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A New Planning Rule for National Forest Land Will Benefit All

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March 30, 2012

A New Planning Rule for National Forest Land Will Benefit All

By Hal Herring

In April last year, I drove through a blizzard and below-zero temperatures to fish with some friends and make the first video of the Native Trout Adventures Series for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The Conservationist covered the story here. That post was about a hoped–for new version of the planning rule that governs the use and management of our National Forest lands, a version that would protect the wildlife and fish habitat, the headwaters of our major watersheds, and give sportsman a clear way to express their concerns over everything from road closures to timber sales, fishing access and hunting and shooting opportunities.

(TRCP’s Native Trout Adventures video. I recommend the whole series, if you have time.)

This year, as April Fool’s day approaches, I’ve just come in from working with my 16-week-old Lab pup. The creek is ice-free. The only snow left is piled on the shady north side of my house, and I left my gloves behind on the kitchen table and didn’t even notice.

 

I’m grateful that the winter is passing, and I’m grateful that the USDA -- the branch of our government that oversees the Forest Service, has approved the planning rule that we discussed in our post one year ago. We are seeing some real balance in federal land management on Forest Service lands, and, at a time when population and resource pressures are building like a summer thunderhead, it’s a welcome turn-of-events. Read about the Planning Rule here, in a press release from the TRCP.

Here’s a summary from the feds.

For some of us, with the land managers trying to balance so many uses, and listen to so many of us who own, love and use the public lands, the new rule will seem like a blueprint for conflict. I do not see it that way. At this point in my life, and in what I think I know of history and where we now stand, conflict is a given, and conflict is a positive energy in land management, in politics, even in daily life. When I think of the absence of conflict, I do not think of harmony and progress and solutions. I think of the silence of North Korea. We don’t have to agree about everything, and we should not. What we do have to do is make our voices heard, find the common ground when we can. The new planning rule is very clear about making sure that can happen.

In other good news, the powerhouse Shimano American Corporation, one of the world’s largest tackle manufacturers (they make the G. Loomis rod, my personal favorite for Louisiana marsh fishing), has signed a letter of support for the Vanishing Paradise campaign to restore the Louisiana marshes and the Mississippi Delta. Shimano joins other giants such as B.A.S.S., Inc., Mercury Motors, Primos, and over 700 other companies, tackle shops and sportsman’s groups in calling for dedicated funding and work on what has been described by many conservationists and geomorphologists (scientists who study landforms and the forces that change them) as the single greatest conservation challenge of our time.

From the press release: "Sustainable recreational use by anglers of our natural resources relies on healthy fisheries and the habitat which supports them," said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano's operations in the both the U.S. and Canada. "We are pleased to be able to support our friends in Louisiana through this effort…."

Vanishing Paradise has spearheaded an effort among sportsmen to pass the RESTORE Act, legislation recently passed by the Senate that directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties for the 2010 Gulf oil spill back to the Gulf Coast for ecosystem and economic recovery.

“Having Shimano, a household name in the fishing industry, sign this letter shows how much appreciation and understanding there is in the fishing and hunting community for Louisiana’s vital and productive—but rapidly vanishing—coastal habitats,” said Land Tawney, National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for sportsmen leadership. “We are making significant strides in helping the federal and local governments advance legislation that will help restore these incredible resources. We couldn’t do that without the help of companies like Shimano and the other great supporters who have signed our letter to Congress. Sportsmen have always been the conservation leaders in this country and now, they are leading the fight to restore the Mississippi River Delta.”

More details here.

And finally, I wanted to call readers’ attention to an interesting story from Prescott, Arizona’s newspaper, the Daily Courier. The short article describes the rapid recovery of a wetland and creek after BLM staffers fenced the area to keep out ATV riders who had been using the place a bit too recklessly. Almost every hunter and fisherman I know either uses an ATV at some point, or recognizes the right of others to do so. Nobody wants to see creeks turned into barren mud pits.

