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  • April 8, 2014

    Discussion with Sally Jewell: Conservation, Land Access, and Recruiting New Hunters-0


    It’s not every day that you get an invitation to spend time with a Cabinet member. But last month, I got the chance to talk with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell about conservation, access, and the imperative to bring new folks into our hunting and fishing ranks.

    Here are some highlights of the conversation, which included folks from Boone & Crockett Club, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Montana Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Trout Unlimited.

    We first discussed the importance of access to public lands. RMEF's David Allen spoke of the need to ensure that the Land & Water Conservation Fund was reauthorized and fully funded. He thanked Secretary Jewell for the President’s budget, which for the first time, includes full funding for the LWCF. That’s $900 million from offshore oil and gas leasing, not tax dollars. All of the groups around the table understand what the LWCF does for hunters and anglers. Nobody balked when the Secretary asked for help getting the President’s budget implemented as it relates to the LWCF.

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  • March 18, 2014

    President Obama’s Budget is a Mixed Bag for Outdoorsmen-0


    The president recently unveiled his new budget for 2015. For hunters and anglers, it’s a good-news-bad-news scenario. Some things make perfect sense while others will leave you scratching your head.

    Either way, the president’s budget is a starting place, when it comes to protecting access and investing in America’s public lands.

    The Good
    The president has included full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF helps pay for fishing access sites, boat ramps, and protecting key habitat, using royalties that oil companies pay for offshore oil drilling. LWCF has given American hunters and anglers some premier spots for chasing big game. Places like the Tenderfoot Acquisition in Montana, the Silvio E. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in New England, and inholdings in the Tahoe National Forest in California.

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  • December 13, 2013

    New Bill would designate Organ Peaks National Monument-0


    Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico yesterday introduced a revamped bill to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument.

    The bill, backed by local stakeholders, hunting groups, veteran's organizations, and a host of businesses and historic groups would designate around 500,000 acres as the Organ Mountains—Desert Peaks National Monument. Included within that monument designation would be roughly 241,000 acres of new wilderness.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 26, 2013

    HUNT Act: Finally, a Reasonable Solution to Accessing Landlocked Federal Property-6


    Freshman Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) is about to introduce Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act. Again. He brought this thoughtful access legislation to the last Congress when he was a member of the House of Representatives. Heinrich is now a Senator, and one of the most passionate hunters and public-land users in Washington.

    In a nutshell, the HUNT Act requires federal land managers to inventory property in their domain and work to create free, public access to land that’s currently surrounded by inaccessible private land.

    It’s a helluva good bill for hunters and anglers as well as any person who wants to be able to access our public lands. There’s no hidden agenda or political gamesmanship here. It’s a good, clean bill, something we rarely see in Congress these days. The bill has garnered the support of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, and a few other well-respected organizations. I’m hopeful that list will grow exponentially.

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  • August 29, 2013

    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Funds Wyoming’s Access Yes Program-0


    What does $10,000 get you in Wyoming? It gets you roughly 40,000 acres of prime hunting and fishing grounds through the state’s Private Lands/Public Wildlife Access Program for everyone to enjoy.

    The bad news is, funding for the state-sponsored access program has been drying up. The good news is that for a second year in a row, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has made a five-figure donation to help ensure access for residents and non-residents alike. The group, comprised of individuals and groups committed to things like free access, walk-in hunting, and wildlife-habitat security, donated $10,000 to the program this month.

    That’s a darned good use of dollars, if you ask me. Wyoming’s access program has been widely praised as one of the best of its kind, not only for providing hunter access, but for private landowners looking to manage wildlife on their property in a manner that doesn’t conflict with their livestock or crop operation.

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  • July 24, 2013

    House Introduces Bill That Will Cut Funding for Many Conservation Programs-3


    There’s an old joke that goes: The opposite of progress must be Congress.

    I suppose it’s only a joke to some. To others, like me, it’s an axiomatic truth; especially when a House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee introduces a bill to eliminate funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, state wildlife grants, and for new wildlife refuges and expansions of existing refuges. 

    To be sure, there’s a chorus of folks out there that immediately sing in unison: “Cut the budget!” without even thinking through what these cuts mean to an industry that generates about $650 billion (that’s with a B, folks) per year.

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  • June 10, 2013

    Wilderness Roads Provision in Access Bill Causes Controversy-3


    “I’ve got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.” – Butch Cassidy

    Vision is what Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and Aldo Leopold had when they articulated the North American conservation ethic. Vision to see the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the long term.

    I’ve been thinking about vision as I review H.R. 1825: The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act.

    The title sounds like Congress is passing around free apple pie. But the devil is in the details. The basic goal of the bill hits a bullseye—declaring that hunting and fishing have just as much value on public lands as other uses, including resource extraction and grazing. The bill would also end shortsighted efforts to block hunting and angling on public lands. But some of the details in the bill, which has 45 co-sponsors and has been referred to a House committee, miss the mark.

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  • June 7, 2013

    Montana's Stream Access Law: Landowner Claims to Own Water on Ruby River-4


    I’ve got fishing on the brain lately. The salmon fly hatch on Rock Creek is in full bloom and we’re only a few days away from prime fishing conditions throughout all of western Montana’s trout water. Golden stoneflies are dancing through my dreams. Flotillas of guides and sports lazily float down the Missouri.

    But Montana’s Stream Access Law is under a more serious assault than a salmonfly in front of a pig brown trout. At a recent Supreme Court hearing in Bozeman, the lawyer for one Mr. James Cox Kennedy, an absentee landowner who owns a significant chunk of southwestern Montana, stated:

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  • February 15, 2013

    Monday Rally to Fight For More Land Access in Montana-0


    Big things often times have small beginnings. What started out as a discussion in a University of Montana law class has led to a big event in the Montana Legislature: An Access Rally in support of HB 235 on Monday, February 18th, starting at 2 p.m. at the Montana State Capitol in Helena.

    HB 235, the Corner Crossing bill that would have opened up about 1.3 million acres of public land to hunters and recreationists met a rather anti-climactic death recently. Rather ignominiously, the bill was tabled on a party line vote, with all Republicans (including the co-sponsor, Representative Kreyton Kerns) voting against it.

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  • January 24, 2013

    Cutting Corners: Montana Looks to Improve Access Opportunities-2


    Who ever said that hunting isn’t a contact sport has never spent any time at the Montana Legislature. There are over 200 bills and bill draft requests that deal with hunting, angling, access, and conservation issues this year. They range from the absurd, like the attempts to stop bighorn sheep transplants (Senate Bill 83) to the enlightened.

    Access issues in Montana are often contentious and can even involve the county sheriff. Accusations between landowners, sportsmen, and outfitters provide some of the most acrimonious political battles in the state.

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