03. April 2019 · Comments Off on Public Lands Bill S1089 – Killed in 2019 Session · Categories: Public Lands, Public Meetings

We made it pretty far with the only piece of pro-access legislation of the 2019 session. In fact, it’s the only pro-sportsman related bill introduced this year, period. We provided the committee with high profile news reports of illegal access obstruction going unpunished, and the cultural and economic reasons to support public property rights. Ultimately non-issue concerns, obfuscating the true purpose of S1089, and the Wilks brothers’ testimony won the day.

IWF has made good headway for this idea of civil enforcement of access obstruction, and will carry that momentum today through the 2020 legislative session. But meanwhile, let’s dig into what we learned at the hearing:

The Wilks Bro’s personal lobbyist testified and worked to kill the bill. The lobbyist also happened to be the lawyer who wrote the Trespass Bill of last year. No surprise there, but upsetting that 6 of the 9 legislators sided with out-of-state billionaires over Idahoans, again. The lobbyist opined that S1089 would criminalize innocent behavior, but there are two things to point out about that claim. 1) The bill clearly addresses only “willful” acts, not accidental. 2) The Attorney General opinion for S1089 refutes that claim.


18. March 2019 · Comments Off on Wilson Creek Trail Head – Hard Trigger Loop · Categories: Fun Rides, Public Lands

March 17, 2019 turned out to be a great day to ride in the Owyhee Front, high 40’s temperatures, light breezes and a group of members and guest that were really glad to be out on their horses.  BLM’s Wilson Creek Trail head is the perfect location for a day like this. Lots of great trail, good parking and pretty easy to get to.
Our group broke up in to three separate teams. One team went hiking, the second team wanted to make the 10 miles Hard Trigger Canyon Loop, and the third team wanted to ride up the Wilson Creek trail making a shorter loop.

After everyone returned from their respective rides and hikes we shared various treats and talked about the adventures we had!

02. March 2019 · Comments Off on BCHA – Congress passed Public Lands Bill · Categories: BCHI /BCHA, Public Lands


01. March 2019 · Comments Off on Idaho Public Land Bills – 2019 · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

ttacks to Idaho’s public lands in the Idaho legislature have been on the rise. This year, IWF has worked hard to shed light on legislation moving through the State House that negatively impact Idaho’s public lands and your public land rights. HJM5, HJM8 and HB162 all have negative consequences for Idaho’s lands and wildlife and all four passed through the House, now bound for the Senate. You can find out more about each bill on our website.

28. February 2019 · Comments Off on Protecting Big Prairie · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

Bob Article July 2018

07. February 2019 · Comments Off on ITA – 2018 Annual Report · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands


17. January 2019 · Comments Off on Shoshone National Forest – Great Horse Country · Categories: Around The Campfire, BCHI /BCHA, Public Lands


13. January 2019 · Comments Off on Boise National Forest Closures (Road & Trails) · Categories: Public Lands


09. January 2019 · Comments Off on Payette National Forest Trail Status Map · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

PAYETTE TRAILS! Introducing the Payette National Forest Trail Status Map! This is a great map that allows you to see the current status of every trail on the Forest. Plan your next trip with this map. Click this link – its easy to remember! http:/bit.ly/PayetteTrails

20. December 2018 · Comments Off on SBFC – The Wildest Place – Fall 2018 · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

Read Fall 2018 Newsletter

18. December 2018 · Comments Off on A People’s History of Wilderness · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

A People’s History of Wilderness Paperback – September 2004
by Matt Jenkins (Editor)

Published on the 40th anniversary of America’s most important public lands protection movement

·Highlights the citizen activists who made and continue to make wilderness real
·Features new and archival stories from High Country News

With the signing of the Wilderness Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964, the National Wilderness Preservation System was established to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness. High Country News brings to life the people and events who shaped this unprecedented citizen’s movement. Drawn from the pages of this award-winning newspaper whose coverage has been solely focused on environmental and cultural issues affecting the American West for over three decades, A People’s History of Wilderness presents the competing philosophies, complexities, and passions, as they happened, that has resulted in the protection of over 104 million acres of wilderness.

This is an excellent compilation of articles, essays and editorials from the top magazine about the western United States, High Country News, specifically dealing with wilderness.

Major national environmental groups as well as local organizations all get their due, as well as insight onto their different angles in wilderness legislation attempts, lobbying, etc.

So, too, do questions about compromise vs. hardball tactics, local vs. national perspectives, state-by-state vs. interstate wilderness bills and more.

But, this is also about the enjoyment of wilderness on the ground, along with related issues such as its overenjoyment in some cases, compromises with rancher grazing rights, and even more so with old mining claims and such.

You can’t do better than this book as an intro to wilderness issues.

18. December 2018 · Comments Off on Fire Season · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

11. December 2018 · Comments Off on 2019 Wilderness Ranger Internship · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

2019 Wilderness Ranger Internship

The goals of the SBFC Wilderness Ranger Intern (WRI) program are to train, educate, mentor and provide employment development opportunities for the next generations of wilderness professionals and provide skilled support to the Forest Service for accomplishing priority wilderness work.

This is a 14-week internship for military veterans and college students doing under-graduate or graduate work in conservation, resource management, wilderness, recreation or related fields.  The internship offers wilderness skills training including the basics of trail maintenance, Wilderness First Responder, and Wilderness Act history and policy, followed by 12 weeks working in the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church Wilderness areas, with trained wilderness professionals, US Forest Service managers and volunteers.   LEARN MORE

** The 2019 WRI application will be open until January 4, 2019. **    APPLY

Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation

Committed to wilderness and to the people who love it as much as we do.

The Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation is a community of wilderness minded and hardworking individuals, dedicated to connecting wilderness with the people who work, live, and play within it.

The efforts of the SBFC community protect and preserve the natural, pristine character of wilderness.

06. December 2018 · Comments Off on Trails of the Middle Fork Ranger District – Salmon-Challis NF · Categories: Horse Camping, Public Lands

The Middle Fork Ranger District  (MFRD) office is located in Challis, Idaho, and is one of six districts on the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The Middle Fork District administers and oversees over one million acres of land, including over 900,000 acres of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (FC-RONRW) area, one of the last intact wild places in the lower 48 states.

A land of steep mountains, deep canyons, and wild rivers, the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness is the second largest Wilderness in the lower 48 states at 2.4 million acres. The FC-RONRW provides outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation experiences, with over 2600 miles of trails linking the various airfields, rivers, trailheads and perimeter access roads. The condition of these access roads varies significantly; some are not suitable for trailers, others are passable only to high-clearance, 4-wheel-drive vehicles or ATVs. The best opportunities for solitude are in the trailless areas, which total 1.5 million acres in the Wilderness. Maintenance of this large, remote wilderness trail system is challenging. Large fires, short field seasons, limited access, and Mother Nature (wind, rain, slides, etc.) all contribute to the difficulties of keeping these trails open. Most of the trails were built before 1930; many are steep, rocky, eroded, poorly located and poorly drained. Numerous trails are in primitive condition.

The Middle Fork also manages the newly designated Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness.