But this is a conflict that seems to have become so polarized that some people seem willing to defend reckless and destructive ATV use, simply because they don’t like the kind of people who oppose it. Others seem to despise the federal land managers so much that they seem unable to imagine that they would have no place at all to ride if not for the public lands -- no private landowner would accept the damage shown in the photos here, at least not without charging a hefty access fee. It’s a fascinating situation. Please take a read at the comments that follow the story, for a snapshot of where we are on this issue. And if any readers care to comment here on the story, I’d be very interested in what you think of the Courier story and the comments there.

Comments (12)

Top Rated
All Comments
from redfishunter wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

My deer camp is on a creek that looks exactly like the top photo. It is heavily ridden, and full of beer cans. They have passed laws regulating the riders, such as you must stay on paths and must cross directly over the water, not run donuts. But nobody pays any attention. The creek is all private property, borders several different pieces of land. I don't think anything can be done to keep the riders off. There are just too many entry points. And we need cooperation from all landowners, which is dang near impossible. I'll put up a fence and it lasts a week. People think they have a right to be out there. I've confronted people before, but they get extremely angry and there's some really crazy people in the southern backwoods. There's even a guy downstream that patrols his area with a shotgun and runs off riders that way. And I think he'll use it. But I don't have the vegetables to do that. Only solution would be have the game wardens patrol it, but there just aren't enough of them to do it. Breaks my heart. My grandfather used to swim there when he was a kid. And it has changed drastically since I was a kid, which was about when ATVs became popular. But props to the people of Arizona. Glad to see they were able to solve the problem.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Backcountry wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Great column, Hal. Thanks for keeping sportsmen informed on these important issues.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Bucks CO wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Great to see this coverage in one of my favorite magazines. As a sportsman who uses the land, I know there isn't much left out there for us and we've got to keep what we do have intact. Tip of the barrel to the folks working hard on this stuff.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

redfishhunter- can you lay down some spike strips? I'd be boobie-trappin' that place up!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bennett Brown wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

"We don’t have to agree about everything, and we should not. What we do have to do is make our voices heard, find the common ground when we can. The new planning rule is very clear about making sure that can happen."

Absolutely right, Hal! The new planning rule will give us all a chance to weigh in on the management of our National Forest lands. Thanks for keeping us abreast on this issue.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Off-road use of quads/ATVs in Arizona is a huge problem. Where I hunt, riders simply ignore or bash down signs or barriers to vehicles along drainages. There is *one* Az GFD officer to patrol the entire almost 6000 square mile area of Unit 34A in southern Arizona, so it can take almost two hours for anyone to respond. Usually the responders are Pima County sherriffs deputies who, if they respond at all and manage to catch the perp, will always issue a "warning" rather than a citation, so they have no deterrant effect at all. The quads are making a mess of drainages that would otherwise grow a lot more fodder for quail, cottontail, doves, javelina, and deer, and they're having an obvious adverse impact on game populations.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Though I don't use an ATV myself and frankly would choose not to, I do recognize the role wealth and class play in their use versus pack horses. The cost of hiring an outfitter and horses allows access to land without hunting pressure and the ability to look for animals and sign over a much much larger area. ATVs are a working persons pack horse. There have been times I've chosen not to pull the trigger, knowing the pack out was over many miles of trail-less wilderness.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 1 week ago

ATV may be the working man's pack horse but they're also the yahoo's misused implement of ecological degradation. Where I hunt in Unit 34A in Arizona, no part of the unit is utterly inaccessible. You can be within two miles of a dirt road anywhere. But people still drive the damb nuisance machines all over the open desert and in washes -- both places where they are not supposed to go -- and they commit massive amounts of vandalism to fences, gates, signage, and vehicle barriers.

If AZ GFD would outlaw the dratted things I'd support that.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

RockRat: I'm not sure what you trying to say either; pack horses vs. the working man's ATV.

I have hired an outfitter a couple of times and have owned dirt bikes back in the day, but no ATV's. By my math it is certainly much less expensive to hire an outfitter once a season than own an ATV, trailer for the ATV, rig to pull it and licensing, insurance, maintenance and fuel for all. I don't know if you agree or disagree with this from your comment.

