While George Soros is known to heavily fund progressive agendas, there is another billionaire whose goal is to fund environmental causes, Hansjörg Wyss. A native of Switzerland who now lives in Wilson, Wyoming, Mr. Wyss made his fortune in medical research and his medical device manufacturer Synthes.
Mr. Wyss created the Wyss Foundation for philanthropy, conserving land as a primary focus, and millions of dollars have been given to non-governmental organizations (NGO) for that purpose. So invested in this goal, last year Mr. Wyss dedicated $1 billion to save the earth through his Wyss Campaign for Nature program. The end objective is to "...help conserve 30% of the planet by 2030"...with "...lands and waters..." protected best through national parks and wildlife refuges. Under the falsehood that Mr. Wyss claims this protection agenda is best if "driven by folks who live in these communities", he is actually referring to all the minion NGOs that are recipients of his money. Wanting to stay in the action, Mr. Wyss himself is on the governing council of the Wilderness Society.
What does this have to do with Idaho? The stated Wyss Foundation purpose is giving "donations to grassroots organizations that work to protect open spaces on public and private lands" in the United States, including the Rocky Mountains. Hmm, that makes Idaho a primary target. All of the following NGOs, along with many others not mentioned, received money from the Wyss Foundation for that purpose.
It is always fun to find out what is really happening by looking at tax forms. In this case, the Wyss Foundation tax forms reveal interesting information. Most of the foundation tax forms show heavy investments in all years for profit, and list assets over $2 billion dollars from at least 2014.
As early as 2001, the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) received a $75,000 donation as seen in the Wyss 2001 tax form. Another benefactor was the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC), known for targeting Idaho land for protection, in the amount of $100,000. The Nature Conservancy of Idaho received $30,000, and the Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA) located in Boise received $40,000. While the WWA presents itself as an advocate of snowmobiling, it is really about advancing the dictatorship of where snowmobiling is allowed, and influencing forest service decisions for non-use. WWA is also a partner with ICL and corporations,
During the years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, ICL received a total of $1,189,000 in donations while GYC acquired $1,155,600. In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management even received a donation of $999,000. Federal agencies can accept donations? Multiple other NGOs received donations during these and the following years.
In 2010, the Wyss foundation lists total assets over $136 million. ICL received $202,800 and the GYC $75,000. A $4 million plus loan was given to Western Rivers Conservancy for land acquisition, having succeeded in past acquisitions along the Salmon river, and having current Idaho targets for acquisition. Remembering The Nature Conservancy (TNC) business is land acquisition through conservation easements, and who are very active in Idaho, an astonishing amount of $14,442,400 was given to The Nature Conservancy of Montana.
By 2014 net assets for the Wyss foundation were over $2 billion. ICL benefited in the amount of $190,000, GYC $127,800. Western Rivers Conservancy received an alarming $6,100,000. The Trust for Pubic Land took a loan from the foundation for $906,000, in which the Bureau of Land Management partners for purchasing land for "recreational" access, or retiring resource extraction. TNC received a donation of $44 million!
2015 and 2016 donations from Wyss included Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, and Trout Unlimited, each receiving $52, 800. Mr. Wyss must believe in donation recipient equality to some degree, but other NGOs received so much more.
In 2015, the Wyss tax form lists the two largest program related investments made by the foundation were in conservation land holdings for over $76 million. TNC received a whopping $9,237,734,000, Trout Unlimited $250,o0o, and the Western Rivers Conservancy $1 million. Looks like there was not enough money left for ICL or GYC this year.
According to the Wyss 2016 tax form, ICL was given $177,600. The 2016 tax form on the ICL website, dated 10/1/16 to 9/30/17, lists the Wyss donation as $125,000, with large contributions from other foundations. For the ICL listed 2015 tax year, 10/1/15 to 9/30/16, there is no listing of contributions by Wyss or other foundations. To validate the intertwined relationship, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Program Director Kim Trotter is listed as one of the a ICL Directors.
In 2016, TNC held loans of over $4 million dollars for inholding acquisition. Basically inholdings are private land near wilderness areas that "fragment" federal ownership, so the land is bought to eliminate the fragmentation, making federal land ownership more seamless. A full explanation on wilderness inholdings can be found here. That's right, a way in which to beef up federal land ownership, but this is not to suggest why TNC inholdings are acquired or how they are used. However, land bought by TNC through Wyss donations is then owned by Wyss, or sold to the federal government.
In 2017, with assets over $2 billion dollars and heavy investments for profit, with a couple TNC loans amounting to over $3 million dollars for land acquisitions, the Wyss tax form lacks in individual contributions made to NGOs. The 2017 tax form isn't available on the ICL website and tax forms prior to 2014 have to be requested. What are they hiding?
For Idahoans who are members of ICL, they might be interested to know ICL is selling Idaho out to to a foundation that wants to do nothing more than fund land takeovers. More appalling is the amount of money being poured into multiple NGOs for the same purpose, provided by a narcissistic man who believes he can own the planet, and our government doing the same.
For these NGOs that tout the need to protect land for "future generations", this concept is not original. America's founders understood man's greed and built our Republic on a foundation that was intended to protect our freedom and property rights. It is time for all Idahoans to meet with their county and state representatives and create laws that protect Idaho land from these threats. Don't squander the gift we were given, rather make good use of it.
Although not completely confirmed, it appears the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) may be on the way out, partially due to lack of continued funding. In a scramble, how will these partnerships between non-governmental organizations (NGO), federal agencies, state agencies, and land trusts continue as a large network to accomplish their large landscape conservation goals?
