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Photo by Matt Vincent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new bill would provide critical investments to study and stop the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease threatening deer, elk, and moose populations in the United States. The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) will help researchers better understand the disease, give state and Tribal experts the resources they need to control its spread, and protect wildlife.

“Chronic wasting disease is one of the greatest threats facing deer, elk, and moose populations across the country, jeopardizing hunting opportunities, ecosystems, and our nation’s outdoor economy,” said Mike Leahy, director for wildlife, hunting, and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “We are grateful for Representatives Kind and Thompson’s steadfast leadership on this critical issue. The bipartisan Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act will help ensure state and Tribal agencies on the front lines of controlling this disease have the resources they need to better understand and stop its spread.”

Chronic wasting disease is a highly transmissible disease that spreads among members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, and elk, that are critical to ecosystems along with local economies and hunting traditions. The disease is nearly always fatal and, once established in an area, hard to control.

Although there have been no reported cases of chronic wasting disease in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention some studies “raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people.”

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Edited by Shane P. Mahoney & Valerius Geist

Review by Lew Carpenter

To begin, it seems best to articulate the focus of the book. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is “an evolved and shared system of conservation laws, principles, institutions, and policies that has enabled the successes of Canada and the United States in the recovery, management, and protection of wildlife and brought them global recognition,” write Shane P. Mahoney, Valerius Geist and Paul R. Krausman.

And, like many of you, I am most familiar with the seven principles associated with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (the Model):

​1. Maintaining wildlife as a public trust resource, entrusted to the state to manage.

​2. Prohibiting deleterious commerce in dead wildlife products.

​3. Regulating and defining appropriate wildlife use by law.

​4. Ensuring wildlife can only be killed for legitimate purpose.

​5. Recognizing and managing wildlife as an international resource.

​6. Utilizing and safeguarding science as the appropriate basis for wildlife policy.

​7. Protecting the democratic allocation of citizen opportunity to harvest wildlife.

As hunters and conservationists we invoke the Model when advocating for our collective heritage. It is the philosophical foundation of our beloved sport and the significant implementation of how we engage with wildlife and the world around us in a respectful and scientific manner.

This essay is less a book review than an endorsement, a nudge and a hope that you will expand your knowledge of the the Model by making this book a well-engaged member of your nightstand or bookshelf.

Many people, and rightly so, believe that the Model came into existence as a fully formed concept. After all, it is often presented as such. But creation, evolution and structure came long before it was named, as you will find within the pages of this book.

It may come as a surprise to many that this is the first and remains the only book to ever address the Model. Author Shane Mahoney tells us that, “Given this pedigree it was designed first and foremost to be the most complete presentation of not only the Model’s history and structure (principles) but also the urgent context in which it arose (massive over-exploitation), the pre-conditions which gave rise to it (the ecological conditions of the continent as shaped by Native Americans and the influence of European ideals and perspectives) and which help explain its particular personality, and the characteristics of the Model which leave it open to challenge and reflection.”

There is no doubt that the authors of the various chapters seek to inspire an advancement in thought and creation for the next iteration of the Model. The book illustrates more than once the evolution of the Model and how we got to where we are today. And, through this gentle discourse, both strengths and weakness’ beg collective work and a desperate need to adapt and improve upon what has become the greatest system of sustainable wildlife management on the planet.

“The hope is that the book will encourage debate, incite deeper investigation of theModel’s assumptions and will force upon its proponents and detractors alike challenging truths that demand reflection and address,” says Mahoney. “While the book is meant to celebrate the Model’s successes and clarify the desperate plight of wildlife in late nineteenth century North America, it also contains an unequivocal recognition of what I perceive as the greatest misfortune in the Model’s origins and constitution….the complete absence of the perspectives and unparalleled natural history and landscape management knowledge of Native American cultures. If the book achieved nothing else, I would see bringing this to broader attention as a success.”

The format of the book is well designed as each chapter is self-contained, with Mahoney bringing it all home in conclusion. You can start with “A Comparison of the North American Model to Other Conservation Approaches” and jump to “The Great Early Champions” with ease. We are taken by many routes and a variety of voices to places of much deeper understanding about wildlife management, history, conservation and the critical role each of us plays in past and future success.

The historical context is compelling and emerges naturally from the beginning of the book. I simply had no real idea of the history of North American wildlife and its complicated path to being managed today. For example, Geist and Mahoney write, “…in the context of wildlife management and nature conservation in North America, it is important to note that the entry of modern humans at the beginning of the Bølling-Allerød Interstadial some 14,000 years ago marked the last time the continent’s biota and landscapes were natural.” Geist and Mahoney’s history lessons “…examine what is natural, and whether North America’s objectives for wildlife reflect realistic interpretations of the continent’s past and hopes for its future.”