Visit the Special Places section for more information about these two Wilderness areas.  READ MORE
Link to District Information

01. October 2018 · Comments Off on Texas billionaires put gates on popular Forest Service road near Boise · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands
29. August 2018 · Comments Off on Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation -Summer Newsletter 2018 · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events, Public Lands

2018 Summer News SBFC

05. August 2018 · Comments Off on Wilderness Volunteer’s – McGown Lake Project · Categories: Public Lands, Work Parties and Projects

Packing Support Wilderness Volunteers – Sunday August 26, 2018  (Trails Event)
Location: Stanley Basin – Sawtooth Wilderness
CREW PACK-IN is Sunday August 26
Trail 17.4 miles round trip, 2,266 elevation gain
Pack-In Support for Volunteer Trail Crew
Map   Trail Status    Project description  
Location: Stanley Lake trail head to McGown Lake 
Contacts:  Jay Dorr (USFS) &  Zoe Putter (WV)
Project Leader: Rob Adams 208-781-0548

On Saturday August 25th members of Squaw Butte drove to Stanley Lake and set up camp in the overflow area where members of the Wilderness Volunteer trail crew and the USFS wilderness ranger would meet us.Around 3PM a truck stopped at our camp and ask us if we had noticed the smoke plum over McGown Peak? It had become a bit smokier but we had not noticed, but we did now. By 4pm it was snowing ash and the air was becoming very smokey.By 6PM the Wilderness Volunteers had arrived and we discussed the situation over a beer and the concensis was the McGown project needed a plan “B”! A phone call was made to the USFS Dispatch center and they Contacted Jay Dorr who arrived around 7pm. The WV crew had moved their camp to a camp ground NE of Stanley along the Salmon River. Jay agreed that the McGown Lake project was toast for this year and he would talk to the WV crew about working on the Queen’s River trail near Atlanta, ID which would not need pack support.

The Squaw Butte team talked about leaving then or waiting for morning and chose to stay. BUT, by 11:30 pm the smoke had gotten worse and Rob decided to bale, waking up everyone while packing up and loading his stock.

(ROB) If you want to see wild life drive from Stanley Lake to Banks after midnight! Deer (many), Elk (6),Fox (2), Owls (2) and some weasel like animal. Elk were standing in the middle of the road around a blind corner, didn’t hit any, but it caused me to slow down even more from the 40, I was doing going down the hill from Banner summit to Lowman. Smoke made driving conditions fog like.

(Terry) turned into a very interesting night after you left, Jon’s horse tried to kill himself on high line, got back to bed and David decided to load his mules, so it was a short night! We were going to go to Bull Trout Lake, but Jon’s horse was swollen from rope burn so just came home.

Trail we would have used to take the crew into McGown Lake in relationship to the fire on Saturday.

Incident Overview

8-26-2018 Wapiti Fire grows near Grandjean  (VIDEO)

Fire crews continue to battle the Wapiti Fire, located near Grandjean, which is now an estimated 4,000 acres. A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered and will arrive this afternoon.

An area closure is being put in place around the Grandjean area for public and firefighter safety. National Forest System Road 524, which leads from Highway 21 to Grandjean, is closed.

Four cabins and 1 outbuilding have been lost to the fire. No injuries have been reported.

The fire has burned actively throughout the morning. While several spot fires have been found south of the South Fork Payette River, they have all been caught to this point. Firefighters continue to patrol this area to keep the fire north of the river.

Currently there are 7 engines, 3 helicopters, 3 heavy air tankers, 1 handcrew and 1 water tender engaged in fighting the fire. Several more handcrews, along with engines and water tenders, have been ordered.

The fire was first reported at 2:12 p.m. on Aug. 25 and the cause is under investigation. Currently there is no reported percent contained, nor is there an estimated date of full containment.

Cabin owners and those who had to abandon campgrounds during the evacuation as asked to call the Lowman Ranger District (208-259-3361) for information about when it will be possible to gain access to the area.

From: Zoe Purtzer <zpurtzer@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Subject: Re: Wilderness Volunteers-Sawtooth NRA Trip-August 26th-Sept. 1

Hi Rob,
Apologies for delay in response. Work has been busy. We took 3 volunteers up to the big horn Crags and they put in for the rest of the week on a backpacking trip. Darrell and I stayed up there until Thursday, then headed back to Boise to visit friends. When driving through Stanley, we noticed that the Sawtooth Wilderness area was still closed.

We are on the trip as leaders for next year, but we have asked for earlier dates in August. Wilderness Volunteers will arrange the trip dates and release them before Xmas. I’ll keep you in the loop. We wanted different dates, as the booking is slim during holiday times (Labor Day). We can get a full group booked, we can accomplish a considerable amount of work.

I’ll let you know the trip dates or contact Aida at Wilderness Volunteers if you have input for trip dates. I’m not sure who the FS contact will be this year, as Lies & Jay are both retired now.

Aida would know.
Hope you fall season is going well!
Be well and safe travels
Zoe & Darrell

17. July 2018 · Comments Off on ITA-Baker Lake Pack Support (Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness) · Categories: Public Lands, Work Parties and Projects

BCHI Pack Support: Trail 17.4 miles round trip, 2,751 foot elevation gain
Location:   Baker Lake – Little Boulder Creek Trail Head – East Fork Salmon River
Project Discription    Map1    Map2   Map3
Contacts: Jay Dorr (USFS) & Jeff Halligan (ITA)


The Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness is part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and was designated a wilderness area in 2015. It is situated along the Salmon River adjacent to the Salmon River Mountains in the Salmon-Challis National Forest and to the north of the Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness and the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness. The Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness is a special area due to its combination of sub-alpine lakes, abundant creeks, hiking trails and the limestone and metamorphic silicates which give the mountain peaks its striking white appearance. There are numerous spectacular mountain peaks includinf Propsect Point, Robinson Bar Peak, Lookout Mountain, Watson Peak, O’Calkens Peak, David O. Lee Peak, Merriam Peak, Castle Peak and Blackman Peak, many of which are over 10,000 feet in elevation. There is incredible fishing in the dozens of clear sub-alpine lakes in the area including the Big Boulder Lakes and Boulder Chain Lakes, The Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness is host to many beautiful creeks including Blind Creek, Elk Creek, Warm Springs Creek, Beaver Creek, Germania Creek, Little Boulder Creek, Chamerlain Creek, Bear Lake Creek and many more. The hiking season is short with the alpine wildflowers bringing the area alive with color in the months of July and August. There are fabulous opportunities for viewing the scenery, plants and wildlife in this beautiful and very special wilderness. The Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness offers opportunities for recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic purposes. Motorized vehicles and bicycles are not allowed in any designated wilderness areas. MAP:

History of Mining in the area and how the SRA came to be!     MINE MAP      Baker Lake Claim
On Friday August 10 Jeff and Rob drove up to the Little Bolder trail head to secure camping space for the rest of the BCHI crew, Phil Ryan, Bill Conger, Janelle Week & David Benson. On Saturday Phil, Bill & Janelle drove up. David truck broke down east of Lowman and he had an adventurous weekend getting his stock home and his truck into a repair shop.The drive is around 4 1/2 hours from Horseshoe Bend, all but the last 3 miles on good paved roads.On Saturday Rob and Jeff each packed up three pack stock and took the kitchen and tools up the mountain.    When we got back to the trail head, the rest of the team was setting up. We grilled steak and potatoes for dinner and were in our sleeping bags early as we knew we would have a busy day on Sunday. The ITA volunteer crew started arriving right after we had breakfast and it didn’t take long to pack up their stuff.  The ITA crew received a pre-project briefing while we loaded our stock and got headed up the mountain

The BCHI crew made good time up the 8.7 miles and 2571 elevation gain to the camp site at Baker lake and had our stock unloaded and a quick lunch before heading back down the trail.

