National Issues

One of the best conservation programs you’ve never heard of

Private Lands Primer: A SAFE place for Wildlife

By Ariel Wiegard

The Roosevelt Report

Just before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced an additional 86,000 SAFE acres across seven states: GeorgiaIdahoIndianaKansasMinnesotaNorth Dakota and South Dakota. These acres are a boon to private landowners and sportsmen. But I’d wager that most hunters and anglers, and probably many farmers and ranchers, don’t know what SAFE is or just how beneficial the program can be.

For the unfamiliar, SAFE— State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement —is part of the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. The general CRP asks landowners to voluntarily conserve large tracts of previously cropped land to achieve a wide range of environmental benefits. As a part of CRP, SAFE is also a voluntary land conservation program, but here USDA works with landowners, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and the public to identify strategic projects that conserve land in specific parts of the country. SAFE distinctively focuses on habitat for species that are threatened or endangered, have suffered significant population declines or are considered to be socially or economically valuable.

That last phrase, “socially or economically valuable,” is key for sportsmen. SAFE authorizes your local decision makers to identify which acres will best target the needs of “high-value” wildlife, and that includes for hunting and fishing. SAFE projects have provided habitat for the plains sharp-tailed grouse, sage grouse, American woodcock, northern bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant, a wide variety of waterfowl, cottontail rabbits, black bears, mule deer, elk, salmon, steelhead trout and many other species, across 36 states and in Puerto Rico. That’s nothing to shake a tail at.

Landowners can benefit from SAFE too especially at a time when crop prices are low and land prices are high. USDA offers a signing incentive of $100 per acre to landowners who convert idle cropland into SAFE; pays landowners up to 90 percent of the cost of planting trees, forbs and grasses that benefit wildlife; and provides guaranteed rental payments on that land for the length of a contract, usually for 10 to 15 years. SAFE can improve farm income while incentivizing on-the-ground practices that benefit our favorite critters on an ecosystem-wide scale.

Although the extra 86,000 acres comprise only a fraction of the 24 million acres enrolled in CRP, at the TRCP we were thrilled by USDA’s announcement. Since SAFE’s introduction in 2007, many states have maxed out their allotted acres and maintain waiting lists for landowners hoping to enroll stream buffers, restored wetlands, newly seeded grasslands and longleaf pine stands in the program. The TRCP welcomes any additional chances to provide habitat for fish and wildlife and access for sportsmen.

Landowners can enroll qualified acres in a designated wildlife project in their state at any time. We especially encourage those in the seven states listed above to take advantage of this new opportunity. For more information, visit or visit a local USDA office.

Wind farms aren’t green if the prairie is destroyed

By Mike Fuhr

From the Tulsa World

Many have been following the ongoing conflict in OsageCounty regarding industrial wind energy development — objections, denied permits, lawsuits, delays. Wildlife conservation is one of the many issues at hand there. Simply put, with regard to conservation, it comes down to the real estate mantra: location, location, location.

Globally, temperate grasslands have experienced drastic declines and they continue to disappear. The prairies in the central U.S. are the quintessential American landscape but have faced the same pressures as other grasslands. The tallgrass prairies of the eastern Great Plains have been especially hard hit. What was once more than 140 million acres of tallgrass prairie has been seriously degraded by 150 years of conversion to other uses. Less than 4 percent of this landscape remains.

The Osage Hills and neighboring Flint Hills of Kansas harbor the largest unfragmented block of tallgrass prairie anywhere in the world. The unfragmented setting and biological richness of the Osage and Flint Hills make them a high priority for conservation. In fact, it is our last chance to work collaboratively with landowners to conserve the tallgrass prairie at a large enough scale that will conserve the many interlocking biological pieces that make a prairie a prairie.

The Nature Conservancy is concerned that if inappropriately located, industrial wind farms pose known threats to natural habitats and certain wildlife populations, which might in turn have significant negative consequences for project developers, financiers, power purchasers and citizens. We do not want to exacerbate one problem as we try to solve another.

