National Issues

Prevent the loss of a National Wildlife Refuge in the Everglades


Don’t let the state of Florida eliminate the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge


The State of Florida is attempting to take back one of America’s National Wildlife Refuges. The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge provides critical habitat to 250 species of birds, including the largest wading bird colony in the Everglades with more than 7,000 active nests.

But now, in an effort that has long been encouraged by the sugar industry, Florida has begun the process of evicting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This move will eliminate federal wildlife protections on the 144,000 acre Refuge, one of the last remnants of the historic Everglades.

Please send a letter to Florida’s Governor Rick Scott and urge him not to close down the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The State of Florida is using the management of an invasive plant as a pretext to cut ties with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and take away the Refuge. Under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stewardship, the Refuge has flourished into some of the healthiest Everglades habitat.

Florida’s attempt to take back the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is the latest effort in a nationwide movement to eliminate federal protections from our most treasured public lands. For years, the sugar industry dumped dirty water into the Refuge until the U.S. Department of Justice enforced water quality laws and ordered them to clean up their act to protect the Refuge’s vital wildlife habitat. Eliminating the Refuge will weaken legal protections for habitat for threatened Wood Storks and endangered Everglades Snail Kites.

Evicting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not solve the challenge of controlling and combating invasive species in the refuge–it’s a misguided ploy to get rid of one of our National Wildlife Refuges and would set a dangerous precedent for other protected places around the country.

Email Governor Scott today and tell him not to eliminate the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Utah’s state legislature is at it again


The Wilderness Society


A crisis is brewing in Utah, one that could have national repercussions if we don’t act immediately.


Utah‘s state legislature passed a bill in 2013 directing the federal government to turn over public lands to the state. This bill, the first of its kind, would allow the state to seize public lands we all share, cutting off our access to make room for more drilling and development.


Utah‘s bill is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable, but they don’t care. So now they are spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money to explore their legal options. Utah’s actions set a dangerous precedent that if unchecked, could lead to other states taking similar actions. We can’t let that happen — our shared natural legacy is at stake.


Earlier this year, The Wilderness Society released a report showing that Idaho has sold 41% of the land it owns for development. That’s 1.7 million acres of state land lost forever. Newspapers wrote about it, state legislators were held accountable, and the public was shocked.


We can do it again in Utah. But we need your help. The total cost to research, write and produce such a report is just $7,350. Can you help us reach this goal to fund our work protecting wild public lands in Utah and across the country?


By taking a stand in Utah, we send a powerful message to all state legislatures and private interest groups around the country that we are watching, we won’t back down, and we will hold them accountable.


Help the Wilderness Society save Utah’s and all of America’s public lands.

National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates hunters and anglers


National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) is Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, to recognize the amazing contributions hunters and anglers have made to wildlife conservation over the past 100 years. Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a proclamation officially dedicating Sept. 24 as National Hunting and Fishing Day in Kansas, crediting Kansas hunters and anglers for their positive impact on wildlife conservation and the state’s economy.

The 2016 Honorary Chair is Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and the theme of this year’s nationwide celebration is “Hunt. Shoot. Fish. Share the pride.” Since the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act was passed in 1937, hunters have provided more than $7 billion to state wildlife conservation programs through excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment. Currently, hunters pay more than $371 annually into the federal program, and when you add the nearly $800 million they spend on licenses and permits and another $440 million they donate to conservation organizations each year, it’s evident that hunters fund wildlife conservation programs in the U.S.

On the fishing side, U.S. anglers and boaters have paid nearly $8 billion into the Sport Fish Restoration Program since it was established in 1950. That money is distributed to state agencies for fisheries conservation programs, aquatic resource education, boating access, and the Clean Vessel Act program. Annually, anglers pay nearly $400 million into the federal program, $657 million in license fees and more than $400 million in private donations annual for fisheries conservation programs.

In Kansas, hunters and anglers pump more than $600 million into our state’s economy annually, supporting 9,300 jobs and paying $69 million in state and local taxes.