There are several organizations picking up the pieces and their amassing may be a bigger threat to us than the LCCs. They are reorganizing and in doing so are becoming more aggressive. Everyone needs to become familiar with these organizations, where they do their work, their goals, and who the individual players are.
One of the most concerning is the Center For Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC). Partners include the usual, federal agencies, Western Governor's Association (WGA), and large NGOs. At the helm is Director Gary Tabor, an IUCN participant, Senior Conservationist Rob Ament, and Renee Callahan who promotes public policy. Because public funding for LCCs is drying up, CLLC has now created a "fiscally sponsored" project, the "catalyst fund" to bring in those desperately needed dollars.
Although the catalyst fund was set up by the Network For Landscape Conservation (NLC), Jonathan Peterson from the CLLC is the fund manager. The NLC coordinating committee includes members from the Heart of the Rockies, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), National Park Service, Nature Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlands Network, land trusts, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and Gary Tabor. A full list of all NLC partners can be found here, and it ain't pretty. Suffice to say, both CLLC and NLC are pretty much the same individuals and groups.
The catalyst fund is a "five-year national grant program to "accelerate the pace and practice of collaborative conservation at the landscape scale", funded by foundations. While they claim land conservation is "community-grounded", it is well known they mean their NGO partners, not local citizens, and "building capacity" is meant to increase their strength in numbers.
Led by Rob Ament, CLLC has an even more aggressive plan, targeting state legislators and agencies. In order to advance their, and other NGO connectivity goals, the target will be integrating their wildlife corridor agenda into legislation and policy. The WGA already conspired against us with the 2008 Wildlife Corridor Initiative, being used by the CLLC as one justification for their corridor agenda. And why wouldn't they, CLLC served on the WGA working policy groups that led to wildlife policy initiatives in 2010 and 2013, with multiple other NGOs serving as part of the Western Wildlife Habitat Council (pg 8) for initiative implementation. Data collection and mapping were also initiated as part of the agenda. Wildlife corridors are not the end to the saga, eventually there will be mandates for ecological corridors, biodiversity corridors, habitat corridors, riparian corridors, practically any excuse to create one, which will eventually suck up all land for restricted or banned use. In other words, control over land use, and people.
Returning to the Wildlife Connectivity document, CLLC has developed strategies for integration of their objectives into state legislation and policy. The truth is, CLLC has already decided where these wildlife corridors should be in Idaho and will lobby for the appropriate legislation, as well as having their Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) buddies put them into policy. On page 2 is a map of priority areas, one of which is the US 20/SH87 Complex, which was used as an attempt to build overpasses for their corridor plan. Idahoans in other priority areas are encouraged to take note, the same will be tried in your area. As can be seen, attempts to create wildlife corridors are already being conducted.
There is nothing in the IDFG 2018-2021 Strategic plan for wildlife corridors or connectivity, this is one policy CLLC will want changed, along with State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) for integration of wildlife corridors. Following are a few of those CLLC strategies.
"Delegate a state agency to develop...a wildlife corridor identification process, using "best available science" for criteria. As previously noted CLLC has already identified the corridors and developed their science for identification, it is already a done deal. IDFG employee Gregg Servheen, Wildlife Program Coordinator, has been in on this from the beginning, to suggest delegating a state agency for this agenda is ludicrous. NGOs will lobby legislators to "establish state policy to guide the management of identified corridors". But as seen above, there will be no need for guidance, it will be convincing legislators to put their already determined management into legislation.
"The state agency responsible for this program should have the autonomy to evaluate and apply site-specific management and work cooperatively with stakeholders. In addition to state agency-initiated corridor identification, the legislation might also include a process for the public to submit a petition to designate a corridor." IDFG will be the state agency since they are already involved, and are already autonomous as an executive agency overseen by a Governor appointed commission. Since wildlife have already been "...declared to be the property of the state of Idaho", that leaves Idahoans out of any decisions. The petition rubbish is for NGO members to create, giving a false appearance that there is public support for this corridor agenda. It has been done by them before on other issues, and is another reason for the capacity building.
"Legislators can require relevant state agencies to conduct statewide connectivity analyses using the best available science." Connectivity studies have already been conducted on wildlife linkage areas on Idaho roads and by American Wildlands. Wildlife corridors are used as linkage points between existing protected areas for connectivity.
"State legislation could include a provision that directs a state’s wildlife authority responsible for the SWAP to develop a revision that formally recognizes habitat connectivity as a priority as well as includes actionable management items to identify and conserve wildlife corridors." CLLC knows dang well IDFG is responsible for SWAP which is considered a "living" document that can be updated as new data becomes available, how convenient for the CLLC agenda. While connectivity is currently addressed in different SWAP sections, it is yet to be a priority, which is a CLLC goal.
"State agencies governing the management of wildlife, transportation, and energy should be required to develop BMPs for habitat connectivity. In areas where habitat corridors have been identified, these BMPs should be legally binding to ensure that habitat connectivity and wildlife movement are preserved." "State legislators could direct relevant state agencies to develop BMPs to protect habitat connectivity and wildlife movement for all activities permitted on state lands that are likely to otherwise result in environmental harm." Another area that has already been implemented between IDFG and ITD, and enhanced through the ITD Ecological approach agreement with the Federal Highway Administration, which just happens to be a CLLC partner as well. Once again Rob Ament and Gregg Servheen are involved.
"There are many potential policy approaches to encouraging conservation action on private lands. The most well-known approach is a conservation easement...". Within the McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor aggressive action has already taken land for easements by federal and Idaho agencies in partnerships with NGOs. Forever prohibiting land use is the goal with wildlife corridors.