The Osage Hills are the very same landform with the same rich biological diversity features found in the Flint Hills of Kansas, which is a landscape that wind developers and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback have agreed to avoid disturbing with wind energy development. Industrial wind developments planned for the Osage Hills that are located in the remaining native tallgrass prairie landscape there, from a conservation science perspective, are in a very poor location for the siting of any major infrastructure, including industrial wind power.

For a decade, The Nature Conservancy has urged wind developers to find habitat-friendly locations for their projects. We have supported this by working with partners to develop science-based computer models for Oklahoma that identified those locations that have high impacts to habitats and those with little or no impact to habitats, and making those models available to wind energy developers.

It is inappropriate for the TradeWind projects, and any others planned for OsageCounty, to be labeled as “green” when they negatively impact the largest patch of unplowed tallgrass prairie left in North America. Together, the projects encompass an estimated 160 turbines, each standing 400-plus feet tall, across more than 17,000 acres west and northwest of Pawhuska.

It is critical that wind developers consider wildlife habitat and other potential constraints very early in their planning and collaborate with relevant entities to resolve any issues then. Let’s be smart about development that helps Oklahoma and preserve what’s left of our beautiful prairie land.

Mike Fuhr is State Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy

Second Cover Crop Survey Confirms Yield Boost

On Tuesday, November 18, USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program released the results of the 2013-2014 Cover Crop Survey, which assesses the benefits, challenges, yield impacts, and scale of adoption of cover crops. The North Central Region of the SARE program worked with the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) to survey more than 1,924 farmers across the country (44 states in all), many of whom have grown cover crops. The results of the survey confirm that farmers are seeing multiple benefits from cover crops, including increased yields of corn and soybeans following the cover crop.

Of the 1,924 farmers who responded to the survey, 630 provided data comparing corn yields from fields that did have cover crops to corn yields from fields that did not have cover crops. Similarly, 583 farmers provided data comparing soybean yields from fields that did and did not have cover crops. When a cover crop was planted before corn, corn yields increased by an average of five bushels per acre, or 3.1 percent. Farmers who planted a cover crop before planting soybeans saw an average soybean yield increase of 4.3 percent.

These yield increases, while significant, are lower than the yield increases found in last year’s Cover Crop Survey (9.6 percent for corn, and 11.6 percent for soy). According to Rob Meyers, Regional Director of Extension Programs for SARE, “much of the difference in yield impact between the two years of surveys may be attributed to the drought in 2012, which highlights the moisture-management benefits of cover crops.”

Key Findings

According to SARE, key findings of the survey include:

♦ Of 1,427 cover crop users who identified the three cover crop benefits they desired most, 74 percent chose increased soil organic matter, 51 percent cited reducing soil erosion and 35 percent said they hoped cover crops would reduce soil compaction. Controlling weeds appealed to 28 percent, while providing a nitrogen source was chosen by 23 percent and nitrogen scavenging by 17 percent. Increases in yield in the following cash crop came in close behind with 16 percent.

♦ The most popular cover crop species were winter cereal grains—including winter wheat, cereal rye and triticale—used by 73 percent of the 1,600 farmers who answered this question. Legumes, which could include clover, winter pea, vetch and others, were used by 55 percent, while an equal percentage planted brassicas such as oilseed radish, mustards, rapeseed, turnips and related plants. Annual grasses (which could include annual ryegrass, sorghum, sudangrass, oats and similar plants) were planted by 53 percent of the respondents, and multi-species mixes were used by 34 percent of the growers.

♦ Nearly half, or 48 percent, of 1,691 farmers reported using a herbicide to terminate their last cover crop. Tillage was the choice for 21 percent of the respondents. Selecting cover crops that winter kill was the top strategy for 20 percent, and mowing was employed by 10 percent. Only one percent reported using a roller-crimper, and 6% replied “Other.”

♦ In the 2013-2014 survey, the mean difference in yield for corn among farmers with 0 to 3 years of experience in cover crops was an increase of 2.04 bushels per acre, while farmers with 4 or more years of experience in cover crops reported a mean increase of 6.76 bushels per acre.  A similar pattern was evident in soybeans. Farmers with 0 to 3 years of cover crop experience reported a mean increase of 1.09 bushels per acre, while growers with 4 or more years of experience in cover crops saw a mean increase of 2.84 bushels.

