Tag Archives: conservation

  • Getting the Boots Dirty: Conservation on the Ground


    Conservation is at the core of our brand. A while back, Kenton and Scott realized that without wildlife and wild places our customer would have little need for technical hunting apparel. In this light, we are staunch supporters of the groups that work to protect game, their habitats and our access to them. We do our best to educate our customers around events and issues that effects these concepts and, when necessary, advocate for specific legislation we feel benefits wildlife and wild places.


    But conservation ultimately does not happen in Washington, D.C. or on Instagram. It happens in the mountains, forests, deserts and swamps. It happens where the critters are so First Lite jumps at the opportunity to help with on-the-ground projects. After all, as a 2% for Conservation member, we contribute 1% of our company’s time to these efforts.


    So we were stoked to help Idaho Fish and Game with a recent project to rehabilitate winter range in the southern part of our home state. Though the area winters thousands of mule deer, fire and invasive species have severely degraded the forage quality on the range. IDFG has found many dead deer that have starved despite having full stomachs. Invasive species such as medusahead rye and cheat grass are often not enough to maintain deer that arrive on winter range in less than perfect condition.


    In an effort to support the nutritional needs of the herd, IDFG has been planting sagebrush and bitterbrush in the area. Over the past 9 years, 300,000 seedlings have been placed throughout the region, largely by volunteers. Restoring native shrub communities also benefits a host of wildlife beyond mule deer. Elk, pronghorn, sage grouse, small mammals and songbirds all benefit from healthy sagebrush steppe habitat at lower elevations.


    So, on a Saturday in March, five First Lite employees (and three dogs) made the drive south to help with this important effort. Climbing into the hills with dibble bars for planting and bags of seedlings, the group was quickly reminded of why they were out there. On the near horizon, dozens of deer grazed across the barren hillside. Encouraged, the assembled group of volunteers planted 1,300 sage brush seedlings in several short hours.


    Customer Service Rep (and mule deer fanatic), Duke “Big Bucks” Wasteny particularly enjoyed helping out his favorite game species. “It was so neat to be a part of the solution, building up the winter range, because we sure like seeing them higher up in the fall.” He also enjoyed talking with IDFG range ecologists in the field. “It was cool to learn more about deer forage from biologists out there on the ground.”


    As an added bonus, Customer Service Rep and southern Idaho native, Marcus Emerson, found a tiny, fork-horn shed. And so, the day was a success by all accounts. First Lite Conservation Manager, Ford Van Fossan, summed up the team’s feelings for the day: “With all of the talk about conservation in our world, it was fantastic to actually get out there, get our hands dirty and help out wildlife.”

  • Partnering for Public Lands

    DirtMyth_GWS01879_edit-1200x800 First Lite Co-Founder Kenton Carruth and Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard in Boise, Idaho during the 2018 Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous. Photo: Garret Smith

    We are currently losing more hunters and anglers than we are creating. This decline is a huge problem that extends way beyond the bow or rod. Hunters and anglers pay a big part of the conservation debt. Therefore, one of the ways we can perpetuate public lands, access and our sporting heritage is by exposing non-hunters to hunting in the best ways possible. Typically food, a love of the outdoors, and explanations of game management are the most effective avenues to creating a positive impression of hunting.

    GWS_070918_45Sized Chouinard and First Lite Director of Conservation and PR Ryan Callaghan size up a trout stream in Montana. Photo: Garret Smith

    This past April, at the annual Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous, First Lite co-founder Kenton Carruth and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard had the opportunity to sit down and discuss bringing the various branches of outdoor recreation together under one roof in defense of the places we all value. In the Rocky Mountain West, your average hunter is also typically a hiker, biker, skier and/or angler. Though some organized special interests wish for a different reality, rarely do outdoor recreationists fall into neat, categories.  Moreover, whether you’re a kayaker or a pheasant hunter, we head for the woods and mountains for the same reasons.

