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Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife letters

Ithaca 37

New member
Mar 4, 2001
Home of the free, Land of the brave
I changed the name of the sportsman writing to Nate to "A Concerned Hunter...". Some of you might find this interesting.


Thanks for your response. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you but I have had a very busy week.

I completely understand about the difficulty of getting out a newsletter. So what I would recommend is that in the future anybody who writes an article or opinion be identified. That way I or anyone else can contact them with questions or concerns. I am looking forward to the next issue.

About expenditures – I also support habitat improvement, but in just reading the newsletter one would come to believe that SFW is doing more than just verbally supporting it, that you are in fact funding it. Maybe you just need to be more specific about what kind of support. This would make it clear. I appreciate that SFW has spent $36,000.00 on the Timberline Ranch property in 2004. These kinds of acquisitions are where most of the money should go and directly help the deer. I hope that SFW will be actively opposing the Indian Valley Highway. There is another development that you might want to look into. The Hammer Creek proposal. This would put housing development right up next to the Boise Wildlife Management area and have a huge impact on wintering deer. I am also curious about how much money is spent on salaries. I know you are being paid as a lobbyist (is that correct?). Who else is being paid, either by salary or contract, to work on behalf of SFW? I hope that when the financial statements become available I will be informed about this. You said that the 2004 report would be available on the web site soon. I just checked the website and its not there yet. Will there be a financial statement just for Idaho?

Concerning the Mike Vieles opinion article. The information that you provided in your attachment (Don Peay response?) did not directly address the items in Mike Veile readers opinion. I did look at a Utah proclamation (a 2003 one) and discovered the following: Everyone must draw for a hunt in Utah both general and limited. We certainly don’t want all our hunting opportunities to be “controlled hunts” here in Idaho. Also it appears that Mike is correct that if you want to draw for a limited or conservation tag you will have to pay the higher fees. If it were me I would respond to Mike Veile’s comments point by point and directly refute each one. If there is such a response available please forward it to me. I agree with you that what is good for Utah is not necessarily good for Idaho.

As far as the depredation bill (SB1171) is concerned we agree to disagree on a couple of points. It is my opinion that the agriculture interests will request depredation funds and just plain get all that they ask for be it an exaggerated claim or not. With the ability to submit their claims directly to the state controller and with no oversight by the Fish & Game it will surly happen and the depredation fund will be 100% expended every year. Also it is my experience that most landowners just don’t want hunters prowling around on their property and in some of cases I don’t blame them. But the idea to only allow access if it does not interfere with their operations is too vague and will be used by landowners to deny access while using hunting license funds to pay for crop damage or enhance their incomes. Sorry, but that’s the reality of it. You are right that this piece of legislation got going before I and others knew what was going on and had a chance to look at it and provide comments. This won’t happen again as I am sure that the Sportsmen’s Advisory Council will be more involved early on in the future.

Again, I congratulate SFW for their efforts in the area of habitat. Habitat is the answer to saving the wild game populations and to providing more hunting opportunity for all hunters in Idaho. There is one thing that still disturbs me however about SFW. I do not want the Idaho legislature dictating hunting fees, hunting seasons, or other regulations regarding hunting in this state. The department of Fish & Game should do this and only the department of Fish & Game based on sound biological science ad the politicians should listen. If SFW wanted to really have an impact on how wild game are managed they would be down at the offices of the Fish & Game, working with them, finding out what is keeping them from doing their job, and helping them. As I implied in my original memo, the Fish & Game is not the problem. It’s the legislature. Again, my concern here is that SFW appeared to bypass the Fish & Game on the depredation issue and oppose the fee increase requested by them. This action by SFW is exactly the opposite of what it should be doing.

So where do we stand on my questions?

Financial report – available soon.

Response to Mike Veile readers opinion – send me more if you have it.

Depredation funding bill – we just disagree on this one.

Political involvement by SFW – I am still concerned about political maneuvering around the Fish & Game.

Thanks for your help,

A concerned hunter from Idaho

-------Original Message-------

From: Nate Helm
Date: 04/03/05 12:51:10
To: A concerned hunter

Wow, what a list. In the future there is no need to save up questions, ask them as they come. For your information, I provided similar information and responses to a number of the folks you included in your email.

