Salt Lake City, Utah: The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) applauded today’s Department of the Interior Secretarial Order focused on sportsmen’s issues and habitat conservation. Secretarial Order 3356 shows the department’s strong commitment to outdoor recreationists through increased access, improved opportunities for youth and disabled sportsmen, and partnerships with state and non-profit groups on wildlife habitat restoration projects. The order will expand collaborative habitat restoration efforts for sage grouse and mule deer in sagebrush country, a top priority of MDF’s.
“We greatly appreciate Secretary Zinke’s support for sportsmen and wildlife conservation, and this Secretarial Order will continue his vision for the Department of the Interior’s efforts,” commented MDF President/CEO, Miles Moretti. “The order includes a provision to expedite sagebrush restoration for mule deer and sage grouse. This is important for the stewardship projects MDF and our partners are working on to clear encroaching junipers or revegetate sagebrush and native forbs on rangelands after devastating fires. We appreciate the department including this language and will work with them to move these efforts forward, along with Senators Hatch and Heinrich and Congressmen Stewart and Tipton who have introduced similar legislation in Congress.”
The Secretarial Order focuses directives on three main themes: departmental actions that will improve recreational access; efforts aimed at recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and anglers; and improving partnerships with state and local partners on wildlife management and recreation activities. Regarding access, the order calls for ensuring agency land management plans include or expand hunting, recreational shooting, and fishing. In addition, agencies will work with states and local partners to identify areas where an easement or acquisition from willing landowners will open areas with limited recreational access.
“Federal public lands provide some of the best access for mule deer hunters, and we appreciate every effort to ensure that hunters have plenty of opportunities,” Moretti continued. “In addition, the order looks to work with partners to increase participation in traditional outdoor recreation activities. MDF’s M.U.L.E.Y. program is a great model for getting the next generation engaged in hunting and fishing and we hope to work with the department on these efforts.”
A key component of the order entails increased cooperation with state fish and wildlife agencies as well as local partners such as MDF. This will ensure that partnerships are expanded between these like-minded agencies and organizations on collaborative efforts for wildlife management, habitat restoration, and recreational participation. MDF has been actively developing stewardship agreements with the department aimed at habitat restoration in mule deer country. This increased emphasis on collaboration along with the provision streamlining projects that create and restore sagebrush habitats will help fast track these efforts.