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Posts Tagged ‘Wyoming’

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Mark Fisher works the wall at the Big Hole on the South Platte River in Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

The number of anglers who had to cancel a fishing trip or stop fishing a particular location last year because they lost access to a favorite fishing spot overall has not changed compared to last year. 17 percent of recreational fisherman surveyed by AnglerSurvey.com reported issues with access as opposed to 20 percent a year earlier. Despite this minor improvement, roughly one in five anglers is still being affected each year by not being able to use a favorite fishing location.

Likewise, because more anglers fish freshwater than saltwater, as well as the fact that there is more private land surrounding lakes and streams, 71 percent of reported access problems involved freshwater anglers and 24 percent involved saltwater in 2012.

Despite these challenges, 22 percent of affected anglers said they actually fished more last year than the previous year, just in a different location, and at least 32 percent reported fishing at least as much. Still, 39 percent reported fishing less frequently due to their lost access and seven percent didn’t fish at all.

“Despite the efforts and resourcefulness of some anglers to find new fishing areas after losing access to others, it is clear that such challenges are causing us to lose anglers each year,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. “Whether it is due to fishery closures, closed ramps or land previously used to access a lake or stream changing hands and becoming closed to the public access remains a persistent issue. Fisheries managers, anglers and industry need to continue working together to resolve these problems.”

To help continually improve, protect and advance angling and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and/or AnglerSurvey.com. Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.

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The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is the legislation that Congress uses to determine policy for the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and to decide which water projects will get built.

Getting this bill right is critical for maintaining the health of our nation’s rivers, streams, wetlands and coastlines—and the people, jobs, and wildlife that depend on these resources. Unfortunately, the current WRDA is moving at a speed that precludes public discussion of its provisions. The bill was introduced just 3 weeks ago on a Friday evening, marked up the following Wednesday, and now seems likely to end up before the entire Senate on Wednesday.20130409-074910.jpg

Unfortunately, this version of WRDA contains two provisions (sections 2033 and 2032) that strike at the heart of our nation’s environmental review process. They will obstruct not only reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, but also under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other landmark environmental laws.

These two sections must be removed from the final bill before passage. If passed into law as it is, this bill:

• Will limit scientific analysis and drive bad decisions Environmental review documents are often hundreds of pages long and full of dense scientific language: the accelerated deadlines in this bill will not give members of the public or agencies such as the USFWS or the EPA time to read one of these reviews—let alone to consult experts and perform the analyses necessary to draft informed public comments. Among many other problems, these provisions direct the Corps to fine agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service up to $20,000 a week for missing the arbitrary and accelerated deadlines and will let the Corps send even technical disagreements to the President. To try to avoid these fines and higher level reviews, agencies — already facing restricted budgets — will rush to complete reviews without all the information or performing independent analyses, increasing the likelihood that unnecessarily destructive projects will be approved. Good science takes time, and this legislation simply does not give experts enough time to make informed decisions.

• Will not speed up project construction The review process is not the main cause of delays in federal water projects. Delays are driven by funding constraints, the Corps’ $60–80 billion project backlog, and the Corps’ insistence on planning highly destructive and controversial projects when less damaging approaches are available. These streamlining provisions are being driven by ideology, and will not a make a practicable difference in speeding up construction.

• Will move water planning backwards The bill will allow the corps to continue planning unnecessarily costly and destructive projects instead of using low impact solutions — for example, reconnecting streams with floodplains— which are frequently the most cost-effective way to solve water planning challenges.

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Lander, WY (January 30, 2013) – Carbon pollution from coal-burning power plants, refineries, and vehicles is causing a warming climate that poses the single most urgent threat to the future of America’s rich community of fish and game. Hunters and anglers, who return to the

Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyoming. Photo: Lew Carpenter

Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyoming. Photo: Lew Carpenter

same grounds yearly, have been some of the first to see on the ground impacts of climate change and understand the need to act now. How we address the challenges of global climate change now will dictate the sporting opportunities for future generations of wildlife conservationists.

The National Wildlife Federation today releasd a new report important to sportsmen from all corners of the nation. Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis examines case studies from across the country illustrating how climate change is altering wildlife habitats. It recommends solutions that would protect not just wildlife but communities across America from the growing climate-fueled threats such as sea level rise, wildfires and drought.

