May 28, 2020

Secretary Zinke Creates New Council for Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation

Date: January 9, 2018

WASHINGTON – Continuing his unyielding support for hunting, fishing, and the American conservation ethic, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced the creation of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council. The Council is intended to provide the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture with advice regarding the establishment and implementation of existing and proposed policies and authorities with regard to wildlife and habitat conservation. The Council will examine ways to benefit wildlife resources; encourage partnership among the public, the sporting conservation organizations, state, tribal, territorial, and federal government; and benefit recreational hunting and recreational shooting sports.

“Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America. Through the purchase of duck stamps, bows, ammo, firearms, and more, sportsmen and women contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and habitat will be,” Secretary Zinke said. “The Council will be made up of experts that share their knowledge, experience, and recommendations on a number of policy proposals put before them, as well as helping the Departments come up with innovative ideas to improve the health of wildlife and their habitat and increase sportsmen access on public and private lands.”

The Council is strictly advisory and the duties will consist of providing recommendations for implementation of Executive Order No. 13443 (E.O.): Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation, Secretarial Order No. 3347: Conservation Stewardship and Outdoor Recreation, and Secretarial Order No. 3356 (S.O.): Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting, and Wildlife Conservation Opportunities and Coordination with States, Tribes, and Territories.

Recommendations from the Council to the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture shall include, but not be limited to:

  • Assessing and quantifying implementation of the Executive Order and Secretarial Orders across relevant departments, agencies, offices, and recommendations to enhance and expand their implementation as identified;

Policies and programs that:

  • Conserve and restore wetlands, agricultural lands, grasslands, forests, and range land habitats;
  • Promote opportunities and expand access to hunting and shooting sports on public and private lands;
  • Encourages hunting and shooting safety by developing ranges on public lands;
  • Recruit and retain new shooters and hunters;
  • Increase public awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation and the social and economic benefits of hunting and shooting;
  • Encourage coordination among the public, hunting and shooting sports community, wildlife conservation groups, state, tribal, territorial, and federal government.

Since his first day in office, Secretary Zinke:

  • Reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands.
  • Expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges
  • Signed a wide-ranging order to expand sportsmen access on public and private land, improve collaboration between the federal, state and Tribal wildlife management authorities, and create a “one-stop” website for all hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands
  • Directed bureaus to open hunting and fishing on all national monument lands where legally allowed
  • Finalized a land acquisition to make the Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible to hunters for the first time ever

Individuals may submit comments and/or nominations by any of the following methods:

  • Mail or hand-carry nominations to Joshua Winchell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; or
  • Email nominations to:

The Council will meet approximately twice a year, and at such other times as designated by the Designated Federal Officer. The Council will terminate 2 years from the date the charter is filed, unless, prior to that date, it is renewed in accordance with the provisions of Section 14 of the FACA. The Council will not meet or take any action without a valid current Charter.

The Council is established to further the provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701), the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd), other Acts applicable to specific bureaus, and Executive Order 13443, “Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation.” The Council is regulated by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), as amended, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 2.


Wildlife Habitat Protected, Access Improved in Nevada

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded landowner, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect 4,500 acres of key wildlife habitat in northeast Nevada via a voluntary conservation easement agreement. The project also improves access to nearly 19,000 acres of adjacent public land.

“We appreciate Bryan Masini and his partner owners of the Wildhorse Ranch in recognizing the importance of protecting and conserving the wildlife values of their land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located approximately 70 miles north of Elko, the property lies within the Owyhee River watershed just east of the Independence Mountain Range.

As part of the transaction, the NDOW holds an access agreement that allows public access for hunting and other recreational activities to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands which border the ranch.

“We are grateful for all the partners in this effort and find great hope in innovative approaches such as this conservation easement,” said Tony Wasley, NDOW director. “This is a great solution that protects private land, while also maintaining the land’s benefits for the wildlife species that depend on it.”

“This specific area is year-round habitat and crucial summer range for up to 100 elk. It’s also a key area for mule deer and antelope, crucial habitat for Greater sage-grouse and it features riparian habitat for fish and other species,” added Henning.

