Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Monday, March 17, 2014

RMEF Rolls Out Red Carpet for Secretary of Interior Jewell

Secretary Sally Jewell
It was another busy Saturday afternoon at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Elk Country Visitor Center. Wildlife lovers of all ages made their way through the various displays, watched video presentations, shopped, and made a loop around the interpretative trail outside. Just down the hall, young hunters jammed a meeting room to take part in a hunter education course so they could be ready to hit the field this fall.

But this was no ordinary March afternoon. Just after two o’clock an SUV pulled up to the RMEF entrance and out stepped Secretary Sally Jewell, the head of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and a few of her staffers along with Montana Senator Jon Tester. Members of various wildlife and conservation organizations and sportsmen also arrived to take part in a roundtable discussion.

“I'm here with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hearing about what's important to them, about the conservation of public lands, our management of the public lands for the long term health of wildlife as well as the people that live here and the people that come and recreate here,” Jewell told a television reporter.

Though relatively small in stature, Jewell has a big influence regarding outdoor issues. Formerly the CEO of REI, Jewell is 11 months into the job as secretary of the Interior and fills one of 15 seats on President Obama’s Cabinet. 

Much of the roundtable discussion also focused on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal program that provides funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of easements to protect vital landscapes. LWCF was recently reallocated back into the president’s latest budget proposal. RMEF has been and remains a staunch proponent of LWCF as it provides funding to help ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. 

Below are a few of the comments offered during the 60-minute discussion.

Secretary Jewell:
“It’s heartening to see organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation working with landowners.”

“I appreciate the advocacy of this organization for the LWCF. Conservation easements kept a lot of ranchers ranching rather than turn their land over for development.”

“We’re in the forever business and you want us to be in the forever business.”

“You’re all probably elk hunters which I think is great. Fishermen and bird watchers are great. We all have to work together.”

David Allen welcoming participants

RMEF President/CEO David Allen:
“Our state agencies are at a critical point in terms of their fiscal health—certainly the western states are. It’s extremely concerning. Our wildlife system crumbles if they’re not healthy because state-based management is how it works.”

“Access is one of our mission priorities but kind of the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the private landowner. If we’re going to crack the code we have to consider the private landowner and work with them.” 

Secretary Jewell:
“Private land ownership and conservation can be done in harmony.” 

“Managing the lands for multiple use means it’s the Bureau of Land Management’s job to think about how the lands are used, how they’re developed and how they’re not developed.”

“People have wanted to pay less to support government at every level for decades now. Running a federal agency that’s cut and cut…you have to do less with less.”

“There is a role for government especially in managing our landscapes and parks that will keep people keep coming back. LWCF is a good example. Support for your state folks is critical.” 

“Hunters and anglers, the fees you pay whether Pittman-Robertson or duck stamp or fishing licenses, those are critical monies to help the state fish and game departments to do the jobs they need to do. They need to hear from you when they’ve done something right and not just something wrong.”

Hunter education class at RMEF
Senator Jon Tester:
“We’re going to need your help to keep LWCF in the president’s budget.”

“We need to think of some creative ways to hold a carrot out there to allow private landowners to allow access.”

Secretary Jewell
“Generations of young people are increasingly urban and busy, tech-enabled and well-educated but they know little about the environment. They get very little time to roam. It’s roaming in nature where kids learn about nature.” 

“If we want to have people that understand how nature works, you need an informed and engaged younger generation that not only cares but knows what to do because they’ve had exposure. ‘Play-learn-serve-work’ is a four-tier approach to make that happen. We want kids to learn in nature’s classroom. What is an invasive weed? How can you tell the difference? Service enables kids to develop a connection to the land. One-hundred-thousand jobs on public lands in the next four years is our goal. A lot of biologists need to transfer their knowledge to young biologists.”

Our thanks to Secretary Jewell for her service and for taking time to visit the RMEF.

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