Many of America’s iconic game species face the risks of climate change, such as the northern bobwhite, brook trout, pintail, moose, sage grouse, lesser scaup, and many more. The dangers include:
* Increased incidence of extreme weather events including drought, flooding, warming winters and catastrophic fires that drastically alter and destroy habitat.
*Sea level rise of up to two feet, threatening people in heavily-populated coastal communities and wildlife-rich coastal habitats, such as the Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Florida and the Pacific Northwest.
*Major declines and extinctions in coldwater fish such as trout and salmon as water temperatures rise
*Substantial declines in estuaries and wetlands
*Changes in habitat, food sources and migration patterns for America’s waterfowl, particularly in the prairie pothole region.

The National Wildlife Federation report covers eight regions of the U.S., from the Arctic to the Atlantic coast, and details concrete examples of wildlife struggling to adapt to the climate crisis:
*Wyoming’s worst fire season in history, which decimated 560,000 acres and included 1,400 fires.
*Climate change is creating conditions fueling more mega-wildfires, which are having devastating impacts on fish and wildlife habitats and are putting people and property in harm’s way. Meanwhile, more intense droughts in places like the Great Plains dry up “prairie potholes,” breeding grounds for millions of waterfowl, and impacts drinking water supplies.

The impacts of climate change not only affect the wildlife and habitat that sportsmen hold sacred, but have real economic impacts related to these activities. “Sportsmen and women are an economic force,” according to a new Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) report, America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy. “The $90 billion they spent in 2011 would land them at #24 on the Fortune 500 list…From boats to shotguns to land purchased for a place to hunt or fish, on average each sportsman and woman spent $2,407 that year.”

With more and more places impacted by climate change these very real numbers are in jeopardy. Add conservation dollars from the excise taxes on equipment, fuel and fees for licenses and stamps along with “generous support of conservation organizations through memberships and contributions and you’re looking at another $3 billion for conservation over the course of a year,” the CSF report states.

The National Wildlife Federation report Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis recommends a four-pronged attack to confront the climate crisis’ threats to wildlife and communities:
*Address the underlying cause and cut carbon pollution 50 percent by 2030;
*Transition to cleaner, more secure sources of energy like solar power, wind and next-generation biofuels while avoiding dirty energy choices like coal and tar sands oil
*Safeguard wildlife and their habitats by promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation.
*Help communities prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change such as wildfires, more extreme weather, and more severe droughts.

“We know what’s causing the climate changes sportsmen are seeing in the field and we have the solutions to secure our climate and safeguard our wildlife for future generations,” said Lew Carpenter, regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation.“What we need is the political leadership to make smart energy choices and wise investments in protecting our natural resources.”

Read the report here. Get more National Wildlife Federation news at NWF.org/News.

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The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

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Critical wildlife habitat in Hoback Basin encompassed in lease buybacks
made possible through the Wyoming Range Legacy Act

Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s Executive Director Steve Kilpatrick address WG&F, USFS, NOLS and the WWF Board of Directors and staff at the PXP site in August. Photo: Lew Carpenter

WASHINGTON – Under a groundbreaking agreement announced today, 58,000 acres of valuable fish and wildlife habitat in a fish- and wildlife-rich region of northwest Wyoming prized by sportsmen will be permanently withdrawn from oil and gas development.

Located in northwest Wyoming’s Hoback Basin in and around the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the lands had been leased for development by Plains Exploration & Production Company, or PXP. The Trust for Public Land, a partner of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, entered into an agreement with PXP to purchase the leases; upon completion of the transaction, the leases will be retired. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and TPL announced news of the arrangement in Jackson, Wyo., this morning.

The Hoback Basin, a sportsmen’s paradise in northwestern Wyoming, has provided Americans with hunting and angling opportunities for more than a century and is home to outstanding elk, mule deer, moose and bighorn sheep hunting, as well as fishing for Snake River cutthroat trout.

“We are thrilled with the outcome of negotiations between PXP, the Trust for Public Land and others that will conserve critical wildlife habitat for sportsmen and other recreationists to experience and enjoy,” said Ed Arnett, director of the TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development. “Even the most carefully planned development in this area could have further jeopardized mule deer herds already in serious decline.”

