Chukar hunters: speak up for your land

p1170005Chukar hunters know that public lands in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington house these amazing birds, and that these lands are under constant threat of being sold out from under us. This threat is intensifying dramatically with the new administration. Rarely do we get an opportunity to express our opinions at a public meeting with a politician involved in the effort to remove public lands from the people who have footed the management bill for them.

This Saturday, February 18th, from 11-12 p.m., the tiny town of Council, Idaho is offering the chance for us to express our opinions about this issue. Idaho Representative Judy Boyle, from Midvale, will be on hand, hopefully to listen to her constituents’ concerns. Representative Boyle has been perhaps the most ardent agent hoping to transfer federal land to Idaho, and with the support of her federal colleagues in Washington, chances are better than ever that these lands will be transferred to the state. If that does happen, those lands that you and I have hunted birds and big game on for generations will most likely be lost to us forever.

If you have an opinion about this, please come to the meeting. I’m betting they aren’t expecting a lot of people. Show up and make your voice heard. Be respectful, but be knowledgeable. Here are a few resources that might help if you’re not already familiar with them:

  • Idaho Constitution, Article XXI, Section 19: “…the people of the state of Idaho do agree and declare that we forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries [of Idaho]… [and] this ordinance shall be irrevocable, without the consent of the United States and the people of the state of Idaho.” In other words, Idaho cannot legally accept federal land without our permission, and U.S. Congress’s permission. Congress is basically saying, “Go ahead, Idaho, take it.” We don’t have to agree.
  • Idaho’s Attorney General, Lawrence Wasden, has said that the land transfer effort will fail in court because of the language in Idaho’s Constitution, yet Idaho taxpayers continue to foot the bill for Representative Boyle’s efforts to pursue this issue.
  • Idaho has sold more than 40% of its state land, which experts think would increase if federal lands are transferred to state management.
  • Idaho Sportsmen’s Access fact sheet on effects of public land transfer shows that nearly everyone who sets foot on these lands opposes this effort.
  • The American Lands Council, which sounds like a pro-public land group, is anything but. Visit their website and fact-check it: you will find that this group, funded by the Koch Brothers, owners of the second largest private company in America, is engaged primarily in securing mining and oil extraction rights throughout North America. This is the real impetus behind the public land transfer effort. Don’t be fooled by their rhetoric, which is designed to misdirect and obscure their goal: get more oil, by any means necessary.
  • Ken Ivory, a Utah lawmaker, earns $135K/year on the side to provide western states, at great cost to its taxpayers, a complex legal argument and strategy to get these millions of acres of BLM and Forest Service lands transferred to the states. Check out the New York Times article on Ivory, which documents funding connections between Ivory and the Koch Brothers.

There are lots more resources out there about this. If you care about keeping these lands for all to use, under the sensible and fair “multiple use” doctrine that has worked to keep these lands open to all of us — hunters, ranchers, hikers, fishermen, and every other kind of outdoor recreationist — for generations, then make your voice heard. Call, email, text, Tweet, and otherwise contact your state representatives as often as possible. They are listening. I hope they actually hear us.

10 Replies to “Chukar hunters: speak up for your land”

  1. Hi Bob,

    I strongly encourage you to join a group that is fighting to save public land. By joining I mean give your mind, body and time to carry the baton. Open land is never safe. Someone will always want to redirect the use of the land to their own advantage. These people are dedicated and powerful. Sunday I spoke at a memorial service for Fern Pirkle. She was the lady who had the vision to save the open space between Laguna and Newport. She became the focal point of the effort. I was one of many she charmed into helping her. I gave her 20 year of my life to make Crystal Cove State Park become a reality. Writing letters and going to meeting as individuals do little to make things happen. This kind of stuff takes planning, hard work and effort over a long period of time to gain success.

    Back in the early 70’s the Irvine Company drew up plans to build a whole new development between Newport and Laguna Beach. They were going to use all of the land from the beach to the ridge line and from one city to the next. After forty years of struggle we finally saw the State Park built. The plans for Irvine development went from 80% buildings and 20% open space to 20% for building space and 80% open space. The battles can be won, but not quickly or easily. It will take a lot of work from people like you. Sending money will not be enough. Waving a sign at a meeting will not be enough. To get things done you will have to get involved to the point where people stop asking who you are and to the point where they know you by name.

    You saw what it took to win the battle to be able to rebuild the homes here on Bluebird Knolls. That was a fight for less than 4 acres. It took three years. How big is your area? How long will the battle last? How many people will need to get involved? This will be no small effort. Who will get the job done? Who will stand up? Will you?

    I encourage you to fight the good fight.


    On Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 8:14 PM, Chukar Hunting wrote:

    > Bob McMichael posted: “Chukar hunters know that public lands in Idaho, > Oregon, Nevada, and Washington house these amazing birds, and that these > lands are under constant threat of being sold out from under us. This > threat is intensifying dramatically with the new administration.” >

  2. There’s also a public lands rally in Boise at the Capitol on March 4th. It’s going to start at 11 am. There’s no better way to show your support for public lands than getting together with over a thousand other public land users!

  3. Hey Bob: I thoroughly enjoy your writings specific to chukar hunting but must take exception to some of your objections regarding the transfer of federal lands back to the states. I believe that the individual states probably have a more thorough understand of how to manage their land than the feds. This would be analogous to our educational system. As an educator, I suspect you are tired of the federal Dept. of Education dictating how each state must structure their educational program and curriculum. No difference. Unless you are truly advocating more federal control of state sovereignty, I would suggest treading lightly. Just my opinion and I love the freedom of hunting public land as much as anyone. You are a talented writer so carry on !!!

    1. Hi Bruce, Thank you for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to write. While I agree with you that individual states might have a more localized understanding of how to best manage their lands than the feds, I must disagree on a few points. First, even though public lands are federally managed, the people who do that managing are often local. Policies and management practices are not wholly decided by armchair bureaucrats in D.C. but involve input from USFS and BLM folks on the ground in localities. Many of these are scientists and have a vested interest in managing these lands most effectively within the “multiple use” framework. If D.C. policies impact local public lands negatively, it’s often because of political pressure from special interest lobbyists who want their interests prioritized, whether it’s resource extraction or species preservation… Second, and more importantly, western states simply don’t have the budget to manage these lands effectively, especially considering the massive costs involved in fire suppression. Third, and most importantly, western states have a history of selling state lands to private companies who then lock it up for timber harvest, mining, and oil exploration/extraction. Idaho has sold more than 40% of its state lands. Nevada has sold close to 100% of its state land. As for education, Idaho’s state legislature has a much stronger stranglehold on public schools than the feds do. The latest, most egregious example of this is the revision of state science standards last week by our legislators to remove all references to climate change and global warming, in direct opposition to federally suggested science standards and all scientific data. I believe in balance and dialogue, but in a state like Idaho, when it comes to social policy of any kind, there is very little of that because of the overwhelming majority of one party and political ideology here. State sovereignty, in my opinion, is entirely at odds with a democratic republic like the United States. I love living here, but my views are not adequately represented by my state legislators, not even close. Nor are they, for that matter, by Idaho’s federal representatives and senators. Federal policies are a critical check on local abuses of power. So no, I’m not big on state sovereignty. But I am big on multiple use of public land, managed by well-equipped and well-trained federal employees – and paid for by all Americans’ taxes; Idaho’s tiny population would get killed on taxes if they had to pay even a fraction of the management costs involved in taking care of the millions of acres of land here. That’s what Judy Boyle and the others involved in this unreasonable, costly (to the taxpayers who are funding these efforts that nearly all of us oppose), and seemingly never-ending, scheme won’t admit.