First, sorry about the newsletter. We have had a number of different folks work on it and I finally took it home and tried to lay it out myself. In the future, I anticipate the newsletter will be much more solid. I noticed as well that only the Chairman’s Message (Kelton Larsen), State Rights Are Not A Matter Of ‘Balance’ (Butch Otter), Forest Service 101 – Based on Reality (Tom Claycomb (only noted on the front page)), and Executive Director’s Report (Nate) were identified. All Chapter Reports were provided by the respective Chapter Chairman. I just took the Gray Wolf Recovery Weekly Progress Report off of the email I receive weekly from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Ken Crane from the Department of Agriculture sent me the Idaho Conservation Partnership Initiative (Aspen Project) application. Everything else I personally typed out.

Budget stuff… I think you are most interested in the expenditure side. We have an accountant and I have requested of him our 2004 numbers. I can give you some general numbers but please wait for the specifics before you hold me to them. I believe we will have the 2004 report on the web site soon. Both the BLM and eastern Idaho projects saw no direct monetary contributions in 2004. However, part of my contract is to work on creating those types of relationships. Ken Crane has not asked for money on the Aspen Project. He simply needed the conservation community to demonstrate support for his grant application. The BLM and SFW have only just begun to identify projects. Our first focus appears to be the wildlife tracts throughout the Magic Valley. We had a tour this past Friday near Burley and will have one this coming Friday near the Bell Rapids area. The money generated locally will probably pale in comparison to the potential dollars we can get through the federal appropriation process. SFW-Idaho spent ~$36,000 on the Timberdome Ranch property in 2004.

During 2004, the board voted to have each chapter generating revenue return the full amount to the “state” account. This year, those established chapters will be retaining 30% of their generated revenue to be used on local projects. There is talk within the board of continuing to increase the proportion in future years. Much of that will be based on the growth of the overall organization and its ability to generate the “staffing” costs from the $20 memberships.

The article from the gentleman in Soda Springs has been responded to. I guess no one wants to print the response. I think it most appropriate to allow the Utah organization to respond because the misinformation the author promoted was regarding their situation (attached is a response from Don Peay, SFW-Utah). As for his (Mike Veile’s) conclusion that Idaho will experience the same, I can only hope that we have more game to hunt, giving all sportsmen more opportunities. As a board and Idaho organization we have not drawn any concrete methods for accomplishing the task. We do know a couple of things. We must address habitat. We cannot be afraid to talk about hunter impacts on population. We need to get involved in access issues (both to increase and decrease depending on the location and situation). We need to develop partnerships with landowners (a few of the big ones, FS and BLM are a priority). We know this is Idaho and not Utah. What works for the community of sportsmen in one state does not automatically work for the sporting community in another state. We will work to create what is best for Idaho and its future.

The fee increase originally proposed by the department was not supported by SFW-Idaho. The board felt they could not support a $4 million increase where the vast majority of the dollars were going to administrative needs ($3.4 vs. $.6 million). There is no doubt the department cannot operate without revenue. Moreover, sportsmen need the Department to manage the State’s wildlife. The objections had to do with priorities and accountability. I believe together with the Director and the Commission we have already found some avenues whereby sportsmen can feel greater transparency into the use of their dollar.

The sportsmen advisory caucus group does not currently include SFW-Idaho. Our organization does not authorize me to sign up with such an entity without a board review (and often, time for feedback from the chapters). Each meeting of the advisory group included changes to the by-laws or guiding principles. Each change would require me to return to the board for review. The rapid changes this past month were difficult to keep up with while still meeting my other contractual obligations. Additionally, I was disheartened in finding that a recent amendment to the by-laws included a requirement that new groups must have been in place in Idaho for three years. Tom Judge, in speaking with me on Thursday, assured me this was not a direct attempt to move forward without SFW-Idaho. Our next board meeting is this Thursday. We will once again be reviewing the by-laws and guiding principles. Stay tuned.

I saved S1171 for last. Much has been said about this piece of legislation. First, know that this was not an uncalculated decision. As you noted in your question there is still a lot of room for debate on the relationship between the advisory committee, the department, the commission, and the legislature. I welcome the discussion and questions as we investigate the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government in Idaho.

