Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
- Habitat management, particularly timber harvest on public lands, has been an increasingly hot topic in the eastern United States.
- Proposed habitat improvement projects, spearheaded by state and federal land managers who utilize science-based active forest management techniques, are often negatively mischaracterized by misguided or ill-informed members of the public and the media.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has recognized this troublesome trend of increased opposition to sustainable forest management on public lands and highlighted the issue by making it the topic of the final episode of CSF’s 5-part Summer Webinar Series on August 4.
Why It Matters: Managing habitat is key to supporting robust populations to provide quality hunting experiences. Habitat diversity is critical for healthy ecosystems, and the hunting conservation community needs to continue to work together to support active forest management projects on public lands that many sportsmen and women rely on to enjoy the outdoors.
While opposition to wildlife habitat work on National Forests is not new, anti-forest management interests are expanding their work to stop wildlife habitat improvement projects on state-owned lands (e.g., Wildlife Management Areas, State Forests).
After welcoming remarks from CSF’s President and CEO, Jeff Crane, CSF’s Southeastern States and Forest Policy Director, John Culclasure, and Southeastern States Coordinator Mark Lance were joined by Tennessee Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Senator Mike Bell, Mike Butler and Kevin Botts with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Charles Faire with the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society, and David Whitmire with the North Carolina Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council.
Attendees were provided with numerous examples of how and why the outdoor sporting community needs to band together and improve messaging on sustainable forest management practices and the positive impacts they provide to not only game species but non-game species as well.
Challenges, such as the continued difficulty of implementing wildlife habitat improvement projects on National Forests throughout Region 8 and Region 9 and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency putting a hold on initiating the proposed quail habitat restoration on the Bridgestone/Firestone Wildlife Management Area due to increased pressure from ill-informed members of the public and the media, were highlighted. However, successes such as the sportsmen’s community banding together in a show of force to speak in favor of a proposed wildlife habitat improvement project on Catoosa WMA, as well as CSF and our partners’ work to oppose numerous anti-timber management efforts in Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont were also highlighted.
CSF will continue to support science-based timber management efforts across the states and will continue to oppose legislation aimed at hamstringing the ability of state fish and wildlife agencies to conduct wildlife habitat management projects.
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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (6.03%)
- Increase access to public lands. (24.71%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.94%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (12.94%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.16%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.22%)