"Authorize state agencies to institute public-private partnerships...fund state programs to engage citizens in citizen-science projects...that need additional data for decision-making around connectivity policymaking...request information from citizens...to help inform where wildlife corridors exist...". IDFG is already moving towards corporatism, aided by federal legislation. The "citizen-science" actually references the IDFG Idaho Master Naturalist program which partners with Y2Y, and since the data has already been collected for connectivity corridor linkages, the stage has been set to feed it to legislators. Other data collection is already in place through the IFWIS, a member of NatureServe, with a special category for land management and conservation which is not accessible to the general public. The Great Northern LCC already created the Decision Support System (DSS) called Data Basin, in which Gregg Servheen participated with his "best science".
There is a rather large section in the connectivity document for wildlife corridor funding through general fund appropriations, constitutional amendments, federal and foundation initiatives, and conservation banking, claiming that all of this enjoys "wide citizen support". They mean themselves.
In addition to analyzing how he could interject his agenda into federal policy, Rob Ament also reviewed federal policy progress for connectivity. Since there is increasing federal support for wildlife corridors via Sec. Zinke Secretarial Order 3362, and the reintroduced Wildlife Corridor Act, Mr. Ament may be right. The Sierra Club helped write the legislation, along with other NGO support (Y2Y, ICL, GYC among them).
The truth is, CLLC and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) have already created the "best science" to justify where wildlife corridors should be in Idaho, it is just a matter of telling legislators and IDFG where they want them, without consideration of Idaho citizens, or local jurisdictional authority. However, since IDFG was paid to inform the public, one should assume Idahoans already know. Mentioned in the NWF document are "Proposed wildlife crossings", one way in which corridors can be created using exaggerated wildlife vehicle collision data.
It is never about land protection or conservation, it is about taking control over land use. Citizens in Ventura, California understand this as they fought land use restrictions with their wildlife corridor, and lost. Not only do their restrictions involve rezoning 30% of land, it also devalues the land, destroys the agriculture sector, and increases fire risks. For all Idahoans, let this be a lesson to learn if wildlife corridors are imposed, the same set up for this garbage is in play here.
Idaho does have a statute that is suppose to protect private property rights in local land use planning, however NGOs are already taking a look at local zoning and land use ordinances for conservation design changes. Idahoans may want to consider working with county commissioners to integrate a ban on wildlife corridor designation in local land use policies before the NGOs get to them.
Potential NGO lobbyists for this CLLC agenda include Rialin Flores, Conservation Voters for Idaho; Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife (DOW); Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League (ICL); Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF); Willam Whelan, The Nature Conservancy (TNC); and Michael Gibson, Trout Unlimited (TU), all of which, except one, are Y2Y partners, which partners with CLLC.
Yep, no need to worry folks, just sit back and relax. NGOs, individuals, and the government have this all figured out for you, where you can live. how you can use your private property, and how Idaho should be reconfigured for animals. Representation by local officials is no longer needed so don't worry about practicing self-governance, or functioning as a Republic, there is no conspiratorial shadow government operating here, or a deep state. Local county authority over land use has and will continue to be completely obliterated by these well thought out agendas, especially when the legislature has been infiltrated by NGO representatives. It is all transparent.
Perhaps we would all be wise to remember the sacrifices made by our Founders, who so deeply understood tyrannical governments, and the price of freedom. At what cost is freedom?
The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREP) has been reintroduced by a New York representative for the seventh time in Congress, and has been referred to the Natural Resources Committee. This bill, H.R. 1321, is another attempt at taking more land away from Idaho citizens for use and designating it as wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, biological connecting corridors, and for other purposes. Claiming that "wildlife treasures of the Northern Rockies are of international significance", the standard environmental group mantra is given that "fragmentation" of wildlife occurs due to roads, harvesting, and mining, all horse pucky. No international significance exists when it comes to Idaho land.
In the bill text, land is divided up into five ecosystems but the bill has nothing to do with ecosystem protection, it is about taking land. Each ecosystem includes Idaho national forests, and all are impacted. Affected areas incorporate land and creeks into currently existing designated wilderness areas and national forests, designate new wilderness areas into what is called the "National Wilderness Preservation System", take land for "biological connecting corridors", all of the areas being too exhaustive to list here. Also defined is "no new road construction or reconstruction, or timber harvest (except firewood gathering) shall be allowed in the lands". Everyone should take the time to see how their own particular area would be affected.
One non-governmental organization (NGO) that has put much effort into increasing federally protected land is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC), which covers the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Greater Salmon/Selway Ecosystem, both listed in the bill. GYC is out of Bozeman, Montana, but is also registered in Idaho. Kathy Rinaldi is the Idaho Conservation Coordinator for GYC, and Allison Michalski is the Idaho Conservation Associate. Their focus is "protecting" lands in Idaho from eastern Idaho through the Salmon area. Areas they focus on are included in the bill such as the Custer Gallatin National Forest, and water protection.
In the first 10/1/16-9/30/17' tax return posted below, with a net balance of 10,813,967 dollars, the GYC spent $118,957 in "direct lobbying" to influence a legislative body. $18,788 was spent on "grassroots" lobbying, which is an indirect way of influencing legislative bodies through their members. Another fact found in their tax return is the donation of $27,500 to the National Wildlife Federation for a "grazing allotment buyout", land that will most likely never be used again.
GYC proudly boasts about convincing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to protect Grizzly habitat while partnering with them on other issues, shutting down sheep grazing, and again buying out grazing allotments. Is it no wonder that citizens have no voice on land use when NGOs such as GYC and others have the pocketbook and relationships to get what they want? Giving money to the USFS (pg 30) is just one way as they also partner with Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG), having even been on the "core team" for the development of the State Wildlife Action Plan (Rinaldi, page xii).
For an unknown reason, other than a request for an extension on tax filing, the GYC website lists a different tax form for the same year. In this form, lobbying expenses for the same period came to $116,300 in a payment made to a Washington D.C. lobbying firm, Forbes-Tate Partners. Given the drive for protecting land, did the GYC lobbyist have anything to do with the reintroduction of NREP or the recently signed S. 47?
In the tax forms, GYC specifically states one accomplishment as "permanently protecting Yellowstone's northern gateway from two proposed gold mines", that was in 2017. GYC took credit for the passage of the 2019 Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act that was included in S. 47. President Trump just signed this bill, effectively endorsing the GYC goal of shutting down all gold mining activity north of Yellowstone Park. Do they hold the same lobbying power to take thousands of acres of land for wilderness through NREP? Other accomplishments listed, "conserving public lands...in the Gallatin Range...and...High Divide", and new protections on BLM lands. Water is another focus for "permanent" protection. All of this is addressed in the NREP bill.
Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson are both members of the Congressional Western Conference (CWC), although Rep. Simpson is known for his alignment with NGOs and support for land grab legislation. CWC has a multitude of issues that it covers, one of which is federal land management, claiming too much land is controlled by the federal government and the "checkerboard" of land ownership should be streamlined. Yet at the same time, this group applauded the passage of S.47, which establishes more national monuments, designates more wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers, restores the Land and Water Conservation Fund which is used for land purchases by the federal government and provides money to NGOs for continuation of their agenda. Taking more land is being justified by increased access to public land use "unless specifically designated otherwise". Should the CWC be trusted to oppose NREP, or have GYC lobbyists and others successfully infiltrated, or bought, the caucus? NGOs have become so financially powerful they are now buying logging industries.
From all accounts, it is clear that the federal government has only one intention in mind, take more land and restrict use, leaving citizens they represent out, instead building and funding NGO partnerships to accomplish their goals. NREP is just another example of how we are being robbed of our land. Let your representatives, CWC, and the House Committee on Natural Resources know that you do not support land being taken from us or their support of NGO agendas.
It is well known that the federal government is heavily in bed with non governmental organizations (NGO), especially our resource agencies through the Department of Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). What may not be understood is how big that bed is or why federal agencies continue to implement NGO objectives over the voice of citizens. The Network For Landscape Conservation (NLC) provides the explanation.
The NLC "mission" is advancing "...collaborative, cross border conservation as an essential approach to connect and protect nature, culture, and community". Note should be taken on that cross border statement. This means across states, counties, and countries, the primary country they are referring to is Canada. There is no recognition of jurisdictional boundaries. NLC is a "hub" of organizations and individuals who participate in the agenda to place as much land as possible into conservation. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS), Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), Nature Conservancy, Land Trusts, Bureau of Land Mangement (BLM), conservation zealots, and others all serve on the coordinating committee. NLC membership includes "100-plus organizational partners and 2,000-plus involved practitioners."
While NLC claims to "bring people together", it is really about robbing citizen rights for representation through their elected officials, instead placing decisions with those who have no interest other than implementing their own ideology. By their own admission, they recognize this is a "shift in process" that "...crosses jurisdictional and topical boundaries, transcending traditional decision-making processes (meaning the foundation of our government as a Republic), and top-down hierarchies." It is government run amok with tyranny.
Recently, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives were "discontinued". However, efforts are now underway by USFWS and state agencies to fund the same objective through "public and private partners" and continue their conservation work. NLC is also pursuing funding for their objectives through a newly created Catalyst Fund, with money coming from foundations. This money will be used to help "build capacity", that is, it will bring in more partners to overpower us with their objectives and build up NGO activity. All of their initiatives in Idaho can be found on this map with the names of the groups that are executing their agenda upon us. Get to know those names so you know who you are dealing with, and their objectives. Since the cooperatives were eliminated, or at least diminished in their capacity, the governments and NGOs are now coalescing into organizations such as the NLC, there are many others. This is creating possibly a new, more powerful mass that will increase their threat towards us.
As seen here, NLC partners include the USFS, BLM, National Park Service, USFWS, NGOs, land trusts, foundations, policy centers, and universities. Nowhere to be found are citizens or local governments. It is these groups and individuals who are making decisions with the federal government on land use, if use is even allowed at all. In conjunction with these groups, federal agencies write policies, then, using the Delphi technique, parade around in front of us with a charade of phony collaborative meetings to placate us into believing we have input. Opposing science to theirs is ignored, violating the Data Quality Act, and impacts to local businesses are dissed which is in conflict with the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Included in these ignored laws is the mandate for Coordination, the requirement that a federal agency meet with local governments to ensure consistency in land use policies prior to any action being taken.
While the NLC claims local governments are aware of and support landscape conservation, when is the last time your elected official announced this support to constituents? Is it the intent for local governments, who hold the highest authority for governance closest to the people, to align "...with appropriate state, federal and non-governmental programs to support landscape conservation..."? Or is that support hidden through unelected associations such as the National Association of Counties? NLC admits to incorporating their objectives "...into existing state policies and programs—in traditional conservation programs like State Wildlife Action Plans...". There is no escaping the fact that the intent is to align government policies that support landscape conservation in all levels of government. To learn more about those objectives NLC has archived webinars which provide insight into how these individuals and groups think and their ideology.