Closer to home, James L. Cummins’ accessible essay on critical legislation explains how laws like Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson and Wallop-Breaux became key conservation funding cornerstones. As well, Cummins highlights other important conservation Acts, like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (Duck Stamp). 

But the history of how we got to be where we are today doesn’t stop with the examples above, as the significant past comes up time and time again in additional chapters. “Thereare many insightful passages that explain lesser known facts, such as how knowledgeably first North American cultures worked to manage landscapes and how they impacted wildlife, how diverse the personalities and intense the debates were amongst early conservation advocates, how complex our institutions are today and how farsighted founding thinkers were in creating international treaties more than a century ago,” says Mahoney.  

And every hunter should read the chapter on “Hunting and Vested Interests as the Spine of the North American Model,” by James R. Heffelfinger and Mahoney, which clearly illustrates the core role of the North American hunter. It further details how the idea of seeking incentives for successful conservation program implementation was intuitively “baked” into the Model by self interest of the North American hunter.

As well, in Heffelfinger’s discussion of non-game species and their absence from the hunter-incentive paradigm, he rightly makes the case – without naming the effort – for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), which would provide funding relief to state game and fish agencies for all species under their care. As of this writing RAWA is again set to enter the American legislative process in the U.S. Congress.

Challenges to the Model

The honesty of the book celebrates both the vast successes of the Model, building a case for its continued relevance, as well as points a finger at its current weaknesses. With seven highly articulated challenges, we also find an “Incomplete Historical Narrative” that fails to recognize important contributors to the Model’s success. Brennan, Hewitt and Mahoney write, “To its detriment the traditional narrative also fails to address how prevalent social inequalities between genders, races, and classes during the development of the Model negatively impacted its practical inclusivity.”

Acknowledging the weaknesses of the Model, Mahoney makes the case for an enlightened upgrade, one we should all demand – rather than deny in retreat. “Without commitment to fundamental change, we must accept that current trends in conservation will continue and that the North American Model will inevitably weaken as its foundational principles prove outdated to both nature’s requirements and society’s tolerances and values.” He goes on to emphasize that we should all be leaders of the change – heroes and mobilizers of knowledge.

Mahoney explains that, “Ultimately, of course, the hope for this book is that it contributes to the vital debate over wildlife’s future, reminds us of the cultural ties and community identities that abide within its nexus of historicity and self-awareness, and forces upon the reader the ultimate question: if not this Model, then what alternative is reasonably and realistically proposed. Wildlife, not the Model, is the crucial reality to be, above all else, defended, safeguarded and preserved.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book. As a hunter and conservationist I’ll be reaching for it time and time again as I advocate for its principles, as well as seek resolution to its current challenges. And, to be clear, the book is not just for the North American hunter, it is for all who seek to engage, protect and support wildlife and habitat.

Mahoney says it best in his final conclusion: “Wild nature cannot speak for itself. We must. The greatest question facing North American society today is whether we will.”

The book may be found here: https://www.amazon.com/North-American-Wildlife-Conservation-Management/dp/1421432803/ref=nodl_

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Governor Polis speaks about the release Big Game Policy Report in Golden, Colorado

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

Governor Declares Habitat Connectivity Day 

GOLDEN — At an event in Golden today, Governor Polis, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in cooperation with the Department of Transportation (CDOT), released a report today detailing options to further protect Colorado’s wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors, and improve conditions for Colorado’s iconic big game species. The Governor also highlighted the state adding dedicated staff to work directly on this partnership, and support a comprehensive and collaborative approach between CDOT and DNR on the conservation of our wildlife and increased motorist safety.  

The report, “Opportunities to Improve Sensitive Habitat and Movement Route Connectivity for Colorado’s Big Game Species,” was produced at the direction of Governor Jared Polis in a 2019 Executive Order (EO), which acknowledged that increased human activity compounds  pressures on Colorado’s wildlife. The Governor’s Executive Order called on state agencies to expand collaboration and research, and propose potential strategies and policy solutions for alleviating habitat fragmentation and degradation.

The report highlights some of the challenges and threats facing Colorado’s wildlife which disrupt landscape connectivity and reduce the availability of functional habitat. These threats include roads and other infrastructure, industrial activities, residential growth, and outdoor recreation. Meanwhile, Colorado’s forest, sagebrush, and grassland ecosystems are already under strain from the impacts of climate change, wildfires, and persistent drought. As the climate changes, the habitats that wildlife rely on will change with it, and this report will help prioritize state policy, coordination and investment to support our wildlife and ecosystems best adapt to the changing climate. 

