October 23, 2019

New Road Improves Access to 12,000 Acres in New Mexico

Press Release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—A new road is now in place and being used by elk hunters and others in northeast New Mexico thanks to funding provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Lineberry Foundation.

RMEF worked with the New Mexico State Land Office to improve vehicular access to approximately 6,000 acres and walk-in access to another 6,000 acres of State Trust Lands in the White Peak Area.

“This project eases the tension of a long-running dispute in Mora County over access into prime wildlife habitat,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Not only is this mix of private and State Trust Lands key for elk but it’s also home to deer, turkey, bears, mountain lions and other species.”

RMEF provided nearly $20,000 in funding to blade the 2.5 mile road that ties into existing ranch roads and old logging roads within Game Management Unit 48 that improves access to Halls Peak, Cooks Peak and Gallinas Mesa. It is accessible off Mora County Road 10, commonly known as White Peak Road.

Additionally, RMEF paid for a 35-year right-of-way easement that blocks future land commissioners from closing the road through 2052.

The project also secures access to a primitive seven-acre campground open during hunting season solely to sportsmen and women with a valid license. RMEF volunteers also recently put in 40 hours of work to clear the campground with chainsaws, build an access gate and install a gap gate.

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Public Access Dispute Solved in Central Oregon

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The public will continue to have access to 43,000 acres of central Oregon’s prime elk country thanks to a group effort including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Crook County, Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) and the Waibel Ranches, LLC.

“We are pleased that all parties could come together to provide continued access to a part of Oregon revered by elk hunters and others,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Opening or improving access to our public lands lies at the core of our conservation mission. We hear time and time again from our members how important it is that we carry out this public access work.”

At issue was what was thought to be a public road through private land south of Prineville in the Crooked River drainage that provided access to the southern end of Ochoco National Forest. RMEF provided title work and research that showed continuous public use of the road since the late 1800s.

Waibel Ranches, LLC facilitated the construction of the new road at their own expense and at their own initiative. They did so in order to provide access to the same public lands as a means to reduce the liability, trespass, poaching and littering associated with public travel along the old Teaters Road.

“It’s great to have a partner like RMEF to help find solutions to public land access issues,” said Dennis Teitzel, Prineville BLM district manager.

“This project provides access for hunters and all others that could have been lost without the cooperation and efforts of several organizations. The landowners should be thanked for their willingness to work to solve a problem for the benefit for all,” said Richard Nelson, OHA Bend Chapter past president. “It shows what can be accomplished when all work on a solution instead of locking in to an adversary position.”

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 875 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $57.4 million. These projects protected or enhanced 793,317 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 90,073 acres.

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Bipartisan Group Reintroduces Sportsmen’s Act

Republican News

Measure Will Provide Access to Federal Lands, Protect Longstanding Traditions

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., this week introduced S. 733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017. This bipartisan package expands and enhances sportsmen’s access by making federal lands throughout Alaska and the nation “open unless closed” for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities.

“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted without reason or transparency,” Murkowski said. “Our bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will ensure that our federal lands are open unless closed, provide new opportunities for more Americans to enjoy those lands, and require federal agencies to expand and enhance access in accordance with their missions. The bill we introduced is an important first step as we seek to have these priorities signed into law.”

“The number one issue for sportsmen across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America’s thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Heinrich. “Hunting and fishing are a way of life for millions of Americans – especially in New Mexico where outdoor recreation as a whole is directly responsible for 68,000 jobs. Sportsmen have a deep connection to the outdoors and benefit from the recreation, wildlife, and water that our public lands provide and I remain deeply committed to conserving these treasured places for our children and all future generations to enjoy.”

“With more than a half-a-million sportsmen and women in Idaho alone, this legislation will ensure they can continue to access their favorite hunting or fishing spot,” said Risch, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair. “This year, I am confident we can get the Sportsmen’s Act to the White House.”

“As an avid sportsman, I know firsthand that our hunting and fishing heritage is so important to who we are as West Virginians and as Americans,” said Manchin, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “This bipartisan bill will boost West Virginia’s economy while expanding hunting and fishing rights and allowing people a greater ability to enjoy the outdoors. I truly believe that people in the Mountain State and across this nation should be able to enjoy hunting and recreational shooting and have the ability to go out and enjoy the outdoors. We should protect these traditions that help define who we are and I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this important piece of legislation.”

“I’m proud to once again join my colleagues to promote America’s hunting, fishing, and conservation heritage through the Sportsmen’s Act,” said Fischer. “This legislation includes measures to enhance opportunities for Nebraska sportsmen and women. As Vice Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I am committed to preserving outdoor recreation for future generations to enjoy.”