If the ATV is the working mans packhorse, I want one of their jobs! In my neighborhood, the ATV crowd points at the greenies and calls them elitists. But if one adds up the costs of all the gear and maintenance that goes with ATVing, the ATVers certainly must have a lot of disposable income.

Anyway, poco bueno said it well, "Absolutely right, Hal! The new planning rule will give us all a chance to weigh in on the management of our National Forest lands. Thanks for keeping us abreast on this issue."

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Bberg is right on, there's no way an ATV is less costly than your own legs or renting pack animals. I went on my first elk hunt last fall in a wilderness area in CO as a non-res, and we ended up spending between $ 1,000-1,200 each, two of us. I looked into renting horses and it would have added $600 as I remember, but ended up not doing it.

An ATV is about $4,000, plus trailer, gas, plates, etc ???!!! I read a study about ATV users and they are certainly LESS likely to be blue-collar than the general population and WAY more male (like 94%), small suprise.

ATVs make a lot of public land less accessible here in MN, where ATV users have the advantage. We need a lot more of MN closed off to ATVs for both bird hunters and whitetail hunters that are willing to work, although there are a few areas.

One thing that comes up from new prospective hunters is cost of getting started. If an ATV is part of the package, that certainly makes people less likely to start hunting.

IT is good news about the forest service rule. I'll have to stay on top of that one.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael Shepard wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Watch out....any time you see the magic word "diversity",,,,a boatload of wolves are coming to your woodlot where ever you live...just my viewpoint...anything is better than using hunting as Aldo Leopold's conservation models allowed

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from backcountry jones wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Great work as usual, Hal, keeping us informed about public lands issues. I'll be sure to check my local national forests for planning updates -- I always try to comment on any project or plan that would affect good habitat and hunting and fishing opportunities.

I agree that conflict is intrinsic to management of our public lands, but some conflicts are productive while others are not -- it depends on the antagonists. Where folks are willing to make a least some adjustments to their expectations and behavior for the overall good, you can get good outcomes. In my experience, some of the motorized crew view their preferred choice of transport as a right rather than a privilege, and would rather ride as they please as renegades than ride lawfully, having made any concessions. "Multiple-use" isn't a justification for allowing people to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, on lands owned by all of us.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from redfishunter wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

My deer camp is on a creek that looks exactly like the top photo. It is heavily ridden, and full of beer cans. They have passed laws regulating the riders, such as you must stay on paths and must cross directly over the water, not run donuts. But nobody pays any attention. The creek is all private property, borders several different pieces of land. I don't think anything can be done to keep the riders off. There are just too many entry points. And we need cooperation from all landowners, which is dang near impossible. I'll put up a fence and it lasts a week. People think they have a right to be out there. I've confronted people before, but they get extremely angry and there's some really crazy people in the southern backwoods. There's even a guy downstream that patrols his area with a shotgun and runs off riders that way. And I think he'll use it. But I don't have the vegetables to do that. Only solution would be have the game wardens patrol it, but there just aren't enough of them to do it. Breaks my heart. My grandfather used to swim there when he was a kid. And it has changed drastically since I was a kid, which was about when ATVs became popular. But props to the people of Arizona. Glad to see they were able to solve the problem.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Backcountry wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Great column, Hal. Thanks for keeping sportsmen informed on these important issues.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Bucks CO wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Great to see this coverage in one of my favorite magazines. As a sportsman who uses the land, I know there isn't much left out there for us and we've got to keep what we do have intact. Tip of the barrel to the folks working hard on this stuff.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 1 week ago

ATV may be the working man's pack horse but they're also the yahoo's misused implement of ecological degradation. Where I hunt in Unit 34A in Arizona, no part of the unit is utterly inaccessible. You can be within two miles of a dirt road anywhere. But people still drive the damb nuisance machines all over the open desert and in washes -- both places where they are not supposed to go -- and they commit massive amounts of vandalism to fences, gates, signage, and vehicle barriers.

If AZ GFD would outlaw the dratted things I'd support that.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

RockRat: I'm not sure what you trying to say either; pack horses vs. the working man's ATV.