“Coloradans care deeply about protecting and preserving our state’s wildlife ecosystem and improving driver safety. Colorado is using all available tools and funding options to preserve wildlife habitats by reducing wildlife and vehicle collisions, reducing traffic delays, and ensuring that human activities protect wildlife,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I appreciate the work of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation and I look forward to working with the Colorado legislature, local, federal and Tribal governments and private landowners in implementing many of the policy priorities laid out in this report.” 

The report examines a range of options to address these challenges, including implementing regulations for energy development and other land uses; improving infrastructure to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions; coordinating conservation funding; planning trails with wildlife in mind; and better incentivizing participation by industry and private landowners in voluntary habitat conservation efforts.

In recognition of the report the Governor also issued a proclamation to officially acknowledge September 29, 2021 as “Wildlife Habitat and Connectivity Day,” underscoring the importance for Colorado to conserve habitat for big game and other native wildlife species and improve connectivity along the routes that wildlife use to migrate across the landscape.

“A key conclusion of the report is that, while there is no single intervention that can resolve the complex challenges affecting Colorado’s big game populations and their habitat, we do have the tools to ensure that these species can continue to thrive in our state,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resource. “Recent efforts in the legislature, including the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Future Generations Act in 2018 and the Keep Colorado Wild Pass bill in 2021, will provide new funding sources and direction for Colorado’s wildlife and its habitat. Additionally, the state’s updated oil and gas regulations provide new tools and protections to balance energy development and wildlife needs. However, long term success will require a significant shift in priorities, and coordination across agencies, jurisdictions and sectors to provide the sustainable protection our big game species require.” 

“Today’s report showcases how our state agencies can work together in a meaningful way to explore innovative solutions– so that our programs can better respond to the evolving needs of  Colorado residents and our big game wildlife populations,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Our goals remain working through challenges such as habitat fragmentation, development demand, varied jurisdictions and much-needed funding to find opportunities to create cooperative solutions that help conserve our wildlife.”  

CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew also recognized the need to improve transportation infrastructure that allows wildlife to safely cross highways and roads.

“Wildlife-vehicle collisions pose a risk to people and wildlife alike. An average of 3,300 these incidents are reported to CDOT every year, many of which result in injury to passengers and animal mortality, not to mention thousands of dollars in property damage. There is a significant need to increase funding for wildlife infrastructure, such as under- or overpasses, which we know can be highly effective at improving public safety and conditions for wildlife,” said Director Lew. 

DNR and CDOT conducted extensive research and outreach, and examined approaches by other states in shaping the recommendations put forth in the report. A status update released by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW) in 2020 and joint CDOT-CPW study also informed recommendations. 

The Colorado Wildlife Federation, Hispanics Enjoying Camping and Hiking in the Outdoors, Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation and other Coloradans and wildlife advocates participated in today’s event.

“Colorado’s wildlife community appreciates the Governor’s and First Gentleman’s leadership in elevating attention to this important issue,” added Colorado Wildlife Federation Director, Suzanne O’Neill. “We can and must work together to make progress before opportunities are lost.” 

“Connected, healthy lands are critical for people, too, so it’s important to engage all Coloradans in finding solutions,” said HECHO Program Director, Bianca McGrath-Martinez.

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NEWTOWN, Conn. — NSSF® the firearm industry trade association, marked a milestone achievement when firearm and ammunition manufacturers topped $14.1 billion in contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since its inception in 1937.


“This is truly a remarkable win for wildlife conservation,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF’s President and CEO. “This fund has been responsible for the restoration and recovery of America’s iconic game species, including the Rocky Mountain elk, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys and a variety of waterfowl. It is also responsible for funding the recovery and conservation of nongame species, including the American bald eagle, reptiles, fauna and conservation lands that allow them to thrive. The firearm industry is proud to perform such an important and vital function to ensure America’s wildlife remains abundant for future generations.”


The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson fund or Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax, is a tax paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers on the products they produce. The excise tax is set at 11 percent of the wholesale price for long guns and ammunition and 10 percent of the wholesale price for handguns. The excise tax, paid by manufacturers and importers, applies basically to all firearms produced or imported for commercial sales, whether their purpose is for recreational shooting, hunting or personal defense. The tax is currently administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in the Department of the Treasury, which turns the funds over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).


USFWS then deposits the Pittman-Robertson revenue into a special account called the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, which is administered by the USFWS. These funds are made available to states and territories the year following their collection.


