Feeds:
Posts
Comments

9ed3c8a5-d50b-4407-88c0-adad07865815

Wiley X, Inc., a world leader in the research, development and marketing of protective eyewear and gloves for military, law enforcement, sport hunting and shooting, fishing and various extreme sports is teaming with NWF’s Vanishing Paradise to save coastal Louisiana’s wetlands.

Wiley X has been at the forefront of providing sunglasses for the toughest environments, including being a major supplier to military forces around the world. For the hunting and fishing industry, this level of quality and protection is critical to enjoying time on the water, hunting in the field and shooting on the range.

It comes as no surprise that Wiley X now invests in the resource anglers and hunters rely upon to recreate. Late this fall, Wiley X donated $10,000 to the Vanishing Paradise campaign – a program of the National Wildlife Federation. By doing so, WileyX is helping to protect the Louisiana wetlands and the bounty that sportsman’s paradise provides to thousands of anglers and hunters locally and across the nation.

“Wiley X has been in the wetlands of the Gulf for many years, developing its polarized Venice Gold lenses specifically for redfish anglers, and taking advice from

dscn3622

Eric Cosby of Top Brass Tackle with monster bull redfish and Wiley X Venice Gold lenses. Photo by Lew Carpenter

those who’ve spent countless hours chasing big, bronze bulls of the marsh,” said Myles Freeman, co-owner of WileyX. “It is natural for us to support this Sportsman’s Paradise to ensure today’s anglers and future generations have the same opportunities we’ve had to fish these special waters.”

Coastal Louisiana is a sportsmen’s destination of forests, swamps, marshes, river channels, estuaries and islands that provide habitat for countless wildlife – including birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and multitudes of smaller organisms that support the food web of this region. Taken together, these habitats make up one of the largest and most productive wetland ecosystems in North America.

Coastal Louisiana is a veritable frenzy of biological productivity:

• Millions of ducks and geese winter or stopover in coastal Louisiana every year – or 70 percent of the waterfowl that use the Mississippi and Central flyways.

• Louisiana is a “Sportsman’s Paradise,” with world-class salt- and freshwater fishing opportunities, including catfish, bass, speckled trout, redfish, tuna, mahi mahi, amberjack and more.

• Menhaden – a vital species in the marine food web, and the health of their population – is critical to maintaining healthy populations of many other fish species, among other ecosystem benefits. Not only are menhaden a key food source for sport fish species like striped bass, bluefish, red drum, king mackerel, and cobia, but nearly every predatory fish, mammal and bird eats them at some point in their life cycle. (ASA)

As the coast vanishes, species are losing the habitats they need to survive

Coastal Louisiana also feeds and fuels the nation with ports connecting the U.S. to the world. Investing in large-scale coastal restoration is a win-win: It protects people, wildlife and jobs, while growing the local economy and avoiding significant future costs to taxpayers.

This conservation work comes partially from a philosophy that opportunity and access for sportsmen, boaters, birdwatchers and other recreationalists relies on clean water and good habitat; robust bait fisheries like menhaden, which drive game fish production and capacity; and it gives back in ways that touch our communities and our food sources.

“We can’t think of a better place to invest our time, energy and funding than coastal wetland restoration,” said Freeman. “By supporting a healthy Gulf Coast, we support a robust sportfishing industry, wildlife, habitat and the sportsmen and women who spend their time in the wild pursuing their passion.”

6de786bb-dd5c-4e3a-83c5-f22578b901ab-1Vanishing Paradise was launched in 2009 by National Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited to advocate for restoration of the Mississippi River Delta by nationalizing the issue. The Vanishing Paradise team remains committed to restoring the Mississippi River Delta, and since the 2010 Gulf oil disaster, we have expanded our attention to advocate for restoration of other critical habitat along the Gulf Coast.

For more information, follow this link to Vanishing Paradise.

Advertisements

When you donate to Colorado Wildlife Federation you provide vital support to an effective, proven voice for wildlife in Colorado.