While the money provided to wildlife and fisheries programs by hunters and anglers is impressive, the wildlife success stories are even more amazing. Species, such as white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkey, and giant Canada geese, that were on the brink of extinction around the turn of the century are now abundant and existing in healthy populations across the country. Today’s state fisheries programs produce a variety of quality angling opportunities that were unthinkable just 50 years ago. And while the focus is usually on game animals and sport fish, the conservation programs implemented benefit far more non-game species.

To learn more about the National Hunting and Fishing Day 2016, go to To learn more about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program, go to Contact your local Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism office to see if any NHFD events are planned near you.

Transferring control of federal lands would devastate hunting and fishing

The recent movement to do away with the concept of federal lands has nothing to do with freedom. It’s just the opposite—and would change hunting and fishing as we know it

By Hal Herring

Field and Stream

“We have to do this,” Blaine Cooper told me in a rush. “The BLM lit a fire to burn this ranch down because they want the uranium that’s under it! The left blew up buildings, killed people, enslaved people to make this wildlife refuge!”

Cooper was sitting behind the wheel of a white pickup, heater blasting, and talking to me through the open window. It was the middle of last January, maybe 12 degrees above, here at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, with day just breaking over a universe of frost-whitened sagebrush and 6 inches of old snow.

Duane Ehmer, riding by on his cow horse, Hellboy, was dressed for duty in a furry cap with earflaps and an old red, white, and blue leather jacket and well-worn chaps, plus a cap-and-ball Colt pistol. The big American flag he carried barely moved in the ice-fogged stillness. Later in the day, Ehmer would tell me that he believed that the federal government had “taken away the land from good-hearted American people,” and that soon enough, our public lands would be sold off to help pay the U.S. debt to China. He was worried that he would have no place to hunt or ride his horse if and when that happened. He seemed like a good guy, the kind of person who would be handy to have with you on a tough job, or in a backcountry camp.

I went to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to meet these militants who had taken over the refuge headquarters and talk to them about what they were doing, and why they were so opposed to the public lands that are the sole reason I moved to the West 26 years ago and raised a family here. Cooper and some of his companions seemed to be lost in a shadow world of conspiracy theories, falsehoods, and boilerplate antigovernment fury.

But the friendly Ehmer was at least half correct. There is indeed a carefully crafted movement under way to rob Americans of their public lands. It’s a movement led not by armed and ranting men decked out in militia getups, nor the Ammon Bundy types in their cowboy hats, but by soft-handed politicians in business attire, dreaming of riches and a transformation of our country that will bring us into line with the rest of a crowded world where only the elite and the very lucky have access to wildlife, open spaces, rivers and lakes, and the kind of freedom that we have for so long taken for granted.

Randy Newberg, one of America’s most outspoken public-land ­hunter- ­conservationists, points out that transferring control of public lands to the states, or to private hands, is not a political issue—it’s an American issue. “So many people I talk with just don’t seem to know what is at stake,” says Newberg. “The idea of our public lands, in public hands, is one of the greatest contributions that America ever gave to the world—that we the people are invested in our own lands. It’s part of our democracy, and it is exactly what gave birth to the American conservation movement that made us the envy of the world.”

The Great Land Rescue

At Malheur, none of the occupiers I spoke with knew the history of what they claimed to be opposing. Here’s the short version: Homestead acts beginning in 1862 awarded more than 270 million acres of land (about 10 percent of the nation’s land area) to tough, optimistic settlers who staked their claims from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean (the only requirement was being able to prove that you had never taken up arms against the U.S. government). The Railroad Act of 1862 was the first of a series of grants that gave away another 175 million public acres (much of it timberlands that could supply railroad ties and other materials) to encourage railroad companies to build the transportation infrastructure that would complete the settling of the West. In the rough-and-tumble closing of the American frontier in the late 19th century, millions of acres that were too remote, dry, or rugged for settlement or other uses went unclaimed. These lands were subjected to a ruthless free-for-all of mining, logging, and grazing that left much of the landscape unusable, and the wildlife threatened with extinction.

