Idaho Legislators & Citizens Beware
By Karen Schumacher
Although not completely confirmed, it appears the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) may be on the way out, partially due to lack of continued funding. In a scramble, how will these partnerships between non-governmental organizations (NGO), federal agencies, state agencies, and land trusts continue as a large network to accomplish their large landscape conservation goals?
There are several organizations picking up the pieces and their amassing may be a bigger threat to us than the LCCs. They are reorganizing and in doing so are becoming more aggressive. Everyone needs to become familiar with these organizations, where they do their work, their goals, and who the individual players are.
One of the most concerning is the Center For Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC). Partners include the usual, federal agencies, Western Governor’s Association (WGA), large NGOs, even the United Nations (UN). At the helm is Director Gary Tabor, an IUCN participant, Senior Conservationist Rob Ament, and Renee Callahan who promotes public policy. Because public funding for LCCs is drying up, CLLC has now created a “fiscally sponsored” project, the “catalyst fund” to bring in those desperately needed dollars.
Although the catalyst fund was set up by the Network For Landscape Conservation (NLC), Jonathan Peterson from the CLLC is the fund manager. The NLC coordinating committee includes members from the Heart of the Rockies, Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), National Park Service, Nature Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlands Network, land trusts, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and Gary Tabor. A full list of all NLC partners can be found here, and it ain’t pretty. Suffice to say, both CLLC and NLC are pretty much the same individuals and groups.
The catalyst fund is a “five-year national grant program to “accelerate the pace and practice of collaborative conservation at the landscape scale”, funded by foundations. While they claim land conservation is “community-grounded”, it is well known they mean their NGO partners, not local citizens, and “building capacity” is meant to increase their strength in numbers.
Led by Rob Ament, CLLC has an even more aggressive plan, targeting state legislators and agencies. In order to advance their, and other NGO connectivity goals, the target will be integrating their wildlife corridor agenda into legislation and policy. The WGA already conspired against us with the 2008 Wildlife Corridor Initiative, being used by the CLLC as one justification for their corridor agenda. And why wouldn’t they, CLLC served on the WGA working policy groups that led to wildlife policy initiatives in 2010 and 2013, with multiple other NGOs serving as part of the Western Wildlife Habitat Council (pg 8) for initiative implementation. Data collection and mapping were also initiated as part of the agenda. Wildlife corridors are not the end to the saga, eventually there will be mandates for ecological corridors, biodiversity corridors, habitat corridors, riparian corridors, practically any excuse to create one, which will eventually suck up all land for restricted or banned use. In other words, control over land use, and people.
Returning to the Wildlife Connectivity document, CLLC has developed strategies for integration of their objectives into state legislation and policy. The truth is, CLLC has already decided where these wildlife corridors should be in Idaho and will lobby for the appropriate legislation, as well as having their Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) buddies put them into policy. On page 2 is a map of priority areas, one of which is the US 20/SH87 Complex, located in Island Park (IP), Idaho. In 2016, Y2Y came in full bore with their front group to have three wildlife overpasses built at Targhee Pass based on false wildlife vehicle collision data, but IP citizens fought back, exposed the Y2Y agenda for corridors and connectivity, their embedded relationship with IDFG and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), and how the overpass decision was pre-determined. In the most recent Environmental Assessment, the overpasses will not be built. Idahoans in other priority areas are encouraged to take note, the same will be tried in your area. As can be seen, attempts to create wildlife corridors are already being conducted.
There is nothing in the IDFG 2018-2021 Strategic plan for wildlife corridors or connectivity, this is one policy CLLC will want changed, along with State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) for integration of wildlife corridors. Following are a few of those CLLC strategies.
“Delegate a state agency to develop…a wildlife corridor identification process, using “best available science” for criteria. As previously noted CLLC has already identified the corridors and developed their science for identification, it is already a done deal. IDFG employee Gregg Servheen, Wildlife Program Coordinator, has been in on this from the beginning, to suggest delegating a state agency for this agenda is ludicrous. NGOs will lobby legislators to “establish state policy to guide the management of identified corridors”. But as seen above, there will be no need for guidance, it will be convincing legislators to put their already determined management into legislation.
“The state agency responsible for this program should have the autonomy to evaluate and apply site-specific management and work cooperatively with stakeholders. In addition to state agency-initiated corridor identification, the legislation might also include a process for the public to submit a petition to designate a corridor.” IDFG will be the state agency since they are already involved, and are already autonomous as an executive agency overseen by a Governor appointed commission. Since wildlife have already been “…declared to be the property of the state of Idaho“, that leaves Idahoans out of any decisions. The petition rubbish is for NGO members to create, giving a false appearance that there is public support for this corridor agenda. It has been done by them before on other issues, and is another reason for the capacity building.
“Legislators can require relevant state agencies to conduct statewide connectivity analyses using the best available science.” Connectivity studies have already been conducted on wildlife linkage areas on Idaho roads and by American Wildlands. Wildlife corridors are used as linkage points between existing protected areas for connectivity.