Here is the link to donate to CWF:

https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/iUPHClYvmnc2wjYJTGSyS6?domain=coloradogives.org

We advocate effectively to safeguard utterly essential wildlife habitats on public lands in Colorado.  Wildlife must have a seat at the table during planning processes and projects by Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service on the millions of acres they manage here.  

We are also working hard on two pivotal pieces of federal legislation: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to fund recovery species of greatest conservation need in Colorado and elsewhere, and Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization.

Did you know that Colorado’s population is projected to increase from the current 5.6 million to 8.5 million by 2050?

That means even more wildlife habitat – especially winter ranges – and migration corridors/movement routes will need our continued active, attentive, timely monitoring and firm advocacy.

We also sit on various advisory committees, we offer here in Colorado the nationally Becoming an Outdoor Woman program, and we weigh in on many issues that are before the  Parks and Wildlife Commission.

https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/iUPHClYvmnc2wjYJTGSyS6?domain=coloradogives.org

Please help us reach our goal of 250 donations for GivesDay.

Thanks for your support!

Colorado Wildlife Federation is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit founded in 1953.

coloradowildlife.org
1410 Grant Street, C-313, Denver CO  80203

With countless places to roam and enjoy the great outdoors, Americans are taking advantage of these opportunities, and as they go, spending significant dollars, too. New economic reports by Southwick Associates reveal that more than 53 million Americans consider themselves sportsmen, spending over $93.5 billion in 2016 on gear, licenses, travel, clothing, gas and more. 

South Park, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

A series of reports released yesterday by the American Sportfishing Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation show that expenditures made in 2016 for hunting, target shooting and sportfishing gear and services supported 1.6 million jobs and provided $72 billion in salaries and wages. These monies also generated nearly $20 billion in local, state and federal taxes. Much of this tax revenue benefits vital conservation and educational programs that improve our outdoor areas for all who enjoy them and make hunting and shooting safer activities.

“If hunting, fishing and target shooting were a corporation, it would rank #25 on the Fortune 500, ahead of Microsoft,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates. “While time spent outside may come across as something to do after the real work day is done, in reality hunting, fishing and target shooting is a critical industry, generating jobs and income for thousands of communities across the country.”

Key highlights of the reports include:



  • Each year, 35.8 million people 16 years and older take to America’s waters to fish.
  • More than 28 million people over 16 years old took to our nation’s forests and gun ranges to hunt and target shoot in 2016.
  • The number of people who participate in sportfishing, hunting and target shooting represents 16.5 percent of the total U.S. population.
  • When factoring in multiplier effects, spending by sportsmen created economic activity in excess of $220 billion.
  • Hunting, fishing and shooting adds $119 billion of overall value to our nation’s gross domestic product and generates $17.6 billion in federal taxes and $12.2 billion in state and local taxes.

Four separate reports are available: sportfishing from the American Sportfishing Association, hunting and target shooting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (please register as a guest when asked), plus a report for all activities combined from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor recreation markets. Celebrating 28 years in business, Southwick Associates has a strong reputation for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics to strategic decision making across the entire outdoor industry. Aside from custom market and economic information, Southwick Associates provides custom and syndicated research including customer-driven new product development, outdoor media consumption insights, and equipment purchase tracking studies. Visit www.southwickassociates.com for more information.

Colorado Wildlife Federation’s Becoming an Outdoors Women (BOW) has two events this summer for women interested in learning new outdoor skills.

BOW is a non-profit, educational program offering hands-on workshops to adult women. We encourage a supportive environment conducive to learning, making friends, and having fun. No experience is necessary and BOW is for women ages 18+ and all fitness levels. Please visit coloradobow.com for further details.

June 24, 2018 features a day at the range for women interested in shooting clay targets. Titled “Shotguns & Stilettos” includes lunch, raffles and door prizes. It is for novice and experienced shooters.