S1171 is intended to accomplish a couple of tasks. The first is to provide a positive relationship with landowners. The second is to maintain or enhance funding for programs of priority to sportsmen. The two tasks are interrelated in the legislation. Landowners expressed to us concerns of a disincentive to pay depredation claims in allowing unpaid funds to return to the department. In other words, any money not paid in claims was returned to the department to use as they wished. We saw an opportunity to partner with these landowners by eliminating the perceived disincentive by earmarking excess depredation funds. We began by working to ensure that dollars were stabilized and the accounts were provided for long term. Through the draft process, the landowners, the legislators, the governor, members of the advisory committee, members of the commission, and the department were furnished copies. Little input from anyone except legislators and commissioners was received. It was only after the bill had been printed and had its first hearing that we began to hear the complaints. Unfortunately, they were primarily about process and the predator dollars. It appears you were also provided the misinformation circulated widely that this bill gave money to the Department of Agriculture. It of course does no such thing. All money is under the direction of the Commission through the Department. The article in the newsletter reviews this subject. The argument could be made that predator control is not a priority for funding but I do not believe that would hold up in Idaho. Ironically, no one challenged, in verbal testimony, the language clarifying reasonable access for depredation claims until the final hearing in the House. Rules have not been written for the depredation payment process. Rules typically clarify how a department will implement the law. The section of the code which speaks to the requirement of claimants to provide reasonable access has been interpreted broadly. The addition of the “provided such access does not impact on their operations” is intended to clarify “reasonable access”. It is certainly not our assessment that this will end hunter access to these properties.

Those landowners who provide feed or habitat for the State’s game give of their private property. Sportsmen must work to provide the incentive for these property owners to enjoy or at least accept this relationship. In the short term we must make sure they are economically whole. Long term? I think we had better get after programs that might ensure protection of this mostly critical range for upland birds and big game. We certainly will not get far by telling them they are not good stewards of the land they own or attempting to dictate how they manage their property.

I hope this is a start to answering your questions. Please feel free to follow up on any subject (especially if I did not answer fully any question). Please note the political involvement (while not my sole assignment) is part of the SFW-Idaho structure and the Board has not indicated any intention of eliminating this component.

Thank you,



From: Concerned hunter

Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 11:34 AM
To: [email protected]

Hello Nate:

I have just received the SFW Idaho newsletter and have a few comments. I would like a response to these also.

1) There are lots of interesting articles of which I read all. The only problem I have is that some of the articles reflect opinions and I would like to know who wrote them. Only the Chairman's Message and Butch Otters comments indicate an author.

2) On your website you show where some funds are being spent but this is not specific to Idaho. I would like to know for example, How much of Idaho SFW funds are being dedicated to the twelve million acre habitat focus, how much for the eastern Idaho aspen regeneration project, and how much for the Timberdome Ranch near Arco.

3) I would also like to see the financial report so I can understand how our funds are being spent.

4) Recently there was a readers opinion about SFW in the local paper written by a person from Soda Springs named Mike Veile. If you haven't seen it here is a link to it. I have not as yet seen a response from SFW to these accusations. Is there a response? and if so what is it. This article is pretty disturbing.

5) In the newsletter Senate bill 1171 is defended by SFW. The only problem is that there was no mention in the newsletter of the fact that the wording of the statue is changed from allowing access to property if the property owner accepts depredation funds to allowing access only if it does not interfere with the property owners operations. I fear that the wording here will effectively cut off hunter access to these properties. I can't for the life of me understand why SFW would come up with a proposal like this. I also don't agree that the ag dept. is more capable of managing these funds than the F&G. Now the F&G won't have any oversight on who gets these funds. Will it be just a rubber stamping when a rancher submits a claim? It almost looks like SFW is trying to take responsibility away from the F&G and give it to the legislature. Most of us sportsmen here in Idaho have been trying very hard over the last several years to get control away from the legislature and give it to the F&G so they can do their job. Some of the things SFW is doing appear to be the opposite. What is the reasoning behind this?

6) Why didn't SFW support the F&G fee increase. This was not a large increase and was really needed. This is another position that SFW took that I don't understand. Could you please enlighten me?

6) Finally, why is SFW not a member of the Sportsman's Caucus Advisory Council? This is a new group, just formed, to address some of the same issues SFW is addressing. The list of members that I saw does not include SFW. This group appears to have as its membership most of the sporting organizations in the state. Where is SFW?

I support all of the habitat projects that SFW is promoting and I commend SFW fro doing them but I am a little disturbed by the political involvement and the apparent distrust of the F&G indicated by not supporting the fee increase and the promotion of the depredation fund bill.

I have several friends that belong to other sportsmen's organizations here in Idaho that I have copied on this email. They share some of these concerns.

Thanks for your response,

Concerned hunter

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