These 10 to 11 percent excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are specifically designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation. Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition, hunters and the industry are the greatest source of wildlife conservation funding.



About NSSFNSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

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Photo by Lew Carpenter

WASHINGTON, DC — New legislation aimed at updating one of the nation’s foundational hunting and angling programs will strengthen wildlife management and conservation across the United States. The National Wildlife Federation urged Congress to swiftly enact the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act.

“Ensuring a future where wildlife thrive depends not only upon our ability to restore habitat and confront threats like invasive species and disease, but equally upon our ability to engage more and diverse participants in our outdoor heritage,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation enthusiastically supports Representative Scott, Representative Veasey, Representative Duncan, and Representative Dingell’s bipartisan efforts to advance both of these critical conservation goals and urge swift passage of the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act.”

The legislation, introduced by Congressman Austin Scott, Republican of Georgia, and colleagues, would support important programs to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters by allowing Pittman-Robertson hunter education funds to be used for hunter outreach and recruitment programs as well.

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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.

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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.”

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Artemis and NWF release report highlighting link between mule deer and sage-grouse

Just as mule-deer hunters are getting ready to head into the field for hunting season, members of the sportswomen’s group Artemis are releasing a report to raise awareness that anyone who cares about deer should care about greater sage-grouse and the remarkable effort across the West to save the iconic bird.

Artemis and the National Wildlife Federation, today released the report “Living on Common Ground – Sportswomen speak out to save the mule deer, sage-grouse and sagebrush country.”

Mule deer and sage-grouse have been in decline across much of the West. Sage-grouse used to number in the millions, but now less than a half million remain. A recent study in Pinedale, Wyo., found that mule deer herds have declined by 40 percent in the heavily developed gas fields of the region. The report explores what for sportswomen is impossible to ignore – sagebrush lands throughout the West provide vital habitat for both species and those lands are steadily disappearing.

“Mule deer and sage-grouse are the canaries in the coal mine for sage steppe health,” says Jessi Johnson, Artemis coordinator and Wyoming Wildlife Federation public lands coordinator. “If we fail to listen to the warnings they are giving us with their dwindling numbers, we will lose not only two iconic Western species but a host of dependent flora and fauna and the very essence of what makes living in the West so special.”

Hearing that warning, a diverse group of stakeholders from across the West, including the sporting community, came together to build conservation plans aimed at saving sage-grouse. Completed in 2015, these sage-grouse conservation plans allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conclude that the bird didn’t need to be added to the endangered species list. The conservation plans instead represent a balanced approach to management of the bird’s habitat on our nation’s public lands that would also accommodate other careful uses.

However, changes being considered by the Trump administration could now derail implementation of the plans, threatening the fate of sage-grouse and the more than 350 species, including mule deer, which depend on the West’s sagebrush lands. Interior Secretary Zinke seeks to weaken safeguards meant to accommodate responsible development on sagebrush lands while preserving their value as habitat. Instead, the Secretary continues to drift away from conserving healthy habitats, continuing to explore instead unsound schemes relying on population numbers and captive breeding.

“Where will those captive-bred birds find homes,” asks Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director. “The sage-grouse conservation plans are the result of long, hard work of stakeholders across the West who spent years finding common ground and a pathway to the future for both people and wildlife. It would be an ominous blow to sage-grouse and mule deer and all of us who live in the West if we can no longer safeguard the lands where they find food and cover.”

Artemis understands that hunters will be key to ensuring that both the species thrive into the future and is urging support for the sage-grouse conservation plans.

“As an avid hunter of mule deer on public land, I feel it’s of the utmost importance that their breeding and feeding grounds are maintained and protected,” says Artemis co-founder Cindi Baudhuin. “I hope that ‘Living on Common Ground’ will help drive home the important link between mule deer and sage-grouse for hunters.”

Artemis and NWF continue to move forward by reaching out to hunters, local communities, and other wildlife advocates to ensure everyone understands that the future of mule deer and sage- grouse are inextricably linked.

“As hunters, anglers and wildlife conservationists, now is the opportunity to work to ensure these populations exist for future generations,” says Sara Domek, Artemis Co-founder. “Sustaining and enhancing seasonal movement corridors and stay-over habitat of wildlife need to be a priority, and the conservation plans provide tangible measures to protect mule deer and sage-grouse habitat.”

