Above: Pheasants Forever had a seat at the table during a roundtable discussion with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (second from right) and Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt (third from right).
By Bethany Erb, PF Government Affairs Representative
Congress has officially adjourned until after elections. While Capitol Hill has slowed down temporarily, the agencies continue their work and so does your Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever government affairs team.
Recently, Department of the Interior (DOI) Officials invited PF/QF and other conservation partners to join a roundtable discussion with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt. This meeting was a continuation of the partner roundtable discussions that began earlier this year. The Secretary and his deputies updated the group on the implementation of his priorities set forth in early 2018.
The group was briefed on the implementation of Secretarial Order 3362 (SO 3362, Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors). DOI is currently focusing on the migration corridors for mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope. The 11 states involved submitted state action plans and all 11 states were polled on the most significant impediments to mule deer, elk and pronghorn migration routes. Highways ranked first, noxious weeks second and urban sprawl third. Lack of habitat was a significant migration barrier with loss of CRP mentioned as well, specifically in Washington State.
The group was also updated on DOI’s efforts to connect trail systems and expand recreational opportunities on public lands which includes the secretary’s support of legislative action to create a new funding source to fund backlog maintenance. That is a legislative issue PF/QF has supported and advocated for since its introduction last summer.
The reorganization of the DOI has begun, and regions are now defined by 12 watershed regions. Time and attention are also being spent within DOI to create better, more transparent career paths and advancement opportunities within DOI for employees that wish to have a long-term career with the agency.
Happy hunting everyone, and please check back here for the most recent public policy news.