The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has released its draft Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP). This lists proposed projects for the next seven years (FY21-27), and includes programmed improvements to highways, bicycle routes, airports, pedestrian projects, freight, safety projects, bridges and public transportation. It is an opportunity for the public to comment on transportation projects in District 6 which includes Fremont county and Island Park.
All projects in District 6 can be found here. So far it appears projects on Hwy 20 include only road repairs, upgrades, and bridge repairs.
Starting on page 89 of this document, all projects in Fremont county are listed. Again, there does not appear to be any references to wildlife overpasses.
However, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) is keeping its eye on ITD. "Now is the perfect time for Idaho to make mitigation for wildlife a priority in the project’s initial planning, budgeting and engineering process." Reference is made to the 2018 Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) migration corridors action plan that is based only on a Department of Interior (DOI) Secretarial Order (SO) 3362. There is no federal or state law that endorses this action even though Congress continually tries to pass legislation to support wildlife corridors.
In the IDFG plan Hwy 20 is specifically mentioned as a priority corridor from Ashton to the Montana line, page 14. The whole area is smothered with alleged migration routes on the maps, to the point where there could be no human presence without "disturbing" the wildlife. It is only common sense that living with wildlife in Island Park has been a peaceful co-existence for decades.
Y2Y is at it again, they will be interfering with local jurisdictional authority and citizens to push their agenda for wildlife overpasses. This time they have assistance from the Henry's Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA), which is really the Idaho Wildlife Federation. But it is still all the same players, jumbled up a bit.
Island Park citizens need to keep an eye on these transportation projects and watch for insertion of wildlife overpasses into the projects. Also keep an eye on Y2Y and HFWA buddying up to ITD as was done before on the Targhee Pass project. Advocate early for preventative measures to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions, there are plenty of them. Let ITD know where you stand.
After months of waiting, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) have final released the final Environmental Assessment (EA) document and Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI) documents. The previously selected Alternative 3 was kept and includes the following:
The quest to insert wildlife overpasses continues with the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) joining hands with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC). Just as Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) tried, transportation projects are being used to get the job done for overpasses.
IWF provided recommendations to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) for underpasses and overpasses on specific ITD projects. Starting on adobe page 123 in this document, the IWF recommended overpasses at several Idaho locations in the FY2020-26 Draft Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP). Although IWF identified and commented on several transportation projects throughout Idaho, specific comments on Island Park were omitted even though IWF provided a map of the area.
GYC also provided comments on Hwy 20 in Island Park including US 20, JCT SH 87 to MT state line (Targhee Pass) PH 1 & PH 2 (Key#14054). With the proposed widening of Targhee Pass, GYC recommends that all phases of this project incorporate mitigation for wildlife vehicle collisions and wildlife movement. This is important core and connective habitat for Yellowstone grizzly bears and other Yellowstone wildlife;
US20, Buffalo River Bridge to Island Park Lodge, Fremont County (Key 20435). With the widening of the road to include a passing lane, consider an increased bridge span (underpass) to allow for wildlife movement;
US20, Pinehaven to Buffalo River Bridge, Fremont County (Key# 20486). GYC strongly encourages ITD to consider wildlife movement and wildlife vehicle collisions. The widening of Hwy 20 with a passing lane without wildlife mitigation may increase wildlife vehicle collisions and create a permanent barrier to wildlife movement;
US20, Sheep Falls to Pinehaven Passing Lanes, Fremont County (Key# 20581). GYC strongly encourages ITD to consider wildlife movement and wildlife vehicle collisions. The widening of Hwy 20 with a passing lane without wildlife mitigation may increase wildlife vehicle collisions and create a permanent barrier to wildlife movement;
US20, Pinehaven to Buffalo River Bridge, Fremont County (Key#21920). GYC strongly encourages ITD to consider wildlife movement and wildlife vehicle collisions. The widening of Hwy 20 with a passing lane without wildlife mitigation may increase wildlife vehicle collisions and create a permanent barrier to wildlife movement; and
US20, Fall River Bridge, Fremont County (Key#ORN22234). This is an important area for big game movement, particularly moose. GYC encourages ITD to incorporate mitigation to allow for wildlife movement (expanding the bridge span, underpass) and reduce wildlife vehicle collisions.