    DirtMyth_GWS01914_SIZED Chouinard hooks a trout on his tenkara rod as Carruth looks on in Montana. Photo: Garret Smith

    Do Kenton and Yvon agree on every issue? Of course not but they are certainly ready to discuss their differences. More critically, First Lite and Patagonia are committed to ensuring that future generations will have the same public land opportunities we've so enjoyed. With that in mind, we sincerely hope that every member of the outdoor recreation community can take the time to educate each other in the woods for the betterment of our mutual playground. Sometimes all it takes is a little trailhead diplomacy.

    GWS_071018Sized Carruth casts to rising trout in Montana. Photo: Garret Smith

    Ryan Callaghan is the Director of Conservation and PR at FLHQ.

  • Conserving Bighorn Sheep in the Northern Rockies

    Kit in ActionSW First Lite Team Member Kit Fischer of the National Wildlife Federation with a newly released bighorn. Photo: Steve Woodruff

    Last year, the National Wildlife Federation (one of the founding First Lite Partners in Conservation) launched a new initiative to protect imperiled bighorn sheep in the West. While bighorn numbers historically were estimated at 2 million nationwide, the population has declined precipitously since the mid-1800s due largely to loss of suitable habitat and disease spread from domestic sheep. Recent estimates place the number of bighorn in this country at 50,000 individuals.

    Ellis_Peak_in_the_Tendoy_Mountains_location_of_disease__imperaled_Bighorn_Sheep_2_of_35_Grid7 Bighorn populations in the Tendoy Mountains of Montana have been ravaged by disease transmitted by range sheep. Photo: Bruce Gordon.

    To combat this decline, in 2015 NWF launched a new initiative focused on maintaining separation between domestic and wild sheep and increasing available habitat. We are working closely with our sportsmen partners, including the Wild Sheep Foundation and state wildlife federation affiliates in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming to address challenges and opportunities facing bighorn sheep in the West.

    You Gotta Keep ‘em Separated

    Specifically, we are addressing the risk of contact between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep on public grazing allotments managed by the Forest Service and The Bureau of Land Management. Region 4 of the U.S. Forest Service (ID, WY, UT, and NV) is completing a risk of contact analysis to identify areas where domestic sheep and bighorn sheep occupy the same habitat.

    IMG_1752 A sedated bighorn is examined by wildlife professionals. Photo: Kit Fischer

    As a primary method in addressing spatial separation between bighorns and domestic sheep, NWF has developed grazing agreements with willing sellers to retire grazing allotments in areas where there is a high risk of contact. While NWF’s approach to solving bighorn sheep conflicts is relatively new, NWF’s Wildlife Conflict Resolution Program has been working to resolve intractable conflicts between large carnivores and livestock on public lands since 2002.

    More Secure Habitat = More Bighorns = More Hunter Opportunity

    Over the past 13 years, NWF’s Wildlife Conflict Resolution program has resolved conflicts between livestock and wildlife (native trout, bighorn sheep, wolves, grizzly bears, sage grouse, elk and mule deer) on over 1 Million acres of public lands in the west.

    IMG_1737 A helicopter carries a sedated sheep away for relocation. Photo: Kit Fisher

    In the past year alone, NWF and our partners developed grazing agreements with sheep producers on nearly 250,000 acres in Wyoming and southern Idaho, securing critical additional habitat and eliminating the risk of contact with domestic sheep. In turn, this will mean larger populations of bighorns and more hunting opportunities for the public. Since the program’s inception, NWF has worked cooperatively with ranchers to eliminate conflict between wildlife and livestock on over 1 Million acres in the west.

    These retirements, which are completely voluntary, have received strong support from livestock producers who typically use the payments to secure grazing in new locations without wildlife conflicts. A market approach to changing grazing patterns can turn opponents into partners and provide a positive solution to chronic conflicts between domestic and bighorn sheep. We believe this grazing retirement approach can provide a new conservation model that reduces litigation, sustains agriculture, and re configures grazing to locations where it is compatible and sustainable.