Back in camp the stock napped in the shade while we enjoyed a cool beverage and shared stories.On Saturday August 18 we will again be riding out of the trail head to pick up the ITA crew. More to Come!

16. July 2018 · Comments Off on ITA – Farley Lake Pack Support (Sawtooth Wilderness) · Categories: Public Lands, Work Parties and Projects

The blue line is our track from Tin Cup trail head to the crew camp by a waterfall west of Farley Lake.
See More Pictures
Tin Cup Trail head, east of Pettit Lake.Jeff and I arrived on Friday and set up camp at Tin Cup. We then sorted out five loads that we wanted to get up to the trail crew camp on Saturday along with the cook, Mary Jo.We got under way around 09:00 with me towing three pack horses and Jeff towing two and Mary Jo riding. The trail while rocky is in good condition and passes through some very pretty country. Horse and deer flies were a problem, with spray seeming to have minimal effect.The trail crew camp is just short of six miles in with a elevation gain of around 1250 feet.  Wild flowers were at their peak.

We made the ride up 2 1/2 hours and the return in just over 2 hours. On Sunday the crew would be arriving with their stuff at 10:00 and there were still loads that we didn’t get up on Saturday. Phil Ryan arrived Saturday afternoon and would be helping with the packing on Sunday. He brought two pack stock. On Sunday morning Rob packed up three more loads and was on the trail by 08:30. Jeff and Phil meet the trail crew, collected their stuff and were on the trail by 11:00.By 13:30 all the equipment and personal gear was at the trail camp and by 15:00 all the stock and packers were back at Tin Cup and packing up for the trip home.On Saturday July 21 Squaw Butte members Rob Adams, David Benson and Mike Heilman and Treasure Valley member Leah Osborn, joined Jeff Halligan to pack out the ITA trail crew that had been working up at Farley lake.

14. June 2018 · Comments Off on National Trails Day Results · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

12. June 2018 · Comments Off on COALITION FOR PUBLIC LAND · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

Keep It Public is a 501c3 non-profit organization run exclusively by volunteers. When you give to KIP, you help:

1. Build educational content about the American public land system
2. Direct hands-on conservation to assist our land management agencies
3. Provide a voice for sensible policy via direct advocacy

Whether it’s from a historical, constitutional, or economic vantage point, public lands are a national treasure. Given the amount of discord present in our society, we feel an obligation to demonstrate that individuals from a variety of backgrounds – be they recreational, industrial, or political – can come together over the unique and wonderful lands that belong to us all.

Join us in a united stance on behalf of federal public lands. #keepitpublic             https://keepitpublic.org/

10. June 2018 · Comments Off on Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands


13. May 2018 · Comments Off on USFS Intermountain Region (4) Contacts · Categories: Public Lands

Intermountain Regional Office

Nora Rasure – Regional Forester
Dave Rosenkrance – Deputy Regional Forester
Mary Farnsworth – Deputy Regional Forester
324 25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401

Region 4 Communication Contacts

Tammy Wentland
Director (Acting)
324 25th St
Ogden, UT 84401

Andy Brunelle
Idaho State Liaison
350 N. 9th St., Suite 102
Boise, ID 83702
(208) 334-1770

Boise National Forest

Venetia Gempler
Acting Public Affairs Officer
1249 South Vinnell Way, Suite 200
Boise, ID 83709
(208) 373-4105

Linda Steinhaus
Public Affairs Specialist web
(208) 373-4106

Payette National Forest

Brian Harris
Public Affairs Officer
800 West Lakeside Avenue
McCall, ID 83638
(208) 634-0784

Salmon-Challis National Forest

Amy Baumer
Public Affairs Officer
50 Highway 93 South
Salmon, ID 83467
(208) 756-5145

Sawtooth National Forest

Julie Thomas
Public Affairs Officer
2647 Kimberly Road East
Twin Falls, ID 83301-7976
(208) 737-3262

Boise National Forest
Tawnya Brummett – Acting Forest Supervisor
Kim Pierson
 – Deputy Forest Supervisor 
1249 South Vinnell Way, Suite 200
Boise, ID 83709

Forests in Idaho (Contacts)

Boise | Caribou-Targhee | Payette | Salmon-Challis | Sawtooth



13. May 2018 · Comments Off on Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness Management Plan and EA · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

Release Date: May 8, 2018

Sawtooth National Forest,  370 American Ave, Jerome, ID 83338

Media Contact 208‐423-7559/731-8604

Julie Thomas   May 8, 2018

OPPORTUNITY TO OBJECT, Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness Management Plan and EA

Boulder-White Clouds – Order #0414-04-034

Sawtooth Wilderness – Order #0414-04-102

STANLEY, Idaho – The Sawtooth National Forest recently completed the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness Management Plan. The Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness were designated through the passage of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act (P.L. 114-46) in August 2015. The project will establish, update, and provide consistent management direction for the Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness, situated on federal public land managed by the Forest Service.

For the Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness Management Plan, a scoping period took place where the agencies identified important issues and incorporated feedback into a draft EA. Interested parties were given the opportunity to submit written comments, which were reviewed, and now a final EA is available.

During the objection period, which is specific to Forest Service regulations, parties who have previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed project either during scoping or other designated opportunity for public comment in accordance with 36 CFR 218.5(a) and 219.16 have standing to object. Issues raised in objections must be based on previously submitted, timely, and specific written comments regarding the proposed project unless based on new information arising after designated opportunities. The objection period for the Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds and Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness will begin May 9, 2018.

The wilderness plan, EA, draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (DN/FONSI), legal notice of opportunity to object, and other information are available for review at the Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor’s Office and at the Forest’s web site at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49647 .

A hard copy of the wilderness plan, EA, and the draft DN/FONSI, can be obtained from: Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 370 American Avenue, Jerome, ID 83338, or comments-intermtn-sawtooth-nra-@fs.fed.us.

For further information contact Emily Simpson, (208) 630-3507 or emilysimpson@fs.fed.us.

For additional information about the Sawtooth National Forest call 208-737-3200 or visit the Sawtooth National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/sawtooth and like us on Facebook at. https://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Forest-Service-Sawtooth-National-Forest/986556001373037

11. May 2018 · Comments Off on Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation – Spring 2018 · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

Find out what we’ve been up to lately!
Attached is your Spring 2018 E-Newsletter from Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation. Our season will be starting soon, you can follow our activities via our blog at http://www.selwaybitterroot.org

2018 Spring News SBFC

Sue Webster
Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation
Communication & Membership Coordinator
RMRS – 322 E. Front St. Ste. 401
Boise, ID 83702

04. May 2018 · Comments Off on Southwest Idaho Resource Advisory Committee – May 2018 · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

May 2, 2018

Thanks for the opportunity to share our latest proposed veg management project on the Emmett RD of the Boise NF.

As mentioned in our presentation – I am looking for candidates who are interested in becoming a member of the SW ID RAC. This is the group that makes recommendations on how Title II Secure Rural School monies are distributed.

If interested, please complete the attached form and either email it back to me or send it to me at: Richard Newton, 1805 Highway 16, Emmett, ID 83617.