The above recommendations was signed by Kathy Rinaldi, Idaho Conservation Coordinator. No name was given for IWF however it most likely written by Brian Brooks, IWF Executive Director.
Complicit in this is ITD. As it was learned that Y2Y was influencing, perhaps even directing ITD on overpasses, it appears now that GYC has joined hands with ITD for the same objective. These comments were given in July/August, 2019. How interesting there was no local Island Park residents involved.
In May, 2019, Jason Minzghor, ITD District 6 Engineer, was pursuing money for the exact same projects listed by Kathy Rinaldi. All of this in spite of the fact that Fremont County citizens had soundly rejected any overpasses in Island Park. This cannot possible be a coincidence, instead of Y2Y, ITD is now working with GYC as shown by their direct involvement in funding the purchase of conservation easements for overpasses in Southeast Idaho.
On adobe page 59 in this document, Mr. Minzghor is requesting to "increase professional services agreement amount to over $1,000,000 for JUB Engineers" for US-20 Projects Sheep Falls to Pine Haven, Pine Haven to Buffalo River Bridge, and Buffalo River Bridge to Island Park Lodge, Fremont County. The initial cost paid to JUB for studying the area was $283,565. But now the request is an estimated $3.24M! This cost is intended to "complete the preliminary design of these projects" and collaboration "to transition into construction in order to meet the accelerated schedules for these projects." Why is the schedule accelerated? And why such a dramatic cost increase?
Are wildlife underpasses, so desperately wanted by GYC, part of this new cost? Some research into this will need to be done to determine exactly what ITD plans to do with this money. One fact for sure is that the IWF supports the same objectives as GYC, fencing, underpasses and overpasses, and eventual declaration of wildlife corridors. Once again, Island Park residents are being left out of any opportunity to comment on these projects.
What is the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) really about? Many sportsmen, and women, have been led to believe that IWF is a pro-hunting advocacy group. Looking at their activities and associations creates some concerns about this position.
When Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) failed in their mission to have wildlife overpasses desecrate the Island Park area, and now IWF being an "affiliate" of the Henry's Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA) taking over the cause, it is important to understand IWF is just as consumed with the same objectives as Y2Y. Along with Y2Y doing the same, IWF has revamped their website through one year of free marketing from the Drake Cooper Advertising Dream Big program to create a "fresh brand identity aligning with our values" in order to grow their membership.
As much as IWF tries to dissociate itself from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), it is an affiliate with NWF being a Y2Y partner, IWF even paying annual membership dues. In the Y2Y Safer roads for Idaho campaign promoting wildlife overpasses, along with Y2Y, IWF partners with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG), The Nature Conservancy, and Wildlife Conservation Society. IWF has cited its support for "connected landscapes", and wildlife overpasses which are needed for connectivity.
It just so happens that NWF and Y2Y are International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) members, just type their names in the search box. IUCN is a non-governmental organization (NGO) vested in protecting land and habitat, not using it. Now why would IWF want to be even indirectly associated with the IUCN through its partnerships?
IWF attempts to dilute their mission with other NGOs involved in protecting wildlife and habitat, but the statement, "may differ on political or personal philosophies" is negated with "we share a common passion for the resource none the less." That passion is conservation. The statement, "IWF fosters and promotes a general and continued movement for the conservation, restoration, protection, and scientific supervision of all game, fish, fowl, and other wildlife in the state" pretty much summarizes most of its activity. Just looking at IWF affiliate NWF, the wildlife conservation focus is protecting endangered species, recovering wildlife such as wolves and sage grouse, and advocating for conservation policies.