“North Dakotans have so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors through hunting and fishing—and the bipartisan bill I helped reintroduce today would expand those opportunities further,” said Heitkamp. “Whether it’s ice fishing in the winter or pheasant hunting in the fall, getting out and enjoying nature sets our state apart. By improving access to public lands, creating more shooting ranges, and providing for input from sportsmen on federal policies, our bipartisan bill would make sure future generations have the same chance to take advantage of the great outdoors.”

The Sportsmen’s Act, S. 733, was referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and would:

  • Provide a clear congressional declaration of policy for all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands in accordance with their missions;
  • Establish a national “open unless closed” standard for Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, while ensuring the public has notice of and can comment on decisions regarding temporary and permanent closures;
  • Require agency justifications for proposed closures, and limit temporary closures to no more than 180 days (subject to renewal only after a new notice and comment period);
  • Prohibit the National Park Service from restricting the lawful transportation of bows and crossbows that remain in a vehicle while an individual is in a national park unit;
  • Facilitate commercial filming on public lands by requiring agencies to finalize a single joint land-use fee schedule within 180 days, exempting small crews of three or less from commercial filming fees, exempting small businesses from having to acquire additional permits and pay additional fees for incidental filming, and ensuring that First Amendment rights to free speech and newsgathering are protected on federal lands;
  • Implement the “Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures” (HUNT) Act, which would direct all relevant agencies to improve access to high-priority federal lands where hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation are permitted;
  • Increase states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funding for shooting ranges on public lands, while encouraging federal land management agencies to cooperate with state and local governments to maintain ranges; and
  • Permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture on issues relating to wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Sportsmen’s Act, S. 733, will be considered during the committee’s business meeting on Thursday, March 30. Last Congress, Murkowski added a similar sportsmen’s package to her broad, bipartisan energy bill through an amendment that passed by a vote of 97 to 0.

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Small Wyoming Project Yields Big Public Access Benefits

MISSOULA, Mont.—Thousands of acres of previously difficult to access public land in western Wyoming are now accessible thanks to efforts by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners.

“Chalk this up as a win-win on several different fronts,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This project provides public access for hunters and others who enjoy the outdoors but it also permanently protects important habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

RMEF, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and private landowners teamed up to permanently protect a 44-acre tract in western Teton County that improves access to 6,400 acres of nearby Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Caribou-Targhee National Forest lands. The property also provides a contiguous public route from the lowlands of the Teton River Valley to the sprawling Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area and the Grand Teton National Park beyond that.

“Sportsmen and the public had a difficult time accessing BLM and National Forest land south of Teton Creek unless they knew a property owner in the area,” said Doug Brimeyer, wildlife management coordinator for the WGFD’s Jackson Regional Office. “The partnership that developed from this acquisition was spearheaded by several RMEF members and is a great example of how local members and sportsmen can get involved and make a difference. WGFD is excited about the newest access area in Wyoming and looks forward to working with RMEF in the future.”

The tract features riparian, mountain forest, meadow and foothills habitat beneficial to elk, moose, mule deer, grizzly and black bear, mountain lion, Canada lynx and other wildlife.

“This property was brought to our attention by father-daughter RMEF members Jeff and Lexi Daugherty. They helped us with key relationships and efforts along the way, and we are grateful for their involvement,” added Henning.

In addition to the generous contribution of the van Meerendonk family, funding contributions from WGFD, Jackson Hole Land Trust, Wyoming Wildlife Foundation, private donors and RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment helped complete the acquisition.

RMEF uses TFE funding solely to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

WGFD takes over management of the property just in time for Wyoming’s big game general hunting season.

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New Mexico Road Easement Opens Door to Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and New Mexico State Land Office to provide funding for a continual two-mile right-of-way road easement that provides hunter access to 52,000 acres of public and State Trust Lands in west-central New Mexico.

“Opening and securing public access remains at the heart of our conservation mission,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Luera Road provides the only hunter access to this New Mexico State Trust property in Catron County.”

The landscape provides quality habitat for elk, deer, black bear, cougar and wild turkey in the Luera Mountains.

“This project is a good example of a cooperative effort between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the State Land Office and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,” said Alexandra Sandoval, director for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “By helping fund this easement, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has provided public access to prime elk habitat that would otherwise be inaccessible to the public. It demonstrates the importance of collaborative partnerships for the benefit of sportsmen and women.”

