Sportsmen’s Foundation * Conservation Force * Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports * Dallas Safari Club * Delta Waterfowl Foundation * Houston Safari Club * Mule Deer Foundation * National Rifle Association * National Shooting Sports Foundation * National Wild Turkey Federation * North American Grouse Partnership * Pheasants Forever Inc. * Pope and Young Club * Professional Outfitters and Guides of America * Quail Forever * Quality Deer Management Association * Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation * Safari Club International * Sportsmen’s Alliance * Whitetails Unlimited * Wildlife Management Institute * Wild Sheep Foundation

September 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

Re: Request for Department-wide Policy Recognizing the Benefits of Man-made Water Developments for Wildlife Conservation

Dear Secretary Zinke:
Water, particularly in desert areas, is both scarce and essential to wildlife. Nevertheless, some valuable sources of water, simply because of their man-made origin, are often rejected by Federal land managers. Wildlife conservationists, many from the hunting community, have done their best to maintain, restore and advocate for the preservation of these water sources. Despite wildlife reliance on these water developments, some Federal managers persist in treating these water sources as unnecessary, if not detrimental to the landscape.

The decision to remove, maintain, or add a wildlife water development is always a matter of agency discretion but while some personnel work with state agencies to repair, restore and maintain these beneficial conservation tools, others appear to view existing statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures as edicts for the removal of such developments. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Park Service (NPS) have inconsistently addressed, both within and among the agencies, the presence of man-made water developments. Those inconsistencies have wasted Federal and state resources, confounded state management and conservation of wildlife, and detrimentally impacted the game and non-game species that rely on man-made water developments for survival.

For decades, many hunting and wildlife conservation organizations have been working to alter the Federal attitude towards man-made water developments. In 2006, 18 of these organizations approached former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton with the proposal of a Department-wide supportive policy towards man-made water sources. The proposed policy language would have set a Department-wide standard for utilizing and maintaining these valuable tools. Secretary Norton rejected the proposal, choosing instead to continue the Department’s approach of treating artificial water developments as detrimental unless proponents could prove the necessity of the specific devices.

The Department’s approach has resulted, again and again, in the removal of some water developments and the allowance of others to fall into disrepair only to become useless. Personnel within the agencies have made it difficult, if not prevented volunteers from using their own time and money to restore water developments in desert areas. The most recent example of this is taking place right now in the Mojave National Preserve, where the NPS prematurely terminated a research project being conducted to determine the use of artificial water sources by mule deer and instead proposed a plan to remove and/or relocate several man-made water sources and allow several others to fall into disrepair. Many of our organizations submitted a letter (attached) opposing the NPS’s plan.

We, the undersigned organizations ask you to adopt a Department-wide policy that will direct agency personnel to recognize the beneficial role that man-made water developments play in the conservation of our nation’s wildlife. We propose the language below for your consideration:

The U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes that man-made water developments and installations (e.g. guzzlers, drinkers, etc.) provide significant benefits to the wildlife that reside on Federal lands, including but not limited to those lands that have been designated as Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, National Preserves, Parks, National Monuments, etc. The Department and its agencies that administer these Federal lands expressly recognize that these water sources are necessary for the administration, management and conservation of wildlife on Federal lands. The agency assigned responsibility for the administration of the Federal land in question shall allow for the maintenance, restoration, and improvement of existing or historical man-made water developments. The installation of additional water developments will be permitted where natural water sources have been determined to be inadequate for the conservation of wildlife. No additional water developments and installations may be installed where it has been scientifically determined that they will cause a permanent or significant negative effect on native wildlife or plant species. Nothing in this policy is intended to use the maintenance, restoration, improvement or installation of man-made water developments as a means to circumvent statutory, regulatory, or plan-specific restrictions that prohibit non-water related uses of designated Federal lands.

A Secretarial level policy directive is needed to instruct the Department of the Interior agencies to acknowledge and facilitate the use of water developments as valuable and effective tools for the management or conservation of wildlife on Federal lands. The proposed policy has three primary elements. First, it expressly acknowledges the effectiveness and efficacy of water developments as a valuable wildlife conservation and management tool. Second, by favoring approval of water development projects (often state-initiated and maintained), the policy recognizes the fact that states retain primary authority over resident wildlife, even on Federal lands, and that states are important partners in wildlife conservation. Third, it directs BLM, FWS and NPS to maintain and restore water developments already present on Federal lands in cooperation with state agencies and/or private wildlife conservation entities, in accordance with the laws, regulations, and existing agency policies that permit and/or require such conservation measures. In the case of new projects, the policy directs the agencies to install additional water developments where natural water sources have been determined to be inadequate for the conservation of wildlife. Such a policy will bring consistency and better management practices to all the Department’s land managing agencies.

The undersigned organizations ask that you give this matter serious consideration and will be happy to provide you with additional information and examples to demonstrate the need for this important step in your administration of Federal lands. Should you have any questions, please contact Anna Seidman of Safari Club International at aseidman@safariclub.org and/or Susan Recce of the National Rifle Association at srecce@nrahq.org.

Sincerely,

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Camp Fire Club of America
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Conservation Force
Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Houston Safari Club
Mule Deer Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
North American Grouse Partnership
Pheasants Forever Inc.
Pope and Young Club
Professional Outfitters and Guides of America
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Safari Club International
Sportsmen’s Alliance
Whitetails Unlimited
Wildlife Management Institute
Wild Sheep Foundation

Houston, TX (July 18, 2018) – The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.3223) (RAWA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate this week. Houston Safari Club (HSC) encourages all Americans to become vigorous and active proponents of this critical legislation.

Introduced by Senators James Risch (R-Idaho) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), S.3223 would authorize $1.3 billion in existing revenue, from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters, to be dedicated to fish and wildlife conservation. The Senate bill is the companion to the House version (H.R. 4647). RAWA is the result of years of planning, studies, meetings and commitment by researchers, state and federal agencies, thought leaders in the energy sector, legislators, organizations and others.

“The introduction of S.3223 is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by so many people. Their dedication to the future of wildlife, habitat and the agencies that protect and support our natural resources is unwavering. Now it’s our turn to step up and do our part by contacting every Representative, Senator, agency and department necessary to show our support for RAWA. This is one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation in the last 50 years and will be the foundation for the future success of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation for the next 50 years.” comments Joe Betar, Houston Safari Club Executive Director.

Whether you hunt, fish, birdwatch, boat, swim, bike or anything else in the outdoors, this legislation affects you. As outdoorspeople, we should show our support for S.3223 and H.R. 4647.  You can help by the following actions:

For full text and to follow the progress of S.3223: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s3223.

About Houston Safari Club

Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to legislative and policy initiatives that may affect the future of hunting. HSC supports initiatives that protect the tradition of hunting and hunters’ rights. We take an active role in efforts to effect policy, protocols and legislation. HSC collaborates with legislators, key opinion leaders, policy groups, professional organizations and governments at home and abroad. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not chapter or affiliate of any other organization. Visit our website at houstonsafariclub.org or call 713.623.8844 for more information.

Houston Safari Club has signed on to a letter to support dedicated funding for RAWA. Specifically, the dedication of $1.3 billion annually into the federal Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, using existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters.  HSC supports this recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, comprised of national business and conservation leaders.

Read the full letter here:

WF SIGN ON LETTER

Bipartisan support for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, H.R.4647 (Fortenberry and Dingell) continues to grow. Thanks to the hard work of Alliance members and individuals nationwide, 71 Members of Congress (33 Republicans and 38 Democrats) have co-sponsored, including 5 Texans, Rep. Kay Granger, Rep. Pete Sessions, Rep. Gene Green, Rep. Beto O’ Rourke and Rep. Henry Cuellar. 

Let’s keep up this terrific momentum – we all benefit if this landmark legislation is passed.

Texas would be eligible to receive more than $63 million per year, transforming efforts to conserve and restore more than 1,300 fish and wildlife species of concern here in the Lone Star State. Many impactful programs could be added or expanded — research, species reintroductions, habitat restoration, conservation easements, outdoor recreation and nature education.  
 

How To Reach Your Member of Congress

Individuals:

  • Go to your U.S. Representative’s website, find the contact form, and send your rep a message asking him/her to co-sponsor H.R. 4647. Use your own words or use the Draft Letter.
  • Tweet @ their Twitter handle
  • Post a message to their Facebook page
  • Call their office
  • Write a letter

You can also contact your Representative at National Wildlife Federation’s Action Page.

Organizations/Businesses:

  • Contact us to find out how to get involved in regional planning teams

 

from the Texas Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife

HSC signs on to letter of support for the proposed 2018-2019 Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations. The letter highlights the opportunities to expand hunting and fishing opportunities on 30 refuges and the potential subsequent benefits to recruitment and retention. 

Read the full letter here: AWCP Refuge Expansion Letter

Houston, TX (July 6, 2018) – Houston Safari Club Foundation (HSCF) and Houston Safari Club (HSC) are pleased to announce the launch of their new websites and social media channels.

As part of its organizational restructuring, to effect change for specific issues facing hunting and hunters, HSCF and HSC have launched websites and media channels unique to each effort. HSC is ramping up its legislative and policy efforts while HSCF will continue to support and grow its programs for education, scholarship and conservation.

Visitors can view the new sites at hscfdn.org and houstonsafariclub.org. Links to social media channels are provided from the home page of each website.

About Houston Safari Club Foundation
Houston Safari Club Foundation (HSCF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the sport of hunting through education, conservation, and the promotion of our hunting heritage. HSCF has awarded 500 scholarships totaling $2.1 million dollars. HSCF conducts youth outdoor education programs, career training, hunter education and field experiences throughout the year. HSCF has provided over $3.7 million in grants for hunter-funded wildlife, habitat and various conservation initiatives. HSCF is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not chapter or affiliate of any other organization. Visit our website at hscfdn.org or call 713.623.8844 for more information.

About Houston Safari Club
Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to legislative and policy initiatives that may affect the future of hunting. HSC supports initiatives that protect the tradition of hunting and hunters’ rights. We take an active role in efforts to effect policy, protocols and legislation. HSC collaborates with legislators, key opinion leaders, policy groups, professional organizations and governments at home and abroad. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not chapter or affiliate of any other organization. Visit our website at houstonsafariclub.org or call 713.623.8844 for more information.

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