Current IWF Board of Directors include Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) and Trout Unlimited (TU) members, with an Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation liaison. Past directors include Idaho Conservation League (ICL), IDFG Commission, and Idaho Department of Lands individuals. The 2018 990 tax form lists other NGO board members, Michael Gibson, TU Idaho Field Coordinator, and Neil Thagard, former TRCP Western Outreach Director. Several of these NGOs have been in partnership with Y2Y such as ICL, NWF, TU, BHA, TRCP, and IDFG.
IWF believes private property owners trespass across public land by blocking access, even having a snitch and reward program for owners who post no trespassing signs. IDFG has a program, Access Yes!, where hunters can access public land for hunting and a trespassing law specific to the issue of accessing public land over private property, a law that was enacted because of private property owner problems with trash and damage on their property from individuals crossing their property without permission. IWF is once again bringing a previously failed bill to the legislature this year that includes civil penalties for property owners, which ICL "friends" have supported. Who made IWF the Mayberry Sheriff?
In testimony to the Idaho Subcommittee on Public Land and Forests, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2006, IWF was very clearly opposed to relinquishing public land for use, or "grandfathering in any further uses than already exist in the Wilderness Act." IWF strongly supports federal land ownership and management.
If there is any question that IWF wants expanded conservation of land, IWF recommended incorporation of a 85,930 conservation area to ensure protection, avoiding and minimizing development, support for migration corridors, and continued conservation of land on a Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan in 2019. IWF also recommended a retention and expansion of the ACECs. Interestingly, IWF also states, "multiple uses often may not be compatible with each other on the same landscape" and "outdoor recreation negatively impacts wildlife". Recommendations for grazing included tightly controlled "timing, intensity, duration and frequency...to meet the needs of CSTG". IWF has been involved in other grazing lawsuits, and has also supported displacement of sheep grazing for Grizzly protection, which didn't appear to be associated with increased hunting opportunities. Pretty big statements on controlled or non-use of public land.
Along with their other NGO buddies, IWF is a partner with Advocates for the West which is the highly funded legal organization that files suits on behalf of environmental groups. IWF even joins hands with ICL, Idaho Sierra Club, and Idaho Rivers United (IRU) on issues, participates in lawsuits with the same, for years, even to "repeatedly work in combination to attack the Dams" as stated by one Judge.
These groups sue for conservation issues, not hunting access. IWF has no problem suing cattle associations for wildlife and habitat protection, not for increased hunting, but because it "favors domestic livestock grazing" over sage grouse habitat protection. Partnerships in conservation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service, along with other NGOs, is no problem for IWF. Suing for conservation of wildlife gives the appearance of increasing wildlife numbers for hunting, but with those wildlife on conserved land, does hunting benefit?
Over the years, IWF has opposed mining, dredging, dam construction, and predator control; facilitated the establishment of wilderness areas; supported the Salmon River Wild & Scenic designation and IDFG fee increases; "influence the decisions that will preserve sage grouse habitat and enhance sage grouse populations", and has jointly sued on grazing issues. Nothing here reflects more access to hunting or other recreational opportunities. Many of these activities have only increased the cost of hunting and more land use restrictions. More recently, IWF supported the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness designation via a letter to Governor Otter stating, "the area would have the highest level of protection". Wilderness designations and other protected areas such as national monuments are needed for NGO connectivity agendas. The updated IWF website doesn't provide this type of information, and continues to be involved in Idaho's dredge mining issues, which ICL especially opposes.
There are a couple of other issues not mentioned on the website. As a prior IWF partner, BHA has now been removed. Also, IWF was a founding member of Save Our Wild Salmon (SOWS) which supports dam removal, wild & scenic river designations, and continues to be a member along with their other NGO pals. So intimate is the relationship between IWF and SOWS, that Brian Brooks, IWF Executive Director (ED) is a SOWS board member. As a member of the Idaho Salmon Workgroup, IWF Mr. Brooks advocates for increased salmon, just short of asking for dam breaching. However, just like IWF friends, dam breaching is the favor of IRU and ICL. Now why would the IWF ED choose to be part of an NGO that supports the same issues as Earthjustice? In spite of Governor Little stating he doesn't believe breaching dams would recover salmon, he chose to put dam breaching advocates on the workgroup.