The truth is, federal agencies are in partnership with the NLC and its members to develop policy, however the members of the "Policy Working Group" are not identified. A policy paper was written for President Trump shortly after he was elected, deciding for you that you believe in their brand of conservation, asking for continued use of your tax dollar to support them, and supporting the creation of partnerships with the private sector. Perhaps the groups listed in that paper identify those who are part of the working group. This is why citizens cannot get their voice heard, the NLC and all of their cronies have already made the decision with the federal government. In fact, the 1964 Wilderness Act was written by Howard Zahniser from the Wilderness Society. That is how long the NGOs have had control. Completely left out of the equation is local government and citizen involvement. The federal government works for these groups, not us.
For all of those who are experiencing these atrocities on local issues, your voice being ignored in decisions about public land, take this information to your next meeting with a federal agency, start asking questions about their partnerships with NGOs, and provide those NGO names. Make them aware that you know these partnerships exist and ask that documentation of their work with each other is made available to you. Demand answers, you have a right to know who is running the show with these agencies. Publicize your knowledge about this information, identify the groups and players and name them, identify their objectives and how it aligns with federal agency actions. Expose them, confront them, let others know so they can join you. Now is the time to disrupt their agenda and expose the truth.
It seems wildlife overpass advocates are throwing a temper tantrum over the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) selecting Alternative 3 in the Targhee Pass (TP) Environmental Assessment (EA). Since Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) was exposed for their deep involvement with both ITD and Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) in pushing for overpasses they have chosen to recuse themselves from the tantrum, instead turning to their counterparts to cry foul. Those counterparts include the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC), Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF), and Idaho Conservation League (ICL).
All of these groups partner with Y2Y. Kathy Rinaldi is the Idaho Conservation Coordinator for GYC, Brian Brooks is the IWF Executive Director which not only partners with Y2Y but also with the National Wildlife Federation, and Rick Johnson is the ICL Executive Director. These groups and individuals are organizing to challenge ITD and the EA decision for the no overpass Alternative 3, but in doing so have used inaccurate information which they are disseminating to the public and media. Here are the facts.
Mr. Brooks began his article with the statement, "Idaho Transportation Department’s own data, which was never publicly distributed, directly contradicts their preferred alternative of the expansion of Highway 20...". The report link for the "ADS do not work" comment is inaccurate, the report did not state that. It was a survey of various ADS uses in Canada and other states, on a variety of species, and different geologic areas, while also recognizing the limitations of some survey information affecting the ability to determine if the system was efficient.
Mr. Brooks most egregious claim was that ADS costs more than an overpass. Alternative 2, including the road upgrade with overpasses, would cost $25-30.5 million. The selected Alternative 3 with upgrades and no overpasses would cost $15-19.5 million. Certainly an $11 million dollar savings is enough to maintain an ADS system for many years. The Federal Highway Administration even recognizes "...animal detection systems have the potential to permit safer crossing opportunities for large wildlife anywhere along the outfitted roadway..." and the variables that interfere with effectiveness. In his quest to convince you to believe what he wrote is accurate, a pre-written comment supporting his position was also provided in the article to be sent in to ITD.
Brian Brooks stated Hwy 20 "...is set for a 4-lane expansion and 1.5 million more cars in the next ten years." The only section of Hwy 20 being evaluated right now is at Targhee Pass (TP) which does not include a 4 lane expansion. He did not identify his source for knowing how many cars would be traveling Hwy 20 in ten years, this opinion is a guess, not a fact.
The collar report he references is the 2014 US 20 Road Ecology Report. In that report there was nothing substantiating his claim that "Existing collar data shows that elk spend weeks traveling alongside Highway 20, spooked back into the woods due to traffic and noise." The collar study was on Moose and Elk and only where they crossed Hwy 20, studying different times of the day, and in the spring and fall during their migratory times. There was also nothing reported about their inability to reach food sources or Hwy 20 causing herd isolation.
While Mr. Brooks claims Highway 20 "...runs through migration paths of big game herds to and from Yellowstone...", the truth is the Sand Creek herd is not a migratory herd that must cross Hwy 20 for migration to and from Yellowstone, staying primarily on the west side of the highway which does not result in fragmentation. These herds summer in high country around IP and in Harriman State Park and both Sand Creek and Northern Yellowstone herds are far more threatened by Wolves and Grizzlies. Mr. Brooks failed to mention that Elk wildlife vehicle collisions (WVC) at TP fail in numbers to support any overpass.
As to his claim that ITD did not use their own data that supported overpasses, that is incorrect. The link in the article to the report is under "the cost-benefit analysis that favors crossings". He is referring to a report by Renee Seidler for the TP project that was completed during an unknown time in 2018, however it is cited in the EA report, appears on the TP project website, and was released the same day as the EA. On page 136 the EA states, "1.0. Reasons for low benefit-cost ratios are the low number of crashes overall and relatively low costs of property damage per crash." and "Another ITD-funded study of wildlife safety solutions (Cramer, 2016) also found benefit-cost ratios lower than 1.0 for wildlife crossings for the Targhee Pass segment (Alternative 2)."
In the article Mr. Brooks argues there would be no restrictions in Alternative 2. However, there are several restrictions listed in the EA including restricted access through gates, snowmobile restrictions, barriers with fencing, and exclusions to recreationists. Most important of all, the ability to build overpasses was impossible because no agreements on easements had been obtained from private land owners, and with easements come restrictions on use and development. Multiple other documentation supports restriction of activity and development near wildlife overpasses.
These conservation groups are reliable in using the media to advance their message. In the February 4, 2019 edition of the Idaho Falls Post Register, the IWF again gave the same erroneous information, the other groups not identified. However the statement included in this article really reveals the truth behind why overpasses are desperately wanted, “To date, no highway design elements can increase wildlife connectivity except crossing structures...with fences,” the Fish and Game assessment stated." It is about connectivity, not anything to do with WVC numbers, overpasses, or ADS. An unsubstantiated 30 large animal deaths may have occurred but Elk were the focus of the project, not all animals.