Please call if you have any questions.

Thanks again.


Richard E. Newton
District Ranger

P: 208-365-7001
C: 208-994-1268

USDA Forest Service
Emmett Ranger District
1805 Highway 16, Room 5
Emmett, ID 83617

Form to Fill Out: AD-755_FORM_southwest_idaho_rac

26. March 2018 · Comments Off on Analysis Shows 290 Million Annual Visits to Public Lands in Western States · Categories: Public Lands
 The Center for Western Priorities released a new report, 290 Million Reasons to Invest in America’s Public Lands, estimating that U.S. public lands in Western states see more than 290 million visits each year.

The report represents a first-of-its-kind analysis of total annual visitation to U.S. public lands in 11 Western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Visitation to all types of public lands and waters administered by the four U.S. land management agencies — National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service — were considered in the report.


“We knew public lands are popular, but we were surprised to learn just how deep America’s love for our public lands runs,” said Lucy Livesay, Policy and Communications Manager at the Center for Western Priorities, who led the research. “To put it in context, 290 million visits is equivalent to nearly 90 percent of the entire population of the United States. It’s more than the amount of people who visited zoos and aquariums, watched the Super Bowl, or attended every NFL, NBA and MLB game combined last season. In a country with so many recreation, leisure, and entertainment options, our public lands take a backseat to none.”

According to the report, the popularity of public lands continues to grow. National park visits in the 11 Western states jumped from 81 million in 2006 to more than 108 million in 2017. National monument visits have nearly tripled since 2000.

The popularity of national public lands is a significant factor in their local economic impact, according to the report. A recent study by the Outdoor Industry Association found the outdoor industry contributes $887 billion in consumer spending to the national economy and supports 7.6 million jobs across the country. The positive economic impact of public lands is especially outsized in Western states.

Despite the enormous and growing popularity of U.S. public lands across the West, they are being funded and protected less by President Trump and his administration.

According to the analysis, funding for all federal land management agencies as a percentage of the annual discretionary budget has declined since 2000. President Trump’s 2019 budget proposes a 16 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Interior. At the same time the Trump administration has undertaken an unprecedented attack on public lands by eliminating more than 2 million acres of national monuments in southern Utah, an action facing multiple legal challenges.

“The way we fund and protect our public lands should reflect the high regard Americans hold them in and the value they return to our local economies and way of life in the West,” said Jennifer Rokala, Executive Director at the Center for Western Priorities. “That’s not the case today under the Trump administration and this report shows 290 million reasons why our policies and priorities need to change.”

19. March 2018 · Comments Off on Forest Service Announces 15 Trail Priority Areas · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

Subject: Forest Service Announces 15 Trail Priority Areas

Did you know the Forest Service has designated 15 Trail Priority Areas as required under the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act of 2016? You can read the announcement below. These trail priority areas should receive additional agency focus and be learning laboratories for involving partners and volunteers in trail maintenance. You can learn more about the National Forest Trails Stewardship Act on our website by clicking this link.

NWSA will help stewardship groups meet this challenge through our National Forest Trails Stewardship Funding. Check out the Trail Funding application and other program information on our website at http://www.wildernessalliance.org/trail_funding. Here you will find the application materials, Fact Sheets, and other information to help your organization put a project proposal together.

USDA Secretary announces infrastructure improvements for forest system trails Focused work will help agency reduce a maintenance backlog and make trails safer for users.

WASHINGTON, FEB 16, 2018 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the selection of 15 priority areas to help address the more than $300 million trail maintenance backlog on national forests and grasslands.
Focused trail work in these areas, bolstered by partners and volunteers, is expected to help address needed infrastructure work so that trails managed by USDA Forest Service can be accessed and safely enjoyed by a wide variety of trails enthusiasts. About 25 percent of agency trails fit those standards while the condition of other trails lag behind.

“Our nation’s trails are a vital part of the American landscape and rural economies, and these priority areas are a major first step in USDA’s on-the-ground responsibility to make trails better and safer,” Secretary Perdue said. “The trail maintenance backlog was years in the making with a combination of factors contributing to the problem, including an outdated funding mechanism that routinely borrows money from programs, such as trails, to combat ongoing wildfires.
“This borrowing from within the agency interferes with other vital work, including ensuring that our more than 158,000 miles of well-loved trails provide access to public lands, do not harm natural resources, and, most importantly, provide safe passage for our users.”
This year the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act which established America’s system of national scenic, historic, and recreation trails. A year focused on trails presents a pivotal opportunity for the Forest Service and partners to lead a shift toward a system of sustainable trails that are maintained through even broader shared stewardship.

The priority areas focus on trails that meet the requirements of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, which calls for the designation of up to 15 high priority areas where a lack of maintenance has led to reduced access to public land; increased risk of harm to natural resources; public safety hazards; impassable trails; or increased future trail maintenance costs. The act also requires the Forest Service to “significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance” and to aim to double trail maintenance accomplished by volunteers and partners.
Shared stewardship to achieve on-the-ground results has long been core to Forest Service’s approach to trail maintenance, as demonstrated by partner groups such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“Our communities, volunteers and partners know that trails play an important role in the health of local economies and of millions of people nationwide, which means the enormity of our trail maintenance backlog must be adequately addressed now,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke. “The agency has a commitment to be a good neighbor, recognizing that people and communities rely on these trails to connect with each other and with nature.”
Each year, more than 84 million people get outside to explore, exercise and play on trails across national forests and grasslands and visits to these places help to generate 143,000 jobs annually through the recreation economy and more than $9 million in visitor spending.
The 15 national trail maintenance priority areas encompass large areas of land and each have committed partners to help get the work accomplished. The areas are:

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and Adjacent Lands, Montana: The area includes the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear Wilderness Areas and most of the Hungry Horse, Glacier View, and Swan Lake Ranger Districts on the Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana on both sides of the Continental Divide. There are more than 3,200 miles of trails within the area, including about 1,700 wilderness miles.

Methow Valley Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington: Methow Valley is a rural recreation-based community surrounded by more than 1.3 million acres of managed by the Forest Service. The area includes trails through the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Areas and more than 130 miles of National Pacific Crest and Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trails.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Eagle Cap Wilderness, Idaho and Oregon: This area includes more than 1,200 miles of trail and the deepest river canyon in North America as well as the remote alpine terrain of the Seven Devil’s mountain range. The area also has 350,000 acres in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the largest in Oregon.

Central Idaho Wilderness Complex, Idaho and Montana: The area includes about 9,600 miles of trails through the Frank Church River of No Return; Gospel Hump; most of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness areas; portions of the Payette, Salmon-Challis, Nez Perce and Clearwater national forests; and most of the surrounding lands. The trails inside and outside of wilderness form a network of routes that give access into some of the most remote country in the Lower 48.

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico: The trail’s 3,100 continuous miles follows the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, including more than 1,900 miles of trails across 20 national forests. The trail runs a diverse route with some sections in designated wilderness areas and others running through towns, providing those communities with the opportunity to boost the local economy with tourism dollars.

Wyoming Forest Gateway Communities: Nearly 1,000 miles of trail stretch across the almost 10 million acres of agency-managed lands in Wyoming, which include six national forests and one national grassland. The contribution to the state’s outdoor recreation economy is therefore extremely important in the state.

Northern California Wilderness, Marble Mountain and Trinity Alps: There are more than 700 miles of trails through these wilderness areas, which are characterized by very steep mountain terrain in fire-dependent ecosystems that are subject to heavy winter rainfall and/or snow. As such, they are subject to threat from flooding, washout, landslide and other erosion type events which, combined with wildfires, wash out trails and obstruct passage.

Angeles National Forest, California: The area, which includes nearly 1,000 miles of trails, is immediately adjacent to the greater Los Angeles area where 15 million people livewithin 90 minutes and more than 3 million visit. Many of those visitors are young people from disadvantaged communities without local parks.

Greater Prescott Trail System, Arizona: This 300-mile system of trails is a demonstration of work between the Forest Service and multiple partners. The system is integrated with all public lands at the federal, state and local level to generate a community-based trail system.

Sedona Red Rock Ranger District Trail System, Coconino National Forest, Arizona: About 400 miles of trail provide a wide diversity of experiences with year-round trail opportunities, including world-class mountain biking in cooler months and streamside hiking in the heat of the summer.

Colorado Fourteeners: Each year, hundreds of thousands of hikers trek along over 200 miles of trail to access Colorado’s mountains that are higher than 14,000 feet. The Forest Service manages 48 of the 54 fourteeners, as they are commonly called.

Superior National Forest, Minnesota: The more than 2,300 miles of trail on this forest have faced many catastrophic events, including large fires and a major wind storm downed millions of trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1999. A similar storm in 2016 reached winds up to 85 mph and toppled trees on several thousand acres and made the western 13 miles of Kekekabic Trail impassible.

White Mountain National Forest Partner Complex, Maine and New Hampshire: Approximately 600 miles of non-motorized trails are maintained by partners. Another 600 miles of motorized snowmobile trails are adopted and maintained by several clubs. Much of that work centers on providing safe public access to the mountain and valleys of New Hampshire and Maine.

Southern Appalachians Capacity Enhancement Model, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia: The more than 6,300 miles of trails in this sub region include some of the most heavily used trails in the country yet only 28 percent meet or exceed agency standards. The work required to bring these trails to standard will require every tool available from partner and volunteer skills to contracts with professional trail builders.

Iditarod National Historic Trail Southern Trek, Alaska: In southcentral Alaska, the Southern Trek is in close proximity to more than half the state’s population and connects with one of the most heavily traveled highways in the state. The Chugach National Forest and partners are restoring and developing more than 180 miles of the trail system, connecting the communities of Seward, Moose Pass, Whittier, and Girdwood.

For more information about the USDA Forest Service visit http://www.fs.fed.us/.

15. February 2018 · Comments Off on Trump pushes 90% cut to America’s most important public lands program · Categories: Public Lands

Here’s what the Land and Water Conservation Fund does

As part of a budget proposal that amounts to a Valentine to special interests, the Trump administration wants devastating cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been called America’s most important conservation tool. Learn more here.

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 federal budget proposal would cut the long-running and popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to the bone, reducing its budget by roughly 90%. LWCF was designed so there would always be money available for its core purpose of protecting land in order to complete national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other protected sites, without burdening American taxpayers. For over 50 years, it has drawn on revenues from oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf to pay into thousands of projects nationwide, gaining popularity across the political spectrum.

But despite broad bipartisan support for the program, billions of dollars have been diverted from the Land and Water Conservation Fund by Congress over the course of the program’s life to pay for unrelated expenses, leaving many outdoor projects unfinished and parcels of land unprotected. In recent years, funding for LWCF has hovered around one-third of the full authorized level, even as new pressures intrude on wildlands and shared spaces become developed, fragmented or otherwise damaged.

The Trump proposal would devastate this popular program already hanging on for dear life, representing the single largest cut in the already weakened Department of the Interior’s budget. We will ask lawmakers to reject Trump’s reckless budget and persist with a larger campaign to demand permanent reauthorization and full funding for LWCF.

31. January 2018 · Comments Off on Utah’s approach to public lands won’t work · Categories: Public Lands

New Mexico exemplifies the risk of managing lands at the whim of local interests.

by Tom Ribe  Link to online Posting

Tom Ribe is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. He writes from his office in the wildland-urban interface in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Two days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order reducing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by half, Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart introduced a bill in the House that would put local politicians in charge of the public lands cut away from the monument.

One tenet of conservative public-land policy orthodoxy is that local control of public lands will improve the wellbeing of local residents. Yet the movement to auction off federal lands or transfer them to state or county control has repeatedly run aground because public lands are overwhelming popular among Americans. Other conservative efforts have been sought to neutralize federal agencies.

Stewart’s Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act is one of these new approaches. If passed by the House, it would create a ‘management council’ made up of seven local county commissioners and state legislators appointed by the president of the United States. One member would come from the Department of the Interior. The management council would set policy for two small Bureau of Land Management national monuments and one new national park and preserve under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The three areas lie within what once was the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument created by President Bill Clinton and managed by the BLM.

Stewart’s legislation states that federal land managers “shall adhere” to management plans created by the management council. If recent experience with a similar scheme at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico is any guide, this approach is doomed to failure. Valles Caldera: About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera.  The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history.

In 2000, after a 100,000-acre private parcel surrounded by Forest Service and National Park Service land came up for sale near Santa Fe, public pressure encouraged the New Mexico congressional delegation to buy it for the public. But Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., insisted that a presidentially appointed, mostly private-sector board of trustees set policy for the new preserve as an “experiment” in management. Federal employees would carry out the board’s policy.

Problems dogged the experiment from the start. Having the president appoint board members politicized the board. When Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, ranching-oriented board members were selected; when Democrats controlled the House, conservationists and academics ran the board. The federal staff had to answer to nine ever-changing bosses whose edicts sometimes conflicted with the federal laws that apply to public lands.

Stewart’s bill would ensure that only Republicans would be appointed to the management board — unless some seismic shift were to happen in Utah politics. Lands owned by all Americans would be governed by local people with local interests, and if the management council mandated policies that violated federal laws, the federal staff would have a choice of either violating the law or disobeying their local bosses. One can imagine the lawsuits likely to follow.

Stewart would clearly prefer to transfer these lands to county ownership. But that would run counter to strong public support for federal land management, and it would upset the tourism-oriented businesses that have thrived ever since Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument began drawing tourists and boosting property values.

Stewart is hoping to mollify these business interests by creating a new little national park. Yet this so-called park mandates livestock grazing and hunting and trapping, and it would be controlled by state game officials and members of the management council. The mandates could force the National Park Service to violate its own Organic Act, opening up both the management council and the federal government to lawsuits.

Stewart’s bill, which has three co-sponsors from Utah, mandates livestock grazing “in perpetuity” on all the lands in question, but makes no mention of administrative costs or the collateral damage of livestock grazing in a rocky desert where little forage grows. Grazing can be mandated, but what happens when there’s a drought?

The public in New Mexico, after 15 years, was frustrated with the “seat of the pants” decision-making by the board of trustees at the Valles Caldera National Preserve. In 2015, Congress transferred the preserve to the National Park Service, which imposed its standard management structure.

Stewart’s bill, combined with Trump’s evisceration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, may advance conservative public-lands ideology. But neither action advances the interests of the public, and both create far more problems than they pretend to solve.