At the Hoback PXP site in August. WWF, WG&F, USFS and NOLS. Photo: Lew Carpenter

Conservation of this portion of the Wyoming Range is critically important to mule deer herds already impacted by energy development on Wyoming’s Pinedale Anticline, which has seen 60-percent losses in mule deer numbers over the past decade. The PXP leases encompass important stopover areas used by mule deer during their seasonal migrations. These areas play a critical role for mule deer – both in the spring, while the deer are building strength to reproduce and move to summer range, and in the fall, when they are gaining weight to prepare for winter.

“This agreement shows that we can find common ground between conservationists, hunters, anglers – and even oil and gas developers,” said TPL Northern Rockies Director Deb Love. “We can come together to solve our toughest problems and reach solutions that are fair to all sides.” The Trust for Public Land must raise an additional $4.25 million by Dec. 31 to complete the transaction.

The energy lease buybacks are made possible under the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, legislation whose introduction and passage was long championed by the TRCP and other sportsmen’s groups. Before his death, Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming conceived of the act, which was formally introduced by Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi and signed into law in 2009. Among other provisions, the Wyoming Range Legacy Act allows leases to be retired permanently when purchased instead of being resold to other oil and gas companies.

“While the TRCP commends this agreement and the implementation of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, responsible energy development begins with better planning that avoids such important areas in the first place,” concluded Arnett. “Our goal should be to eliminate the need for buyouts as a mitigation tool as we continue to develop energy resources on public lands.”

Wyoming hunters and anglers identified this area as one of the most important in the state through the TRCP’s Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

The TRCP believes that to better balance the concerns of fish and wildlife in the face of accelerating energy development, federal land management agencies must follow the conservation tenets outlined in the FACTS for Fish and Wildlife.

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“Conserving Lands and Prosperity: Seeking a Proper Balance Between Conservation and Development in the Rocky Mountain West,” a new report by Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, explores the economic benefits of public lands adjacent to rural communities.

Public lands in the Rocky Mountain West are valued for the natural resources that provide fuel, building materials and other commodities and generate jobs and revenue. Yet public lands also are prized for outdoor opportunities, including hunting and angling, and are a magnet for tourists, retirees, businesses and professionals in search of a high quality of life.

Highlights from the report, prepared by Southwick Associates, include the following:

· Counties with a higher percentage of public lands managed for conservation and recreation have higher levels of job and population growth than those with higher percentages of lands managed for commodity production.
· From 1969 to 2009, counties with the highest percentages of lands managed for conservation had higher per-capita income growth rates compared to counties with higher percentages of lands managed for resource development.
· In 2009, the average per-capita income in counties where public lands were managed for conservation and recreation was about $38,000. It was approximately $30,000 in counties where public lands were intensively managed for natural resource extraction.

A case study in the report focuses on Cody, Wyo., a community surrounded by public lands that owes about 10 percent of its jobs to direct spending on fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.

Join sportsman-conservationist leaders, business owners and Southwick Associates to discuss the report’s findings, including development that conserves the Rocky Mountain West’s renewable resources and secures the region’s economic future.

Speakers to include:
– Brad Powell, energy director, Trout Unlimited
– Rob Southwick, president, Southwick Associates
– Tim Wade, owner, North Fork Anglers, Cody, Wyo., and former Cody County commissioner
– Mike Darby, owner, Irma Hotel, Cody, Wyo., and president, Cody Chamber of Commerce
– Jim Lyon, vice president of conservation policy, National Wildlife Federation

Moderator: Katie McKalip, director of media relations, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

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Sportsmen underscore need for transparency, balanced natural resources management
on public lands as new energy regulations are weighed

DENVER – The Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rules on public disclosure of the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluids, as well as the handling of wastewater and the integrity of well casings, represent a step forward in ensuring responsible energy development on public lands, a sportsmen’s coalition said Monday.

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development has called on the BLM to make sure resources such as water, fish and wildlife are conserved when oil and gas are developed on public lands. The draft rule on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a prudent response to concerns about the potential impacts of drilling and the handling of drilling fluids on the lands that are crucial to the West’s water supplies, fish and wildlife, said Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. TU is a member of the SFRED coalition.

The proposed federal rule would require public disclosure of the chemicals in fracking fluids before and during drilling. Companies stating that the fracking mixtures are proprietary would have to explain why the information should be kept from the public.