It was a dire situation, and the American solution was unique to the world at the time: President Benjamin Harrison set aside the first “forest reserves” from these unclaimed lands in 1891, to protect the mountain headwaters of major rivers that supplied navigation and irrigation. Between 1901 and 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt expanded these reserves, now known as the national forests, to almost 148 million acres. Later, as unclaimed rangelands were severely overgrazed, the Bureau of Land Management was created to restore and oversee 245 million acres of that unclaimed land, which included millions of heavily degraded acres abandoned by homesteaders who had tried and failed to make them produce enough crops or livestock to survive. We were left with 640 million acres of public land—land that has become the cornerstone of American outdoor recreation and represents the best public hunting and fishing country in the world.

From the beginning, the idea of a vast public estate, and especially Roosevelt’s dramatic expansion of the national forests, was greeted with unmitigated scorn by many powerful Westerners. The ruthless Gilded Age robber baron William A. Clark, who built his fortune on Montana’s timber and copper, was allied with Idaho’s Sen. Weldon B. Heyburn and Colorado’s Rep. Herschel M. Hogg, a mining magnate, to block every attempt at creating public lands or conserving natural resources of any kind. Clark often said, “Those who succeed us can well take care of themselves.”

The Move to Privatize

In the 1950s, as restoration efforts on BLM and U.S. Forest Service public lands began to improve grazing conditions and reestablish cutover forests, the movement to take these lands began to build. In 1955, the renowned Western historian Bernard DeVoto wrote that “the ultimate objective is to liquidate all public ownership of grazing and forest land in the United States…the plan is to get rid of public lands altogether, turning them over to the states, which can be coerced as the federal government cannot be, and eventually into private ownership.”

The Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and ’80s was sparked by changes in federal land-management policies mandated by Congress that, in part, required surveys of possible new wilderness areas and studies of the effects of grazing and timbering on wildlife, fish, and recreation. The Sagebrush Rebellion, whose supporters wanted more state and local control of those lands—if not actual transfer of the lands to the states, or outright privatization—had widespread support across the rural West. Even Ronald Reagan, on the campaign trail in Utah in 1980, claimed, “I happen to be one who cheers and supports the Sagebrush Rebellion. Count me in as a rebel.”

But the ranchers who were leading the movement began to recognize the possible consequences of individual states taking over management of federal lands. The repercussions would have included the most radical expansion of state government in history to deal with the administration of such marginally productive lands, as well as increased taxes to support it, grazing fees that would rise as much as tenfold, and finally, the inevitable sell-off of most of the lands to private interests that would almost certainly not include the Sagebrush Rebels. It would actually mean the end of small-scale ranching in the arid West.

The precedents then were as clear as spring water—and they are just as clear today:

  • Nevada was given 2.7 million acres of federal land when it became a state in 1864. All but 3,000 acres of that has been sold off.
  • Utah has already sold more than 50 percent of the lands granted to it at statehood.
  • Idaho has sold off 41 percent of its state lands since gaining statehood in 1890, which equates to 13,500 acres per year going into private hands.

And the history of land under state ownership is not good. A report by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a national sportsmen’s conservation group, cites these figures:

  • In Colorado, only 20 percent of state trust lands are open to the public for hunting and fishing.
  • To help ease budget woes in Wisconsin, the state is currently in the process of selling off 10,000 acres of state-owned land.
  • In Oregon, as timber revenue from it has declined, the state has been forced to auction off the 92,000-acre Elliot State Forest. Oregon was originally granted 3.4 million acres and has only 776,000 acres left.
  • In Idaho, a European-esque hunt club has leased state land for exclusive hunting rights.

The Modern Land Grabbers

The new leaders of the so-called “divestiture movement” are not ranchers, at least not in the conventional sense. They are inspired by the work of theorists and political appointees like Terry L. Anderson, who wrote “How and Why to Privatize Federal Lands” in 1999. They are men like Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory, of the American Lands Council, a group advocating for the transfer of public lands to the states. Ivory, who sponsored legislation that would do just that, told reporters that the transfer of the lands was “like having your hands on the lever of a new Louisiana Purchase.” (Of course, in the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. actually bought 827 million acres from France, paying $15 million. Ivory makes no mention of buying any public land from the American people who currently own and use it.)