      1. Hi Bob: You are obviously an honorable and passionate individual and I respect you and your opinions. But we are on completely opposite sides of this discussion with regards to state’s rights and the constitutional limited powers of the federal government. And that’s why this country is such a beautiful place to live. We can voice our differences vehemently and still be friends. In jest, I suspect that your views are more consistent with my state, Washington and we should swap places !! But I would get the better end of the deal as Idaho has a lot more chukars. Carry on my friend. Bruce

    2. your argument is a slippery slope. The states don’t have the funds to support managing these lands alone and this Administration knows it so they want to dump responsibility on the states who will be surely forced to sell off the land due to lack of funds and bingo the current administration gets what they wanted in the first place and they get to blame it on the states.

  4. Whenever I read someone’s blog I feel I am a guest in their home and weather I agree or disagree I must be very respectful of that person’s opinion. We all have the right not to read the blog if we do not agree with the author. I enjoy your writing and the great photos, as some one who hunts chukars between 30 and 40 times a year with multiple dogs there is not a better sport that I enjoy. I am a product of Idaho’s extractive industries, one grandfather was a gold miner another a logger and sawmill owner, father was a rancher. I think a lot of the fear over losing public land is a little pre-mature. There are a number of land issues that could be so much better managed if common sense, rangeland and forestry practices were utilized.

    Forestry on Fed. lands has been under sever pressure for years. The state of Idaho has some of the best managed forests in the nation. A long time member of the Council community who runs a logging operation and has a degree in forest management has said to me that the state manages their land better than the Feds or private industry. For the State Endowment fund the returns on land average between 7 and 10 percent a year, these funds provide a pretty big percentage of funds for Idaho public education in small towns.

    After the Clinton Administration shut down logging over the spotted owl how many of our small towns suffered grave economic losses. Bob your high school in Council could not open without Federal Funds that now go to districts that were once supported by logging. Another friend of mine is the lead forester for a very large Indian reservation in WA that actively manage the forests. He has always stated his are some of the best forests in the Pacific northwest for both recreation and providing a solid long term investment for the tribe.

    Idaho’s recent big fires have been on Federally managed forests. I mountain bike on the eastside of Payette lake. Back in the 90’s there were big fires and those lands were left fallow and the useable timber was not salvaged, Today the blackend dead trees are rotting and the mountains are covered in chaperal (spelling issues) this is another forest fire waiting to happen. This summer north of Boise a major fire occurred on Fed. land. Any attempts to salvage log that are have been held up by lawsuits from out of state special interests. For those of you who are worried about global warming, there was more carbon spewed into the air last summer than my heavy duty chev. 2500 spits out in a life time of chukar hunting.

    Rangeland clearly needs to be managed in a more productive way, lets remember the Soda Spring fires that destroyed some great chukar habitat. The worst thing that can happen to sage brush is fire as some of that sagebrush can be 10-20 years old and provides key nesting habitat for chukars. Also the dreaded cheat grass is key to chukar survival. The BLM working with the state can do a much better job of management. There is no consistency to their management. A drainage on the OR side of Brownlee is as overgrazed as a friend of mine has ever scene it and he has been hunting since the very first chukar season in OR, Another friend has a small patch of BLM ground surrounded by his ranch that is micro managed to the point where it is nothing more than a weed patch after the fire on Squaw Butte. Clearly in wet years with more grass we need better grazing and in dry years grazing needs to be curtailed.

    Thanks for all your work on your blog still waiting on chukarmole recipe.

    Here is a great one

    2/3 rds orange juice
    mixed with equal parts soy sauce and hot sauce
    marinate breasts as long as you like
    grill poblano peppers
    Chunk up peppers in mix of 1/2 cream cheese 1/2 shredded cheese hot sauce and sesonings.
    Make a pocket in the breast stuff cheese and peppers in wrap in bacon secure with toothpick rill low and slow over charcoal fire gas flames up and burns the bacon.

    Keep up the great blog…sorry about spelling too much left brain.

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