***

Artemis is a group of bold sportswomen creating fresh tracks for conservation and an initiative of NWF. Mule deer are a particular species of concern for Artemis. Follow Artemis on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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The South Platte at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado. Photo by Rich Holland

The South Platte at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado. Photo by Rich Holland

Former Interior Secretary Salazar, NWF CEO and affiliates say keep public lands public

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s CEO and president, and business and conservation leaders Thursday to speak out for conserving America’s public lands and against attempts to sell or get rid of the lands that sustain fish and wildlife populations as well as hunting, fishing and the country’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry.

The National Wildlife Federation’s 49 state affiliates have unanimously approved a resolution that calls for keeping public lands in public hands and opposes large-scale exchanges, sales or giveaways of federally managed lands. This week, 41 of the state affiliates sent a letter to the Republican National Committee asking that it rescind a resolution adopted this year that urges Congress to turn over public lands to the Western states that want them.

The affiliates noted that public lands help grow America’s economy by supporting an outdoor recreation industry that generates $646 billion in economic benefit annually and supports 6.1 million jobs. The organizations stressed that wise stewardship of the lands that belong to all Americans is a long tradition that cuts across political and social lines.

Shadow Mountain Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Shadow Mountain Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

“Despite the economic importance of federal lands to wildlife and people, they remain under constant threat. In recent years, several state legislative proposals have called on the federal government to transfer ownership of public lands to the states, which in turn would pass them off to private interests in many instances,” the organizations wrote.

The Interior Department’s latest annual economic report shows the agency’s programs and activities generated $360 billion in benefits and supported more than 2 million jobs nationwide in fiscal 2013. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar started preparing the reports in 2009 to highlight the department’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

“The nation’s public lands are the birthright and priceless heritage of all Americans. Our policymakers and elected leaders should be working to preserve and enhance these multiple use economic engines,” said Salazar, who served as Interior secretary from 2009 to 2013.

The National Wildlife Federation is on the front lines of conserving fish and wildlife and the places where they live, and in large part those places are public lands, O’Mara said.

“The National Wildlife Federation, our 49 state affiliates, and four million members and supporters strongly support keeping our public lands in public hands. As a diverse federation of hunters, anglers, hikers, wildlife watchers, and nature lovers, we are united in our passion for protecting public lands, which provide amazing outdoor experiences for all Americans, landscapes for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bison herds to migrate, forests for grizzlies, bighorn sheep and lynx, and critical habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 1,000 species of fish and 250 reptile and amphibian species. For more than a century, protecting land for the benefit all outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife has been an essential element of the American experience—and we must pass on this legacy to future generations,” O’Mara said.

The wildlife federations have worked through the years to conserve the public lands necessary for fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing and will continue to do, said David Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director.

“Every few decades this idea of selling off public land pops up, and public opinion always beats it back. Meanwhile, the challenges facing our national forests and other public lands have continued to grow,” Chadwick added. “We need our elected officials to quit wasting time on these speculative, ideological proposals and instead take action on the common-sense, collaborative efforts under way all over the country to improve land management.”

Hanging Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Hanging Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Surveys and polls show overwhelming support for public lands among voters in the West, the target of many of the drives to dispose of public land. That support extends beyond the region to other parts of the country where hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts enjoy the backcountry, rivers and forests, said Tim Gestwicki, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation CEO.

“Sportsmen and women and wildlife watchers in the Southeast value our public lands, from the Appalachians to the coast. We also value the Western lands and their abundant wildlife, big open spaces and great hunting and fishing. We stand with our fellow sportsmen and women in defending public lands and protecting the special places that offer some of the best of what this country is about,” Gestwicki said.

“Sportsmen are on the front line in this effort to prevent the transfer of federal public lands. These are the very lands where we hunt and fish, and where we pass on those traditions to our kids. The idea that somehow our federal public lands are dispensable is an affront to all hunters and anglers, and we are determined to protect these lands for ourselves and for future generations,” said Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.

America’s national parks, monuments and rugged landscapes are not only a draw for people in this country, but across the world, said Peter Metcalf, CEO and president of Black Diamond, Inc., a leading manufacturer of outdoor sports equipment and clothing.

“No other country in the world has the public land infrastructure that we have. There’s such a richness of landscape and wildlife. Our public lands and outdoor recreation and lifestyles are coveted by people around the world and are a draw for communities and employers competing for new businesses and workers,” Metcalf said. “Black Diamond’s brand is synonymous with these iconic landscapes that capture the imagination of people all over the world. In addition they are a source of inspiration for our designers, engineers and marketing people.”

Additional Resources: `Valuing our Public Lands: Safeguarding our Economy and Way of Life,’

National Wildlife Federation affiliates’ resolution on transfer of public lands.

NWF affiliates’ letter on transfer, sale of public lands.

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