July 27-29, 2018 is the main event: The CWF Becoming an Outdoors Woman weekend at CSU Mountain Campus (Pingree Park).

This weekend program is for you if…

—You have not tried some of these activities but have hoped for an opportunity to learn in a comfortable setting.

—You want to improve your skills.

—You enjoy the camaraderie of other women who are interested in this menu of courses and fun weekend.

Courses include wild edibles/medicinal plants; fly fishing and fly tying; birding; archery; stream and river ecology; wilderness navigation-map and compass; ropes course; firearm cleaning and safety; grilling and smoking guru; history of Pingree Park walk; canoeing; outdoor survival/backcountry first aid and more ….

Go to coloradobow.com for information and registration.

Conservationist to address affiliate leaders and NWF sportsmen’s caucus about Conservation Visions’ Wild Harvest Initiative

 

The National Wildlife Federation will host conservationist Shane Mahoney, President and CEO of Conservation Visions Inc., at its Annual Meeting in Reston, Virginia, on June 7, 2018. Mahoney will address a meeting of National Wildlife Federation state affiliate leaders, NWF Sportsmen’s Caucus members and NWF President & CEO Collin O’Mara.

“Since 1937, the National Wildlife Federation has been a major force in the conservation of America’s wildlife and I am delighted to have an opportunity to engage with NWF’s Sportsmen’s Caucus about the Wild Harvest Initiative,” said Mahoney.

“We are tremendously honored to host Shane Mahoney,” said Mike Leahy, senior manager of public lands and sportsmen’s policyfor the National Wildlife Federation. “Mr. Mahoney has an amazing ability to articulate the love for animals held by every hunter and his innovative Wild Harvest Initiative is communicating an important value to our beloved wildlife, both in their conservation and sustainable use.”

Shane Mahoney is the President and CEO of Conservation Visions Inc. A Newfoundland native, he holds both an Honors and a Masters of Science degree in Zoology from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Mahoney has over 30 years of experience working primarily as a scientist, wildlife manager, policy innovator and strategic advisor; but also as a filmmaker, writer, narrator, TV and radio personality, and lecturer – all within the scope of the greater conservation world, encompassing both the scientific and professional wildlife communities, as well as NGOs and the hunting and non-hunting public. Conservation Visions Inc. is a global wildlife initiative. It’s a private company focused on providing a broad scope of comprehensive services to stakeholders in the international conservation community, including industry leaders, governments and NGOs. Services range from creating scientific research solutions to offering policy advice to generating public communications. Its Wild Harvest Initiative is the first complete assessment of the significance of hunting and angling to modern society, economically, socially, and ecologically.

Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, representing 51 state and territorial affiliates and more than 6 million members and supporters. Its mission is to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrives in a rapidly changing world. The NWF Annual Meeting is its yearly gathering of state affiliate leaders, partners, board members and staff to set the organization’s conservation policies. The 2018 NWF Annual Meeting will be held in Reston, Virginia, from June 6-10.

To learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s work with sportsmen and women across the country, visit www.nwf.org/sportsmen.

Udall, Heinrich Join Conservation Leaders To Celebrate New Public Access To Sabinoso Wilderness, Call For Reauthorization Of Land And Water Conservation Fund

sabinoso_wilderness_blm_photo_bob_wick

Image courtesy BLM, Bob Wick

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich May 29, 2018 joined the National Wildlife Federation, Wilderness Land Trust, Partnership for Responsible Business, Santa Ana Pueblo, and a number of other local conservation leaders and organizations to announce major gains towards improving access to public lands in New Mexico, including opening the Sabinoso Wilderness to the public, and the many successes of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The event was held at the Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center in Albuquerque.