Rep. Ivory is not a rancher. He represents the district of West Jordan, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, but he knows where the money is in American land. His group receives funding from Americans for Prosperity, the main political advocacy arm of Charles and David Koch, of Koch Industries. Ivory’s bill, the 2012 Transfer of Public Lands Act, has been followed by similar bills in the legislatures of 10 Western states. The Utah legislature has passed a resolution to spend $14 million of Utah taxpayers’ money on a lawsuit against the federal government, demanding transfer of all public lands within the state.

“The difference between the land grabbers today and in past years is that they are much more organized than ever before. There is a lot more money behind them than there ever has been,” says Land Tawney, the executive director of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

The public lands that were once viewed as useless have now attained fantastic value, on a planet of 7.3 billion people, in the ­fastest- growing developed nation on earth. Dramatic, huge-scale private land holdings across the nation have become the norm, from the recent purchase of 330,000 acres of ranchland in the Missouri Breaks of Montana by the Texas-based Wilks brothers, to Ted Turner’s 2 million acres, the Koch brothers’ 200,000- acre Montana ranch, or the Mormon Church’s ownership of 650,000 acres in Florida and a 201,000-acre ranch along the Wyoming-Utah border. There is little doubt that there would be a huge demand for U.S. public lands, both from our own wealthy residents, from investors, and from ­resource- ­stressed nations like Saudi Arabia and China.

Basic natural resources are most at risk. “Think about the water we’d lose access to if these lands were privatized—70 percent of the headwaters of our streams and rivers in the West are on public lands,” Tawney says. “That is why the lands were set aside in the first place. We knew that under federal management we’d be able to harvest timber and still protect the water resources. With private ownership, there was no guarantee.”

And “no guarantee” applies to hunting and fishing, too, Tawney says. “The transfer of these lands to state control would change American hunting forever. State lands have an entirely different set of rules for management. And private lands are mostly not accessible for the average hunter. The experiment, unique to our country, where the fish and wildlife and the public lands belong to the people, well, that would be the end of that.”

For Randy Newberg, whose TV shows On Your Own Adventures and Fresh Tracks are based on nonguided public-lands hunting, the transfer or privatization of public lands is what he calls a “cold dead hands” issue. “I will never give up fighting this terrible idea,” says Newberg, who has represented hunters in Congress and state legislatures. “For me, America without public lands is no longer America.”

The way to fight it? Contact your congressional representatives. “Tell them you want no part in these schemes to transfer or get rid of our public lands,” says Land Tawney. “The system works. Your voice still counts as an American. But only if you use it.”

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 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.;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


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.

Threatened birds recovering thanks to Endangered Species Act protection

But lack of resources puts Hawaiian birds at high risk

By Steve Holmer

American Bird Conservancy

A report released today by American Bird Conservancy contains some good news for U.S. mainland birds: 78 percent of the birds listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have populations that are now stable, increasing, or have recovered enough to be delisted. The Endangered Species Act: A Record of Success analyzes population trends and recovery success for all U.S. listed birds, including those in the Hawaiian Islands and U.S. territories.

“Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, twice as many populations of listed birds are increasing as are decreasing,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy Advisor for American Bird Conservancy and the author of the report. “Meanwhile, species such as the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Brown Pelican have rebounded sufficiently to be taken off the list of endangered species.”

“This is a strong signal that the ESA works,” Holmer said.

But the report also shows the continuing problems for listed Hawaiian birds, many of whom face severe threats. Nine listed Hawaiian bird species are currently in decline. Overall, the ESA recovery success rate* for Hawaiian birds is 52 percent, only two-thirds of the recovery rate for mainland birds.

“The dire situation for Hawaiian endangered birds is in part a result of inadequate recovery spending. Hawaiian birds account for more than 25 percent of all listed birds, but received only 6.7 percent of federal recovery spending for birds in 2014,” said George Wallace, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for Oceans and Islands. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working diligently to increase its recovery efforts in Hawaii, and is now spending 18.4 percent of its bird recovery funds on Hawaiian birds, but the population trends indicate still more needs to be done to reverse current declines.”

The report also reveals that both mainland and Hawaiian bird populations can recover when adequate resources are made available. The recovery status of the Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, Western Snowy Plover, San Clemente Bell’s Sparrow, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Interior Least Tern, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Steller’s Eider, Millerbird, Hawaiian Crow, Hawaii Creeper, and Nihoa Finch have all improved since 2006, when ABC produced a similar analysis of the ESA’s effectiveness.