The proposal also addresses testing to ensure the integrity of well casings, pipes placed down a borehole and held in place by cement to keep the oil and gas from mingling with anything else.
The document includes rules for safely storing and disposing of waste from recovered fluids.

Some states, including Wyoming and Colorado, have approved regulations requiring disclosure of fracking fluids’ contents as increased drilling has raised concerns about the chemicals used.

“Complete and timely public disclosure is an important step toward ensuring that public health, water quality, fish and wildlife are protected from contamination by hydraulic fracturing,” said Michael Saul, attorney with the National Wildlife Federation, also an SFRED member. “BLM is moving in the right direction by mandating disclosure of all chemicals and by codifying the prohibition on unlined storage pits.”

“Sportsmen are pleased that our federal decision makers recognize the need to increase transparency during all phases of energy planning and development,” said Tom Franklin, senior director of science and policy for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, an SFRED member. “We will continue to work closely with the administration, Congress, industry and our conservation partners to assure that public lands energy projects employ a science-based approach that sustains our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and outdoors opportunities.”

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

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NEW SURVEY FINDS VOTERS IN KEY WESTERN STATES BELIEVE U.S. DOES NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT & ECONOMY; SUPPORT PROTECTIONS FOR AIR, WATER, AND PARKS

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The results from the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll find that western voters across the political spectrum – from Tea Party supporters to those who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement and voters in- between – view parks and public lands as essential to their state’s economy, and support upholding and strengthening protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife.

The survey, completed in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), found that swing voters across the west – who will be key to deciding the outcome of a number of U.S. Senate and governors’ races, and possibly the presidential race – nearly unanimously agree that public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are “an essential part” of the economies of these states. Four in five western voters view having a strong economy and protecting land and water as compatible.

Two-thirds of Western voters say America’s energy policy should prioritize expanding use of clean renewable energy and reducing our need for more coal, oil and gas. Even in states like Wyoming and Montana, which are more often associated with fossil fuels, voters view renewable energy as a local job creator.

Survey results are a sharp contrast to the energy and environmental debates currently happening in Washington, and in many state capitals. “Western voters consistently believe that conservation helps create and protect jobs for their states,” said Dave Metz. “In fact, by a 17 point margin, voters are more likely to say that environmental regulations have a positive impact on jobs in their state rather than a negative one.”

Seven in 10 Western voters support implementation of the Clean Air Act, and updating clean air standards. They see regulations designed to protect land, air, water and wildlife as having positive impact on public safety (70 percent), the natural beauty of their state (79 percent) and their quality of life (72 percent).

The survey also found strong approval ratings for most governors in the region, and an electorate divided in hotly-contested U.S. Senate races in Montana and New Mexico. Key swing voters in these contests often express pro-conservation views.

“What we read in the press and what politicians say about an ever-sharpening trade-off between environment and jobs in a deep recession do not square with views of many western voters,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Instead, those stubborn westerners continue to defy stereotypes, by arguing that a livable environment and well-managed public lands can be — in fact must be — compatible with a strong economy.”

The survey results echo the sentiments of more than 100 economists, including three Nobel Laureates and Dr. Hecox, who recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to create and invest in new federal protected lands such as national parks, wilderness and monuments. Studies have shown that together with investment in education and access to markets, protected public lands are significant contributors to economic growth.

Similarly, western voters voiced support for continued funding of conservation, indicating that even with tight state budgets, they want to maintain investments in parks, water, and wildlife protection. When specific local issues were tested with voters in some states – such as increasing the state’s renewable energy standard in Montana, establishing national monument protections for the Arkansas River canyon in Colorado, and updating energy standards for new homes in Utah – voters want to actually strengthen protections.

While there are geographic and partisan distinctions on a number of key issues, such as energy development on public lands, the data show that the broad conservation values uniting westerners are much more prevalent than the occasional issues that divide them.

“The depth and breadth of the connection between westerners and the land is truly remarkable – – when people are telling us that public lands are essential to their economy, and that they support continued investments in conservation, even in these difficult economic times,” said Lori Weigel. “Westerners are telling us that we’ve got to find a way to protect clean air, clean water, and parks in their states.”

The 2012 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 2,400 registered voters in six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) January 2 through 5 & 7, 2012, and yields a margin of error of + 2.0 percent nationwide and +4.9 statewide.

The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the Colorado College website.

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