“Public lands like the Sabinoso Wilderness are essential to New Mexico’s way of life and are major economic drivers for our state. Unlocking Sabinoso’s rugged canyons and mesas to the public, for hiking, camping, horseback riding, and hunting, was a major victory for all New Mexicans. We showed that we can expand access to our public lands when we work together toward a common goal,” said Sen. Udall. “But we need to continue pushing back against the ongoing assault on our public lands coming from some in Washington. It starts with protecting the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an immensely popular and successful program which has provided funds to nearly every county in America to conserve public open space. The LWCF accomplishes so much with so little – protecting national monuments, national forests, wildlife refuges, lakes and rivers, state and local parks, and historic sites. As the top Democrat on the subcommittee that oversees funding for the Department of Interior, I will keep fighting to see that the LWCF is made permanent to support public lands in New Mexico and across the country for future generations.”

“The opening of the Sabinoso Wilderness is a major victory and will finally allow public access to this stunning landscape that we all own. I am proud to have worked hard for years alongside New Mexico sportsmen, wilderness advocates, and local community leaders to find a way to unlock this incredible place to the public. The Sabinoso will surely become an important destination for hunters, hikers and campers from nearby communities and around the nation, and contribute to our outdoor recreation economy,” said Sen. Heinrich. “I will continue working to protect and improve access to the places that we love here in New Mexico and fight for the permanent and full funding of conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund that are critical to preserving our outdoor heritage for our children and future generations.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful conservation programs. Senators Udall and Heinrich have long advocated for the permanent reauthorization and full funding of LWCF. This vital program expires on September 30, 2018.

“Among the National Wildlife Federation’s top priorities are restoring America’s wildlife populations, conserving public lands, and ensuring that Americans have access to them, whether for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, paddling or watching wildlife. We’re proud of the incredible work by New Mexicans to open the Sabinoso Wilderness to public access and our celebration today is a testament to the efforts of Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and sportsmen in partnership with Secretary Zinke and the Interior Department and conservation organizations, like the Wilderness Land Trust and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. America’s public lands belong to all of us and we must all continue to work together to protect and enhance our public lands legacy, including reauthorizing and fully funding one of our most important conservation programs–the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

“LWCF is essential to our country’s outdoor spaces—from neighborhood parks to national parks,” said Diane Regas, CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “Without it our work in New Mexico would be impossible and the future of parks and open space would be uncertain. Both Senators Udall and Heinrich set a high standard for what it means to be a leader in conservation and The Trust for Public Land is profoundly grateful for their hard work and commitment to the outdoors.”

“We’ve been working on creating access to the Sabinoso Wilderness since it was proposed for designation in 2009,” said Brad Borst, President of The Wilderness Land Trust. “We are deeply grateful to the Wyss Foundation for funding the acquisition and transfer of the heart of the Rimrock Rose Ranch to the Bureau of Land Management; to US Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico for their leadership and perseverance; for the support of the San Miguel County Commissioners; for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance volunteers for helping with site cleanup; and for the sportsmen groups who publicly advocated for this New Mexico treasure.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a crucial program for New Mexico’s public lands, state parks, and restoration projects,” said New Mexico Wildlife Federation Acting Executive Director Todd Leahy. “We are pleased to come together with our Senators who have long been champions of LWCF as well as public lands access, and our partners who have worked side by side for conservation projects over the years. We hope this event brings the importance of LWCF to the forefront of New Mexican’s minds and inspire our entire New Mexico delegation to support permanently reauthorizing LWCF.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided over $312 million to projects in New Mexico that have leveraged millions more in state, local, and private matching funds to contribute to the betterment of our state and well-being of our citizens. These investments also help sustain a network of parks and public lands that attract entrepreneurs, retirees, and tourists who strengthen our economy. Our state will suffer if the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires. Congress must not let that happen,” said Alexandra Merlino, Executive Director, New Mexico Partnership for Responsible Business.

“Latinos and all Americans in every state have benefitted from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, whether they know it or not. If you have visited a state park or played softball in your neighborhood, there’s a good chance those places in New Mexico were, in part, funded by the LWCF to the tune of over $310 million during the program’s lifetime,”said Ralph Arellanes, New Mexico LULAC Executive Director and Hispano Round Table of New Mexico Chairman.

