Pronghorn – Spring 2017
Greetings, WWF members, supporters and friends. I hope this newsletter finds each of you well and enjoying a fresh start to spring. As I write, the grass is greening up and we are taking our cows off the meadows and to their summer pastures. It is always an exciting time to transition from feeding last year’s hard work into growing next years. The Federation is marking an exciting transition too. I am proud to introduce you to our new Executive Director, Dwayne Meadows. Dwayne is a native of Saratoga that has dedicated his career to working for fish and wildlife. We are proud that he chose to come home to lead Wyoming Wildlife Federation into the future.
Meet WWF’s NEW Executive Director, Dwayne Meadows
Wyoming is a unique place with some of the most intact wildlife herds and eco-systems in the country. In this rapidly developing world, Wyoming’s wild places and wildlife are one of a kind. So is the organization that has been working for wildlife, habitat, and opportunity for 80 years, Wyoming Wildlife Federation. I am humbled and excited to lead this great organization.
Growing up in the Upper North Platte Valley, I had thousands of acres of public sagebrush behind my house and public river access just down the road. As a kid with rifle, rod, and an old dirt bike, I was more comfortable with sage, badgers, and coyotes than most people. I harvested my first pronghorn at age 15 on BLM land, my first elk at 16 in the Sierra Madres. At the time I did not think this was special, just part of growing up in Wyoming.
Like many kids nurtured in the rural West, I also took to the backcountry by ski, bike, oars, horse, and foot. I still do every chance I get, but now my wife and I are showing our daughter the wonders of each mountain season.
For the past 20 years, I have made a life of working in conservation and outdoor recreation. I guess it started with driving river shuttles at age 16, and then guiding on the North Platte that lead me to conservation. As a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a masters degree in American Studies and Natural Resources, my career has focused on organizing people on the land around local wildlife and fisheries conservation issues.
Over the past six years I have worked with anglers, outfitters, and the fishing industry along the West Coast to restore wild steelhead runs. I also worked with diverse community of tribes, commercial fishermen and sportsmen protecting the long-term value of the Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon fishery. Both campaigns were under Trout Unlimited as their Northwest Outreach Coordinator in Oregon.
It has been six years since I worked for WWF as their field organizer. It was here I learned the need to take a pragmatic and scientific approach to conserving Wyoming’s wildlife for future generations.
Today, Wyoming’s wildlife and wild places are not without threats. Our open spaces are being encroached by development, cutting off crucial migration corridors. Ideologies of privatizing public access and lands continue to be front and center. We must ensure conservation of our public lands and access in Wyoming. We also must stay vigilant in our efforts to fund crucial wildlife programs in the face of tightening budgets. Our voices need to stay strong with the legislature and WG&F Commission, as well as with our congressional representatives in Washington. We must continue to have a voice in BLM and USFS planning. Lastly, we need to think long-term about how our basins and valleys will develop and the role conserving our wildlife and wild places plays in that future.
I am honored to lead Wyoming’s oldest sportsmen’s conservation group and to be part of WWF’s legacy of conserving wildlife, habitat and outdoor opportunity for future generations. I look forward to working with long-term members and growing WWF as the voice for sportsmen and women for the future.
Thank you, Dwayne Meadows
Legislative Recap (click here for list of bills)
We worked hard during this legislative session, 2017. We tracked all wildlife and sportsmen-related bills, attended committee meetings, spoke directly to legislators, and provided official comment on behalf of our members and in support of WWF’s mission. We also worked on behalf of the Wyoming Sportsmen’s Alliance (eight groups, 30,000 members strong).
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation (WWF) dedicated a large portion of its work in 2016 and now for 2017 toward the organization’s campaign, “keeping public lands in public hands.” The overall aim of our campaign is to protect and keep under federal control U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in Wyoming that provide habitat for wildlife and open access to the outdoors for all Americans. This effort is vitally important to our mission and as such, WWF has been collaborating with other conservation and sportsmen groups so together we can continue to make a difference for public lands in Wyoming.
WY LEGISLATURE: During the 2017 session, legislators introduced two bills related to transferring ownership of federal lands to state control and thus moving to restrict public access to public lands in Wyoming. The state Legislature’s Federal Select Natural Resources Committee initiated a major transfer move by introducing a bill for a constitutional amendment that would have allowed for transfer to occur in Wyoming, if and once Congress did the same.
To counter these bills, WWF conducted a major outreach effort to rally sportsmen to contact their legislators about voting no on the amendment and any land grab bills. Thanks to you, numerous calls and emails were made to our elected officials; it had a significant impact. A major media campaign also ensued by WWF with LTEs by our members, op-eds and stories that ran in daily and weekly newspapers and via WPR. WWF was quoted extensively about these lands grab bills, and how our politicians should work on solutions to federal lands management versus transfer. In this respect, WWF opened a new dialogue and met with key political leaders who were previously convinced that the transfer of public lands was the only answer. WWF and NWF also arranged a meeting with Wyoming legislative leaders and Colorado Senator Kerry Donavan about a Colorado bill concerning collaborative and local efforts in natural resource planning. More than 25 House and Senate members attended this pivotal meeting; with our focus now moving toward solutions. Ultimately, at the end of the session, WWF also secured an interim legislative committee item for furthering the discussion on cooperative efforts in federal lands management.