♦ Median seed costs, with data “tails” removed, were $25 per acre. As with the seeding/establishment costs, regional data breakdowns of seed costs showed a wide range by geography, from a median seed cost of $25 per acre in the Midwest to a median of $40 per acre in the West.

♦ 88 percent of respondents who answered a question about barriers to adoption said that cover crop adoption is always limited or somewhat limited by the cost of cover crops; 81 percent said that cover crop adoption is always limited or somewhat limited by a perception that they are tough to terminate; and 72 percent said that adoption is always limited or somewhat limited by a perception that cover crops reduce yields in the following cash crops. Other barriers include a lack of access to planting equipment and lack of information about the practice.

♦ The top three challenges identified by cover crop users were time and labor required, establishing the crops, and seed cost. Time and labor was also the leading barrier to cover crop adoption among non-users.

♦ Of 419 respondents who answered a question about whether they managed their farm to provide forage for honeybees, 70 percent said they either planted bee-attractive plants to provide forage or managed their cover crops to provide forage for pollinators.

♦ In the three years preceding the survey year of 2013, cover crop acreage had increased by an average of about 30 percent per year among surveyed cover crop users. When farmers were asked to project their 2014 acreage, they forecast adding about 10 percent more acres of cover crops.

The increasing popularity of cover crops points to the great work that SARE has been doing for many years to assess, demonstrate, and publicize the benefits of cover cropping. We look forward to working with USDA and partner organizations to build upon the survey’s findings and promote the widespread adoption of cover crops.

Ban bee-killing pesticides


Due to the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, Bees and other pollinators are dying-off at an alarming rate with dire implications for our food supply and domestic agriculture industry.

The federal government’s response to this crisis has been totally inadequate – but that could soon change.

In June, President Obama created the Pollinator Health Task Force with the goal of focusing federal efforts to research, prevent, and recover from pollinator losses.1

Now, for the first time, the Pollinator Health Task Force is accepting public comments on what it should do to protect bees and other pollinators.2We know a ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides is what’s needed to save the bees, but we only have a few days to pressure the task force to act before this crucial public comment period closes.

Tell the Pollinator Health Task Force: Ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Submit a public comment before the November 24 deadline.

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in our food production system by enabling the production of many of the nuts, fruits and vegetables in our diets. In total, pollinators make possible an astounding 35% of global food production and contribute more than $24 billion annually to the U.S. economy. But the number of managed honeybee colonies in the United States has declined from 6 million in the 1940s to just 2.5 million today – jeopardizing our food supply and domestic agriculture industry.3

Having healthy, growing honey bee and native pollinator populations will help to produce abundant food resources for our wildlife during the winter. Just like increased pollination from honey bees creates more apples in an orchard, it will also create more of the seeds that wildlife will be foraging on this winter. Making the connection between supporting healthy pollinator populations and helping get more wildlife through the winter in better physical condition!

That’s why President Obama tasked the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency with co-chairing the Pollinator Health Task Force and leading the federal response to the devastating decline in populations of bees and other vital pollinators.

So far, both the USDA and EPA have displayed a disturbing lack of urgency when it comes to saving bees from deadly pesticides. In fact, the EPA’s current plan is to continue studying neonicotinoid pesticides until 2018 before it takes action to save our pollinators.4

We can’t afford to wait four more years to do what’s necessary to save bees from deadly pesticides. With the White House paying attention to the issue and the Pollinator Health Task Force soliciting public input, now is the time to demand an immediate ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

Tell the Pollinator Health Task Force: Save the bees by banning neonicotinoid pesticides. Submit a public comment before the November 24 deadline.

Go to the Credo Action page and fill out your public comments today. Thanks.

Healthy public lands mean healthy economies

Commentary by David Dragoo

Roll Call

As the owner of a successful outdoor business, one of many such businesses in this country, I’ve become puzzled over how Congress debates public lands issues. Often the care for these resources is pitted up against “strong economies” and “more jobs”, implying support for one means denying the other. This is a false choice. Outdoor businesses show that healthy public lands create and sustain strong rural economies and viable jobs. As we pursue other economic activities like energy development on public lands we must make sure we balance those uses with the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat so that our outdoor economy will thrive.

We as sportsmen and sportswomen are the drivers of important industry. Hunting and fishing in America generated more than $90 billion in economic activity in 2011 and supported more than 1.5 million jobs, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation. If we were to rank the industry as we rank other businesses, it would be 24th on the Fortune 500 list, ahead of companies such as Kroger and Costco.

Think about that for a moment.

It should be no surprise that when it comes to policy, our stake in public lands is second to none. After all, without access to healthy public lands, we don’t have an industry.

Each sportsman and woman spends an average of $2,407 per year. In 2011, 47.7 million people hunted or fished in America. That’s more than the population of California, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada combined (and the numbers are rising). In 2011, the number of hunters increased by 9 percent and anglers by 11 percent, demonstrating that the economic benefits of hunting and fishing will continue as long as our lands and waters remain healthy enough to support abundant fish and wildlife and quality outdoor experiences.

Moreover, public lands are a big part of the sporting and outdoor recreation economy. Fiscal 2010 saw more than 58 million visitors to lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, with a resulting benefit of $7.4 billion dollars to the economy. In 2012, national forest lands hosted 160 million visitors and generated $11 billion in recreation-related spending.

Public land use is a sustainable bedrock pillar of America, particularly for the small, rural communities where hunters and anglers visit as well as for businesses like ours that provide the equipment and services used by sportsmen and women. Yet, in the 113th Congress we’ve seen numerous attempts to undermine policies that ensure all aspects of the public land economy are strong.

For example, no fewer than three “jobs” bills attempted to do away with the Master Leasing Plans, a Bureau of Land Management policy to identify, up front, areas where public lands oil and gas development is appropriate along with places where fish and wildlife habitat needs to be conserved. In short, Master Leasing Plans are a way to prevent surprises and provide certainty for sportsmen, the outdoor industry and energy developers, but this policy been in the crosshairs of those who unfairly characterize the concept as being anti-jobs.

The future of 245 million acres of public land

By Eric Petlock


A lot of folks around the West are frustrated with federal land management agencies these days.

Our federal public lands are facing a lot of challenges, like catastrophic wildfires, the spread of noxious weeds like cheatgrass, public land grazing conflicts, conflicts over energy development, and the loss of key wildlife habitat. Agencies are running in circles trying to deal with these conflicts while making resource management decisions that will determine the future of multiple uses on our public lands. Simultaneously, agencies also must manage myriad lawsuits from multiple interests unhappy about the decisions being made. It seems the West is shrinking as more and more people are competing for our public land resources.

As sportsmen, we have our own list of priority public land policy issues: maintaining quality, unfragmented habitat; rehabilitating habitat that has been damaged; and improving existing habitat to make it more resilient and productive so that fish and wildlife can thrive. All of these are important aspects of public land management. We understand the need for development of our natural resources and recognize that economic vitality involves choices and compromise. But we also understand that in a world where high quality, undeveloped wild places are becoming scarcer, it is imperative that we work to identify and protect these public places through balanced management.

As federal agencies try to plan for the future, all these issues come into play. Blaming the agencies for everything wrong in the West is easy, but in reality agency decisions are usually the result of agency mandates – which can have controversial outcomes. Important to remember as well is that these policies and laws result from various interest groups working within the system to advance their particular interests. Often these groups are at odds with one another, and the agency is left to sort out the conflict and formulate a compromise, leaving both parties unhappy about the outcome.

Sportsmen must take action ‘early and often’

This might sound like a fatalist’s view, but to the contrary, the takeaway is that we all have a responsibility and a right to work within our democratic system to put forth our interests and values – and then see to it that these interests and values are implemented. Sportsmen are often conspicuously absent from agency decision making processes and sometimes fail to get involved until they are reacting to decisions that already have been made. Instead, we must get involved early and often.