I have hired an outfitter a couple of times and have owned dirt bikes back in the day, but no ATV's. By my math it is certainly much less expensive to hire an outfitter once a season than own an ATV, trailer for the ATV, rig to pull it and licensing, insurance, maintenance and fuel for all. I don't know if you agree or disagree with this from your comment.

If the ATV is the working mans packhorse, I want one of their jobs! In my neighborhood, the ATV crowd points at the greenies and calls them elitists. But if one adds up the costs of all the gear and maintenance that goes with ATVing, the ATVers certainly must have a lot of disposable income.

Anyway, poco bueno said it well, "Absolutely right, Hal! The new planning rule will give us all a chance to weigh in on the management of our National Forest lands. Thanks for keeping us abreast on this issue."

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Off-road use of quads/ATVs in Arizona is a huge problem. Where I hunt, riders simply ignore or bash down signs or barriers to vehicles along drainages. There is *one* Az GFD officer to patrol the entire almost 6000 square mile area of Unit 34A in southern Arizona, so it can take almost two hours for anyone to respond. Usually the responders are Pima County sherriffs deputies who, if they respond at all and manage to catch the perp, will always issue a "warning" rather than a citation, so they have no deterrant effect at all. The quads are making a mess of drainages that would otherwise grow a lot more fodder for quail, cottontail, doves, javelina, and deer, and they're having an obvious adverse impact on game populations.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Bberg is right on, there's no way an ATV is less costly than your own legs or renting pack animals. I went on my first elk hunt last fall in a wilderness area in CO as a non-res, and we ended up spending between $ 1,000-1,200 each, two of us. I looked into renting horses and it would have added $600 as I remember, but ended up not doing it.

An ATV is about $4,000, plus trailer, gas, plates, etc ???!!! I read a study about ATV users and they are certainly LESS likely to be blue-collar than the general population and WAY more male (like 94%), small suprise.

ATVs make a lot of public land less accessible here in MN, where ATV users have the advantage. We need a lot more of MN closed off to ATVs for both bird hunters and whitetail hunters that are willing to work, although there are a few areas.

One thing that comes up from new prospective hunters is cost of getting started. If an ATV is part of the package, that certainly makes people less likely to start hunting.

IT is good news about the forest service rule. I'll have to stay on top of that one.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from backcountry jones wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Great work as usual, Hal, keeping us informed about public lands issues. I'll be sure to check my local national forests for planning updates -- I always try to comment on any project or plan that would affect good habitat and hunting and fishing opportunities.

I agree that conflict is intrinsic to management of our public lands, but some conflicts are productive while others are not -- it depends on the antagonists. Where folks are willing to make a least some adjustments to their expectations and behavior for the overall good, you can get good outcomes. In my experience, some of the motorized crew view their preferred choice of transport as a right rather than a privilege, and would rather ride as they please as renegades than ride lawfully, having made any concessions. "Multiple-use" isn't a justification for allowing people to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, on lands owned by all of us.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bennett Brown wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

"We don’t have to agree about everything, and we should not. What we do have to do is make our voices heard, find the common ground when we can. The new planning rule is very clear about making sure that can happen."

Absolutely right, Hal! The new planning rule will give us all a chance to weigh in on the management of our National Forest lands. Thanks for keeping us abreast on this issue.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

redfishhunter- can you lay down some spike strips? I'd be boobie-trappin' that place up!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Though I don't use an ATV myself and frankly would choose not to, I do recognize the role wealth and class play in their use versus pack horses. The cost of hiring an outfitter and horses allows access to land without hunting pressure and the ability to look for animals and sign over a much much larger area. ATVs are a working persons pack horse. There have been times I've chosen not to pull the trigger, knowing the pack out was over many miles of trail-less wilderness.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michael Shepard wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Watch out....any time you see the magic word "diversity",,,,a boatload of wolves are coming to your woodlot where ever you live...just my viewpoint...anything is better than using hunting as Aldo Leopold's conservation models allowed

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment