Why We Do This: Because This Arizona Mom Needs Quality Places to Hunt with Family

She wins our mapping project prize, while all Arizona sportsmen benefit from the data we’re collecting

When Jennifer Comer from Tucson, Ariz., put in for her first-ever big-game tag, she was hoping to join her husband and teenage son in the field. They’d started hunting just four years earlier, and her son bagged his first deer last year. While she didn’t draw an elk tag, she won a new Kimber rifle and became part of something pretty special in the Grand Canyon State.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Comer.

Last summer in Arizona, the TRCP partnered with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, an alliance of 25 regional sportsmen’s groups, to gather input from sportsmen and women about the state’s most valued places to hunt and fish. We asked a random sample of adults who purchased Arizona hunting and fishing licenses to visit a specially-designed website where they could outline their most valued hunting and fishing areas on a map. As a little incentive, we offered participants a chance to win a Kimber Classic 7mm Remington-08 rifle.

Jennifer weighed in and won, and we’re pretty excited to see this prize go to a family that has a new, deepening interest in our sports. You see, the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project was created to protect important wildlife habitat and maintain public access to highly-valued hunting and fishing areas with the hope that we can defend these opportunities for the next generation of Arizona outdoorsmen.

The TRCP launched the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project in 2007 in Montana, before expanding to Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona. What made the project special in my home state was the ease of the survey app, which the AZGFD experts in computer mapping were pivotal in designing to bring the project online—the best way to yield scientifically defensible results.

AZGFD is currently in the process of analyzing all the survey results from more than 1,200 hunters and anglers. Later this year, Sportsmen’s Values Maps will be assembled in a geographic information system (GIS), where they will be used, along with other data, to develop conservation and management strategies. The final maps will be accessible to sportsmen and key decision-makers through the TRCP and AZGFD websites. We’re hopeful that the maps will also be used to help prioritize management actions and funding requests aimed at conserving and restoring high valued wildlife habitat and expanding access, and we’re certainly committed to using this information to insure that Jennifer and her family will have quality places to hunt for many years to come.

For more information about the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project in Arizona and across the West, click here.

She wins our mapping project prize, while all Arizona sportsmen benefit from the data we’re collecting

Mapping Project Brings on-the-Ground Results for Sportsmen

Montana sportsmen mapping prized areas of the state as part of the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

Involving the American sportsman in issues that affect our hunting and fishing heritage is fundamental to maintaining our outdoor heritage. Here at the TRCP we try and ensure sportsman involvement occurs at a level where impacts and results tend to be clear and immediate. To this end, the TRCP has developed a state-specific approach to capture input from local hunters and anglers called the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

As part of the project, TRCP staff members meet with sporting groups, conservation organizations and rod and gun clubs to identify “bread and butter” hunting and fishing areas in various states. You might wonder why anyone would reveal a favorite honey. When combined with critical habitat maps already in use by federal and state agencies, this information provides a powerful tool for politicians and decision-makers to use in public lands management.

The project’s goal is ensuring sportsmen are represented in management decisions by highlighting the exact areas they want to see managed for the continued and future use of hunting and fishing.

The success of the mapping project has earned recognition both at home and abroad and is largely held as a case study on how sportsmen can participate in land management and public policy. Recently, TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development Director Ed Arnett gave a presentation about the project at the Conference on Wind Power and Environmental Impacts. The conference, held in Stockholm, Sweden, was attended by more than 300 people from at least 30 countries.

The TRCP’s Center for Responsible Energy Development Director, Ed Arnett. Photo courtesy of Mark Weaver.

During the presentation, Arnett highlighted the project as tool for wind energy developers and decision-makers to use in identifying key, high-use areas warranting special conservation strategies and in avoiding conflict with sportsmen and other stakeholders. As presented, the mapping project provides valuable and previously unavailable data that will aid in balancing energy development with the needs of fish, wildlife and sportsmen.

As Arnett returns from the international conference, he continues to ensure that decision-makers balance the needs of fish, wildlife and sportsmen with the impacts of land-use management decisions across all economic sectors to ensure a strong economy into the future. The TRCP Sportsmen Values Mapping Project is critically important to achieving that balance.

The project is expected to grow in the coming years.  In Wyoming, Western Outreach Director Neil Thagard will be returning to those communities that participated in the project to present results and develop opportunities for place-based, grassroots campaigns to protect areas important to sportsmen.  The TRCP plans to expand the mapping project to more western states in the near future.

Learn more about the Wyoming mapping Project.

Learn more about the Montana mapping Project.

Get involved today by signing up as a TRCP member.

Putting Sportsmen on the Map in Wyoming

TRCP’s Western Outreach Director Neil Thagard talks about the mapping project.

Maps can be a sportsman’s best friend; sportsmen look for those blank areas – devoid of roads – perhaps where two ridges might funnel game. Even land managers love maps, which allow them to plan out land use. They have unit maps with GIS layers ranging from vegetation type to core habitat for threatened and endangered species. Thanks to the TRCP’s Sportsmen Values Mapping Project, sportsmen now have a say in the development of these valuable maps.

The TRCP’s core mission lies in guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish – a mission that compelled us to launch the first of our state-based mapping project in Montana in 2007. Last year, we took our efforts on the road again and kicked off a similar project in Wyoming.

The Sportsmen Values Mapping Project captures hunter and angler input to delineate specific lands and waters important for hunting and fishing. Combined with critical habitat maps already in use by federal and state agencies, this information gives decision-makers an up-to-date look at the places sportsmen value the most.

Neil Thagard, TRCP’s Western outreach director, leads the TRCP’s engagement with sportsmen and mapping activities in Wyoming. Neil spent the past year traveling throughout the Cowboy State and meeting with sportsmen to gather input on the exact areas where they love to hunt and fish – areas they would like to see managed for continued use of hunting and fishing.

The TRCP’s ongoing collaboration and engagement with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission resulted in the commission offering its support – and last year’s official endorsement – of the project and the TRCP’s efforts to involve Wyoming sportsmen in the mapping effort.

More than 20 meetings and 1,000 sportsmen later, a highly valuable set of maps is available to land managers – both at the state and federal levels – to help guide management decisions regarding resources important to hunting and angling. Neil unveiled the final maps to Wyoming officials, the news media and sportsmen last week. These maps will help accomplish the following:

  • identify trends in hunter or angler usage
  • further maintain or enhance access opportunities throughout the state
  • identify areas needing special conservation strategies to help preserve important game and fish resources

As anyone who has ever spent time in the backcountry knows, a map is only useful if you know where you want to go. The challenge now is to use the input to ensure the conservation of these key areas.

In coming years, the TRCP intends to expand the mapping project throughout the West.

What areas would you like to see conserved for future hunting and fishing – and where should the TRCP travel next to implement the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project? Leave us a comment.

View the map.