In the Rexburg Standard Journal, published January 28, 2019, Kathy Rinaldi "...argued about the effectiveness of the animal detection systems...". In truth the low number of WVC do not justify the cost of an overpass. As stated in the EA, page 136, "ITD also did not include the unreported accidents from law enforcement and reported carcass information from the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System. However, the results are not sensitive to the wildlife-related annual crash rate or efficacy of measures. This is due to the overall low magnitude of crashes, low cost per crash, and comparatively high cost of mitigation measures."
It is truly remarkable that Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) is paid to work for Idaho citizens, yet their work is primarily accomplished with the federal government such as the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) and non-governmental organizations (NGO). Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), having such a heavy presence in Idaho with their connectivity agenda, is one of those NGOs in which IDFG has a partnership.
In northern Idaho a project is currently being run as a joint venture by IDFG and Y2Y, called the Bees to Bears Climate Adaptation Project. It is a project to restore "250 acres of forested lowland habitat to improve landscape climate resiliency for 6 Species of Greatest Conservation Need on the Boundary-Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area." Jessie Grossman, Yellowstone to Yukon Cabinet-Purcell Mountain Corridor Coordinator and Lacy Robinson, Y2Y, CPMC Project Coordinator serve on the project as well. Part of the project funding comes from the Wildlife Conservation Society. This project aligns with their joint Cabinet-Purcell Mountain Corridor Collaborative as well, using Grizzlies as justification for "transboundary" conservation for connectivity which the IDFG employee mentions in the video. Citizen involvement is actually members of an IDFG group called the Master Naturalists.
These partnerships with NGOs must end, IDFG is paid to represent Idaho citizens. Until this relationship is untangled and IDFG gets back to representing Idaho, their agenda for landscape conservation and connectivity will only continue.
Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) relies heavily upon foundations to fund their agenda, along with government grants and donations by individuals. One huge Y2Y donor is the Wilburforce Foundation, which hails Y2Y as the "...worldwide model for large landscape conservation." Below are some graphics of who Wilburforce gives their money to, what the money is for, and under which program serving the omnipotent Y2Y.
This first graphic shows that Future West is a recipient for $135,000 to "protect landscapes and build conservation capacity for the...". The end is cut off but the purpose is for the High Divide area that encompasses Salmon and Challis. Building capacity means getting as many people as possible to join their efforts, and provide " ‘back office’ training", which means teaching people how to sell their message and convince others to join the bandwagon. Future West even has the training for this. "Direct investment (small grants) in their operations..." is another way in which to spread the money around. Meddling in Island Park affairs is another Future West activity. When the Y2Y created Henry's Fork Legacy Project fell apart, Future West was there to champion it on. Don't be fooled, it is a front group for Y2Y, try and find who belongs to it.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is another recipient of this money, $150,000, again to be used in the High Divide for wildlife and habitat protection.
Below is the second graphic. Again in the High Divide area, a total of $110,000 was given to the Salmon Valley Stewardship from 2016-2018, for "general support". This group has many projects they work on which can be seen in their newsletters. It is probably by no coincidence that the Executive Director, Toni Ruth, "...was the High Divide Coordinator for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers". Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is a heavily engaged partner with Y2Y, all the way into Canada. Another backdoor Y2Y influence in local "community" organizations.
The last graphic reflects some of the other money sent to their program in Canada. All totaled, $11,906,633 dollars. That is just a small fraction of the amount of money being used against us by Y2Y. Regardless of how much money they have, they cannot defeat the strength and bonds of local citizens who have pride in the ares they live in, nor can they escape the law under which we are governed. Engage with your local and state representatives and let them know that these groups are not welcome in your backyard, or the questionable activities they promote with their money.
There will be a "National Summit For Gateway Communities" in West Virginia this December. While this may look like a benign get together, it really is an ominous forecast of what plans lay ahead for communities like Island Park.
The sponsors and planning committee of this summit include the Federal Highway Administration, Future West, several federal resource agencies, conservation groups, and Urban Land Institute. Some of the topics for this summit include:
Now just exactly what is a gateway community? According to this website, PlannersWeb, a gateway community is "Americans...heading for the communities that serve as the gateways to our national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands", "are important not just because they provide food and lodging for Americans on their way to visit national parks and other public lands"..."are also portals to our most cherished landscapes." and "define the park experience for many visitors." As with every other phony crisis being thrown our way, now allegedly, so are small rural communities close to protected areas, described as being overwhelmed by "haphazard growth, feeling "helpless" with change, and development ruining habitat.
With this phony crisis, of course there has to be some experts from the outside swooping in to rescue these poor communities. So this website is for city planners to learn the proper tools on how to help their community cope with the travesties laid out for them by these experts. That is the essence of the summit's purpose, these organizations planning how to swoop in and lead small communities in the right direction. Transportation is a major key to this and is why the Federal Highway Administration is one of the sponsors. Wildlife overpasses are part of this transportation plan because in order to get people to their tourist destination, in Island Park's case Yellowstone, a safe passage must be built. Future West is involved because they are the expert for the "future where communities have a shared sense of place, robust economies, and sound stewardship of natural, cultural, and community assets." The citizens of those communities are lacking those abilities? Of course not, but they can be led to believe they are by the marketing tactics of organizations like Future West. Selling their "product" also garners them money. The Federal Highway Administration has their own ideas on how a gateway community should be developed, thus their involvement. Never mind letting the citizens who live there make the decision.
This summit is about laying plans for your future community, what it should look like, how it should operate, how you should be allowed to live. Island Park is one major target for this agenda.