Some other interesting IWF positions include "prioritizing habitat protection, restoration"; advocating for "state and federal programs that aid and reward landowners to protect these habitats"; incentivizing "landowners from selling open space to development"; and continuing "to grow our outreach and conservation on private lands in Idaho." This is all about conserving land for wildlife and habitat. The juxtaposition here is both the IWF and their NGO friends want to protect or conserve wildlife and habitat for enhancing wildlife numbers, however IWF claims it is to protect hunting and fishing, which is not the stated position of some other NGOs, or even in their 2018 990 tax form.
IWF has a long history in political advocacy. They were instrumental in creating the Idaho Fish & Game Commission for the sole purpose of conservation and under the Obama administration joined hands with other conservation NGOs for the "shared goal of protecting wildlife and natural resources from the impacts of global warming".
In spite of IWF expounding on working for access to hunting and increasing wildlife numbers and their habitat, there is nothing to be found on what exactly it has accomplished to achieve this mission. Instead, the same as Y2Y, IWF supports wildlife overpasses, migration corridors, partner with other NGOs that pursue non-use of land, accepts funding for the Y2Y program area from the same foundations as other NGOs, and everything it participates in is related to land conservation and non-use. Its 2017 990 tax form even states its program service accomplishments include "education of the public about the conservation and protection of our natural resources, wildlife, and wildlife habitat". It doesn't state anything about increasing wildlife populations for hunting or access.
NWF supported the introduction of wolves, citing "there is little biological need for restrictions." and "played a key role in developing" the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan that "called for wolves to be translocated to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho; fostered natural re-colonization in northwestern Montana as wolves moved southward from Canada"; opposed reclassification of the gray wolf to a “threatened” status; and removal of protection under the Endangered Species Act. Even though it was in 1997, IWF joined NWF and Defenders of Wildlife in a lawsuit to keep wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Since wolves have been reintroduced, they have caused massive devastation to local economies and lives, and contribute to reduced Elk populations. Are wolves included in the IWF wildlife protections, the same as their NWF affiliate?
Prior to the new website, the IWF mission was to foster and promote "a general and continued movement for the conservation, restoration, protection, and scientific supervision of all game, fish, fowl, and other wildlife in its habitat in the state." and "defeat bills that would roll back fish and wildlife protections". Nothing has changed with IWF, just the messaging. IWF partners with NGOs that are diametrically opposed to the promotion of hunting and use of land, rather conserving and protecting it for "future generations". It is clear that IWF actively promotes conservation of land, not use, supports positions through associations that would economically devastate land owners through dam removal and restricted grazing, protected designations, civil actions with penalties against land owners, and keeping land under federal management.
Perhaps current IWF membership is because of these conservation values, more so than for the hunting or increased access. It might be that members are aware of IWF activities that are heavily focused on land and wildlife protection and are fully comfortable with those activities. However, maybe members should be more aware of IWF involvement with other NGOs who have specific missions for non-use of land.
Increasing wildlife numbers through land conservation actions does not necessarily equate to hunting access. Once recovered or restored, the effort will be for continued conservation, protecting that recovery and restoration, and not necessarily for use. None of these NGOs or IWF itself talk about what happens after wildlife is restored or recovered, just protection into the future. Maybe those who belong to IWF, TRCP, or BHA have the same conservationist philosophy, that land, wildlife, and habitat should be protected into perpetuity, holding the belief that this will increase access to hunting, which is fine. However, there are hunters who believe that hunting has become more difficult and over regulated because of these conservation activities. Each hunter should understand the full picture of these advocacy groups and make their own decisions.
Ben Goldfarb is an environmental journalist based in Spokane, Washington, whose work has appeared in multiple publications on various environmental causes, and is even himself a book author.
Mr. Goldfarb recently published an article in the High County News (HCN), When wildlife safety turns into fierce political debate, regarding the wildlife overpass issue in Island Park. Apparently, Mr. Goldfarb considers himself a thorough researcher as he touched on several issues, making sure he berated not only local residents he met in September, 2019, but also took aim at others involved in this controversy.
But let us start with his need to bloviate, using words in a pretentious manner, that were nothing more than insults, from the way Ken Watts dressed, mocking his writing skills, even speculating the reasons why Mr. Watts and his group met early to have breakfast. Also insulting was the description, "squats a subdivision", about residents who opposed overpasses in their area. None of these negative descriptive features were leveled towards his environmental friend Kim Trotter whom he also met at a restaurant, her spokespersons, or others who were involved in wildlife overpass studies.
Foregoing corrections about his inaccuracies on ungulate deaths and wildlife vehicle collision (WVC) data, his nauseating but flowery overview of the Island Park area, actual wildlife overpass cost of $23 million, and support of organizational partners with Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), Mr. Goldfarb proceeded with everything he could to justify why rejection of wildlife overpasses was incomprehensible. But he fails to mention, or even admit, that these overpasses were a well coordinated effort between Y2Y, their now defunct Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage Initiative and Henry's Fork Legacy Project front groups, and Idaho government. While downplaying the effort for Island Park to be designated a national monument, he completely missed the amount of documentation that validated the funding effort to achieve this goal by the Obama administration and local groups. The effort far exceeded his lame description and was only dismissed because of its exposure and Obama leaving office.
In a feeble attempt to describe Coordination as a "provision" in federal law, he even botched what Coordination really means. No, Mr. Goldfarb, it is federal law. Coordination laws are there for the purpose of protecting local jurisdictional authority. Mr. Goldfarb, in our form of government, a Republic, representation is from the bottom up, not top down. The federal government cannot just come in to execute some project, federal law states any action must be "coordinated" with local jurisdictions to ensure "consistency" with local land use plans. Courts have supported local jurisdictions in their legal right for Coordination when federal agencies have failed to comply. It is highly recommended that Mr. Goldfarb study our government system and how it works. Holding an advisory vote is another example of local jurisdictional authority, citizen authority if you will, that to Mr. Goldfarb's chagrin, wields "powerful influence".
While Mr. Goldfarb describes Y2Y as a "wildlife group", the truth is Y2Y is an organization that collects millions of dollars from wealthy foundations and the government, with very specific goals of putting as much land as possible into protection through various activities. Described as "a germ of misinterpreted truth", one writer was accused of "hyperbolic claims". In actual truth, every word written about Y2Y, Ms. Trotter, connectivity, and corridors is backed by documentation. But you know that, don't you Mr. Goldfarb. Even the fact about Y2Y's International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) membership, a United Nations (UN) partner, is known to you, but you chose to phrase it under the UN only for a more cryptic delivery to the reader. Never underestimate citizen knowledge about Y2Y Mr. Goldfarb, there are no theories about what Y2Y and other conservation groups are doing. As for being a writer for "right wing" sites, they are no more right wing than your extreme left wing site, High Country News.
No, Ms. Trotter, your Y2Y "large landscape connectivity" does not, and has never, protected the eastern Idaho way of life. It has been the citizens living in that area who have protected it, both wildlife and land. While you may find what is described as "attacks" as "specious", everything written about Y2Y and your activity had documentation to back it up. At no time were you "tarred as a carpetbagger", but rather as the Y2Y U.S. Program Director who was tasked with the job of getting overpasses into the transportation projects at Island Park, and who also did not live in the area. The colossal failure of Y2Y front groups to meet the overpass objectives have led to an Idaho Wildlife Federation front group, Henry's Fork Wildlife Alliance. They too will fail. And by the way, instead of your being open at the 2016 IPPC meeting about your involvement with previous studies, you chose to not disclose this information. In your stead, Ms. Bjerke and others have become your spokespersons.
