There's been a lot of talk about Congressman Simpson's plan for the Northwest. As an outfitter or guide this plan can benefit you.
How will this affect the outfitting industry, my business, and our communities?
While all aspects of this plan are subject to change, Idaho’s outfitting industry stands to benefit significantly from this plan. According to anadromous fish experts, the “single most effective action we can take to save our salmon and steelhead is to remove the Lower Four Snake River dams.” Retiring these dams will, over time, allow our salmon and steelhead populations to recover, in turn alleviating the pressures and difficulties associated with lower returning fish (ie: shortened and closed fishing seasons, lower bag limits, etc.) As we have historically seen, stronger runs mean more people want to experience fishing. This economic boost extends past the individual outfitter and fishing guide and also benefits the local economy. Small communities benefit from the economic spending/activity associated with outfitted sportfishing (much as those same rural communities benefit from and depend on the economic contributions of hunting, rafting and other resources and activities).
Our industry at large stands to benefit additionally (beyond the business that larger fish runs bring). For example:
- the removal or attenuation of ESA restrictions/regulations on and around the river (sections) and creeks where many of these endangered fish spawn
- less need for river sections (Upper Snake, etc.) higher up in the watersheds to augment flows for downstream temperature control and “flushing flows”
- increased return of nutrients and biomass to our State's river basins, which correlate directly to improved forest and wildlife health
- more people traveling to and participating in Idaho’s variety of guided outdoor activities
These benefits aren't just for the 'river-sector,' they are for land based outfitters as well. For land based guides and outfitters, this could mean relaxing or removing some of the regulations you have to navigate--additional corrals, tent/camp location, creek crossings, and riparian restoration corridors and blockages.
Not least, for the many outfitters and guides who purchase power from BPA (through your rural electric utility or otherwise), it could mean a significant reduction in your monthly bills. BPA customers pay a portion of every bill (~1/3) to mitigate the impacts that the Lower Four Snake River Dams have on salmon and extend the licensing for utility run dams with FERC licenses. These costs are currently funding a recovery program that is not working as fewer fish are returning each year.
IOGA advocating for you.
IOGA was invited to participate in the development phase of Simpson's proposal a year ago when we visited D.C. and had the plan presented to us by Simpson's staffers. Since then we have worked with Simpson and his staff to ensure that the interests of Idaho's outfitters and guides are known and represented in the plan and through this process. This involvement has already resulted in the addition of a $75 million sport fishing contingency fund to protect the outfitting community on the chance there were short term season closures/restrictions due to parts of the dam retirement process. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Simpson, his staff and others involved to ensure the interest of Idaho's outfitters and guides are represented in this process. Fundamentally, our role and intention as an Association remains to promote and defend the interests of our members.
Here are some of the other fronts IOGA continues working...
Covid Taskforce / Relief for businesses: We are 'getting the O-19 band back together,' to discuss what additional resources/outreach/work might benefit or be needed for our industry in advance of the upcoming operating seasons.
On a related front, IOGA recently hosted a webinar with Idaho Commerce and the Small Business Association
National Legislation: Virtual Camp Washington with America Outdoor is coming up February 23-25th. Focus on the SOAR Act (Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation), Overtime Exemption Legislation for Outfitters and Guides, Federal Environmental Justice Initiative, and more!
ID State Legislature: As the 66th Idaho Legislature hits full swing, IOGA continues to monitor and track the bills and developments of interest (or concern) to our members. Read the Week 5 Legislative Summary.
Allocation Update: Read our newsletter for the latest on allocation. IOGA and outfitters spoke up to bring the number of allocated outfitted elk tags in newly capped zones to 100% of historic use. These additional tags are important to your business, community, and economy.
Regional Meetings: IOGA is hosting virtual regional meetings for hunting outfitters. Regional commissioners and Fish and Game staff will attended to answer questions and listen to suggestions on season setting, allocation, access issues, and heard stability. For more information read our newsletter.
Grant money to advertise for you: We used grant money from the Idaho Travel Council to help you advertise. If you are an IOGA member send in your information to be included on the Raft Idaho, Fish Idaho, Hunt Idaho sites.
Bear Baiting: We're continuing to monitor the bear baiting lawsuit, read more..
USFS Blasting Program: IOGA has been working (successfully) with members of our Congressional Delegation, State Elected Officials, and Agency Reps to support the maintenance of the Forest Service Blasting Program. Many of you operate in areas where the necessity of this program is self-evident. But just for fun and by way of visual reinforcement:
Personal Letter from fellow outfitter Toby Wyatt: Toby gives input on Congressman Simpson's plan and how to help out.
"Your experiences are valuable. Your livelihood is at stake."Toby Wyatt
For more information on Simpson's plan visit our site. There are letter templates, FAQ sheets, and more.
Know Anyone Looking to Break into the Business? Our friends at ROW are hiring!