Much has been written about the true end goal of Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) which is regulating land use, and controlling how land is used. Canada is heavily attacked by Y2Y and recently, because of Y2Y's partnership with the Alberta government, just as it is here, Alberta citizens will lose all control over how they are allowed to use their land.
Just announced was the intent of the Alberta government to create a park "system" that will overtake all land that is not currently designated as protected. It essentially implements Y2Y's goal of using that land for their connectivity agenda. This plan will include a wildland park, three provincial parks, and four public recreation areas. Forty million dollars will be spent on designing how that land can be used and creating regulations on how it can be used. That is what this is about, it isn't about protecting anything. Of course, Y2Y is drooling over this announcement. All of their hard work has come to fruition, dictators over land use.
To really get a sense of what this means one just needs to take a look at the phony government survey being put out for comments. In reality, the majority of Albertans oppose all of this. The survey is available to look at in the above link, but here are some highlights on which they want comments, specifically how one feels about what they would be allowed to do in each of the newly designated "parks". Try to imagine if these questions were being asked about Island Park and what your thoughts are to redesign how it is used. These are just some of the examples pulled from the survey. Notice all the designations for everything you would do, what you would be allowed to do, where you would be allowed to go, and how you would be allowed to stay. If this were an Island Park survey would you approve?
Tourism facility and visitor attraction development is not compatible with the backcountry-wilderness experience and management intent of a Wildland Provincial Park. However, small-scale rustic facility opportunities may be compatible.
What would be your level of support for the following outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism experiences and services?
a). Designated backcountry trail networks
b). Designated backcountry non-motorized camping areas including equestrian camping areas
c). Backcountry travel opportunities (e.g.guided tours, hut to hut)
Opportunities for tourism and facility development would be identified through planning. These may include camping, small-scale eco lodges, and comfort camping which may be associated with visitor services facilities (such as food and beverage service).
a). Designated backcountry "un-serviced camping areas"
b). Designated “limited serviced camping areas”
c). Designated frontcountry and vehicle accessible facilities and staging opportunities
e). Small-scale eco-lodges, Comfort Camping
f). Tourism attractions (e.g. via ferrata)
c). Designated backcountry non-motorized camping areas including equestrian camping areas
d). Backcountry travel opportunities (e.g. guided tours and activities)
a). Range of Fixed Roof accommodation (e.g. comfort camping, lodging, cabin opportunities, etc.)
c). Visitor services (e.g. retail, food sales, rentals, etc.)
d). Front country, vehicle accessible facilities and OHV staging opportunities
a). Range of Fixed Roof accommodation (e.g. wall tents, cabins)
There is more in the survey explaining the necessity for this, after all, it must be all about conservation and protection, not use. If you noticed the reference to "...meeting global standards for protected areas" by Y2Y they are referring to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of which they are a member. Global standards for how we are allowed to use our land. No more going into the back country, seeing a sight without a guide, having a local business provide what you need, just think amusement park or zoo. That is what this is all about.
Take note from Alberta, they are suffering from the destructive Y2Y agenda. This is what it will look like for us if we do not stop it. And don't think it can't happen here, it can, and we are seeing some of it with the overpass issue, the agenda is the same. Non and regulated use.
Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) and its U.S. Program Director, Kim Trotter, having previously created the Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage Initiative (IPSWPI) in 2016, has now created a new front group, Fremont County Citizens For Safe Highways (FCCFSH). Allegedly, this group is comprised of Fremont County citizens, when most likely a large portion is comprised of individuals who spend the summer in Island Park but are not Fremont County residents full time. This group is listed on the State of Idaho campaign finance reports as Citizens For Safe Highways but there is nothing for a scanned report. Lobbying efforts by this new group can be more easily accomplished than Y2Y because of its prohibited lobbying status, in addition to being eligible for donations.
The purpose of this group is promoting wildlife overpasses, which apparently the IPSWPI group hasn't been able to achieve. Taking a look at the FCCFSH FAQ page, it is a continuation of the misrepresentations that has been promoted by other Y2Y front groups over the last year. Here are some of those misrepresentations.
Why are driver-safe highway crossings necessary?
Sadly, wildlife-vehicle collisions have increased sharply.
Truth: Under the Research tab it is clear that Idaho deer collisions have gone down in the last two years. What type of collisions are they referring to? They have manipulated roadkill data by including small animals to embellish numbers, the actual Elk numbers are not that high. The original purpose promoted for overpasses was the poor Elk. Because those numbers DO NOT substantiate the Elk deaths, Y2Y and their front groups are now shifting, or at least trying to shift the focus to other small animals and deer. Don't fall for this ruse, the truth is still the same, Elk WVC are low, and non-existent at Targhee Pass.
Do driver-safe highway crossings work?
Across Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Canada, driver-safe wildlife crossings have PROVEN to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by as much as 90 percent.
Truth: To compare different geographical areas to Island Park is illogical, and the 90% is also an elevated percentage. It takes years to offset 20-30 million dollars of overpass costs, in addition to the massive cost of maintaining these overpasses and fencing which has never been answered as to who will pay for it. The overpasses they are referring to are in isolated, primarily flat areas with no development.
Are there cheaper alternatives? Like slower speed limits?
No. Unfortunately, alternatives like flashing lights, wildlife detections systems and highway signs are proven NOT to be adequately effective.
Truth: Studies have shown lower speed limits do reduce not only accidents but also the severity of injuries in accidents. Y2Y refuses to acknowledge this. The Fremont County Commissioners, Sheriff, and citizens have repeatedly asked the Idaho Transportation Department for a speed reduction which they consistently refuse to do. (See Speed Limits article under the Articles tab.)