“To grow up healthy, kids need a clean, beautiful, and accessible outdoors where they can play and discover the amazing world around them. Fortunately, New Mexico has numerous spectacular outdoor areas that have been protected thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is set to expire this September. We can’t let that happen. In the bipartisan spirit that has characterized the LWCF since its inception, Congress must come together to reauthorize and fully fund this great provider of public lands access and enjoyment,” said James Jimenez, Executive Director, New Mexico Voices for Children.

“Growing up on New Mexico’s public lands, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is personal to me. As a Sportsman, I’ve seen firsthand how important LWCF is to increasing sportsmen’s access and improving wildlife habitat. If you’ve ever caught a Cutthroat trout in the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic river area, hunted in the Valles Caldera or the Gila, hiked in the Organ Mountains or seen bighorn sheep on the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument you are a beneficiary of LWCF,” said Rev. Andrew Black, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church Santa Fe. “Working with veterans, youth and families throughout the state, I’ve also seen firsthand how the lands funded by LWCF are places of great healing, wholeness and transformation.”

One of the great things about this country is that when people come together they are very strong, and we need to come together to understand our natural resources, and how important natural resources are to future generations – Fernando Clemente, New Mexico Wildlife Federation Board Member and Wildlife Biologist

DSCN5163

Fernando Clemente, New Mexico Wildlife Services and NM Wildlife Federation board member with a Montezuma Quail. Photo by Lew Carpenter

I stepped in close to the desert scrub where I thought the fleeing Montezuma Quail had landed. These quail hold tight and I was right on top of one when it exploded up in front of me blasting out to my left. I pulled in line and my view suddenly clouded with a dense tree foiling my shot. I looked further left and saw Clemente smoothly and effortlessly raise his shotgun and drop the dynamic bird.

 

We were a mere 20 minutes into our Montezuma Quail (also known as Mearns Quail) hunt when the first covey had been busted. Field & Stream reporter Hal Herring had dropped a bird from that first flush and, apparently, I had become the bird dog for Clemente’s kill – both flushing and retrieving for him.

 

Our group had joined just a few miles from the US-Mexico border in the Coronado National Forest of New Mexico’s bootheel, just south of Animas. We were six – plus three dogs – out to hunt Montezuma Quail and talk wildlife impacts of a proposed border wall. Sixty percent of the Chihuahua desert grasslands are gone and further fragmentation of this essential habitat and its wildlife corridors would be devastating if a border wall is built.

 

“Some animals, because of their size, avoid predators, humans, autos and structures,” Clemente said. “So when they see a structure in the distance like the proposed wall, they will not even go near. So when you talk about home range and habitat for a species, it will be totally disrupted – from California to Texas.”

DSCN5201

Impressive tall-grass habitat of the Coronado National Forest in New Mexico. Photo By Lew Carpenter

New Mexico Wildlife Federation (NMWF) staff member Gabe Vasquez, board member Fernando Clemente and past NMWF board chair Ray Trejo – plus Field & Stream’s Hal Herring and Tom Fowlks (photographer) – were all on site to camp, hunt and expose a magnificent ecosystem filled with tall grasslands, wooded hills, Coues deer, bear, desert bighorn sheep and…oh yes, quail.

Vasquez organized the trip. He also authored the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Border Wall policy resolution, which was ratified by 51 NWF state affiliates during the 2017 NWF annual meeting in Stevenson, Washington. He is also a Las Cruces City Councilman and heads the Nuestra Tierra conservation program for NMWF.

DSCN5225

From top left: Fernando Clemente, Lew Carpenter, Gabe Vasquez. Bottom from left: Ray Trejo, Hal Herring. Photo by Tom Fowlks

“Under recent Congressional bills there have been environmental waivers granted for construction of any type of structure for border security,” Vasquez said. “New Mexico Legislators this year pushed back strongly with legislation that would trigger a state-version of NEPA or EIS anytime the federal government wants to come in and do a land swap with the state of New Mexico to facilitate the construction of any property, where there are no environmental laws required (like Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act). It received strong support and passed out of a House committee.”

