Sportsmen's Conservation Project
Photo Credits (L to R): David Lass, Keith Braneis, Keith Brauneis
The Sportsmen's Conservation Project (formerly the Public Lands Initiative) in California works to conserve roadless lands, headwaters areas, and other wild places on public lands that provide high quality fish and game habitat and outstanding fishing and hunting opportunities. To achieve this goal, the Sportsmen's Conservation Project (SCP) educates, organizes, and promotes grassroots-level action among anglers and hunters to better protect and manage our public lands. The CSP also builds partnerships with resource agencies and other stakeholders, develops place-based solutions that conserve hunting and fishing values, and conducts outreach to college students to engage the next generation of sportsmen-conservationists. Those blank spots on USGS quadrangle maps -- areas with few to no roads -- offer some of the last, best habitat for many species of trout, salmon, and large game. The SCP identifies and helps conserve such areas where they are threatened by development, motorized recreation, mining, or other uses, and where these places provide refuges for native coldwater fish and wildlife as climate change renders lower elevation habitat too warm and dry.
- Through our SCP offices in Truckee and Salinas, we organize sportsmen, and raise the voice of anglers and hunters, in support of local and statewide initiatives to protect public lands that provide critical habitat and exceptional backcountry fishing and hunting. By gaining new or more permanent protections for our headwaters areas and higher elevation roadless lands, we help ensure that these wild places will continue to provide a refuge for fish and wildlife, and cold, clean water for downstream trout and salmon fisheries and human uses.
- The CSP aims to expand and make more effective the role of sportsmen in public lands conservation. Thus, TU works with hunting and angling organizations throughout California to strengthen the sportsmen's voice and advocate for better protection of our remaining fish and game habitat on public lands. TU helps focus and direct the California sportsman's voice to the appropriate levels and branch of government, and works with all media channels to publicize the opinions of anglers and hunters with respect to conservation issues.
- TU's efforts to enhance protection for roadless lands in California paid big dividends in 2006, when CSP staff helped shape the content of Governor Schwarzenegger's formal petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting permanent protection for all of California's Inventoried Roadless Areas (4.4 million acres of Forest Service land). Field Director Sam Davidson testified on behalf of sportsmen at the governor's press conference announcing the petition. Since that time, TU has continued to advocate for lasting protection for roadless lands and to defend the State's roadless areas petition, both in the courts and on-the-ground, where national forest managers sometimes allow activities that degrade the character and habitat values of these special places.
- TU's work to mobilize sportsmen in support of better conservation of roadless lands and headwaters areas has also played a key role in several legislative initiatives. One such initiative is a multi-year effort to gain Wilderness designation for roadless backcountry along the East Side of the Sierra Nevada range. In 2008, our efforts paid off as the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. In January 2009, this legislation was passed by the U.S. Senate as part of a package of public lands conservation bills. This bill, authored by Rep. Buck McKeon and Sen. Barbara Boxer, will permanently protect some 450,000 acres of public lands and would designate stretches of three rivers as Wild and Scenic, including the Upper Owens River and Piru Creek, which are famous trout fisheries. SCP staff played a role in drafting the content of this bill and in conveying the support of sportsmen for its provisions. TU continues to mobilize sportsmen in support of this legislation as the House of Representatives gets ready to vote on it.
- In 2007, the CSP in California launched the first-of-its-kind outreach program to colleges and universities. This program promotes conservation of public lands and fishing and hunting opportunities in California by engaging the next generation of sportsmen in watershed and land stewardship. In 2008 Trout Unlimited, in support of the Golden Trout Project, organized and led the first all-college student trip into the Golden Trout Wilderness to assist the Department of Fish and Game with fish analysis and habitat restoration. TU's campaign to engage, educate and organize California's youth in wild land and native trout conservation plans to organize other such trips in the future.
- The Little Truckee River, possibly the most productive wild trout tailwater in California, was ground zero for the CSP's work to reduce the impacts of off-road vehicle use on fish and game habitat in 2008. For years motorized recreation has damaged soils and riparian vegetation along the banks of the Little Truckee, degrading water quality and causing user conflicts. TU organized local sportsmen and networked with North Lake Tahoe communities to identify ORV routes that adversely affect the Little Truckee and to recommend specific motorized routes for decommissioning and restoration so that the angling experience along the Little Truckee River will be preserved.
For more information contact:
California Field Director
820 Park Row, #602
Salinas, CA 93901
Contact Sam Davidson
Northern California Field Director
10356 Donner Pass Road, Suite 3
Truckee, CA 96161
Contact David Lass
Contact the California Staff