Who pays for building and maintaining these structures?
Modern, driver-safe wildlife crossings typically account for 10 percent of the entire highway modernization project. They are paid for by federal fuel taxes, which are already collected for this purpose. When crossings are built with road construction, the Federal Highway Administration pays for 93% of total project costs. It’s important to understand that county taxpayers do NOT pay for these highway improvements or for maintaining them.
Truth: The Targhee Pass road upgrade is $12 million dollars, with the addition of overpasses the cost increases to 20-30 million dollars, this is not a 10% increase (See alternative 3). How does this group know the FHA pays for 93% of the total project costs? Is there something in writing that states this, especially since no final approval decision has been made by FHA on this project? Sorry, but the truth is that every taxpayer, including Fremont County citizens, pay for the astronomical costs of overpasses and the ongoing maintenance costs. County taxpayers DO pay for these highway improvements through their federal taxes. The burden for this does fall on every taxpayer, nothing is free.
Will the crossings be unsightly?
Professional engineers and landscape architects design tunnels and fencing are designed for minimal visual impact. Fencing is minimal necessary to do the job – usually about 8 feet tall and ONLY where necessary.
Truth: As reflected, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are many who find the overpasses and associated fencing offensive to the land, in addition to the forced hazing of wildlife. There is something that could be considered cruel to force wildlife to abort their natural habitat into something a human wants them to do. As suggested by minimal visual impact, there is visual impact and fencing is necessary to force wildlife to change their path where ever a overpass is located.
Will fencing keep people off public lands or limit hunting opportunities?
No. The Forest Service, Idaho Department of Transportation and Idaho Fish and Game all agree that access to public land is paramount....
Truth: It is very well documented that traffic, recreational use, and development are a "threat" and "disturbance" to wildlife by Y2Y and other large conservation groups. By creating a false wildlife corridor via overpasses, this area will become off limits to all activity by people who currently enjoy it. While ITD and IDFG, and even the USFS make these claims now, it will change as it has in other areas where overpasses have been built, no use.
Will driver-safe wildlife crossings impact property values?
Driver-safe wildlife crossings have been built across the West and there has been no corresponding change in property values.
Truth: While these overpasses have been built in other areas, the majority of them are NOT located in developed areas, they are in isolated and flat land, and often on public land, therefore there can be no changes in property values. There is much development and recreation at Targhee Pass, which is NOT the case in their reference on property values.
Will overpasses will funnel animals for predators?
Biologists in other states say this is not a problem. Wildlife usually keep moving near narrow pinch points, preventing significant increases in predation. Studies have looked at wildlife crossings worldwide and found no significant changes in predation patterns.
Truth: Few studies have been conducted on predatory activity near wildlife overpasses (pg 283). In fact, this is how wolves take an Elk down on an overpass. Like this article points out, wolves can engage in "surplus killing" which was an attack on Elk in a feeding area. Forced into confined area by fencing, there is reason to believe wolves may learn overpasses are a feeding area, for them. Too many variables are in play to make a generalized statement about predatory activity, it hasn't been studied and geographical areas are different. In fact, wolf predatory activity is so devastating to Elk, they have to be destroyed. WVC are NOT the primary cause of Elk mortality, predatory activity is, and to build an overpass for them is illogical. Another reason Y2Y and their front groups are so desperately moving to deer and small animals.
Beware wild exaggerations and misinformation
Unfortunately, we are seeing wildly inaccurate information about the costs of the project, the extent of fencing, and other claims.
Truth: Every statement made on this website and in published articles is verified through links. As one example, false information regarding the costs of overpasses was blatantly published by a IPSWPI member in an Island Park newspaper and had to be corrected the next week with the factual cost graphs from ITD. Here are the factual costs. The data on WVC and numbers of roadkill has also been misrepresented requiring correction. All information on this website is for the very purpose of validating the truth, contrary to the claims by Y2Y, IPSWI, and now this new front group.
While this group claims "...a vocal in Island Park worked to convince the public and decision makers that wildlife crossings aren’t in Island Park’s interest, spreading fear of losing access to public lands, reduced property values, and loss of business.", the truth is many voices have written their objections to overpasses and over 3,000 have signed a petition in opposition of overpasses in Island Park. That is a far greater number than "one" voice. Plus, overpasses do lead to loss of public access, reduced property values, and loss of business because of the eventual "protected" status that eventually comes with migratory corridor designations. All of this is validated documentation on this website.
Also missing within this new group is the fact that overpasses are used for the purposes of connectivity. To be fully transparent, it would behoove them to bring this aspect to their argument. In spite of repeated requests, spokespersons for Y2Y, and Kim Totter, have repeatedly failed to address this. Overpasses are only used for their connectivity agenda, by having the area within the overpass declared a migration corridor for protection and land use regulation following the placement of the overpass. Y2Y understands there is opposition to this and avoids discussing it for that reason.
The truth is, there is a small number of individuals who are attached to Y2Y for overpasses, many of which who do not live full time in Island Park. They have never responded to requests for full disclosure of the connectivity agenda. Most likely, it is because they know Island Park residents would oppose this with a vengeance much like what happened with the national monument issue. Those who truly love Island Park don't want these changes.
However, it appears this group has registered as a 501(c)3, even though it cannot be found on the Idaho non-profit website, and are now soliciting money from you to promote their agenda for overpasses. This is Y2Y operating as there are restrictions on how they can lobby to influence legislation and policies. It is up to the Federal Highway Administration to make the final decision per the Environmental Assessment. The FCCFSH is using your money to influence your vote. That is why they were created.