“State legislation could include a provision that directs a state’s wildlife authority responsible for the SWAP to develop a revision that formally recognizes habitat connectivity as a priority as well as includes actionable management items to identify and conserve wildlife corridors.” CLLC knows dang well IDFG is responsible for SWAP which is considered a “living” document that can be updated as new data becomes available, how convenient for the CLLC agenda. While connectivity is currently addressed in different SWAP sections, it is yet to be a priority, which is a CLLC goal.
“State agencies governing the management of wildlife, transportation, and energy should be required to develop BMPs for habitat connectivity. In areas where habitat corridors have been identified, these BMPs should be legally binding to ensure that habitat connectivity and wildlife movement are preserved.” “State legislators could direct relevant state agencies to develop BMPs to protect habitat connectivity and wildlife movement for all activities permitted on state lands that are likely to otherwise result in environmental harm.” Another area that has already been implemented between IDFG and ITD, and enhanced through the ITD Ecological approach agreement with the Federal Highway Administration, which just happens to be a CLLC partner as well. Once again Rob Ament and Gregg Servheen are involved.
“There are many potential policy approaches to encouraging conservation action on private lands. The most well-known approach is a conservation easement…”. Within the McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor aggressive action has already taken land for easements by federal and Idaho agencies in partnerships with NGOs. Forever prohibiting land use is the goal with wildlife corridors.
“Authorize state agencies to institute public-private partnerships…fund state programs to engage citizens in citizen-science projects…that need additional data for decision-making around connectivity policymaking…request information from citizens…to help inform where wildlife corridors exist…”. IDFG is already moving towards corporatism, aided by federal legislation. The “citizen-science” actually references the IDFG Idaho Master Naturalist program which partners with Y2Y, and since the data has already been collected for connectivity corridor linkages, the stage has been set to feed it to legislators. Other data collection is already in place through the IFWIS, a member of NatureServe, with a special category for land management and conservation which is not accessible to the general public. The Great Northern LCC already created the Decision Support System (DSS) called Data Basin, in which Gregg Servheen participated with his “best science“.
There is a rather large section in the connectivity document for wildlife corridor funding through general fund appropriations, constitutional amendments, federal and foundation initiatives, and conservation banking, claiming that all of this enjoys “wide citizen support”. They mean themselves.
In addition to analyzing how he could interject his agenda into federal policy, Rob Ament also reviewed federal policy progress for connectivity. Since there is increasing federal support for wildlife corridors via Sec. Zinke Secretarial Order 3362, and the reintroduced Wildlife Corridor Act, Mr. Ament may be right. The Sierra Club helped write the legislation, along with other NGO support (Y2Y, ICL, GYC among them).
The truth is, CLLC and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) have already created the “best science” to justify where wildlife corridors should be in Idaho, it is just a matter of telling legislators and IDFG where they want them, without consideration of Idaho citizens, or local jurisdictional authority. However, since IDFG was paid to inform the public, one should assume Idahoans already know. Mentioned in the NWF document are “Proposed wildlife crossings”, one way in which corridors can be created using exaggerated wildlife vehicle collision data.
It is never about land protection or conservation, it is about taking control over land use. Citizens in Ventura, California understand this as they fought land use restrictions with their wildlife corridor, and lost. Not only do their restrictions involve rezoning 30% of land, it also devalues the land, destroys the agriculture sector, and increases fire risks. For all Idahoans, let this be a lesson to learn if wildlife corridors are imposed, the same set up for this garbage is in play here.
Idaho does have a statute that is suppose to protect private property rights in local land use planning, however NGOs are already taking a look at local zoning and land use ordinances for conservation design changes. Idahoans may want to consider working with county commissioners to integrate a ban on wildlife corridor designation in local land use policies before the NGOs get to them.
Potential NGO lobbyists for this CLLC agenda include Rialin Flores, Conservation Voters for Idaho; Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife (DOW); Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League (ICL); Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF); Willam Whelan, The Nature Conservancy (TNC); and Michael Gibson, Trout Unlimited (TU), all of which, except one, are Y2Y partners, which partners with CLLC.
In 2015, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched the connectivity conservation project, “which will provide policy and legislative tools and resources to national governments, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders.” A UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) was set up with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN WCPA), a CLLC partner. Their partners include “national governments”, but who needs that partnership when you have Gary Tabor doing the work for them at a state level.
The Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group, of which CLLC provides support along with the IUCN, wants to protect 50% of natures land mass, interfere with transportation projects to execute their goals with Rob Ament as a member of the working group, all the while using corridors for connectivity. Remembering CLLC Director Gary Tabor is an IUCN member, he is also Vice Chair of the WCPA Connectivity Conservation Working Group, bringing the UN right to your front door. These facts are why the CLLC and NLC regrouping is more threatening to us than the LCCs.
Yep, no need to worry folks, just sit back and relax. The UN, NGOs, individuals, and the government have this all figured out for you, where you can live. how you can use your private property, and how Idaho should be reconfigured for animals. Representation by local officials is no longer needed so don’t worry about practicing self-governance, or functioning as a Republic, there is no conspiratorial shadow government operating here, or a deep state. Local county authority over land use has and will continue to be completely obliterated by these well thought out agendas, especially when the legislature has been infiltrated by NGO representatives. It is all transparent.
Perhaps we would all be wise to remember the sacrifices made by our Founders, who so deeply understood tyrannical governments, and the price of freedom. At what cost is freedom?