ABC staff are engaged in recovery efforts for Hawaiian birds, including Palila, a rare native honeycreeper that was among the first species to be listed under the ESA. “To prevent the extinction of Palila, we are working with the State of Hawaii to protect and restore habitat from non-native sheep that damage and kill the native trees used by the birds for food and nesting,” said Chris Farmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Hawaii Program Director. “And for the Millerbird, a successful translocation from Nihoa to Laysan Island was completed in 2012, increasing this species’ chances for survival.”

Even though the Endangered Species Act is working, it is under attack by some members of Congress.  In recent years, individual species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse have been targeted for listing exemptions to prevent ESA protection.

“Instead of undermining this effective law, Congress needs to increase funding for species recovery,” said Holmer. “With so many listed bird species showing increased populations, there is hope that we will soon see more of these species no longer needing the emergency protections of the ESA.”


*The ESA recovery success rate is defined as the number of stable, increasing, and delisted species divided by the total of species extinct after listing, declining, stable, increasing, delisted, and unknown.

Aerial surveys document stable Lesser Prairie-chicken population trends

Biologists note annual population fluctuations, emphasize value of improved habitat

The latest lesser prairie-chicken survey shows bird population trends remain stable after five years of aerial survey data collection. The surveys indicated an estimated breeding population of 25,261 birds this year which scientists say is not significantly different from the 29,162 birds estimated in 2015 given the variability in the survey methodology. This spring’s breeding population remains significantly larger than the 17,616 birds that were estimated in 2013 following two years of severe drought.

Lesser-prairie chickens can be found in four ecoregions in five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Wildlife biologists note prairie chicken numbers regularly fluctuate up and down from year to year due to changes in habitat conditions mainly influenced by rainfall patterns. The surveys this year indicated apparent population increases in the shinnery oak ecoregion of eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle and the sand sagebrush ecoregion of southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas. The lesser prairie-chicken populations in these regions experienced the most decline as a result of the 2011-2012 drought. Population decreases were observed in the mixed-grass prairie ecoregion of the northeast Panhandle of Texas, northwest Oklahoma and south-central Kansas, and the short-grass prairie region of northwest Kansas.

“Just as with last year’s population increase, we shouldn’t read too much into short-term fluctuations over one or two years,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA grassland coordinator. “The monitoring technique used for this survey is designed to track trends, and both the three and five-year trends still indicate a stable population. Lesser prairie-chickens inhabit a large geographic landscape with highly variable weather patterns, so we expect to see annual and regional population fluctuations. What these numbers show is the importance of maintaining good prairie habitat for long-term population stability. Populations have responded positively in recent years to increased and timely rainfall in portions of the bird’s range most affected by the 2011-2012 drought. Specifically, the population has significantly increased over the last three years in the sand sagebrush ecoregion. Voluntary conservation efforts like the range-wide plan help to ensure that suitable habitat is available so these population increases can occur when weather conditions are suitable.”

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. It was developed to ensure long-term viability of the lesser prairie-chicken through voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry. The plan allows industry to continue operations while reducing and mitigating impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Industry contributions support conservation actions implemented by participating private landowners. To date, industry partners have committed over $60 million in enrollment and mitigation fees to pay for conservation actions, and landowners across the range have agreed to conserve over 130,000 acres of habitat through 10-year and permanent conservation agreements.

“With continued improvement in nesting and brood-rearing habitat associated with good weather conditions and private landowner conservation actions, we are optimistic about the lesser prairie-chicken’s future,” said Alexa Sandoval, chairman of WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council. “Habitat conservation and species recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We appreciate the continued commitment of all of our partners in our ongoing conservation efforts.”