Earlier this year, the federal Bureau of Land Management launched a new initiative to revamp its long term land use planning processes. Dubbed “Planning 2.0,” this initiative will comprise the most comprehensive overhauls of the BLM’s planning process in decades.

Recently, representatives from the TRCP and some of our partners attended meetings convened by the BLM in Denver, Colo., and Sacramento, Calif. These meetings began the process of gathering public input on Planning 2.0 and discussing how the BLM might make this process as effective as possible.

Altogether, the Denver and Sacramento meetings attracted close to 150 participants. In addition to representatives from a number of sportsmen’s organizations, the off highway vehicle community, other environmental and conservation organizations, state and local agencies, wild horse advocates and citizens at-large were represented. Each meeting lasted about four hours and included “breakout sessions” so that participants could discuss the goals set by the BLM for Planning 2.0

Some of the themes that emerged during the breakout sessions included the following:

Public involvement in the 2.0 process is a must – and should be maximized.

What is the definition of “landscape-level” planning? What is the BLM’s definition, and how will these boundaries be defined?

How will baseline data be gathered? How will “citizen science” or data gathered by citizen groups and other non-governmental organizations be compiled and used?

How can the BLM do a better job of enabling public engagement in the process?

Ultimately, some of the key takeaways comprised the following:

The BLM doesn’t have a clear definition of what defines a landscape, what elements would define boundaries, and how priorities would be set for various interests, e.g., wildlife, grazing, energy development.

The BLM must review what has and hasn’t worked with other agencies, particularly the U.S. Forest Service, with regard to public engagement and the process of gathering and integrating data and information provided by the public.

How will this new process improve the status quo regarding how politics impacts the process – and to what extent will powerful special interests such industry groups still be able to manipulate it to fit their agendas?

These meetings are just the beginning. Sportsmen and sportsmen’s interests must be at the table, working with other stakeholders to find common ground and resolving the conflicts that will inevitably arise. The TRCP and other partner groups will be providing input and advocating on behalf of sportsmen and wildlife conservation throughout this process. We hope this will lead to better policy – as well as conservation of some of our most important and valued Western public lands.

If future generations of Americans are going to enjoy our outdoor heritage, abundant wildlife and unspoiled landscapes, then we all have to get involved and make our voices heard. :

To learn more about Planning 2.0, visit the BLM website

Take action: Submit your comments to the BLM on the Planning 2.0 process. 

EPA Backs Scientific Basis for “Waters of the U.S.”

On Thursday, October 23, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) released its 103-page review of the agency’s hydrology connectivity report.

The report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, reviews and synthesizes hydrology literature and is largely the scientific basis for the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule to define “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The review generally affirms the report’s scientific integrity, stating that the literature review is thorough and technically accurate.  While not an analysis of the proposed WOTUS rule or federal policy itself, the SAB did offer recommendations to improve the report’s clarity and consistency for policymakers.

“The [connectivity] Report is a science, not policy, document that was written to summarize the current understanding of connectivity or isolation of streams and wetlands relative to large water bodies such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans,” the Board writes.  “Given the policy context, however, the Report could be more useful to decision-makers if it brought more clarity to the interpretation of connectivity, especially with respect to approaches for quantifying connectivity.”

In its review, the SAB recommends that the EPA modify its connectivity report to:

Provide a greater emphasis on biological and groundwater-mediated connectivity between streams, wetlands and downstream waters, as well more analysis of human alterations to the hydrological landscape;

Include more discussion-perhaps represented through case studies-of connectivity on a gradient and understanding connectivity from a watershed or landscape perspective;

Increase the consistency and clarity of terminology used throughout the report, particularly related to terms like “floodplain wetlands;” and

Provide further analysis and more specificity regarding cumulative or aggregate effects of similarly situated waters (i.e., groups of headwater tributaries).

The SAB’s review comes as a seven-month comment period on the WOTUS rule wraps up.  Final comments on the rule are due November 14, 2014.

About the Rule

The WOTUS rule attempts to provide greater clarity to the definition of “waters of the United States” in the CWA after several Supreme Court cases have cast confusion over the phrase.  The EPA and Corps propose making all tributaries, as well as adjacent waters, jurisdictional under the Act.

While the conservation community broadly supports the rulemaking as a necessary step to maintaining the integrity of the nation’s waters, some sectors of the business and agriculture communities have called the rule a burdensome and costly regulatory overreach.

NSAC has followed WOTUS from the beginning and will submit formal comments to the agencies to make sure sustainable agriculture has a voice in the rulemaking process.

Click  here to read NSAC’s Q&A on the WOTUS rule.

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Weekly Update

Strengthening and protecting the Clean Water Act

By Jimmy Hague and Jan Goldman-Carter

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Clean Water Act, which turned 42 this year, is the most successful tool our country has to protect our water. In the past four decades, it has been responsible for reducing pollution, making our drinking water safer. It has increased hunting and fishing opportunities, and provided an economic boost to a myriad of industries, including outdoor recreation, beer brewing and many more.

Yet, for the last third of its lifetime, the effectiveness of the act has been in decline because we no longer have a clear understanding of its scope. This lack of clarity came about as a result of two Supreme Court rulings, in 2001 and 2006, that created uncertainty about which bodies of water were to be protected under the Clean Water Act, ultimately leaving a large part of the nation’s drinking water supply at increased risk of pollution and destruction.

In the years immediately following the Supreme Court decisions, this confusion reversed some of the remarkable gains our nation has enjoyed as a result of the act. One stark example of this is wetland deterioration: between 2004 and 2009, there was a 140 percent increase in the rate of wetlands loss, which translates to the destruction of critical waterfowl habitat and decreased hunting opportunities.

Earlier this year the federal government began a public process to resolve this problem by proposing a new rule to clarify the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule has the potential to definitively restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands while maintaining our longstanding commitment to agricultural producers.

In addition to improving the safety of drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans, the proposed rule can provide clean water for trout streams, salmon spawning grounds, duck habitat and other waterfowl breeding grounds. This is good news for America’s sportsmen, who fuel a $200 billion sporting economy that supports 1.5 million jobs each year. Simply put, clean water means good hunting and fishing.

Although the public comment period on the proposed rule doesn’t close until Nov. 14, critics bent on blocking the rule are stoking fears about the proposal by spreading hyperbolic misinformation. Many of these critics are the same groups that have been asking for just such a public process for years. Protecting our waters shouldn’t be a political issue – it should be common sense.

Sportsmen are supporting this rulemaking because it can improve hunting and fishing access and increase the number of quality days in the field. Once finalized, the proposed rule can help us sustain these traditions and the associated economic benefits for generations to come.

A suitable anniversary present for the Clean Water Act would be for the White House to move swiftly to finalize the rule, and for all of us to recommit to completing the process, improving the clean water rule so that it provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community while conserving fish and wildlife. The health of our economy and longevity of America’s outdoor traditions depend on it.

Jimmy Hague is the director of the Center for Water Resources at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Jan Goldman-Carter is the senior manager of Wetlands and Water Resources at the National Wildlife Federation.

Do you care about the future of Bureau of Land Management public lands?

All hunters and anglers should, they offer more than 245 million acres of some of the best hunting and fishing in the nation.

The Bureau of Land Management is beginning the process of updating its national land use planning handbook, used by all BLM land use planners and district managers, to guide its long-term planning decisions. While it may sound unexciting, this process will impact sportsmen’s access, how habitat improvement projects are prioritized and important conservation tools for fish and wildlife. In short, our public lands sporting opportunities are at stake. Sportsmen should be involved.

The BLM has dubbed this process “Planning 2.0” and has hosted public listening sessions in Denver and Sacramento. Help sportsmen make a strong showing by contacting BLM

Suggested talking points for contacting BLM:

I hunt and fish on BLM-managed public lands in the West, and I understand personally the value of these areas for fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing. As a sportsman I ask that you consider the following measures when rewriting the BLM planning regulations:

▪ Priority habitats and migration corridors: Set clear direction for the identification, conservation and restoration of important fish and wildlife habitats and migration corridors.