“So clearly here in New Mexico we place a high value on our land – and when people talk about state’s rights – well here’s a federal decision that comes with the power to decimate our state’s recreation economy, our wildlife and our culture, and we don’t want it,” Vasquez continued. “People talk all the time about state’s rights and some of these folks are the same ones who want the wall, but you can’t have it both ways. This is terrible for sportsmen and women in New Mexico and terrible for anyone else who uses these public lands.”

DSCN5204

Gabe Vasquez, Las Cruces City Councilman, NM Wildlife staffer and leader of Nuestra Tierra. Photo by Lew Carpenter

NMWF’s Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, a program that helps underserved and Hispanic communities connect with the outdoors, has been advocating against the border wall since its inception, and the following is from its factsheet:

 

President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a massive border wall across the U.S.-Mexico border is misguided, xenophobic, technically infeasible, and will deteriorate the country’s relationship with Mexico.

 

A massive border wall, on the scale that Trump has proposed, will also have a tremendously negative impact on wildlife and the natural environment.

 

Disrupting the flow of water

  • In many places across the border, existing fences already act as dams during periods of heavy rainfall, which cause severe soil erosion, degraded habitat for wildlife, and flooding in rural and urban population centers. A concrete wall would likely amplify these existing problems.
  • According to the National Park Service, the pooling of water against existing border fences in Arizona has already caused severe soil erosion and damage to riparian vegetation.
  • When it rains in Palomas, Mexico, which neighbors Columbus, N.M., the town’s streets, many of them dirt roads, flood badly. Engineers have concluded that the existing border fencing and infrastructure is largely to blame. Additional and larger border infrastructure could severely flood our southern neighbors by altering the course of naturally flowing arroyos, impacting both their health, infrastructure, and economy.

 

Severe disruption to wildlife habitat

  • Reinforced fencing – in particular solid walls – along the Southwest border will continue to disrupt the migratory ranges of wildlife in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts and their endangered species.
  • Current border fences have already hindered efforts to save the native jaguar, which was listed as an endangered species since 1977 and is slowly recovering from near extinction. Restricting the movement of these creatures will almost certainly eliminate their ability to reach their traditional breeding areas.
  • The current wall has seriously hampered the distribution of the ferruginous pygmy-owl and bighorn sheep and could isolate other endangered populations of large mammals, particularly in Arizona’s Sky Island region, including black bears.

 

Building a massive border wall to divide these two great nations will destroy the cultural heritage that the land represents to its modern day inhabitants and will severely impact wildlife habitat and endanger binational communities. Nuestra Tierra strongly believes that to preserve our frontera culture, and to move forward as a nation, the border wall must not be built.

DSCN5218

From left: Gabe Vasquez, Hal Herring and Fernando Clemente. Photo by Lew Carpenter

“We need to act, Clemente said. “We need to come together. One of the great things about this country is when people come together they are very strong. And we need to come together to understand our natural resources, and how important natural resources are to future generations. The United States has always been the leader in wildlife management and the conservation of natural resources, and I don’t understand why we would head down this route (of a border wall).”

 

Trejo fortified that notion, “We work very hard to articulate just that, on the landscape and on the border. It is our responsibility to bring people who are making decisions down (to the border), and to look at the landscape – otherwise they don’t understand. We are connected with Mexico and we have always been connected with Mexico. And that wall is going to create a barrier that impacts the ecosystem that spans the border, and what happens to the people, the wildlife, the habitat and the work between the countries?”

 

As we drove into the boot heel of New Mexico — the northern part of the Chihuahua Desert – the exotic landscape opened up with magnificent grasslands, mountain ranges and rich colors of gold, brown and green.

DSCN5227

Dog on point with Vasquez and Clemente. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Our campsite was at 5500 feet altitude and the temps ranged from 14 to 75 degrees.