Current range conditions consist of enough forage for cattle and wildlife and a plan has been implemented to ensure that best management practices maintain quality habitat going forward.

“This project is a great example of the private and public partnership efforts that exist to protect critical habitats and preserve agricultural working lands for future generations,” stated Ray Dotson, NRCS state conservationist.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the Nevada Department of Wildlife provided funding for the project.


Small Utah Project Has Big Public Access Dividends

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Sportsmen and women now have permanent access to 3,800 acres of National Forest land in central Utah thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Back Country Horsemen of Utah and Emery County.

“This project shows how working together can bring about improved public access that benefits hunters, hikers, horseback riders and so many other people who enjoy our national forests,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

“The American public benefits greatly by acquiring this property which allows access to some of the best country for hunting and horseback riding on the Manti-La Sal National Forest” said Darren Olsen, district ranger for the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

The project site is located approximately 20 miles west of Huntington and secures permanent public access from a parking area on Highway 31 to the popular Candland trailhead.

RMEF recently conveyed the 10-acre parcel of land to the Manti-LaSal National Forest which now oversees management responsibilities. Back Country Horsemen of Utah (BCH), San Rafael Chapter, originally acquired grant funding and coordinated trailhead construction. Emery County donated thousands of dollars in equipment use, labor and materials.

“The Candland Mountain trailhead more than triples the parking for users of the Candland Mountain trail system,” said Rod Player of San Rafael BCH. “It would not be possible were it not for the generous donations from Emery County and RMEF. RMEF has ensured the existence of the trailhead for future generations.”

“Emery County appreciates the opportunity to partner in this project which will benefit residents of the county as well as visitors to our area,” said Ray Petersen, Emery County public lands administrator. “The Emery County Road Department displayed its typical professionalism in constructing this parking area. We are very proud of the work they do. As is often the case, it takes a willingness to collaborate by many partners to accomplish beneficial results on our public lands.”

The area accessed by the trailhead is primarily elk spring through fall habitat, including calving areas, and is used by more than 1,000 elk. It is also home to mule deer, black bears, mountain lions and a host of bird and animal life.

RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) provided funding for the project. TFE funding is used solely to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.


Selfish Environmentalists Have a Strange Way of Thanking Hunters

A photographer in Maine loves to take pictures of moose. I assume for profit, although his letter to the editor doesn’t exactly admit that. And that’s okay too. He has that right to exploit wildlife for profit – within the laws of course just as the rest of us do. And, I’ve seen some of his photography and it’s quite good. He also has a strange way of thanking the real conservationists – hunters – for assisting in his enjoyment of seeing a moose in the wild, as he writes: “It is a thrill unmatched to see a mature bull moose, amidst the brilliant colors of autumn in New England, up close, living life, chasing cows, battling rivals and splashing across a beautiful mountain pond into the mystical Katahdin woods.” Who could argue with that?

The author suggests that hunting is limiting the chances for people to be able to see moose, as he describes above, and that hunting of moose should be stopped so that he can make even more money by exploiting the resource for selfish gain. Why is it that the Left seems bent on propping up their selfish desires at the expense of destroying it for others?

The author also suggests that Mother Nature would aptly provide him and anyone else with such desires to moose watch, more so than employment of the North American Model of Wildlife Management – a scientific approach to wildlife management that has proven itself to be the envy of the planet AND providing photographers and others the opportunity to glimpse all wildlife in a mostly natural setting. Of course due to the author’s ignorance of things, he fails to understand the concept nor see the realities, while thinking only of himself.

Maine is probably experiencing a sample of what a “natural balance of nature” might look like as we witness thousands of moose dying each year due to the winter tick, an infestation that I believe, and can be supported by science, is caused by Maine’s attempt at growing too many moose. Part of that attempt to grow too many moose can be attributed to people, just like the author of this opinion piece, who want to view moose and take pictures and pressure the government to fulfill their wants.

