Outdoor News Bulletin

Outdoor News Bulletin

December 2018 Edition | Volume 72, Issue 12 | Published since 1946

Farm Bill Passes Congress

On December 12, the U.S. Congress passed the final conference report of the 2018 Farm Bill; the legislation now moves to the White House and is expected to be signed into law by President Trump. The conference agreement was negotiated by House and Senate committee leaders and a deal was announced on November 29. The agreement went through analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, and then floor consideration was delayed during the national mourning period for President George H.W. Bush before the final conference report and explanatory statement were publicly released on December 10. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 87-13 the next day followed on December 12 by House passage of the bill by a vote of 369-47.

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Montana Supreme Court Rules on Conservation Easements

On December 11th the Montana Supreme Court issued a ruling affirming Governor Steve Bullock’s opinion that Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) did not need to secure approval of the State Land Board to purchase a conservation easement because it is not a land acquisition where the state owns the land. The ruling resolved a dispute between the governor and the other four members of the Land Board over who has the final say on acquisition of easements. The ruling clears the way for FWP to move forward with 12 pending easements totaling over 86,000 acres, some of which are with landowners who need to close prior to the end of the year. It also reduces uncertainty for both FWP and landowners regarding future negotiations for easements. The ruling is welcome news to conservation advocates as well as champions of private property rights.

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Monarch Butterfly Conservation Meeting

More than 170 people representing over 90 organizations came together in Nebraska City, Nebraska in late November to assess conservation progress and develop next steps and actions for improving future monarch butterfly conservation. The iconic monarch butterfly population has declined in recent decades, triggering a huge conservation effort that involves all land management sectors and thousands of people working to help this species. Workshop attendees were able to hear of both large- and small-scale conservation efforts around the country, as well as participate in breakout group discussions representing land management sectors like agriculture, roadsides, and urban areas. The workshop was hosted by the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the Monarch Joint Venture.

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Teams Charging Ahead on Relevancy Roadmap

As previously reported in the Outdoor News Bulletin, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and WMI convened a workshop last August to explore the value of developing a “Relevancy Roadmap” for state fish and wildlife agencies. The Relevancy Roadmap will be a practical guide that state and provincial fish and wildlife conservation agencies can use to overcome barriers to broader relevance, public engagement, and support. It will provide multiple pathways to respond to the diverse social, economic, demographic, political, and environmental changes that states and provinces face. Following endorsement of this concept by the state agency directors at their annual meeting in September, five diverse teams with representation from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and private industry were formed to construct the roadmap.

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RCN Project Provides Species Profiles for More than 300 Species of Land Snails in the Northeast

In the Northeast United States, there are 245 species of land snails, and many of these are listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the northeastern State Wildlife Action Plans. However, data is lacking on the snails that states could use to conserve the species. This data gap was addressed through a recent Regional Conservation Needs Grant (RCN) to Appalachian Conservation Biology. The completed project added information on northeastern land snails to the existing Land Snails and Slugs of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States website hosted by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. More than 300 species profiles for the region were added to the site, including specimen records and regional maps for each profile.

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Cooperative Research Unit Corner

Largest Deer Study on the Move in Kansas

Declining populations of mule deer and other species in Kansas and the Great Plains are of concern to state fish and wildlife management agencies. Researchers at the USGS Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit are tracking white-tailed deer and mule deer to understand how the deer are moving throughout the state. The information is important for hunting, disease control, and farming. Mule deer populations in Kansas are declining and contracting to the west while populations of white-tailed deer are increasing and expanding. Limited research is available to understand why two similar species are exhibiting vastly different population trends.

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