29. January 2018 · Comments Off on What are Public Lands · Categories: Public Lands

There has been a lot of attention recently about Public Lands and where America is headed with the management of those lands. Further, anyone who recreates on Americas public lands is often exposed to unfamiliar terms and may not understand the differences. Following is a brief description to give you a working understanding of the differences and what that means to you.

First, what are “Public Lands”? These are the lands that are owned “equally” by all Americans. There are 618 million acres of public land across the U.S., with a significant portion in Alaska and the western U.S. The total U.S. land base is 2.27 billion acres in size. These federal public lands are managed in trust for us, (citizens of the U.S.) by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Park Service and the Wildlife Refuge System for current and future generations.

“Front country” is not a commonly used term, but is generally any public lands that are relatively accessible by means such as motor vehicles, boats, bicycles, hiking, horseback and aircraft and are usually within a short distance of roads. Generally, these lands provide a multitude of recreational activities. Camping may be in developed or dispersed/undeveloped areas. Logging, grazing and mining are often permitted on these lands as well. These are often highly used areas where it is common to see other people and activities.

“Backcountry” is generally the area beyond what is Front country. Pretty vague, but accurate. There is no specific line or map designation where this starts or ends. Access is more challenging and is usually by a trail or cross-country travel and at a further distance from roads and trailheads. Access may be allowed by the same list as above, but with greater responsibility on the user as trails receive less maintenance. In addition, the safety and welfare of each recreationist to care for themselves is increased. Camping is usually in dispersed sites. You would expect to see fewer people and activities than in the Front country.

“Roadless Areas” had their beginnings when Primitive Areas were established in the 1920’s. The idea was to preserve some lands in a roadless condition at a time when automobiles and road building was rapidly expanding. As time progressed, Roadless Areas have been challenged legally and politically as to which lands should remain or be opened. Currently, there is about 58 million acres of unroaded forests. There is about 380,000 miles of roads on Forest Service lands. In comparison, the Interstate Highway system has about 47,000 miles of road.

Unlike Front country and Backcountry, “Wilderness” is defined and receives that highest level of land protection. While some may get a “wilderness experience” in the Front country or Backcountry or a Park, true Wilderness is a specific geographic area and can only be established or “Designated” by an act of Congress. The Wilderness Act of 1964 put into law what is required to be a “Designated Wilderness”. It states how it will be managed and what modes of access or travel are acceptable. The Act requires that it be managed to protect its natural condition, where it is untrammeled by man. It is to maintain its primeval character, shaped by the forces of nature with man’s work substantially unnoticeable. The purposes will be to provide solitude, and escape from mechanized use and maintain historic uses.

Three more terms that you may hear. “Recommended Wilderness” is generally lands identified on Forest Plans or agency plans that recommend specific areas for Wilderness Designation by Congress. “Proposed Wilderness” is generally lands that have been submitted to Congress for Wilderness consideration, a step closer than recommended. However, these two terms can mean the same thing depending on the agency. Finally, “Wilderness Study Areas” or WSA’s are areas that are inventoried and undergoing the Wilderness review process. They are lands that should be managed to preserve the character or special attributes that made them a WSA.

Parks generally have defined geographic areas which are indicated on maps. The recreational uses within a Park are often highly regulated due to a significant amount of visitor use. There are 58 National Parks, and most are associated with a specific national treasure. Interestingly, some iconic National Parks like Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier and others are NOT designated Wilderness. They are “recommended wilderness” but to date, Congress has not given them the additional level of protection.

Parks can be managed by a city, state, private or federal entity. The simplest definition comes from Wikipedia: A “Park” is an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. It may consist of grassy areas, rocks, soil and trees, but may also contain buildings and other artifacts such as monuments, fountains or playground structures.

The vast majority of our public lands are managed under the multi-use designation that includes both the Front country and Backcountry. This allows for a multitude of activities to be offered on the majority of our Public Lands. Only about 3% of the lower 48 states land base is designated Wilderness.

Submitted by: Mack Long
Mission Valley BCH, BCH Montana, Education Chairman BCH of America

23. January 2018 · Comments Off on IWF – Currently, Your Right To Access Public Areas is Not Protected · Categories: Public Lands

You read that right! There currently exists no Idaho law protecting your right to access public areas that you pay for. That means anyone can barricade a public tract and prevent your horse, ATV, or motorcycle from passage without fear of repercussion.  And even more common, Idaho sportsmen are running into “NO TRESPASSING” signs on public lands and waters that they have every right to access.  Don’t believe it?  Check out this news story and the video of an encounter with an armed security guard patrolling a Forest Service road.

Right now, for instance, public funds can be used to purchase and maintain permanent, motorized public access on a road.  Anyone can physically obstruct that road and block your access without fear of repercussion. Imagine your disappointment when you draw a coveted elk tag only to show up on opening day to find a locked gate across a public road.  Sure you can call the local sheriff.  But with extremely limited funding, and perpetrators with deep pocketbooks, local law enforcement simply can’t prioritize prosecuting these types of cases.

The scenarios are endless, but one thing is for sure, your right to access public property is not secure.  IWF has been working with legislators, motorized recreation groups, and sportsman groups to close this loophole and create a succinct amendment to an existing law that will put the power of protecting public access in the people’s hands. To review the most updated version of the proposed legislation click here.

Have you ever seen signs or physical barriers to impeding access your public lands? Submit your story below and we will deliver your comments to our legislators.  Link to IWF website

Rep. Labrador Co-Sponsors Bill To Cease Creation of New Salmon Recovery Plans
Federal Bill Will Block Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Recovery
With D.C. Vote, Idaho’s Rep. Labrador Reveals Intentions With Public Lands
16. January 2018 · Comments Off on Trail Bridge Catalog – USFS/BLM · Categories: Public Lands, Work Parties and Projects

Standard Trail Bridge Drawings and Design Aids

The Forest Service has standard drawings and design aids for the construction of trail bridges. The standard drawings/design aids have been designed and developed in accordance with Forest Service Manual and Forest Service Handbook directions. The following information is provided FOR REFERENCE ONLY.

All bridge drawings should be approved for each specific bridge by a qualified engineer with trail bridge design experience. Drawings are intended to provide ideas for layout and detailing. No drawing or detail should be used for construction without design review by a qualified engineer. Forest Service bridges must be approved and/or designed by the Forest Service engineer or manager responsible for engineering.

The drawings are not meant to be used as individual sheets and should not be used by themselves. A complete drawing package should be downloaded so that the designer has all the required information for reference. All drawings are in PDF format and can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Currently, only four regions within the Forest Service have standard drawings/design aids. These are Northern Rockies Region (R1), R6 Pacific Northwest Region (R6), Eastern Region (R9), and Alaska Region (R10).

There are two different ways to download the standard drawings/design aids.

The first way is to download a complete set of drawings in a single PDF. This method should only be used with a high-speed Internet connection.

The second way is to download each individual drawing in PDF. This method is recommended for dial-up connections.

Additional Trail Bridge Resources

The following resources give additional information on planning, siting, designing, constructing, inspecting and maintaining trail bridges. All of these items should be included in the decision process to select the best structure for aesthetic design, sustainability and longevity.

13. January 2018 · Comments Off on Basic Trail Maintenance · Categories: Public Lands

Watch Video

13. January 2018 · Comments Off on Interactive: Tracking Trump’s anti-public lands crusade · Categories: Public Lands

Wilderness Society
Interactive: Tracking Trump’s anti-public lands crusade
After a chaotic first year, the Trump administration has made it abundantly clear that one goal is to systematically sell out America’s public lands to the fossil fuel industry.

This interactive timeline examines all the actions taken by President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to give away our nation’s heritage to energy companies for unfettered drilling, fracking and mining.

How to use the timeline:
Use the bar at the bottom of this page to scroll through our timeline then click on each box for more info.

06. January 2018 · Comments Off on Zinke’s World View · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

We’re not long into our hike along the snowy shoreline of Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald when I pop the question I’ve been wanting to ask Ryan Zinke since he was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior back in March. The way I intended to frame the question had both reach and context, even if it was a little wordy:

“You consistently identify yourself as somebody who models himself on Theodore Roosevelt,” was how I had written the query in my notebook. “You’ve repeatedly called yourself a ‘Teddy Roosevelt guy.’ Roosevelt’s legacy is based on his use of the structure and authority of the federal government to protect landscapes for future generations and to promote multiple use of our public lands. So far in your administration, you’ve made headlines for rolling back protections of federal land under your jurisdiction, most recently national monuments in Utah. Can we expect to see initiatives modeled around Roosevelt’s conservation ethic in the future?”

But what came out of my mouth was: “So, when does TR show up?”  READ MORE

05. January 2018 · Comments Off on How the West was Lost · Categories: Public Lands

05. January 2018 · Comments Off on Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation Fall Round-up · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

SBFC News Fall 2017

04. January 2018 · Comments Off on Idaho Wildlife Federation 2017 Year in Review · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands


25. December 2017 · Comments Off on House Advances Bill That Would Allow Mountain Biking In Wilderness Areas · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

  DEC 19, 2017

There’s a new push in Congress to allow mountain bikers access to wilderness areas.

Last week, a house committee approved a measure that would amend the Wilderness Act. The bill would allow mountain bikes in wilderness areas, setting up another legislative battle about shared use on public lands.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 has allowed the protection of millions of acres across the United States. Idaho has several areas within its borders, earning it the title of “the wilderness state.”

But to Craig Gehrke with the Wilderness Society, letting mountain bikers recreate in these areas could erode the purpose of the 53-year-old law.

“These are places we set aside for their primitive nature,” says Gehrke. “And for people to go in and experience them not in a mechanical way but basically on foot or on horseback, kind of a preservation of the first experiences pioneers had in these places.”

Gehrke points out that the law explicitly bars “mechanical transport.”

But some Idaho groups are cheering the bill. The Idaho Statesman reports the president of the Southwest Idaho Mountain Bike Association says the measure would bring younger mountain bikers into the conservation movement.

It’s not clear when the bill may come up for a vote on the House floor, but Gehrke says the Wilderness Society will lobby Congressman Mike Simpson to vote against it.

19. December 2017 · Comments Off on FY 2017 Boise National Forest North Zone Trails Program Accomplishments · Categories: Around The Campfire, Public Lands

FY 2017 BNF NZ Trails Accomplishments 10.31.2017

09. December 2017 · Comments Off on BCH States submit testimony on H.R. 1349 · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

To: National Board Members

Your help needed to ensure that BCH States submit testimony on H.R. 1349. Deadline: No later than noon, Eastern time,Dec. 7th.

Dear BCHA National Board Member,

I seek your help in following through with BCH state presidents to make sure they are able to submit testimony prior to the Dec. 7th congressional hearing on H.R. 1349 (bikes in Wilderness) conducted by the Federal Lands Subcommittee.
As you will see below in an email sent yesterday, state presidents have been provided a template on which to base their state letters. They have been asked to submit their testimony, on BCH state letterhead, via email to brandon.bragato@mail.house.gov. Brandon’s email is for submitting organizational testimony only (i.e., from BCH state or chapter representatives) and is not to be used for individual or personal letters or testimony.

Can you please act to ensure that this important task has been accomplished? And could you please forward to me a copy of the testimony submitted by your state for our records? We will need these letters to use with members of Congress if H.R. 1349 continues to move forward.
Thank you!
December 5, 2017

To: State Presidents and Chairmen

BCH State and Chapter Testimony Needed by Dec. 6, Close-of-Business, to U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Federal Lands
Dear BCH state and chapter presidents,

This is an updated alert containing a specific email address for sending BCHstate and chapter comment letters(i.e., testimony, not individual letters) prior to theDec. 7 thhearing.

A full template on which to base your state and chapter letter can be found here. HR_1349_TWS_BCHA_Testimony

In addition to any letter you’ve already submitted to your member of Congress, please send a copy of your state and chapter letter using the template to House Subcommittee on Federal Lands professional staff person, Brandon Bragato at brandon.bragato@mail.house.gov.

Please email to Brandon only testimony from your BCH state or chapter.
Include your state/chapter logo at the top of your testimony.

The House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee will hold a hearingDec. 7 thin Washington, DC, on H.R. 1349. The bill represents an unprecedented assault on the 1964 Wilderness Act, wilderness areas across the country, and poses a significant danger to users of pack and saddle stock.

This issue is among the highest priorities for BCHA. Please email Brandon with your state or chapter’s testimony today!

Freddy Dunn
BCHA National Chairman

05. December 2017 · Comments Off on The Public-Land Bills We Can All Agree On · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

Two bipartisan bills show how the left and the right can converge on public land policy
Outside Magazine – Jake Bullinger

It would seem Republicans and Democrats are wholly divided on public land policy. During the 2016 campaign, the GOP platform called on Congress to “immediately pass universal legislation” to “convey certain federally controlled public lands to states,” while Democrats sought “policies and investments that will keep America’s public lands public” by prioritizing access and environmental safeguards.

But, believe it or not, some consensus exists. A pair of bills introduced this year—including one that would make it easier to transfer federal land to states—shows that Republicans and Democrats can actually agree on certain aspects of public land management.

The land transfer bill, dubbed the Advancing Conservation and Education Act, was introduced on November 6 in the House by Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican, and Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat. An identical measure in the Senate is backed by Democrat Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. The bill would allow western states to ask the Department of the Interior to swap state-held trust lands surrounded by federal conservation plots for federal parcels that are easier to develop.

Here’s the issue: Western land is divvied up into a grid of state, tribal, federal, and private ownership. Occasionally state trust lands, which are designated to generate revenue for public schools, are surrounded by national parks, national monuments, or wilderness areas. Consider Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park. Peppered throughout the park is trust land deeded to Arizona for the purpose of generating money for schools. Arizona has the legal authority to lease those parcels, but running cattle or setting up a pump jack on a 160-acre plot surrounded by stringent national park regulations would be impractical for any rancher or driller. It’s a lose-lose for the state and the feds: Arizona is unable to tap into those dollars, and the national park lacks consistent management within its borders.  READ MORE

02. December 2017 · Comments Off on 3 candidates for Idaho governor answers on Idaho wildlife & public lands · Categories: Public Lands

DECEMBER 02, 2017

Three of the contenders to become Idaho’s next governor shared remarkably similar views Saturday on wildlife conservation, fishing, hunting and access to public lands.

In questions posed at a forum at Boise State University, Democrat A.J. Balukoff and Republicans Tommy Ahlquist and Brad Little differed mainly on the handling of the state’s sage grouse management plan, and over the idea of breaching four Snake River dams in Washington state to recover endangered salmon and steelhead populations.

Ahlquist Clarifies Breaching Dams Stance After Forum (Dec 15, 2017)

The forum was sponsored by the Idaho Wildlife Federation and 17 other sportsmen and wildlife groups. Each candidate spoke separately for about 30 minutes to a crowd of about 100 people clad in flannel, jeans and camo.

The three have quite different backgrounds: Little, a native Idahoan, is a longtime politician and rancher who currently serves as Idaho’s lieutenant governor. Ahlquist is a doctor, developer and political newcomer best known for recent Boise projects such as the Eighth & Main building. Balukoff is a CPA, businessman and longtime trustee on the Boise school board who ran unsuccessfully against Gov. Butch Otter in 2014.

Absent among the leading candidates was Republican Congressman Raul Labrador, who declined to participate. That garnered a chorus of hisses and boos from the audience.

“We do have a spot reserved for him right up front in case he shows up,” said Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Foundation executive director. “So, if you see him, would you please direct him to his empty seat.”

Some topics that each of the three addressed:

Hunting and fishing: All three said they are outdoorsmen and hold Idaho hunting and fishing licenses. Ahlquist talked about fishing last week with his father-in-law. Balukoff discussed getting his annual wild turkey and a recent failed antelope hunt. Little recounted how for four generations, his family has held an annual upland bird hunt.

Public lands: The candidates said they are not in favor of the state taking ownership of federal land in Idaho, mainly because it would be too cost-prohibitive. But they do want the state to have more of a role in how federal land is managed, and better public access to federal lands.

“Thirty-three million acres is a lot of land,” said Balukoff. “There is enough space to meet needs. If we want wild and scenic areas that are primitive … (or) areas we can designate for use of ATVs – there is room to do multiple uses on our public lands.”

Salmon and steelhead recovery: All agree the federal plan in play for the last 25 years is failing.

“Our rural communities need this industry,” Ahlquist said. “We need to figure this out. … We need to protect Idaho’s interests, Idaho industries, Idaho fish.”

Wildlife management: Political leaders need to listen to professional wildlife managers and biologists. And, all three said, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission should not be politicized.

Endangered species: The candidates said we should follow the advice of biologists and wildlife managers to ensure that Idaho keeps sustainable populations to avoid federal intervention.

The candidates did have a few differences on issues.

Breaching Snake River dams: Ahlquist and Balukoff said they would consider it as a possibility. Little said he would not, but he would consider looking at how that water is managed, including adjusting flows or releasing more water over spillways instead of through turbines.

Sage grouse: All agree that any management plan needs to be collaborative. Ahlquist and Balukoff do not support Idaho’s efforts to fight an Obama-era grouse management plan in court. Little said such an action sometimes is necessary if the federal government does not uphold its end of the deal.

The entire 90-minute forum can be viewed on the Idaho Wildlife Federation’s Facebook page.

27. November 2017 · Comments Off on Public access to trust lands varies widely from state to state · Categories: Public Lands

Emily Benson Nov. 27, 2017

How much is hunting and fishing access to 3.4 million acres of land in Utah worth? Last year, the answer was $776,000. That was the amount the Utah Department of Natural Resources paid another state agency, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), to secure public access to state trust lands, granted to Western states by the federal government to generate money for schools and other public institutions.

This fall, however, the deal between the Natural Resources Department and SITLA expired. In negotiating its renewal, SITLA wanted to raise its fee to market rates, estimated at $1.8 to $3.9 million a year for the 1 million acres that have commercial hunting value. If the department didn’t pay up, SITLA seemed ready to lease exclusive access to beloved places like the Book Cliffs — a vast wilderness of rugged bluffs and forested valleys teeming with elk, mule deer and cutthroat trout — to wealthy hunters. Access to prime areas would be scooped up mainly by customers willing to pay thousands of dollars for a single hunt, with only a handful of permits issued through a public lottery.

Kim Christy, SITLA’s deputy director, argued that the agency was merely fulfilling its obligation under the state Constitution to optimize revenue. But many sportsmen saw it differently. Bill Christensen of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says access to state lands shouldn’t be reserved for the highest bidders. And SITLA’s demands underscored his fears about what could happen should federal lands be transferred to state control: privatization and loss of access. “I have been very concerned about how greedy SITLA has been in recent years,” Christensen says.

State trust lands are owned by public entities, but they aren’t “public” the way federal lands are. Most states don’t have to manage them for multiple uses, so there’s no guarantee of public access for hunting, hiking and camping. Instead, these lands are managed to make money, traditionally by leasing them for grazing, mining, timber or energy development. Sometimes the land is sold outright.

“The mandate that states have is often interpreted as this really rigid thing,” says Shawn Regan, a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, a Montana-based free-market think tank. But hunting, especially, can be a source of revenue for state trusts. “There are ways to allow access or provide conservation benefits while still meeting the requirement to benefit the trust.”

Public access to trust lands varies widely from state to state. Idaho and Wyoming allow free access, while New Mexico and Colorado have interagency payment schemes similar to Utah’s. Still, access is provided primarily at the discretion of state agencies, leaving the public with little say in whether certain parcels are put up for sale, threatened with development or closed to the public. Read More

19. November 2017 · Comments Off on Is Karen Budd-Falen unfit to lead the Bureau of Land Management? · Categories: Current Events, Public Lands

With a career dedicated to undermining public lands and public servants, Budd-Falen is uniquely unqualified for the director’s post

Budd-Falen is uniquely unqualified to oversee the BLM, a department charged with managing 258 million acres of America’s public lands — and nearly 700 million acres of oil, gas, and other minerals — on behalf of the American public. She has spent her career fighting against the very existence of U.S. public lands, filing frivolous lawsuits against the BLM, working to subvert public land managers, supporting unpopular efforts to dispose of public lands, and even aligning herself with fringe extremists.

Here are three important reasons Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump administration should look elsewhere rather than nominate Budd-Falen to run one of America’s most important agencies. Read More

Wyoming lawyer architect of public land disposal movement

Budd-Falen is uniquely unqualified to oversee the BLM

18. November 2017 · Comments Off on Former Public Lands Officials speak out · Categories: Around The Campfire, Current Events, Public Lands

Many visitors to U.S. national parks and monuments—a record 331 million in 2016—seek a hiatus, however fleeting, from the daily grind. But increasingly, they may find themselves face-to-face with some of the things they are trying to escape.

The Trump Administration’s quick-step public lands agenda for 2017 includes budget cuts, expanded resource extraction (mining, logging, drilling, and grazing), shrinking national monument boundaries, and a relaxation of restrictions on problematic activities like the use of plastic bottles.

At Dinosaur National Monument, for example, the Bureau of Land Management plans to auction public land for oil and gas drilling. The drilling site is near the park’s entrance road and will be visible from the visitor center. The BLM says it will take steps to minimize the impact, including light shields, noise mufflers, and “placement of exhaust systems to direct noise away from noise sensitive areas” and “avoiding unnecessary flaring of gas.”

But Mike Murray, who worked as a national park administrator and ranger at Dinosaur National Monument for thirty-four years, calls the decision to auction drilling rights there “indefensible.” The monument’s pitch-black night skies and silent soundscapes have been protected by the Park Service since Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, Murray says in an interview. Visitors, he notes, will now witness “oil rigs instead of a pristine landscape.” And the Trump team’s “total priority” on mining and drilling threatens other values, like “protecting parks for future generations and for wildlife.”  Read More