▪ Landscape level planning: Plan energy developments at the landscape level to ensure that future developments are balanced with the needs of fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation.

▪ Backcountry areas: Create a management tool for the responsible management of intact and undeveloped backcountry areas with high-quality habitats and dispersed hunting and fishing opportunities. This tool should meaningfully conserve intact lands, include a strong active restoration emphasis and maintain important public access.

▪ Travel management: Provide direction that prioritizes the retention and maintenance of roads and trails that are important access points for hunting, fishing and wildlife management. The agency should also make it a priority to conserve important wildlife security areas from fragmentation and the development of new roads.

▪ Multiple use: Recognize that fish and wildlife habitat conservation and outdoor recreation such as hunting and fishing are components of multiple-use management that deserve equal consideration with other uses.

▪ State wildlife agency objectives: Through the BLM’s land use planning handbook, the BLM should specifically support state wildlife agency population and management objectives.

Sportsmen in the West are dependent on publicly accessible, highly functioning BLM public lands. These lands are essential for producing quality big game, sustaining robust fisheries and maximizing maintainable hunting and fishing opportunities. Hunters and anglers are urging the agency to consider important lands and unfragmented habitats – and ways to responsibly administer them to ensure the future of our sporting traditions – as it develops management tools for the future. Planning 2.0 is our opportunity to create a BLM planning approach that directly benefits hunters and anglers and fish and wildlife populations, along with the billions of dollars of annual economic boost provided by public land recreationists.

Take a moment to sign a letter to the BLM. Go to:;jsessionid=2F0D481700C8B67B7C78226476EFC49A.app332a?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=381&AddInterest=1301

Boone and Crockett Club Supports New Funding for Conservation

Four Boone and Crockett Club members are serving on a panel charged with developing new funding mechanisms for conservation. The goal is bridging the funding gap between game and nongame species – a concept heartily endorsed by the Club.

The 20-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources was announced at a recent Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies meeting.

The panel is co-chaired by Johnny Morris, CEO of Bass Pro Shops and regular member of Boone and Crockett Club. The panel also includes three professional members of the Club including Becky Humphries, Steve Williams and John Tomke.
Outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sectors, energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state conservation agencies are represented on the panel. Over the next year, the group will produce recommendations and policy options to fund conservation of the full array of fish and wildlife species.

Those recommendations will be presented to Congress and the President.

“Sportsmen don’t just advocate for game species, but for all wildlife, and the Boone and Crockett Club enthusiastically supports the concept of new funding sources and a more comprehensive approach to conservation,” said Bill Demmer, Club president.

Demmer added that increasing public and private funding for conservation was listed as a priority action item in a White House conference convened by President Bush in 2008. Since then, it’s become even more apparent that America’s historic successes in conservation are not sustainable under current funding models – especially given today’s growing challenges to fisheries, wildlife and other natural resources.

Goals and actions from the White House conference included identifying and developing new sources of dedicated, long-term funding for federal, state, and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to support conservation and hunting, and establish a blue ribbon panel of experts on wildlife funding to do so.

Morris said, “By assembling this panel of highly regarded leaders and problem solvers, we will find a way forward that safeguards not only vital natural resources, but also our nation’s economic prosperity and outdoor heritage.”

Former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, who co-chairs the panel alongside Morris, said, “With fish and wildlife species and natural resource-based enterprise at stake, we can’t afford an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. It is time to create certainty for both industry and the conservation community by building a 21st Century funding model.”

State hunting and fishing license dollars, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel taxes established a “user pay-public benefit” model that has provided the backbone for funding states’ fish and wildlife personnel and conservation programs over the past century.

Despite the success of this funding model, the costs of fish and wildlife conservation are increasing with public demands for new and expanded services. There has also always been a significant gap in dedicated funding for conserving the 95 percent of all species that are neither hunted nor fished. Professional managers and the organizations and individuals that help support them now must address a large number of new pressures on the landscape that are rapidly changing the outlook for North America’s fish and wildlife.

The co-chairs expect to add approximately three more individuals and four ex officio participants to the panel before it convenes its first meeting in early 2015.