I doubt the author understands that what makes his expressed love of seeing a bull moose in front of a backdrop of Autumn colors, doing what moose do, of value, is that it is not something everyone can do anytime they have a whim. Doesn’t the real value come from the total experience which includes a certain degree of rarity in finding such a treasure? What becomes of this value when moose are ignored and to grow as nature decides, the result being needlessly dying animals from disease and parasites? A lack of knowledge causes the author to believe hunting, as part of a scientific approach to moose management, is limiting his opportunity to view and photograph moose, i.e. to obtain his own trophy. He fails to understand that Mother Nature doesn’t manage for his desires either but provides periods of ups and downs, disease and suffering. Surely man doesn’t want to see this. We have brains to use to figure it out. Why can’t we manage for ample for everyone and their wants and desires?

Yes, moose hunters enjoy hunting moose as much as someone might enjoy taking a picture. The value of the moose hunt is increased by a greater effort to find success in the same way a photographer has to work harder to get that trophy photograph. Perhaps the difference in the two comparisons is that the hunter, while they might be disappointed, would approve and understand if survival of the moose required a stop to hunting. Would the photographer have the same understanding if the state had to stop causing moose to suffer by artificially growing too many moose and bring the population down to healthy and yet sustainable numbers?

My suggestion to this photographer is the next time he sees a hunter, thank them for the hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars, they personally have spent, to ensure that he can still go to Baxter State Park in hopes of photographing a bull moose doing what bull moose do.

I wonder what the photographer has done to perpetuate the conservation of wildlife? Perhaps he could begin by first learning the truth of what the North American Model of Wildlife Management is all about.


Wildlife, Riparian Habitat Permanently Protected Near Mount St. Helens

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its conservation partners permanently protected and opened access to 1,453 acres of wildlife and riparian habitat in southwest Washington.

RMEF worked with Merrill Lake Properties LLC and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to connect protected lands and enhance recreational activities like hunting and fishing.

“There was a possibility that the previous owner could offer this Merrill Lake waterfront property to the highest bidder, but now this landscape is forever protected and open for everyone to access and use,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

“Our working partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation enables us to meet the public’s demand for increased wildlife conservation, more open space and recreational opportunities,” said Clay Sprague, WDFW Lands Division manager. “We very much appreciate and value the key role that RMEF has played in opening up this incredible landscape near Merrill Lake for the public. Their funding of the remaining acreage is a very timely contribution and enhances this public acquisition.”

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office provided vital funding through its Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program for the project and RMEF stepped in to bridge a shortfall due to a purchase deadline. WDFW takes immediate ownership of 1,016 acres while RMEF holds 140 acres until funding is acquired for conveyance to WDFW. RMEF is currently spearheading that effort.

The transaction benefits Washington’s largest elk herd and is the latest in a series of projects near Mount St. Helens. RMEF collaborated with its partners to complete the first phase of the Merrill Lake project, encompassing 297 acres, in 2015.

“This property with its early seral and old growth forests has an extremely diverse set of conservation values that, in addition to elk, benefit black-tailed deer, mountain lions, black bears, osprey, eagles and other animal life as well as salmon and steelhead,” added Henning.

The land provides low elevation security for elk and is a vital fishery featuring some of the coldest fresh water inputs from the Kalama River that lead into the lower Columbia River system.


2016 RMEF Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo Attracts Record Crowds

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo, in partnership with the Cowboy Christmas expo, set an all-time combined attendance record of 231,517 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The new figure is 6.6 percent higher than the 2015 attendance total of 216,292.

The Dec. 1-10 event took place at the LVCC’s South Halls in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR).

“We are grateful for all the people who attended this year’s expo,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “We especially appreciate our expo sponsors, exhibitors and our partners at Las Vegas Events. Without them our expo simply does not exist, let alone experience the success we enjoyed this year.”

The 2016 expo included a number of new features such as the MTN Ops Shootout-Ultimate Archery Experience, the inaugural Junior NFR at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena, and country music performances and daily wild game cooking demonstrations on the Realtree Live Stage.

Hunting, outdoor industry leaders and other exhibitors featured firearms, archery equipment, optics, outfitter and guide services, hunting apparel and western lifestyle gear and clothing.

