As part of its efforts to facilitate public opportunities for hunting and angling, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership presented the Wyoming Game & Fish Department a check for $10,000 at the Wyoming Game & Fish Commissioners Meeting last week. The funds will support the state’s Private Lands Public Wildlife Access Program, commonly referred to as the Sportsmen’s Access Program, which enables access by resident and non-resident hunters and anglers to privately owned lands in Wyoming.
The TRCP generated the funds through the sale of Wyoming commissioner licenses, which are awarded by individual Game & Fish Department commissioners to non-governmental organizations for fundraising purposes. The majority of the TRCP-raised funds will help the department maintain existing access areas and negotiate additional lands for the Sportsmen’s Access Program.
“This directly aligns with the TRCP’s mission to ‘guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish,’” said TRCP Western Outreach Director Neil Thagard. “Enabling sportsmen’s access to both public and privately owned lands is one of the TRCP’s primary goals. These funds could open up an additional 40,000 acres for people to hunt and fish in Wyoming.”
The TRCP is utilizing the remaining $8,000 generated by the license sales to complete its statewide Sportsmen Values Mapping Project, which captures input from hunters and anglers to map areas important to sportsmen. Phase I of the project, which began in April 2011, involved approximately 1,000 sportsmen from 20 communities across the state who identified places in Wyoming they want to see conserved. Phase II will include the digitization of this data and TRCP staff sharing the resulting GIS maps with participants.
The Sportsmen Values Mapping Project reflects one of the TRCP’s most outstanding efforts to involve sportsmen in issues that affect them in the Rocky Mountain West. The data collected complements the crucial fish and wildlife habitat data sets already in place by Wyoming Game & Fish and land management agencies. It also shows politicians and decision makers the access opportunities sportsmen value the most.
Thagard stated, “As the name indicates, the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project identifies the areas sportsmen value and that need to be considered as land use planning decisions are made. The project and resulting data will help the Wyoming Game & Fish Department prioritize its negotiations with landowners regarding participation in the Private Lands Public Wildlife Access Program. The TRCP is honored to contribute to this important effort.”