The true fait accompli was not animal detection systems, it was the planned and coordinated effort between Y2Y, Idaho Transportation Department, and Idaho Fish & Game for wildlife overpasses.
So much more could be written about this bombastic article, so full of bias, distortions, fabrications, and errors. However, as a freelance writer, Mr. Goldfarb may have been paid for this purpose. A truth Mr. Goldfarb must learn to live with is that regardless of city or county population, authority on land use lies within those jurisdictions. It is local government jurisdictions that make decisions about land use, not well funded organizations. In spite of what Mr. Goldfarb chooses to either believe or not understand, corridors are used for connectivity, and land use restrictions are part of corridors. Even the Targhee Pass Environmental Assessment highlighted land use restrictions would be necessary around the overpasses.
Keep your work in Washington Mr. Goldfarb, Idaho does not need, nor want, your biased perspectives that support conservation organization objectives. Idahoans know the truth, no amount of writing that you do will influence any of them, you are wasting your time and energy on Idaho issues.
Yeah, so, like, East Idaho News conducted an interview with the newly hired Henry's Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA) program coordinator. Originally from Connecticut, she spent time in Vermont growing up, and moved to Idaho in June of this year.
Prior to her acceptance of the program coordinator position, Ms. Cubells stated she originally came out west for a one year "internship". What she failed to mention is that internship was with Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y). Although Ms. Cubells states she loves Island Park, she instead chooses to live 74 miles away in Victor, perhaps to be in the safe space of her comrades from Y2Y and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. She was quite complimentary about Island Park and the abundance of wildlife. Now for belonging to groups that want to conserve wildlife, why is it that Island Park, without engaging in wildlife conservation, has such an abundance for her to enjoy?
Ms. Cubells is excited to be part of HFWA because it is a "grassroots" organization, comprised of local people who came together. Not true Ms. Cubells, the Island Park Safe Wildlife Passage Initiative (IPSWPI) was created by Kim Trotter from Y2Y and was comprised of a few Island Park citizens, many who did not live there as residents, and still don't. Its sole purpose was for wildlife overpasses along Hwy 20. When that group failed in its objectives for overpasses it was turned over to IWF with a new name, HFWA.
When asked about the wildlife overpass issue Ms. Cubells tenuously went through an explanation of the issue, as if making sure a newly crafted message was delivered. She stated the local concern was actually about human-wildlife conflict and safe "crossings", not necessarily overpasses. Not once did IPSWPI ever promote anything but overpasses. It was also Y2Y having a relationship with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), being aware of upcoming transportation projects, and creating IPSWPI as the vehicle to promote wildlife overpasses.
She stated her father's family hunted and HFWA and its affiliate, Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF), supported hunting. But she failed to also mention that IWF supports wildlife overpasses, highly regulated public land use, keeping Idaho land in federal government hands, wildlife corridors, and locking up land with wilderness area designations. Ms. Cubells admitted to not being a hunter, nor does she fly fish, but "loves being outdoors", without identifying what exactly it is that she does outdoors except hiking.
Ms. Cubells also claimed HFWA was formed out of the conflict regarding wildlife overpasses and that everyone shares concern about wildlife. Again Ms. Cubells, the conflict was about individuals and groups coming into the Island Park community with intentions to change it, including lofty goals of connectivity. Surely she is aware of this. As usual, there was no mention of this in her talk, a continued avoidance of what the issue is really about.
There will never be any common ground Ms. Cubells. There are no solutions to a falsely created narrative of human-wildlife conflicts. Y2Y created the conflict problem and is unwilling to acknowledge and respect Island Park citizens right to manage their own community. That does not include any Y2Y vision for connectivity. The amount of money flowing into these groups must be pretty hefty with all of the advertising about Ms. Cubells but it can't offset what is right.
In March, 2019 the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society (ICTWS) held a conference, "Leaping Into Leadership: Creating Conservation's Future.” This conference again confirms that Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) not only pals around with non-governmental organizations (NGO) but also supports them and holds the same beliefs. IDFG was one of the "Gold" sponsors of this conference for somewhere between $1,200-$1,999 dollars. The Idaho Department of Lands was a "Bronze" sponsor for somewhere between $100-499 dollars. It's nice to know how our tax dollars are being spent, or rather wasted.
IDFG employees JJ Teare and Shane Roberts apparently are members of ICTWS, serving on the Elections/Nominations Committee. Rita Dixon, IDFG State Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator, and IDFG Biologist, Bill Doering, are listed as co-chairs of the ICTWS Idaho Bat Working Group. Toby Boudreau, IDFG Bureau Chief of Wildlife, also gave brief talk.
There were also other IDFG employees present who support wildlife overpasses. Hilary Turner, an assistant to Renee Seidler, both of whom have worked together for the ICTWS attended. Ms. Turner spoke on Citizen Science and Road Ecology Intersect: Inspiring Local Passion for Roadkill Data Collection. The IDFG Idaho Master Naturalists are considered the "citizen science". Gregg Servheen, IDFG Wildlife Program Coordinator, and Ms. Seidler spoke on the Management of Wildlife Migration and Movement in Idaho: Keeping the Path Clear. Wildlife overpasses were most likely part of that talk.
It is appalling that our tax dollar continues to be used for IDFG support of NGOs, rather than Idahoans. These are alliances that must be stopped by our legislature, and the out of control IDFG needs to be monitored better and its activities scrutinized.
It seems the Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA) has "hired" themselves a program coordinator, Sarah Cubells, the money coming from Island Park "locals" and Fremont County. Taxpayers from Fremont County are footing this cost, who authorized that? Perhaps an inquiry should be made to the county as to how much money is contributing to this position. This gal isn't even from Idaho originally having just moved here, and doesn't even live in Island Park, but rather lives in an area that is closely associated with large non-governmental associations. Her background is exotic animals in another country, not wildlife native to Island Park. Lots of money to advertise this around, who else is footing this bill? Interestingly, this announcement isn't on the HFWA website as of today,
However, Ms. Cubells assignment is described as HFWA administrative support for communications and outreach, and working with the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) to bring local members to Boise to meet with legislators. Sounds like lobbying, is HFWA allowed to do that as a non-profit? Or is this a way around the rules? It is also known that IWF is notorious for alerting their members to legislative hearings, wearing the same colored shirts to identify themselves, giving a false impression that their majority rules.
One IRS definition on non-profit lobbying includes, "An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation." Does carting local people off to Boise to meet with legislators meet that definition?
While HFWA continues to espouse they are a grassroots organization, many of whom are residents in other states only coming to Island Park as a summer vacation spot, and are the only ones who care about wildlife, the truth is prior to their arrival in Island Park it was the residents of Island Park that ensured the protection of wildlife and the area that prompted them to fall in love with it. That was all done without agendas, overpasses, fencing, lobbyists, or other nefarious activity such as questionable relationships with larger non-governmental organizations or state employees.
It is befuddling as to why these groups don't understand that individuals and groups from outside the area, who don't live or have any history with it, believe it is within their right to come into the area and start dictating how the area is managed. Perhaps a campaign should start with Island Park residents traveling to these other hometowns and start interfering with how their towns are run.
