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