 

Trejo, a high school administrator in these parts, brought his two German short haired pointers and Clemente, who owns NM Specialized Wildlife Services, brought his pointer as well. Both men are experts in wildlife conservation and Clemente manages wildlife populations on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

“We are supposed to be a country that creates relations, and I hope that nothing will happen, but if the wall gets created, what will happen to those relations?” Clemente rhetorically asked. “And what do I mean by that? I’m going to talk about waterfowl, migratory birds, and many people say that ‘They can fly over the wall,’ but that’s not the point. The point is there are tri-lateral meetings every year between the US, Canada and Mexico.

 

“They meet to create a management plan for the migratory birds, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of that within the Central Flyway. And they get to get together and talk about everything from habitat restoration and resting places (wildlife refuges) all the way to bag limits and how many each country harvests,” Clemente continued. “Why is that? Because they fly from Canada to Mexico and then back each year. It’s not a species that somebody owns – everybody owns them, and their habitat, and home range is from Canada to Mexico, so that’s the way it needs to be managed. So let’s say there is a break in our relationships, and now they don’t care because we don’t care about them – so we will change things to keep more birds for us. The problem is that if we start changing how we manage those migratory birds in order to keep numbers for each country, what will happen in 20 years?”

 

The same could be said about relations on Sonoran pronghorn, Coues deer, desert bighorn sheep – just a few in the game species category.

 

“We have a great population of Goulds turkeys because of releases from Mexico, and Mexico is doing great with Gould’s turkeys – almost half the country has Gould’s turkeys,” Clemente said. “So all those relationships have been created to build population sustainability with wildlife populations. If we damage that then it will be 10 times harder to be able to sustain a wildlife population. Now, with that being said, what kind of message are we sending to the wildlife biologists and ecologists about all that work from the past? When we build that wall we are saying we don’t care about the work.”

 

Heading out into the National Forest I was struck by the glowing, golden high grasses – excellent quail habitat. The quality of the landscape was like nothing I had seen further north. Un-grazed public land as far as the eye could see – challenging us as we searched for quail.

 

Tracking along a small wash, which was wooded along the southern face, we came upon that first covey and flush. Holding a Montezuma in my hand for the first time, I could easily see what the fuss was about with these birds. To detail all its beauty in words would be nearly impossible considering the diversity of colors and patterns throughout its plumage.

DSCN5182

Montezuma Quail. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Exploring a small slice of this incredible grassland ecosystem was a gift. Thick golden fields of grass; rocky, woodland washes and hills; and open space without structure extending well beyond sight (with occasional groups of Coues deer busting forth).

 

“Culturally we refer to this little piece on the landscape as the border, but it’s a landscape just like any other,” Vasquez said. “It is diverse, it is beautiful and to us it is our home. It is becoming more dangerous to us as we see what is happening in Congress.”

 

I admit, it’s hard to weave a hunting story with an issue as significant, deep and connected to so many people, cultures and conservation values. The hunt left a mark on me. The conversation about the wildlife impacts of a border wall left an impact on me. My life is forever changed by this type of experience, when being present in a special place merges with responsible, pragmatic dialogue about common values. And when we connect with each other physically in a place that is meaningful, one can’t help but be transformed forever.

 

And, while we sought both Montezuma and Blue (Scaled) quail, we encountered Gamble’s quail, too – all remarkable game birds. Afternoons in this area beg a hat trick. Though I didn’t shoot as well as I would like, the hunt will be one of my greatest sporting memories. The combination of epic habitat, spectacular wildlife and the best of companions (dogs included) made the trip truly special.

 

I am invested in my role with conservation, and even more invested in my relationships, but to be in a place that not only connects people and culture from two nations, and touches upon the values of wild places and wildlife, I can’t help but be transformed even further in my resolve to protect the things I love – people, wildlife, heritage and the vast beauty of the public estate.

%d bloggers like this: