Michael Whitfield, former High Divide Collaborative (HDC) Executive Director, recently wrote a white paper for the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy (LILP) titled, Toward Holistic Landscape Conservation in the 21st Century. It is the meanderings of a retired person, wishing for a collective, let's all get along, kum ba yah moment for all. The standard themes of overpopulation destroying the earth, people starving and having nowhere to live, the environment having no political boundaries, and severe fragmentation are repetitively spread throughout the document. There are also some exaggerated claims of cooperation, shared values, and other achievements in the High Divide area.
The upshot of this document is nothing more than a rehash of the same old language, with an insertion of more involvement with other "stakeholders" which means those who do not hold the same ideology as Mr. Whitfield, and "building trust" with those individuals. Mr. Whitfield is unable to understand that those who do not hold the same ideology and beliefs as him will never acquiesce to his beliefs.
One suggestion Mr. Whitfield, given your grave concern about the environment being destroyed, starving people without anywhere to live, perhaps you should give consideration to turning your property over to the wild, moving to a densely packed area and dividing your financial well-being up to those who are in most need.
In June, 2019, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon appointed eight Wyoming residents to form the Migration Corridor Advisory Group (MCAG), tasked with creating recommendations for state policy related to big game migration on land that is also used for mineral development. Surprisingly, there were no non-governmental organization (NGO) members on this group. In September, 2019, MCAG issued its recommendations to the Governor for an executive order (EO). Recommendations included development outside of corridors as a first priority, ensuring health inside of corridors, and changes on how a corridor is designated. Perhaps the most important recommendation was actively engaging landowners prior to designation and development of local working groups for designated corridors. All documentation regarding this issue can be found here. In December, 2019, Governor Gordon released the first draft of his EO for migration corridors, open to comment.
While a search on the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) website does not bring up anything about migration corridors, Kim Trotter, Y2Y U.S. Program Director, continues to work behind the scenes to be involved in this issue.
In this January 17, 2020 letter to the Governor, Ms. Trotter provides comments on the EO. Starting with some rather extensive praise of Wyoming, Ms. Trotter proceeds to recommend an extension beyond just ungulates to include many other species, that "state-issued permits will only be permitted when activities maintain the continued functionality of corridors", and that any unused permits should be retired. This means the corridor remains supreme over any other use, beginning the restricted use.
While the role of Wyoming Game & Fish (WGF) was diminished in this EO, Ms. Trotter wants that role returned. Of course she recommends this, the idea that local land owners have control over land use is unacceptable, especially since Y2Y in general is heavily involved with state game agencies as has been identified with Idaho Fish & Game. Y2Y also believes only state agencies are capable of creating the science for their agenda.
Ms. Trotter also does not think that local working groups are capable of making appropriate decisions in corridor designation and immediately talks about how members should be assigned to those local groups. Her concern most likely is to ensure many NGO individuals are part of those groups, and similar in other "collaborative" groups Y2Y partners have been involved in, make sure those groups are stacked with NGO individuals who don't even live in the area. She also wants the EO expanded beyond industry to include other NGO objective language.
Extra funding is recommended for corridor studies, and once again Ms. Trotter identifies WGF as the only organization that has the capability of doing studies correctly. There is also a suggestion that local land owners receive money for inserting conservation objectives into their land practices. It's all about money, isn't it.
But the true intention is finally listed at the end. Ms. Trotter recommends, "...temporary designations or protections be in place during the three years of research, the time to analyze data, and the time that it will take to go through the process of designation". Not even being able to wait until all the information comes in, Ms. Trotter jumps to the true end goal on what corridor designation is really about, land use restrictions and protection.
The migration corridor issue is hot and being pursued aggressively. The Western Governors Association recently reiterated their support for migratory corridor designations. Legislation has been reintroduced requiring states to create wildlife corridors. It is a continued fulfillment of NGO objectives to turn western land over to wildlife.
This is not something that will go away and citizens need to be aware of the authority local government has in preventing any of this from intruding into their lives.
According to the Wildlands Network (WN) 2016 990 tax form, the description is "The Wild Earth Society, Incorporated, d/b/a Wildlands Network, is a Vermont corporation with its headquarters located in Seattle, Washington." WN was also formally known as the Wildlands Project. It's purpose is using collaboratives to provide enough "Room to Roam" for wildlife, including passage over private land, highway over and underpasses for wildlife vehicle reduction, conservation easements and purchase of land, reintroducing species, and reducing land fragmentation. Founded by Michael Soule and David Foreman, WN was incorporated in 1991, seeing themselves as the "original voice for landscape connectivity", with non-governmental organizations (NGO) and governments adopting their approach to conservation.
Odd, the WN website states its headquarters is in Salt Lake City, Utah.
WN does not provide a list of their partners but can often be found on NGO websites as a partner such as Y2Y. There is also involvement with the state and federal governments, drafting and supporting legislation that implements their agenda.
For Idaho, one individual is a threat, Susan Holmes. She covers the Western Wildway and her job is coordinating the Connectivity Policy Coalition, promoting wildlife corridors and core habitat connectivity policy, and protection. She is also works to secure national monument designations in the Western Wildway, enhance protections for keystone carnivores, and incorporate wildlife connectivity into federal climate strategies. Perhaps she has already been working on this in Island Park with the recent resurfacing of a national monument designation at Mesa Falls.
The current WN Executive Director is Gregory Costello, an attorney to Connectivity Policy Coalition (CPC). In 2018 Mr. Costello received $114,788 in compensation for his work. His job includes working with Congress for national legislation; Department of Interior for corridors and connectivity; influencing federal protection of land; integrating connectivity into US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management plans; ensuring US Fish & Wildlife protects grizzlies and wolves; and working with environmental groups, with Y2Y being one of those groups. Looks like elected officials may be listening to him more than their constituents. A new WN accomplishment listed in the 2018 990 tax form was "dispelling myths about the negative Impacts of wolves to other animals, such as deer". Lots of private property owners would argue with that statement. From 2014 to 2018 the WN has continued to build its stash of money, with assets now over six million dollars.
Yep, just another NGO that is a threat to Idaho.
In this article by David Gessner, December 17, 2019, A Path Forward for Connecting Public Lands With Wildlife Corridors", he describes his plane ride over Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. He commends Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) founder Harvey Locke, for his vision to "connect the world’s first national park, Yellowstone" clear into the Yukon just for the purpose of taking one half million square miles of land where wildlife could "live and freely migrate". His description of this land he flew over is that it is "injured, battered, threatened". Nothing about his land fits his description.
But it is one statement that is disturbing, "Y2Y now includes 11 national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, provincial parks, wilderness lands, and increasingly, private lands." It is almost as if he is saying that Y2Y is its own territory, state, or providence. These parks, forests, land, and private lands are not included in any imaginary Y2Y boundary. Those lands belong to states, private owners, and national lands are only "managed" by the federal government, not owned.
This article is a good clue into environmentalist thinking. There are no jurisdictional boundaries, no sovereignty, and a heavy misconception that Y2Y has some ownership of everything within its fabricated boundary.
While this Center for Biological Diversity article is 17 years old, it clearly describes the intent behind the push for wildlife corridors. The intent is to create corridors, not that they actually exist.
As noted in other articles, wildlife corridors only serve the purpose of connectivity between protected areas with associated land use restrictions. That is why they have to be designed as wildlife do not understand they are between protected areas. These technocrats map it out only for their design of the land, how they think it should look and be managed, prevent development, and "become stronger advocates for changing human practices." Again, it is about control over land use, and us. Along with other conservation groups, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) has been an active participant in pursuing forest plan revisions for integrating their connectivity agenda and "connectivity on planning across land ownerships".
Have your elected officials include a ban on wildlife corridors, or any other type of corridor, in your comprehensive plan as these plans are one way in which corridors are advanced. It is imperative that corridor language is omitted as well as a statement that they will not be allowed.
The Wilburforce Foundation is a major funding source for non-governmental organizations (NGO) towards supporting and connecting "organizations and individuals that are committed to protecting wild places and the wildlife that depend on them." It has a funding database where funded groups can be searched, and a map of the areas they cover.
The Sonoran Institute is another funding organization for conservation with multiple partners, especially federal agencies. It also interferes in communities, deciding they know best how communities should be designed and managed.
Brainerd is another foundation that pours money into NGOs, including ones that heavily impact Idaho such as the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC), Future West (FW), and the Heart of the Rockies Initiative (HORI). In turn, the money is dribbled down to other smaller groups such as FW money being used to fund projects for the HORI, and now defunct Henry's Fork Legacy Project (HFLP). This video explains how they want to "reshape" the Island Park area.
Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) also shares money it recieves from foundations having funded GYC in 2015, 2013, and 2012 and FW in 2015,
Clearly the goal is conservation objectives in the High Divide area in the HORI, and restrictive land use practices.
Cinnabar is another foundation funding NGOs while the Ted Turner Foundation is funding multiple NGOs, including Y2Y.
These are just a few examples of funding amounts these groups receive.
Much fodder has been tossed around regarding those who oppose wildlife overpasses and their belief in conspiracies that it will eventually lead to control over land use. While this is simply fact, here is another addition that supports the eventual goal of control over land use.
Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) hired Jodi Hilty in 2015 as President and Chief Scientist. Ms. Hilty is noted for her scientific work to help expand a national park, guiding polices for Path of the Pronghorn, connectivity, and scientific need for expanded land protections. She has also "...worked to connect and protect large ecosystems globally."
Ms. Hilty's involvement in land use control goes deep. In this paper from 2014, Ms. Hilty co-authored, "Guidelines and Incentives for Conservation Development in Local Land-Use Regulations". That title says it all, "local land use regulations". The first sentence in the abstract, "Effective conservation of biological diversity on private lands will require changes in land-use policy and development practice." essentially negating any conspiracy theory about the eventual goal of land use control, control that will be accomplished through land-use policies such as comprehensive plans.
Every citizen must keep a close eye on their comprehensive plans, especially when they are being updated. Watch for language that is vague, clustered or restricted development, conservation, green spaces, growth boundaries, regulated use of private property, any language that insinuates progression towards restricted or highly regulated land use policies. Create a citizen advisory group whose task it is to provide continued monitoring of land use plans and codes. If the time comes for comprehensive plan updates, the group must thoroughly examine the language, what was removed, what was added, then create their own plan based on what the community wants. This must be presented to the elected officials as a citizen guided plan for any changes. Don't forget, these planning folks create the plan and present it to you as a done deal. It is not a done deal, you as citizens have the right to make the final decision on how your community looks, and managed.
While conservation initiatives and non-governmental organizations (NGO) have been busy targeting land for conservation, it seems they aren't too busy to now target hunters and bring them into their nest.
The most explicit example is from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). As the title suggests, this is a group for conservation which typically means conserving land for non-use. A couple of things to note about this group. First, it is a partner with multiple non-governmental organizations (NGO) that primarily work to protect habitat and put all land into conservation for restricted use, and many of which also partner with Yellowstone to Yukon. Secondly, they are putting on a show of support for hunting and opening access to "landlocked public lands". This new tactic includes partnerships with corporations, NGOs, international organizations, land trusts, all with similar conservation objectives. TRCP's call for increasing the number of hunters is "...because the implications for conservation are dire...".
Starting with their article, onX and TRCP Partner for Landlocked Public Access, these two groups begin with the premise that they will help increase access for hunters on public land. However, instead of meeting with true hunters they chose to meet with "outdoor media, conservation experts and industry leaders". These are the individuals who will be solving the hunter's problem of access? Their "report" will be taken to Washington D.C. for lobbying on your behalf. However, before they let you read that report they want information on you, so to spare the reader from this, here is the report, which is nothing more than a lobbying campaign for re-authorizing the LWCF. For those not familiar with the Land and Water Conservation Fund, it is a Department of Interior (DOI) funding program for conservation and conservation groups, such as TRCP, who are frightened at the prospect they may lose this money for implementing their conservation goals. While the fund was originally intended for recreational access, it has become a money trough for federal acquisition of land and NGO conservation objectives, even Rep. Bishop recognizes this. What better way to correct this injustice than to initiate a Madison avenue advertising campaign that lures hunter support with a veiled ruse of supporting access to hunting. The LWCF is due to sunset at the end of September this year which is why this rubbish is being pursued so aggressively.
In the article there is reference to a "checkerboard" of land ownership and that statement is significant for the plans being laid on how you will be allowed to hunt. Among other groups, Y2Y, Western Governor's Association (WGA), and Sec. Zinke are all in on the push to create wildlife corridors, which are often designated as protected land. In order to pursue their corridor objectives they must first resolve the checkerboard of land ownership which means, as much as possible, purchasing private land for conservation easements, which, as Rep. Bishop states, often ends up in federal hands. Corridors are used for linkage between protected areas such as national parks, forests, or wilderness areas for "connectivity". One egregious example in Idaho was the Stimpson Lumber conservation easement purchase, Clagstone Meadows. This land, in which Y2Y was involved, was purchased for linkage between protected areas and is now state owned land.
TRCP defines "landlocked" land as "...federally managed lands that cannot be accessed directly from a public road (direct access) and cannot be accessed via adjoining public land by way of a public road (indirect access)." That means in their checkerboard scenario private land is the barrier. Case in point, the article states after analyzing public land data, they determined that access to public land is often inaccessible due to private land as a case in Montana was mentioned. It states they viewed "...a large swath of public land that, due to a strip of private land along the road, is wholly inaccessible to the public." In their scheme, if that private land could be placed into a conservation easement the public land would then be accessible. At least they were honest in identifying who would unlock that land, "...conservation groups and public land management agencies...". They are giving a dubious impression that suddenly there would be access to public land by conservation easements on private land.
The Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network (LCCN) states their work is "...to identify the best places to target conservation and land protection proposals to provide recreational access for hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts." How does conserved or protected land provide access? In reality it doesn't. Other conservation groups such as the High Divide Collaborative are vested in wildlife conservation with "landscape conservation design" methods, and it isn't for hunting access. It is about conserving land for more controlled, restricted, or banned use and any hunter can testify to the fact their access to hunting is being dramatically reduced and more difficult to access. Hopefully this explains why.
According to the National Conservation Easement Database (click on Idaho), the majority of easements are held by the state, federal government, and NGOs with over 50% having closed access.
Representation by elected officials was the way in which hunting used to be managed through legislation and statutes that determined how state agencies operated. Now those agencies are driven by special interest groups and corporations with no representation of Idaho hunters. While not listed as a partner on the TRCP website, their 2018 990 tax form form identifies their close relationship with government agencies.
"Following the Interior Department's Secretarial Order 3362, initiating the first-ever policies aimed at conserving migration corridorts, the TRCP worked with governors, state fish and wildlife agencies, and the Bureau of Land Mangement to help agency officials prioritize the study and long-term conservation of individual deer, elk, and pronghorn migration routes. In late 2018, each of the 11 western states released action plans that prioritize conservation of these habitats. In Wyoming, the TRCP has been working to ensure that all BLM proposed energy leases located in migration corridors include stipulations that ensure the continued function of these habitats. Through local organizing, letters, mapping handouts, and media outreach we werre successful in persuading the BLM to defter some lease parcels in the 2018 quarter 3 and quarter 4 lease sales."
While there is a plethora of other information regarding this issue, the message here is hunters beware. This media blitz by TRCP is nothing more than a covert way in which to make you believe they are advocating for you to increase access on public lands, but is really about using you to support their soon to end, taxpayer funded money stream for their conservation objectives which includes more land placed into conservation and turned over to federal and state hands. None of this increases access but rather contributes and accelerates continued limitations for hunting.
The Sonoran Institute is an organization that believes its job across western states, and even Mexico, is to "connect people...with natural resources", "where people and wildlife live in harmony" and "where clean water, air, and energy are assured". Sonoran staff and board members are from all over the United States and include former National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees. Partners include federal agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and others.
In 2012, Sonoran and the BLM launched a project called "Sustaining Large Landscape Conservation Partnerships: Strategies for Success. This was shortly after the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives were illegally created in 2010 by the President at the time via a memorandum. Sonoran and the BLM held workshops "to highlight key principles for developing and sustaining landscape-scale collaborative efforts."
Collaboration is a principle for all of these groups, collaboration between themselves that is. Seven principles for collaboration were identified for large landscape conservation partnerships to succeed in the long term. Those include building lasting relationships, agreeing on legal sideboards, encouraging diverse participation, working at an appropriate scale, empowering the group, sharing resources, and building internal support. While Sonoran also claims building at a grassroots level and encouraging diverse perspectives, none of it is true. All of these collaborators are individuals with the same ideology, there is nothing grassroots or community based about them, and diverse opinions are not typically tolerated. Why would these groups, so invested in conserving land for non-use, creating a wildlife zoo for animals over development, ever want to listen to someone who did not want these objectives in their community, let alone the deliberate ignoring of jurisdictional boundaries?
