Elk NetworkLegislative Update

Conservation , Volunteer News | January 19, 2020

RMEF and others provided comment on a land exchange in the Crazy Mountains of central Montana. As a result, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will not include its most contentious pieces as it previously planned. The USFS originally offered two sections of publicly accessible land featuring quality elk and deer habitat totaling 1,305 acres in exchange for 1,920 acres of land owned by the tobacco company Philip Morris higher in the mountain range.

“We strongly feel that existing public access should always be a factor when disposing of federal lands and we urge the Custer-Gallatin National Forest to thoroughly analyze and heavily weigh the loss of existing public access to these two sections,” Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer, wrote in his public comment letter. “In our opinion, these sections are not ideal candidates for an exchange.”

RMEF supported a new categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy act to streamline the BLM’s review of routine timber salvage projects. RMEF has long sided with scientific studies that support the importance of active forest management. The exclusion aims to simplify the execution of these projects while hopefully reducing frivolous litigation.

RMEF signed on to a letter with 15 other sportsmen or conservation groups to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission regarding an approved voter initiative to forcibly introduce wolves into Colorado. The main points include:

  • Make the process inclusive and comprehensive but not rushed
  • Science should lead the process, not activism
  • Funding must come from the Colorado legislature or other sources and not the Wildlife Cash Fund
  • Include clear and direct openness to manage wolves

RMEF provided comment and sent out a call to action to its membership to implement a new rule changing the regulations on duplicative interagency consultations for existing forest plans. So-called “Cottonwood” lawsuits undermine the ability of federal agencies to collaborate with conservation groups like RMEF in implementing forest habitat management.

RMEF signed on to a letter in support of the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act. While functionally dead, the bipartisan bill is expected to resurface in the new session. It allows the Forest Service to more easily implement large forest management projects designed to reduce the risk of large, catastrophic wildfire and reduce environmental litigation.