Tag Archives: secretary zinke

Zinke To BLM, USFWS, NPS: Figure Out How To Increase Fishing, Hunting Access

Federal land managers are being directed to figure out how to provide more fishing and hunting access under a directive signed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today, a move lauded by sportsmen’s groups.

It follows on troubling news earlier this week that participation in hunting dropped by 2.2 million between 2011 and 2016, but could help open more lands, so key to the opportunities we enjoy.

MANAGERS OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT GROUND AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ARE BEING ASKED HOW TO INCREASE HUNTING AND FISHING ACCESS UNDER AN ORDER FROM DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE. THAT PROCESS HAS BEEN ONGOING AT PLACES LIKE TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, WHERE SPECIAL HUNTS FOR AN INCREASING ELK HERD HAVE BEEN HELD, BUT ZINKE’S ORDER COULD OPEN EVEN MORE OPPORTUNITY. (TURNBULL NWR)

“The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands,” said Zinke in a press release. “As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4 a.m. with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.”

His order calls for:

  • The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service to come up with plans within four months for expanding access to hunting and fishing on their lands;
  • Amend management plans for national monuments to specifically ensure hunting and fishing on them;
  • Identify federal lands where those activities are limited;
  • Expand outreach to underserved communities;
  • Develop a “one-stop” website outlining sporting opportunities on all Department of Interior lands;
  • And improve wildlife management collaboration with states, tribes, conservation groups and others.

Ducks Unlimited was supportive, particularly the part of Zinke’s order calling for “significantly” increasing waterfowl populations through habitat projects, as well as more hunting opportunities.

“Wetlands are not only a valuable resource for our nation’s waterfowl, but they also benefit more than 900 other species of wildlife,” noted Dale Hall, DU CEO, in a press release. “Investments in the conservation of wildlife habitats, like wetlands, are vital in preserving, protecting and advancing our nation’s long hunting and angling heritage. At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that all Americans and those generations to come, have access to the wildlife and wild places that we enjoy today.”

In recent years, USFWS has gradually been increasing waterfowl, big game and fishing opportunities on Northwest refuges and those across the country.

Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers said his organization looked forward to working with Zinke and Interior.

“Our hunting and fishing traditions rely on both conservation and access, with insufficient access being the No. 1 reason cited by sportsmen for forgoing time afield,” Tawney said in a press release. “The importance of Secretary Zinke’s commitment to sustaining and expanding public access opportunities to the outdoors, therefore, cannot be overstated.”

Others supporting the move included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as National Rifle Association.

“For too long, sportsmen’s access to our federal lands has been restricted, with lost opportunity replacing the ability to enjoy many of our best outdoor spaces. This extension to Secretarial Order 3356 will go a long way to reversing that trend and help grow the next generation of hunters, fishermen, and recreational shooters,” added Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in a press release. “I appreciate this new order and am committed to working with Secretary Zinke and my colleagues to do everything we can to expand and enhance access to our federal lands for all Alaskans, and all Americans, so that we can continue our rich sportsmen’s heritage.”

USFWS Proposes Adding More Hunting, Fishing Ops At 2 Western Oregon Refuges

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Oregon hunters and anglers could have additional opportunities on two National Wildlife Refuges as early as this fall.

In the proposal announced Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge would open bank fishing access on the Siletz River, and Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge would add a youth waterfowl hunt beginning in 2018.

GEESE FLY OVER BASKETT SLOUGH NWR, WHERE FEDERAL MANAGERS WANT TO ADD YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES. (GEORGE GENTRY, USFWS)

“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand public access at our National Wildlife Refuges, and these are two great opportunities,” said Kevin Foerster, Chief of Refuges for the Pacific Region. “Because of our focus on habitat management, we have some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities on public land. Some of the most prized hunting tags in the state of Oregon are on refuges, including antelope at Hart Mountain and mule deer at Umatilla.”

Secretary Zinke’s proposal would open or expand opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges nationwide. If finalized, this would bring the number of refuges where the public may hunt up to 373, and up to 312 where fishing would be permitted.