The Henry's Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA) is an affiliate of the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) which in turn is a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) affiliate. Now the NWF has quite the support from corporate sponsors and partners such as Bank of America, General Motors, eDemocracy.us LLC, and Subaru to just name a few. One of purposes of these partnerships is to "support meaningful conservation programs". The NFW website lists their mission and strategic plan as:
Perhaps little known is the fact that the NWF was "a founding member of IUCN back in 1948". Interesting that this isn't mentioned in the NWF history. The IUCN stands for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature which historically has included a partnership with the United Nations (UN). There are several themes the IUCN focuses on, one of which is protected areas. NWF continues to be a member of the IUCN which can be found by typing their name in the search box, along with Yellowstone to Yukon.
Just this year, NFW recognized the IUCN declaration of needing more action on wildlife conservation and are supporting the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, along with the IWF. This bill would provide funding for species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) conservation that is administered by state wildlife action plans such as through Idaho Fish & Game, which by the way was a federally required program for all states. The IUCN goal is protecting half of the earth for nature. Harvey Locke, co-founder of Yellowstone to Yukon and IUCN member, is promoting this goal through his work as strategic advisor to Yellowstone to Yukon, and their related partners such as NWF.
It is difficult to understand the dichotomy between what IWF claims it supports such as hunting when everything they support is conservation related such as wildlife overpasses, keeping public lands with the federal government, even the designation of wilderness areas. Other than wanting to conserve and protect everything, where is the description of how these activities support hunting, it just references increasing wildlife numbers. Conserved and protected areas such as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) prohibit hunting or any other recreational activity.
Just this year IWF recommended protection of chukar habitat, pronghorn, and a mule deer winter range in the Bureau of Land Management Four Rivers draft resource management plan. How does protection support hunting? In case of any legal entanglement, IWF has the financial backing and legal assistance of Advocates for the West, which defends land conservation.
Idaho Fish & Game has a program, Access Yes!, that identifies access to public land, yet IWF supports trespassing over private property and a snitch program. Idaho has a trespass law that outlines protection of private property rights, yet IWF doesn't seem to understand those rights. It is not unreasonable for a private property owner to request their rights are protected. The issue doesn't seem to be about supporting hunting, but rather a attack on private property rights.
Each of these organizations partner together because they hold the same beliefs. Protect, conserve, connectivity, support government control, and save wildlife for "future generations", all the while leaving our right to elected representation out of the formula. HFWA is associated with these groups and their objectives, and this is what they want for Island Park.
In the previous post it was noted that another $25,000 was being spent to study the Hwy 87/Hwy20 junction for road-kill and justification for wildlife overpasses. Only identified as a federal-state partnership, the information on who is involved became available.
This new waste of money is from a grant written by Idaho Fish & Game Rene Seidler, who was involved in all the previous studies and was honored for her antelope overpass work in Wyoming, and Elizabeth Davy, District Ranger, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Two friends with the same ideology using your tax dollar again to advance their objectives. The project is described as the following:
"Within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Fremont County, Idaho hosts charismatic megafauna such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn, moose, grizzly bears, and wolverine. In December of 2017, a wildlife roadkill study was initiated along US Highway 20 and State Highway 87 in Fremont County. With volunteer support, the study focuses on these two highway sections because they bisect big game movement routes. Volunteers will continue to support the roadkill study through December 2019, and data will be stored in a statewide database. The Caribou-Targhee National Forest will use the data for land-use planning, facilitating community engagement locally and statewide, and refining data collection protocols for other similar studies."
In truth, the studies began in 2014. The "volunteers" are actually individuals who are part of the Idaho Fish & Game Master Naturalist program, who participated in the previous studies as well. It is also interesting to note the statement on using the data for "land-use planning". Which land, federal, state, or private land? And how would land-use decisions about state or federal land affect or be imposed upon private land? Restrictions are the only answer as it is well documented restrictions come with migratory corridors and wildlife overpasses.
It is truly astounding that a state and federal employee can use our tax dollar in such a manner to execute their objectives, regardless of how citizens have objected. It is truly an out of control government.
Making Sense of It All
This blog will help you make sense out of all the information on the website, how it affects IP, our history, and how efforts continue to put IP into various forms of conservation status.