“New Mexico’s State Trust Lands offer ample hunting terrain with abundant wildlife, and we are pleased to work together with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Department of Game and Fish in the spirit of allowing proper hunting access to these lands while also managing them prudently for the benefit of future generations,” said New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

RMEF has a long conservation history in New Mexico. To date, RMEF and its partners completed 333 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $39.3 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 497,624 acres of habitat.

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LePage Administration to Preserve Access to Public Land in the Katahdin Area

*Editor’s Note* – Dare I say, “I told you so?” With Quimby’s connections to Barack Obama, I said a long time ago that one way or another, Quimby will get her “park.” Why the persistence, I’m not sure. It seems that now Gov. LePage must have a sense that things are in the works in Washington. 

If the taxpayers own land, regardless of where that land is, it should have access to it for all citizens and should be managed properly by qualified foresters.

Press Release from Maine Governor’s Office:

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced today the Bureau of Parks and Lands has taken initial steps to preserve the State’s access to roughly 2,500 acres of publicly held land that is threatened by efforts to create a National Park / National Monument in the Millinocket area.

For years, the Quimby family has worked to impose a National Park on the residents of Northern Maine. When this proposal was voted on by local citizens, it was roundly rejected. Undeterred by the will of the people, Quimby’s effort continues to march forward.

“Despite lack of local support and lack of support from members of Maine’s Congressional delegation, this proposal has now changed direction,” said Governor LePage. “Through the use of high-paid lobbyists in Washington, D.C., the Quimby family has focused its efforts on lobbying the Obama Administration, seeking to have the President use sweeping authority granted to him under the Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate this area a National Monument.”

Given this threat of federal takeover, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry today commenced efforts to re-establish access to Public Reserved Land surrounded by the Quimby property. The State has clearly established legal crossing rights to access the public’s land.

Despite these crossing rights, roads to the State’s land have been blocked and bridges have been removed. The Department, however, intends to re-establish its crossing rights and harvest timber on the public’s land, once these roads are rebuilt.

“The time is right to clearly re-establish the public’s legal rights,” said Governor LePage.

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USFS Road Closures Balloon to 21,000 Miles in Montana Counting More Categories

New information from the Montana Environmental Quality Council (EQC) shows that, accounting for roads that have been decommissioned along with roads considered “unauthorized,” the mileage of road closures on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land in Montana balloons to 21,951 miles.

On Monday, Media Trackers reported that a study commissioned by the state legislature earlier this year and reported to the EQC last week found that 9,784 — or nearly 31 percent — of the nearly 32,000 miles of roads in Montana managed by the USFS were “level 1 roads,” meaning they are closed to motorized traffic and only open for “administrative use.” However, the 32,000 total miles of roads does not include the 5,796 miles of officially decommissioned roads or the estimated 6,191 miles of “unauthorized” roads.

Source: USFS Road Closures Balloon to 21,000 Miles in Montana Counting More Categories

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If I Owned the Woods

Suppose I bought all the woods and hills around a thriving valley where farms and ranches abounded and town families prospered from a mix of agricultural support and several small industrial businesses. Suppose further that all the former owners from whom I had bought the land had been considered part of the greater valley community for generations.

What if I:
– Went to court and closed every road through my property that I could?

– Vegetated every closed road so that travel through my property by anyone from hunters to firefighters was impossible?

– Eliminated all grazing and timber cutting on my property?

– Closed my property to hunting, fishing, and trapping and any access?

– Refused to clean up downed timber after a big storm?

– Refused to spray insect-infested trees, or to remove dead ones?

– Brought cougars, wolves, and grizzly bears onto my property and released them?

– Refused to accept any responsibility for human injuries or dead animals resulting from MY predators?

– Made firefighting access and water availability to fight fires that started on my property unavailable UNLESS the valley residents bought ME airplanes and hired many new employees to work FOR ME when they weren’t fighting MY FIRES that could spread to the valley?

– Went to court and obtained a judgment that because I was not commercial and was considered a charitable, scientific entity that Local and State governments not only could not tell me what to do on my property, they and my neighbors would have to accept any impacts my land use practices imposed on them?

Well, of course:
– Sawmills would close because timber harvests that had gone on for generations ceased.

– Sawyers, like ranch-hands, would become unemployed as timber cutting and grazing acreages disappeared.

– Ranches would steadily dwindle in herd size and then in numbers as forage availability dwindled.

– Farms would dwindle as part-time work in the valley and in The Woods disappeared.

– Businesses would dwindle and disappear as transportation into and out of the valley was constricted.

– Real estate values would plummet as farm land became unprofitable and town homes lacked for buyers since there was no work available and predator problems even in town became endemic. Insurance rates skyrocketed since predator damage was the sole responsibility of the unfortunate citizens damaged in any way.