“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands. I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me,” Secretary Zinke said. “As the steward of our public lands, one of my top priorities is to open up access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down the heritage. The last thing I want to see is hunting and fishing become elite sports. These 10 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and anglers across the country to access the land and connect with the wildlife.”

Siletz Bay NWR, located south of Lincoln City, proposed walk-in access for bank fishing on the Siletz River, which has coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. The refuge opened the Alder Island trail this spring, which offers easy access to the river.  The 568-acre refuge also offers seasonal waterfowl hunting in designated areas.

“We’re excited that more people will be able to use the refuge for fishing,” said Kelly Moroney, project leader for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “We hope to get it approved in time for fall fishing.”

Baskett Slough, a 2,492-acre refuge located west of Salem, proposed to add a 10-person youth waterfowl hunt beginning in fall of 2018. The hunt would follow Oregon state hunting regulations.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce the next generation to quality hunting,” said Laila Lienesch, deputy project leader for the Willamette Valley Refuge Complex. “We already have fantastic elk and black-tail deer hunting at William L. Finley Refuge, so this adds another hunting opportunity to our refuge complex in the Willamette Valley.”

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $144.7 billion in economic activity across the United States, according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 90 million Americans, or 41 percent of the United States’ population 16 and older, pursue wildlife-related recreation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while also offering other traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands, such as wildlife watching and photography. The unparalleled network of 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts means there is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

For the national news release, go to http://bit.ly/2vPpMi6.

Washington’s US Senators: Hanford ‘Off The Table’ In Nat’l Monument Review

A press release from Washington’s US Senators late yesterday afternoon said that after speaking with the Secretary of the Interior, Hanford Reach is now “off the table” in the Trump Administration’s review of recently designated national monuments.

What’s more, Patty Murray said the outcry showed the Trump Administration that Evergreen State residents and others were “ready to fight back against ill-conceived efforts to roll back protections for our prized public lands,” while Maria Cantwell termed the reviews a waste of taxpayer dollars and that the president “does not have the authority to rescind the lawful status of our protected national monuments in the first place.”

Both are Democrats.

THE HANFORD AREA IS KNOWN FOR ITS LARGE, BUT OFF-LIMITS BULL ELK. (USFWS)

The review of 27 national monuments of more than 100,000 acres and created since 1996 is being led by Ryan Zinke, a former Montanan Republican US Representative.

Public comment wrapped up earlier this week. More than 1.2 million were received.

While 17 members of Congress’s Western Caucus supported completely rescinding the borders of Oregon’s Cascade Siskiyou National Monument among others in a June 30 letter to Zinke, they also recognized the natural and historical value of the Hanford Reach and recommended only prodding USFWS to improve access to the 194,000-acre set-aside, including opening up the top of 3,500-foot Rattlesnake Mountain.

“Now that Secretary Zinke agrees that the protection for the Hanford Reach National Monument should not be changed, the Trump Administration should abandon this review and the ill-advised effort to undermine national monuments altogether. An attack on one of our national monuments is an attack on all of them,” Senator Cantwell urged.

Washington Urges Zinke To Leave Hanford Reach Nat’l Monument Alone

With recently designated national monuments under review, Washington’s natural resource agencies are advising Washington DC not to mess with the Hanford Reach.

Letters from both the Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources urge Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke not to downsize the 194,000-acre zone around the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia as well as former buffer to the Hanford site.

SCOTT FLETCHER SHOWS OFF A FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT IN THE HANFORD REACH LAST SEASON. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

“WDFW would like to echo Governor Inslee’s response, which recommends no action to rescind or alter the Hanford Reach  Monument’s border. Our recommendation is based on the Monument’s importance to the quality of life for citizens of Washington relative to recreation and the state’s economy, as well as the unique and critical habitat protected by the HRNM for fish and wildlife species,” reads a July 7 letter from the agency’s regional director, Mike Livingston.

He says the publicly accessible 68,000 acres of the monument provide “exceptional recreation opportunity” for anglers, hunters and others, as well as “supports spawning and rearing habitat for the largest fall Chinook salmon population in the lower 48 states.”

“Chinook produced in the HNRM support a world-class freshwater sport fishery as well as offshore commercial and recreational fisheries that extend as far away as southeast Alaska,” Livingston wrote.

The 2015 fishery yielded a record harvest of 35,432 upriver brights for 48,000 angler trips in the Reach alone, and along with steelhead fisheries, these waters annually pump $2 million to $3 million into the local economy.

“Changes to the boundaries of the HRNM could increase erosion and sedimentation, reduce public access, alter nearshore water quality and habitat, and result in negative impacts to these fish populations and public recreation,” Livingston warned.

In her July 10 letter, perhaps taking note of Zinke’s time in Utah to investigate a new national monument there, DNR Director Hillary Franz invites him to “come toss a line in the water.”

“You’ll find yourself among the Americans that come here annually with their loved ones and families. Reeling in your first sturgeon will be as surprising as it is exhilarating. The prehistoric nature of this fish is emblematic of what was preserved here; history, culture, recreation and the American way of life,” Franz wrote in her letter.

Yesterday was the final day for public comment on the Trump Administration’s review of 27 national monuments created since the mid-1990s and which are more than 150 square miles in size.

That includes Oregon’s 100,000-acre Cascade Siskiyou.

Recent days have seen increasing pushback from sportsmen.

Last week, Andrew McKean, editor of Outdoor Life, published an open letter to Zinke that was subheadlined “A call to defend, celebrate, and cherish national monuments.”

It appears the purpose of your review is to confirm your own support for monuments. That’s the only way I can understand your order, as a clever (and slightly subversive) way to call attention to these special places that are reservoirs of the American qualities of equality, adventure, self-reliance, and democracy.

After all, you have repeatedly identified yourself as a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican.” The father of the Antiquities Act—the legislation that enables the creation of National Monuments —Roosevelt recognized that monuments are a tool to elevate the very best of our best public lands by giving them a status that allows true multiple use while protecting the integrity of remarkable landscapes for future generations. While I think it’s healthy to periodically review government decisions, I think you—especially if you emulate TR—would agree that national monuments are among America’s best ideas and entirely worth celebrating, not eliminating.

This morning, the Spokane Spokesman-Review‘s long-time outdoor editor Rich Landers — recently recognized by the Outdoor Writers Association of America with the organization’s highest award for adherence to conservation principles — posted a blog asking “Can Zinke be trusted as Interior steward of federal public lands?

Dave Mahalic, senior advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, speaking recently at the Outdoor Writers Association of America 2017 Conference in Duluth, Minnesota, defended the review of 27 monuments that have been designated since 1996 and the potential for rescission or downsizing.

He said the Antiquities Act was designed to include “the least amount of land necessary to accomplish the protection.”

The former supervisor of Yosemite National Park said the review is needed because “some people feel they don’t have a voice.”

I asked him directly, “Who are those people?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

OK, so much for transparency. Mahalic should know who’s pushing for the review if he’s making appearances to officially support if not pimp the mission. So should Secretary Zinke.

And they should reveal who those people and interests are to more than 1.3 million people who commented during the review period.

Landers also pointed towards a scathing story posted yesterday by Ted Williams in Hatch magazine headlined “With friends like Ryan Zinke, who needs enemies? It’s time for sportsmen to get real about our Secretary of Interior.”

Wrapping his piece around a metaphor from the Jungle Book, Williams writes, ” … (When) politicians and appointed officials work against fish and wildlife, sportsmen need to get loudly on their cases, then vote the right way,” he wrote.

For his part, in a BLM press release out today, Zinke said he and President Trump had opened comment on the monuments “in order to give local stakeholders a voice in the decision-making process.”

He said that even if monument boundaries were tweaked, the land would still remain federal.

After touring the new Bears Ears National Monument, Zinke advised the White House it should be shrunk.

Now that Washington state officials as well as some 1.3 million others have had their say, it’s up to Washington DC to make the next move.