Jackson artist Danny Shervin hosted special art show to benefit the Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s Public Lands Campaign ~ Shervin uses gunpowder to create his wildlife art ~
The fundraising event attracted more than 50 people and included a live raffle for a piece of Sherwin’s artwork, which generated $2,000 and was matched by First Interstate Bank of Jackson. Proceeds will support WWF’s public lands work. The event was held at the Pink Garter Theatre/The Rose and included a demonstration by Shervin of his use of gunpowder for his artistic creations. Jessi Johnson, WWF public lands coordinator, gave a talk about our campaign efforts to “keep public lands in public hands.”
UW Studies Reveal Hunters and Anglers Spend Millions in Teton and Sublette Counties
Two additional University of Wyoming (UW) studies, commissioned by WWF, on the economic impacts of hunting and fishing in Teton and Sublette counties shows sportsmen provide millions of dollars to these local economies. In 2015, hunters and anglers injected $22.2 million into the local Sublette economy. A total of $29.5 million was generated in Teton County that same year.
These studies are being completed for the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative and authored by Tex Taylor and Tom Faulk, economists with UW’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. The findings were presented by the sportsmen seats on the Teton (Steve Kilpatrick) and Sublette (Mike Crosson) advisory committees that were assembled to craft a recommendation for Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) that fall within their county. This county-by-county effort, under the WPLI and guided by the Wyoming County Commissioner’s Association, is anticipated to culminate in congressional legislation for WSAs in Wyoming. The UW economic reports are available via WWF’s website at wyomingwildlife.org/public-lands/wpli/economic-impact/.
UW Student Brian Hickerson is the Jespersen Award Winner!
Hickerson’s UW Project: Hornyhead chub in Wyoming have a highly limited distribution and are classified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Western populations of Hornyhead Chub are isolated glacial relicts that are disjunct from the main distribution of the species in the midwestern United States. Glacial relict populations of Hornyhead Chub historically occurred in Wyoming, Colorado, western Kansas, and southwestern Nebraska, but all populations are thought to be extirpated except for two in the Laramie River drainage, Wyoming. Causes for population declines include: habitat degradation and fragmentation from irrigation diversions, land use practices that increase stream siltation, and predation by and competition with non-native fishes.
We are evaluating potential reintroduction and new refugia sites in the North Platte drainage on the basis of habitat availability and fish community composition in 2016 and 2017. During this same timeframe we evaluated the effect of non-native piscivores on Hornyhead Chub populations in the Laramie River. The project outcome is expected to benefit managers by ensuring limited resources for Hornyhead Chub reintroduction are spent in areas where probability of establishment success is high. Ultimately this research will help to conserve unique populations of this glacial relict lineage in Wyoming.
The Washington D.C Court of Appeals issued a ruling this month in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), State of Wyoming and others regarding the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming. The case was originally filed in November of 2012 and involved a challenge to the FWS delisting of wolves in Wyoming.
With the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf, it is not a simple situation. WWF believes there is no reason biologically that federal protections were not lifted some time ago when the state reached recovery levels. Unfortunately, politics and the courts contributed to the lengthy timeline for this delisting. The Game and Fish had provided the science and merits for delisting. Agency experts developed a management plan with public comment and more collaboration, and now after significant time, federal protections were removed by a court decision. In our view, endangered species decisions should never end up in the courts. Recovering a species and removing it from the Endangered Species List, as the process has been designed, should come from good science and state and federal coordination. Such decisions should be made by the agencies charged with managing our wildlife.
Early in the delisting process, WWF supported single species status of wolves as Trophy Game, meaning they could be managed statewide under that status. But the Legislature ended up getting involved and created a dual listing of the species; trophy game in northwest Wyoming and predators everywhere else in the state. Trophy game means that if a wolf causes depredation or conflict with domestic animals, they can kill the animal, file a claim, and the rancher can be compensated. Predator status means you can just kill a wolf like jackrabbits, raccoons, skunks and even English starlings.
Bottom line: Wolves are important to our ecosystem as a predator keeping elk and deer in check. Thanks to recovery efforts and the hard work of scientists and managers in collaboration with the USFWS, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation is pleased the Gray Wolf can now be removed from the Endangered Species list in Wyoming and managed by the state.
WWF Board of Directors
Blake Balzen, Wheatland, WY
Chuck Butterfield, Alpine, WY
Rob Coe, Lander, WY
Shane Cross (President), Douglas, WY
Brianna Jones, Laramie, WY
Janet Marschner, Cheyenne, WY
Rich Oblak, Cheyenne, WY
Phoebe Stoner (Secretary), Laramie, WY
Reg Rothwell (NWF rep.), Cheyenne, WY
Chris Simonds, Centennial, WY
Siva Sundaresan, Jackson, WY