November 2022 Wapiti Wire Advocacy Update
Bipartisan CWD Research and Management Act S. 4111. RMEF continues to encourage members to use the RMEF.org advocacy portal to contact your senators to encourage their support for this legislation. The bill will authorize $35 million per year for state CWD management grants and $35 million per year for innovative and practical research on this deer and elk disease.
Active Forest Management- fixing the Cottonwood Rule S. 2561. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed this critical legislation which would remove a major litigation barrier to active forest management in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California. After an amendment to accommodate the Biden administration’s Interior and Agricultural departments was approved, the legislation advanced from committee on a strong bipartisan 16-4 vote. This legislation has a long way to go yet with little time left in the current congressional session.
“Inflation Reduction Act.” This rapidly passed and signed law contains a forestry title that includes additional spending on Forest Service programs over the next 10 years. It includes $1.8 billion for hazardous fuels reduction in the “wildland-urban-interface” (WUI), $200 million for vegetative management, $100 million for environmental reviews acceleration, $50 million for “old growth and mature forests,” half a billion dollars for non-federal landowner programs and $1.2 billion for state and private forest programs that includes $700 million for the Forest Legacy Program and $1.5 billion for urban and community forests.
Montana Governor Visits RMEF Headquarters. In early November, RMEF played host to Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Montana Fish, Wildlife (FWP) and Parks Director Hank Worsech and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director Amanda Kaster, other staffers and media members. The speakers, including RMEF President and CEO Kyle Weaver, talked about the importance of public lands, forest management, public access and the soon-to-close Big Snowy Mountains project.
Colorado Tag Allocation, Structure at Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW) is exploring changes to the state’s big game license structure. Resident hunters have sought a higher percentage of licenses in limited draw areas, and both residents and non-resident hunters have expressed crowding as a concern in some seasons. The CPW staff have supplied the commission options and recommendations about limited draw allocations, over-the-counter units, preference points and the fiscal ramifications of the assorted options. Resident and nonresident Colorado hunters should engage in the public input process as proposals solidify in the coming months.
Wyoming Resident-Nonresident Tag Allocations. The Wyoming Wildlife Task (WWT) Force continues meeting periodically to discuss a variety of issues, but license allocations for residents and nonresidents are a top concern. The WWT is taking public input on a series of proposals affecting allocations, season structures, nonresident fee increases and landowner licenses. Resident and nonresident Wyoming hunters should weigh in.
Montana Elk Management Citizen Advisory Group Recommendations. A group of 12 citizens selected by FWP met over the summer and recommended some changes to the season structure, most notably requiring hunters to choose one weapon. FWP and the commission may act on those recommendations before next season. Perhaps more importantly FWP is taking comments to prepare for revisions to the 16-year-old elk management plan.
Minnesota and Michigan Wolf Management Plans. RMEF submitted comments to the two Great Lakes states updating their wolf management plans. State plans would guide management if Endangered Species Act protections were lifted. RMEF expressed support for scientific based state management and hunting as a management tool.
California Firearms Laws and Legislation. California’s legislature hastily passed, and Governor Newsom signed AB2571 this summer. The law prohibited “firearm industry members” from advertising or marketing any firearm-related product in a manner that is “designed, intended or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.” Cleanup legislation passed in late August exempts hunter education, camps and most activities engaged in by RMEF and other organizations. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the law based on 1st and 2nd Amendment violations, and firearms advocates are seeking an injunction to stop the enforcement of the law immediately until courts can review the law. RMEF was engaged in other gun bills such as AB 1227 that would have punitively taxed firearms and SB918 which would have restricted transportation of firearms. Both failed to pass.
Measure 114 Passed in Oregon. Passed by a narrow 51-49 percent margin, the euphemistically named “Reduction of Gun Violence Act” is a radical gun control measure that creates a redundant “permit to purchase” system that requires an application (in quadruplicate), photographs, fingerprints, FBI background check, and a new mandatory state firearms class that includes an undefined live gun handling and live fire requirement. After receiving the permit, an aspiring gun owner still needs to pass the background check at the time of purchase. The measure also bans the possession of magazines greater than 10 rounds. Barring a change, the measure’s passage dramatically reduced RMEF’s ability to use firearms in fundraising, thus directly damaging conservation funding, as well as reducing Pittman Robertson funding – the primary source of funding for projects like the Minam River acquisition.
Oregon’s Initiative Petition 3. IP3 is currently gathering signatures. If it makes the 2024 ballot and is passed by voters, it will prohibit the killing of all animals in the state. This would prohibit hunting, trapping and pest control. Initiative supporters are deceptively collecting signatures in and around Portland with signs that read “Sign My Petition, end Animal Cruelty.” DO NOT SIGN THIS PETITION, and make sure your friends and family do not either.