WAFWA news releases available at

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan can be found HERE


Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve native wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

Sportsmen encourage party platforms to support America’s public lands

More than thirty sportsmen organizations sent a letter to the RNC and DNC encouraging them to support America’s public lands

By Casey Skeens

National Wildlife Federation

More than thirty national and state-level sportsmen organizations, representing millions of hunters and anglers, sent the following letters to the Republican and Democratic Platform Committees encouraging them to support America’s public lands:

July 11, 2016

310 First Street SE                                                       1900 Market St, Suite 300

Washington, D.C 20003                                             Philadelphia, PA 19103

Honorable Reince Priebus                                         Honorable Shirley Franklin

Chairperson, Republican National Comm.            Honorable Daniel Malloy

Republican National Committee                              Co-Chair, Democratic National Comm.

Dear Mr. Priebus:                                                          Dear Mrs. Franklin & Governor Malloy:

Our organizations collectively represent millions of hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts. Our members, and tens of millions of other Americans, depend on our national forests, parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands to provide fish and wildlife habitat and access to places to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. The iconic landscapes of America’s public lands also sustain our economy by supporting an outdoor recreation industry that generates $646 billion in economic benefit annually and supports 6.1 million jobs—and attracting tourists from around the nation.

Our national tapestry of public lands is the product of more than a century of leadership by both Republicans and Democrats. Several of the world’s first national forests, monuments and wildlife refuges were set aside by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt. Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt expanded our National Wildlife Refuge System and National Park System and put millions of Americans to work during the Great Depression restoring and maintaining public lands.  Over the years, presidents of both parties worked with bipartisan leaders in Congress to craft the laws that govern the activities of the U.S. Forest Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Wilderness Preservation System, and the Bureau of Land Management.

America’s public lands provide important value for all Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas. These benefits include improving air and water quality, sustaining local water supplies, producing timber, providing grass for grazing, bolstering local tourism economies, enhancing agricultural production through pollination, and supporting a range wildlife and biodiversity.

America’s hunters and anglers have a special interest in our public lands.  Some of our most treasured big game animals depend on the secure habitat and migration corridors that are provided by public land.  Many sportfish species depend on cool, clean waters that originate on public lands.   Federal public lands also provide free access for tens of millions of Americans to hunt and fish every year.  These lands sustain our hunting and fishing heritage and fill our freezers. While all of America owns these lands, their wise stewardship is of particularly vital concern to us.

Managing hundreds of millions of acres of federal land for the public benefit requires a careful balancing of many different uses.  It is also essential to ensure that current activities do not impair the ability of future generations to benefit from our public lands.  There are no easy answers, but the value of public lands to the American people makes finding common-sense solutions worth the effort.

Your 2016 party platform presents an opportunity to explain to the American people how you will satisfy competing interests and protect our public lands for future generations.  Healthy debate about how to manage federal lands is an important part of the democratic process.  Your platform can advance that democratic debate by explaining how your party proposes to sustainably develop natural resources, protect wildlife habitat, ensure public access, and maintain our public land heritage for future generations.

At the same time, we do not believe it would be constructive to include broad directives to transfer federal lands to state or local control, sell federal lands to private interests, or otherwise liquidate the national interest in federal land management.  These kinds of directives do a disservice to the American people and especially to America’s hunters and anglers. These proposals do not advance the goal of finding meaningful ways to balance competing interests and preserve our national public land heritage for future generations.

Thank you for your commitment to the sound management and conservation of our public lands, which provide so much benefit to all Americans. If you would like to discuss this with us, please contact Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, at [email protected], 703-438-6046.


The National Wildlife Federation

Boone and Crockett Club

Dallas Safari Club

Ducks Unlimited

National Wild Turkey Federation

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Trout Unlimited

Wild Sheep Foundation

Wildlife Management Institute

Alabama Wildlife Federation

Arizona Wildlife Federation

Association of Northwest Steelheaders

Colorado Wildlife Federation

Conservation Federation of Missouri

Florida Wildlife Federation

Georgia Wildlife Federation

Idaho Wildlife Federation

Indiana Wildlife Federation

Kansas Wildlife Federation

Michigan United Conservation Clubs

Minnesota Conservation Federation

Montana Wildlife Federation

Nevada Wildlife Federation

New Mexico Wildlife Federation

North Carolina Wildlife Federation

North Dakota Wildlife Federation

South Carolina Wildlife Federation

South Dakota Wildlife Federation

Tennessee Wildlife Federation

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Wyoming Wildlife Federation