NDA Joins IDFG in Opposing Proposed Lucky Peak Lake View Trail Project in Idaho
The National Deer Alliance (NDA) recently submitted comments to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Walla Walla District, joining the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) in opposition to the proposed Lucky Peak Lake View Trail project in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area (BRWMA).
IDFG believes that the existing conditions on the BRWMA have struck a balance between the best interests of wildlife and the needs of various user groups. As a result, NDA believes the “No Action Alternative” listed in USACE’s current Environmental Assessment (EA) is the best option, and the proposed changes to the existing conditions on the BRWMA are overly risky to the current homeostasis.
NDA is a national non-profit conservation organization with a mission to serve as the guardian of wild deer conservation, and our hunting heritage. The BRWMA sustains high quality winter habitat for mule deer as well as elk, supports populations of wild turkey, upland game birds including chukar, gray partridge, California quail, dusky grouse, ruffed grouse, and mourning doves, and attracts use by a host of other wildlife species. As a primary winter range for big game, it is estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 mule deer and 1,200 elk winter on the BRWMA each year. In order to ensure that the habitat on the BRWMA satisfies the needs of wildlife, human access is purposefully managed throughout the property.
Over 36,000 acres of publicly-owned lands are managed for wildlife habitat, as well as hunting, fishing and trapping access as part of IDFG ownership and agreements with the USACE, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Access management is used to maintain or improve hunting, fishing, trapping and other wildlife-based recreational opportunities, while still providing high-quality habitat for big game and productive habitat for other wildlife. Per that agreement, the IDFG has primary management responsibilities of lands located within the BRWMA boundary.
Guided by the BRWMA 2014-2023 Management Plan, IDFG has determined that in order to minimize the effects that hiking, biking, running, mountaineering, dog walking, and other non-wildlife-based activities have on wildlife, no new non-motorized routes or access points will be developed on the BRWMA. Concerns surrounding the proposed trail include habitat fragmentation, wildlife disturbance, invasive plant species introduction, erosion, increased fire danger, impact on hunting and fishing activities, and the ability to enforce the proposed seasonal closures for wintering big game. As is stands, any trail segment through the BRWMA boundary or through IDFG owned property would need to be thoroughly discussed and/or approved by the IDFG. Currently, IDFG does not have an agreement with USACE to allow trail construction on IDFG property.
As a result, NDA supports the position of IDFG and strongly urges USACE to support the “Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative)” of the Lucky Peak Lake View Trail Environmental Assessment. The current conditions on the BRWMA are satisfactory for wildlife and user groups. The proposed changes to the BRWMA are an unnecessary risk to the wildlife and their habitats. Public comment for the Lucky Peak Lake View Trail Proposal ends on August 20, 2020, and NDA encourages its members to urge USACE to adopt the “Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative)” in the current EA.