“This year’s attendance reflects the energy that can only be found in Las Vegas in early December,” said Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events. “Our partnership with RMEF has been beneficial and provided even more opportunities for rodeo fans to enjoy the NFR experience.”

Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo sponsors included Chevrolet, Cabela’s, ALPS OutdoorZ, MTN OPS, Peak BlueDEF, Sitka, Browning, Realtree, Weatherby, Browning Ammunition, Worldwide Trophy Adventures and Weston.

“We are anxious to receive more feedback from our attendees and exhibitors to make the 2017 expo even better,” added Decker.


Conservation is Not Dictated by Republicans or Democrats

George Smith, in an article in the news today, writes a rebuttal to an opinion piece written by someone who feared Trump would be a destruction of Maine’s environment and conservation efforts. Smith takes time to refute claims made by the original author, however, it is utter nonsense that people think issues of the environment and conservation are changed according to who’s in power, i.e. whether it’s republican or democrat. If Maine people actually believe that government is of the people and by the people, then what sense is there to think one man or one party will have the authority to make those radical changes? Unless, of course, complacency among the people have allowed dictatorial powers to consume the government and/or government is not of and by the people.

At the end of his article, Smith writes: “Let’s stop attacking each other, because there are great challenges ahead, and we’ll need to be united in fighting for conservation and for our Maine outdoor heritage.”

And therein lies the rub. The attacking of each other, in other words the opinion pieces and rebuttals are all a part of a greater plan of divide and conquer. So long as the people continue to be brainwashed into believing there is any resulting difference between the so-called Left and Right and how they approach environmental issues, the divide not only continues but widens.

Environmentalism and conservationism are but two small tools in accomplishing the wishes of the Ruling Establishment. To the extremes today’s society has been led by the nose down the path of environmentalism, there should be little fear that anyone would be allowed to actually destroy our environment and prevent conservation, unless it was part of the greater plan. What should be learned, but is not happening, is that when the powers that are really in control want something, which might include the destruction of Maine’s environment, it will matter not who sits in the governor’s chair or occupies the Oval Office in Washington.

Few, if any, bother to take the time or have the mental capacity to examine the history of environmentalism and conservationism that has occurred under many presidents over many decades. If they would examine this in an honest fashion, they would be able to realize the nonsense to think the new puppet Trump has the power to do anything. He is not the one in control. He is but the puppet mouthpiece.

Rhetoric, best defined as lies, is what it was designed to be. It’s a tool to make people (lazy people) think their “side” is doing what they want. Truth is the actual result, of which few bother to examine. They, by design, only pay attention to and believe, the rhetoric and lies.

Smith is mostly right. We should stop fighting but we should also stop supporting our own destruction. How many trees and whether we are protecting brook trout, is but the least of our problems. That doesn’t mean we should forget about it. We need the resources and should be responsible with them, but thinking one man, because he has an “R” or a “D” after his name, will make those feared changes, is allowing yourself to be a pawn in a bigger game that you might not understand. It’s time you did.

Stop feeding the fire with such ignorant nonsense.


Wildlife Habitat, Hunters Win Thanks to RMEF Project

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—A wildlife management area in west-central Montana is now 33 percent larger thanks to collaborative conservation work by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Montana Fish & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lewis and Clark County Open Space Program and the Cinnabar Foundation.

The project permanently protects and opens access to 720 acres of wildlife habitat while also improving access to more than 5,000 acres of nearby public lands.

“This transaction spawns a myriad of benefits,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Prime wildlife and riparian habitat is protected in perpetuity which benefits many different species, public access is created and greatly improved, and the threat of private residential development is gone forever.”

RMEF purchased the two tracts from Stimson Lumber and immediately conveyed them at no cost to FWP which added the acreage to expand the Canyon Creek Wildlife Management Area.

“We are very grateful to the RMEF for brokering this deal and Montana Fish & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lewis and Clark County Open Space Program and the Cinnabar Foundation for their funding support,” said Ken McDonald, FWP Wildlife Division administrator “This is a great addition to the Canyon Creek Wildlife Management Area that protects some key wildlife habitat and that Montana citizens will be able to forever enjoy.”

