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Northwest Timber Companies Impose Sportsmen Access Fees

July 11, 2014

Photo by USFWS

I don't like sitting on important stories.As a journalist, it's my job to get the news out as soon as it can be validated and substantiated. But I have a confession to make: There's a bit of news coming out of Washington state that I've kept to myself for a few days.I’ve been waiting. Waiting for phone calls to be returned. Waiting for something further to develop. Waiting to make sure I presented the issue properly. Because this is a story that truly has two sides. And two sides to each of those sides.

3 | Read the full entry

Guide to America's Public Land

Click on your state in the map below.

Find the top public-land destinations in your state, including:

  • Wildlife Refuges
  • State WMAs
  • National Forests
  • Fishing Access Sites

About Open Country

Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.

Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.

Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.

We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.

The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.

Submit a project for the Open Country Grant Award.
Nominate an individual for the Open Country Award.

Open Country



Event Calendar

  • June 1: Red Oak Planting in Gwinn Forest Management Unit
  • June 7: Pinegrass Restoration, Willamette River (Eugene, OR REMF Chapter). Contact.
  • June 7-8: Lower Deschutes River Thistle Cut (OR Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and OR Fish and Wildlife). Contact.
  • June 13-15: Prairie City Aspen Habitat Enhancement (Oregon Hunters Association, Capitol Chapter) Contact: 503-399-1234
  • June 21: Smith Ridge Meadows (Eugene, OR Chapter RMEF). Contact.

  • July 7, 2014

    How Public Funds Benefit Shooters-1


    The Pittman-Robertson Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 and has been a main engine for funding wildlife conservation in the United States. The PR Act, as it is known, levies a 10 to 11 percent tax on the sale of ammunition, firearms, and outdoors equipment, and has garnered more than $2 billion since its inception. Not all sportsmen realize, however, that PR funds also go toward hunter education and, by extension, toward public shooting ranges.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allocated more than $138 million from PR tax revenues this year to states to expand hunter-ed and shooting opportunities.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 2, 2014

    Guest Post: Maine Bear Hunting Referendum – A Call to Action-0


    Editor's Note: David Trahan is the Executive Director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and formerly served in the state legislature for 12 years. 

    This fall Maine hunters will face a referendum vote that could ban hunting black bears with hounds, hunting them over bait, and trapping. In part, we're facing the vote because of a decision I made last year.

    In May of 2013, five Humane Society of the United States employees, including their Washington D.C. liaison, summoned me and Don Kliener, head of the Maine Professional Guides Association, to an impromptu meeting just prior to a public hearing on legislation LD 1474. It was a bill to ban hounding and trapping of bears in Maine.

    They delivered this ultimatum: “We have $3 million, and polling data that says we can win a bear referendum in Maine. If the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine will support LD 1474, HSUS will not submit a referendum to ban trapping and hounding. If the Alliance doesn’t support LD 1474, HSUS will add baiting to our bill, and go to referendum, and Mainers will likely lose baiting, hounding, and trapping.” 

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 23, 2014

    Op-ed: Is Hunting Sage Grouse Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?-2


    After this spring’s census efforts indicated breeding sage-grouse were at unprecedented low numbers, the state of Montana’s Wildlife Commission contemplated a recommendation from the wildlife agency to close the 2014 sage-grouse hunting season state-wide. This action should concern all sportsmen whether they hunt sage-grouse or not. It also begs the question: Is hunting part of the problem of declining grouse numbers – or part of the solution?

    The fact is that no scientific evidence indicates hunting is a major cause of declines in populations of sage-grouse or a major threat relative to other factors. Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that hunting mortality is not a major threat to the overall persistence of populations. That said, sage-grouse are a different beast. They are relatively long-lived and have lower reproduction compared to many other game birds. As such, they must be managed more conservatively than, say, pheasants, or quail or ruffed grouse.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 18, 2014

    HSUS Petitions For Lead Ammo Ban on Public Lands-2


    Our old friends at the Humane Society of the United States are at it again.

    This time the anti-hunting organization is looking to effectively shut down hunting on public land by eliminating the use of lead-based ammunition.

    This is a tactic that has been tried before and beaten back. The Center For Biological Diversity, another anti-hunting group, had its petition to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting a ban on lead-based ammunition twice rejected.

    Some states have also dealt with – and rejected – the notion of banning lead ammo. But one state has adopted a ban: California.

    But HSUS being HSUS, they figured they might as well give it another whack and have even developed a plan of attack for getting it done (See the HSUS Lead Free Campaign).

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 13, 2014

    Pigeon River Country Project Kicks Off Open Country Season-0


    It was both symbolic and necessary.

    More than three dozen volunteers had gathered an impressive pile of barbed-wire fence and paused for a few photos at the end of a long but productive day.

    That fence was not only an eyesore and a potential hazard for those using this 640-acre tract of the Pigeon River Country in northern Michigan, it was also some of the last remnants of a barrier that no longer belongs.

    “This is public land and removing those fences – nearly two miles of it – felt pretty good,” said Drew YoungeDyke, grassroots manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “It was a lot of work. But no one complained. This is what we came here to do.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 10, 2014

    Call To Action: Help Bring The Sportsmen's Act to a Vote-3


    If you enjoy hunting and fishing public lands and waters in this fine country of ours, now is the time to make democracy work for you:

    We’ve received word that the Bi-Partisan Sportsmen’s Act (read about what's in the bill here) is number three on the roster for action on the Senate Floor. That means we need a little push from you. The American hunter and angler is needed to ensure that a vote comes up on this critical piece of legislation before Congress takes its August recess.

    Two people need to hear from you:

    Senator Harry Reid, Majority Floor Leader: Contact him here.

    Senator Mitch McConnell: Minority Floor Leader: Contact him here.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 6, 2014

    Congress Has Chance To Pass Critical Conservation Package, Again-0


    Big legislative changes don’t often come along but, 50 years ago, two of them came along at the same time.

    In 2014, we celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Wilderness Act as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Both of these landmark legislative efforts have had a tremendous impact on conservation and the public lands where we hunt and fish. And both play a pivotal role in the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014.

    The Sportsmen’s Act has a lot of moving parts which, when considered individually,  may seem inconsequential. The sum of all parts, however, is a powerful package that will ensure future generations can enjoy Open Country and public wildlife. So check out the details of the bill below and then contact your senator to help get this thing passed, finally.

    Here’s a few highlights of the bill:

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 4, 2014

    Open Country Kicks Off Project Season With Michigan Effort-0


    The Open Country project season is about to kick off and the program's first-awarded grant funds will be put to good use.

    On Saturday, June 7, the Open Country efforts begin anew for 2014 when a group of volunteers from Michigan's On The Ground initiative team with up volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in assisting the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with work to create and enhance access in the Pigeon River Country area of northern lower Michigan.

    The Black Mountain Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will be putting $500 to work on the project as the beneficiary of Outdoor Life's newly-founded Open Country grant program.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 28, 2014

    Oregon Sage Grouse: When Ranchers Are the Conservationists-2


    As a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act, the greater sage-grouse has been ruffling feathers for years. Landowners are growing nervous as the Sept. 2015 listing deadline creeps closer, and the conflict that often arises between private and federal interests over controversial species remains a possibility.

    But a number of private landowners in eastern Oregon have been working toward a cooperative agreement with the federal government to head off potential conflicts. Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances alongside the Harney County Soil and Water Conservation District. This CCAA will operate within the borders of Oregon’s largest geographic county to cover more than one million acres of private rangelands.

    CCAs and CCAAs are nothing new, although Oregon is the third state to implement them for sage-grouse habitat. Under a CCAA, landowners voluntarily agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species. In return the federal government guarantees that landowners will not be subject to additional regulations should that species become listed under the ESA.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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