– Hunting, fishing and trapping disappeared. Businesses for guiding, housing and feeding such folks also dried up as access disappeared and predators both reduced game and posed deadly threats to visitors, children, and others considering outdoor activities.

– Local government and State government revenue of all sorts fell precipitously while demands for government “help” skyrocketed. My land went untaxed since it was “devoted to a higher ideal”, businesses closed up, agriculture dwindled, families moved away or went on welfare, and vacant and “foreclosed” home sites proliferated.

As all this went on, I became more powerful. I bought up parcels all over the valley. While I closed them to any use by local people, I bought, or rented at a discount, properties that would further close roads and pinch off increasingly isolated private property of former ranchers and farmers and long-time residents of the valley. Local government did only what I ALLOWED and I stacked the State Legislature with the best politicians that MY MONEY COULD BUY!

QUESTION: Who am I?
No, I am not Henry Potter. You remember him don’t you? Lionel Barrymore played him in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He was the evil old cuss that made everyone poor and created that gloomy town where James Stewart (George Bailey) contemplated suicide until the angel showed him how important he (and really EACH OF US is) was to his community.

No, I am not some media mogul or Hollywood gazillionaire buying up rural land and then imposing urban standards and fantasies or rural communities.

I AM UNCLE SAM!

I am the US Forest Service. I am the National Park Service. I am the Bureau of Land Management. I am the US Fish & Wildlife Service. I control over 40% of the United States.

I am steadily eliminating all sustainable uses and management of RENEWABLE natural resources on MY LAND. I am eliminating roads and access on MY LAND. I am ignoring enormous fire-fuel accumulations resulting from Wilderness, Parks, storm damage, Roadless Areas, insect damage. I am closing access and roads everywhere to impede firefighting and public access. I am demanding that already-impoverished taxpayers give me more firefighters and expensive equipment to appear to be fighting fires of increasing magnitude and frequency. I accept NO RESPONSIBILITY (exactly as I have established the legal precedence for damage from the wolves and grizzly bears THAT I INTRODUCED AND SPREAD) for fire damage to residences, towns, and businesses resulting from fires STARTED AS A RESULT OF MY ACTIONS AND INACTIONS ON MY PROPERTY! I have spent over 40 years establishing legal precedents that say State and Local governments cannot tell me what to do or not do on MY PROPERTY. I have financially and professionally seduced State bureaucrats and State politicians to become my secret mistresses for whatever I want to do. I put millions of rural employees and thousands of rural businesses out of work and then vow to “reduce unemployment” and “support small businesses”. I pay no taxes and renege on promises to “replace lost taxes and share revenue with State and Local government”. I breed and release wolves on MY PROPERTY to infest State and private “neighbors” and do likewise with even more deadly and destructive grizzly bears and, like Henry Potter, despise and ridicule the ignorant bumpkins he evicts into the snow.

Uncle Sam has exceeded the slumlord Henry Potter in arrogance and evil. I suggest that when they make the movie one day, they consider cutting and pasting Spencer Tracy from the movie “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde”. The 4 federal agencies cited above go about like Dr. Jekyl daily making scientific pronouncements and seeming good; while in truth killing and spreading evil nightly before reassuming the sweet appearance of a do-gooder.

Jim Beers
20 August 2012
If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks.

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: jimbeers7@comcast.net

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The North Maine Woods Ain’t What it Used to Be

George Smith, outdoor writer and activist, shares with his readers that visitors to the North Maine Woods has increase for some activities and decreased for others. Al Cowperthwaite, the manager of the North Maine Woods (NMW), says the numbers he provided Smith “is pretty raw data which is interesting but I caution using it to come to any conclusions.” What’s to conclude? Visits are what visits are. (Yeah I know. That sounds stupid.)

While it appears that some hunting activities have seen increases over the years, deer hunting has disappeared (no surprises there) but there is one observation that should be made. (Note: This is not a “conclusion”. Only an observation.)

So, where have the declines in visitor days come? From some surprising places. Think eco-tourism.

Visitors days by canoeists have steadily declined from 23,850 in 1999 to a shockingly low 4,755 in 2012. Given that this region includes the storied Allagash, this is hard to believe. I remember the bitter battle over attempts by some interests to reduce access to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Turns out they had nothing to worry about. While access remains at most of the traditional places, visitors have abandoned the AWW in droves.

Considering that much of the “greenies” say we need more wilderness spaces, perhaps the question begs to be asked, “For what?”

greenies

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Ever Wonder How Mind Readers Read Minds?

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