The property is an important wildlife corridor and provides key habitat for elk, moose, whitetail deer, grizzly and black bear, mountain lion, Canada lynx and wolverine as well raptors, upland game birds and other species. It is also home to Specimen, Canyon and Weino Creeks which make up more than two miles of riparian habitat –key to brown, eastern brook, rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout– that fall within the Missouri River Watershed.

The public can also access the Continental Divide Trailhead via the property across adjacent National Forest land.

The Montana Fish &Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lewis and Clark County Open Lands Program, Cinnabar Foundation and RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment provided funding for the project.


Wyoming Project Secures Access to 47,000 Acres of Public Land

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Hunters, anglers, hikers and those who enjoy other forms of outdoor recreation will benefit from a recent Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation project in Wyoming.

RMEF worked with a private landowner, Linda Zager, and several other partners to permanently protect and open access to 160 acres of prime elk and riparian habitat in southwest Wyoming.

“This small piece of property provides important habitat for elk and other wildlife but since we conveyed it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it is also now open to the public and improves additional access to approximately 47,000 acres of surrounding public land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

The tract is nestled in the Wyoming Range at the confluence of Miller and La Barge Creeks which feature vital spawning and rearing habitat for the Colorado River cutthroat trout. In addition, it provides winter range for elk and is a key migration route for elk, moose, mule deer and other wildlife.

RMEF also worked with the BLM and a local contractor to repair what was an impassible road through the property.

The project links the Lake Mountain Wilderness Study Area, Miller Mountain Management Area, additional BLM lands and the Bridger-Teton National Forest while also providing public access and parking.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s Sportsmen Recreational Access and RMEF provided funding for this project.


RMEF Tops One Million Acres in Public Access Projects

*Editor’s Note* – While it is encouraging and generally a good thing that land is accessible for public use, one has to question the decision by RMEF to buy and then deed land over to government agencies. Historically, government agencies, all of which are in bed with environmental groups, have a tendency to restrict or limit use of public lands. It seems a shame should RMEF use members’ money to buy up land to protect access for hunting and the promotion of elk growth, only to discover the government later bans hunting and/or access on the same lands. Perhaps there is a better way.

RMEF has opened or secured access to 84 acres per day since its founding in 1984

MISSOULA, Mont.—From its first project in Montana 28 years ago to its most recent this fall in New Mexico, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation just surpassed one million acres in lifetime projects that created, maintained or improved access to public land.

“This is a tremendous milestone that strikes at the heart of our conservation mission,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Providing public access for hunters, anglers and others allows all of us the opportunity to better value, appreciate and care for our wildlife and wild landscapes. We especially appreciate the strong, continual support of our RMEF volunteers and members for helping make this happen.”

RMEF worked alongside scores of conservation partners over the years including the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state wildlife agencies and other organizations to complete 249 access projects in 23 different states with wild, free-ranging elk populations.

First project: Robb Creek, Montana (16,440 acres)
RMEF purchased private land and conveyed it to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It is now called the Robb-Ledford Wildlife Management Area.

Latest project: Alamocita Creek, New Mexico (40,000+ acres)
RMEF purchased 5,867 acres of private land which it conveyed to the BLM. The project also improves access to 35,000 of surrounding public land.

Largest project: Cumberland Forest, Tennessee (74,000 acres)
RMEF granted funding to assist the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency purchase a private forest previously owned by a paper company.

Smallest project: Evandale Township, Montana (.287 acres)
Part of the Royal Teton Ranch project, RMEF purchased and conveyed five small lots to the USFS which lie within the Yellowstone wildlife migration and winter range corridor.

“One million acres of public access is indeed a significant accomplishment but we have much more work to do,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “RMEF has an annual goal of creating or improving public access to 50,000 acres per year. Through our Access Elk Country Initiative, we have our sights set on an additional 150,000 acres of access by 2019.”

RMEF has opened or secured access to 84 acres per day, every day since its founding in 1984. That plays out to 4.6 acres for each of its 219,750 members.

One million acres equates to 1,563 square miles which is roughly the size of 758,000 football fields (end zones included) and slightly less in area than the state of Delaware (1.2 million acres).