that travel and live within this corridor. Michigan public lands sportsmen enthusiastically support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision.”

 

Sportsmen cite insufficient access as the No. 1 reason for forgoing time afield. National wildlife refuges provide valuable opportunities for time afield during an era where sportsmen’s access is steadily decreasing. Regulated hunting is permitted on 336 wildlife refuges, and fishing is permitted on 275 refuges. They play an important role in managing fish and wildlife populations on many refuges.

 

Public comments on the changes are invited before Aug. 15, 2016. For more information and to submit comments, visit www.regulations.gov and reference docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2016-0007.

Save Marbled Murrelets and Northern Spotted Owls

 

Take Action for the Northern Spotted Owl and Its Old-Growth Forest Habitat

 

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is asking for your help to protect old-growth forest habitat critically needed for endangered Northern Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets.

 

Please write to your Members of Congress and President Obama today and urge them to support stronger forest protection for the endangered Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet. The owl and murrelet’s old growth forest habitat is at risk from a new federal management plan, and a logging rider in Congress.

 

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed to weaken President Clinton’s Northwest Forest Plan which was put in place twenty years ago to protect the owl’s habitat, and restore the old growth forest ecosystem. The plan is working to bring the forests back and slow the owl’s decline; its protections should be maintained.

 

Meanwhile, Congress is considering logging legislation that undermines wildlife protection and public involvement. Your voice is urgently needed in support of saving the threatened Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet, and ensure that the many benefits of the Northwest Forest Plan, such as carbon storage and clean water supplies, are not lost.

 

Use the following link to go to ABC’s website to submit a letter to the important recipients who can influence the decisions being made regarding old-growth forests in the western U.S. Just enter your information and send your comments.

 

https://secure2.convio.net/abcb/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=BBC6976B5F0070C05F7EC2F342807DCE.app203a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=197

Is it finally time to talk about what Sportsmen need in this election?

 

With the conventions over, the heat of campaign season is before us—and it’s not too late to voice your concern for conservation priorities

 

By Steve Kline

TCRP Blog

 

The confetti and balloons have been swept from the floors of both the Republican and Democratic national conventions, marking the traditional beginning of the general election season, a flurry of activity that will run through November 8. We all know what to expect: commercials, debates, door-knocking, bumper stickers, yard signs, and social media posts from our friends. Of course, in the midst of all this, the one thing that all Americans seem to agree on is that they have already grown weary of an election that has been going on for well over a year.

 

As a delegate myself, to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, I can attest that the messages the parties and candidates seek to deliver, both to those in the room and those watching from their living rooms, are pretty similar and follow a predictable course. A heavy dose of keeping American families safe, growing the economy, and creating good-paying jobs, plus assurances of competence and clarity of vision. The formula was alive and well in Cleveland and Philadelphia. It is the tale as old as time.

 

But after listening to the convention speeches of both candidates, and many other speakers, any sportsman would feel overlooked. Both parties missed a golden opportunity to communicate with an essential constituency, one important to anyone who hopes to actually win a national election. Neither candidate made a direct pitch to the more than 40 million Americans who hunt and fish, and in the process, contribute nearly $100 billion to the national economy.

 

What would a real pitch to sportsmen look like? A commitment to renewing the investment in fish and wildlife habitat conservation programs that benefit all Americans. A pledge to defend the values of common opportunity implicit in our national public lands. A vow to support the conservation of our private working lands. Perhaps a promise to enhance recreational access to our nation’s woods, fields, and waters.

 

Many candidates for elected office at all levels have created, or will soon create, sportsmen’s coalitions to support their candidacy, an acknowledgement that hunters and anglers are an important constituency, one that turns out to vote in higher numbers than many other subsets of the population. But we often don’t demand enough from candidates in exchange for our votes. So, this campaign season, attend a candidate forum or town hall, and ask questions about sportsmen’s priorities. Utilize your Facebook and Twitter accounts to put issues important to hunters and anglers in front of the candidates. Email their campaigns, in a thoughtful way, to share the things sportsmen and women in your part of the world are thinking about.

 

Candidates often profess to champion what America’s sportsmen care about, but it is up to us to let them know.

 

About the Author: Steve Kline, Director of Government Relations, joined the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) in April of 2011. Prior to joining TRCP, Steve worked as Senior Government Affairs Representative for the Alaska Wilderness League in Washington, D.C., and has also served as Director of Federal Forest Policy for the National Association of State Foresters, and as Associate Conservation Director of the Izaak Walton League of America. An avid waterfowl hunter and angler, Steve surprises even himself with his uncanny ability to miss clay pigeons.