The booklet is an interesting read for those who want a picture of their agenda for deciding how your community should look. One resource cited is the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC) which covers northwest states, including Idaho through its participation with Salmon Valley Stewardship in central Idaho and Heart of the Rockies Initiative which has a massive agenda to redesign land located in the High Divide.
Collaboration is a big theme for those who wish to determine how rural communities should designed, from how people live, to how the land is used. But collaboration is really how these groups collaborate together, it does not include those who live in their targeted areas. Citizens in those areas should create their own collaborative group and counter every attempt for these groups to make decisions for them. Time is running short to stop these groups.
Many may not be aware of an Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) rule that was passed in 2005 regarding how wolf reintroduction in Idaho and other states can be managed. Good information to know if you have a wolf encounter.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has approved changes in the way reintroduced wolves can be managed in Idaho south of Interstate 90 and in parts of Montana.
The new "10j rules" will take effect February 7. The "10j" refers to the section of the federal Endangered Species Act regarding wolf reintroduction in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
The new "10j" rules apply to wolves in Idaho and Montana that are the result of reintroduction in Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996. These populations are listed as "experimental non-essential" and will not be affected by a federal court ruling on January 31 regarding "threatened" wolves north of Interstate-90.
The new rule essentially does two things- it gives state residents more latitude in dealing with problem wolves, and it will eventually give the states of Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolves.
The new 10j rule applies only to Idaho south of I-90 and Montana (south of I-90 and south of the Missouri River). In those areas, the new 10j rule indicates:
- Anyone may harass a wolf in a non-injurious and opportunistic manner (scaring it and running it off in a way that doesn't hurt the wolf) at any time. Such harassment must be reported within seven days.
- Wolves seen attacking livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals, and dogs on private land can be shot by the landowners without prior written authorization. It must be reported within 24 hours and there must be evidence of a wolf attack such as dead or wounded livestock, trampled vegetation, and mixed wolf and livestock sign.
- Wolves attacking, chasing, molesting, or harassing livestock and livestock herding and guarding animals on public federal lands can be shot by grazing permittees and guide/outfitters who use livestock as part of their federal land-use permit, on their active livestock allotments, and on public ceded lands by Tribal members, without prior written authorization. It must be reported within 24 hours and there must be physical evidence of a wolf attack.
- Under some circumstances landowners and public land grazing permittees and guide/outfitting permittees may be issued written authorization to use rubber bullets to harass wolves, or shoot-on-sight permits to kill wolves on their private land or their federal grazing federal allotments.
The new rule also allows the states of Idaho and Montana to petition the USFWS for additional authority to manage wolves. Negotiations are currently underway with USFWS over what specific authorities Idaho Fish and Game will have in wolf management in the future.
Additionally of interest to hunters, the new rule also allows the states of Idaho and Montana to ask USFWS for permission to remove wolves that are having a demonstrated negative effect on deer and elk herds. The states will need to provide scientific evidence of the effect of wolves and engage other scientists and the public in reviewing any proposal to remove wolves. Idaho is currently analyzing data and studying game units in which the Department is receiving hunter complaints and may be showing biological signs of having wolf impacts on elk herds. The USFWS will have the final say on whether or not to accept any proposal from the state.
Eventually state officials hope to see wolves removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act so wolves can be managed and hunted similar to bears and mountain lions and within the guidelines of the State Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The changes to the 10j rule are a step in that direction.
For the past year, Idaho Fish and Game has been preparing to play a greater role in wolf management so more decisions regarding wolves are made at the state rather than the federal level. Federal funds were used to hire two biologists to expand the Department's ability to trap, radio collar monitor, and manage wolves. Additionally, these federal funds allow biologists and conservation officers from around Idaho to participate in wolf monitoring and management.
While radio collars help biologists keep track of wolves, reports from the public are also important. The department is particularly interested in information regarding wolf pack activity, reproductive activity, and wolves frequenting new areas. Please report wolf activity on the department's website at this link. The report will immediately be sent to Idaho Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Wildlife Services, and the Nez Perce Tribe. Biologists may follow up with questions so the report form should be filled out as fully and accurately as possible.
If anyone believes they have a wolf-related depredation, wolf mortality, or other incident that requires immediate attention, they should contact the local Fish and Game Officer, the nearest Fish and Game Regional Office, the USDA Wildlife Services (1-866-0487-3297) or the Nez Perce Tribe (208-634-1061.)
More complete information on wolves and their management can be found on the Fish and Game website at this link.