    Big_Beaver_Poison_Middle_Shineberger_and_Little_Beaver_Creeks_1_of_29_Grid7 Bighorn habitat along Big Beaver and Poison Creeks in Montana. Photo: Bruce Gordon

    While NWF’s bighorn sheep conservation efforts have been effective in increasing habitat and minimizing risk on public lands, there is still plenty of work to be done in restoring bighorns to much of their historical habitat. We look forward to expanding our bighorn conservation efforts in the coming months to Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington as new and exciting opportunities for landscape-level restoration become available.

    First Lite Team member Kit Fischer is the Wildlife Conflict Resolution Program Manager for NWF Northern Rockies and Pacific Regional Center.

    One of First Lite's founding partners in conservation, the National Wildlife Federation is one of the country's largest and most venerable conservation organizations. For more information on their work or to support NWF's efforts directly please visit www.nwf.org/wcr.

    And don't forget to round up your next purchase on firstlite.com to benefit NWF or one of our other conservation partners. 

  • The Larry Fischer Award

    Recently we were notified that the board at Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), had voted to award First Lite  the 1st ever Larry Fischer award. To fill everyone in, BHA is a conservation group that advocates for responsible practices on public land amongst many other things. Larry Fischer was a co founder of Traditional Bowhunter Magazine. 1st ever award, because Larry passed away last year after a long battle with cancer.

    The natural person in our company to accept the honor on behalf of First Lite is our founder Kenton Carruth. Kenton and Larry had established a connection over the years, in fact we would on occasion, hear Kenton almost whispering into the phone, in a conspiratorial type of way that would only relate to that of keeping an extra lady on the side. The person on the other end was Larry and the topic was always traditional archery, arrow weights, broad-heads, and shooting styles. We compared schedules, Long story short I, Ryan Callaghan would have to accept the honor on behalf of Kenton and First Lite.  I felt seriously that this was almost an inappropriate thing to do.

    Southwest Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer Southwest Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer
    The day of, Blake Fischer, son of Larry informs me (via giant bear hug complete with swinging me around like you would a small child) That he is going to introduce his fathers award. If you do not know Blake, he is now a Fish and Game Commissioner representing the SW Region, a public servant, call and torment him over an issue of your choice, please.
    Meridian, ID  83642 (208) 867-2703 [email protected]

    Feeling better with Blake making the intro, I dug Kenton' words out of my pocket.

    "I first met Larry via the telephone in about 2008 when inquiring about advertising in Traditional Bowhunter magazine.  About an hour and a half later he had a new advertiser and I had a new friend, albeit a new friend that made me feel pain fully inadequate for shooting a bow with wheels on it. From then on I would talk to Larry regularly and see him a few times a year at shows. Not so gradually Larry wore me down until last year I made the switch to a traditional bow, I practiced and practiced all through winter, spring, and fall eagerly anticipating hunting season. Once the season was over, for the first time in a long time…I didn’t kill a damn thing. What Larry had neglected to tell me was, that the beauty of the trad-bow is that you get to hunt so much more. Then it all started making sense to me, the reason all these trad-bow guys are so good at hunting is because they get to hunt so much more. While some guys tag out in a week or a day, trad-bow guys get the entire season to hone their craft, from the first day to the last, Learning hard fought lessons of misery , disgust and self loathing until the season ends. Then like any reasonable glutton for punishment, you sell all your compound gear, while eagerly awaiting the next season and convince yourself how great next season is going to be and, with a little bit of luck you will be wearing a path to the taxidermist. Seriously though, Larry was a larger than life individual who was deeply committed to bowhunting the outdoors and accessibility to public lands. It is a huge honor to be given an award in his name, and First lite will do the best we can to help maintain his legacy. Thanks Larry" - Kenton Carruth, Founder.

    First Lite receives 1st ever Larry Fischer award Blake Fischer presents Ryan Callaghan, 1st ever Larry Fischer award.

    Larry Fischer was among many other things a big man, he started a successful irrigation business, a magazine, and reared up some kids. Talk to most folks and they would say Larry did not mess around, he got things done. Larry also hosted a semi-invite only 3-D shoot every tuesday. During this shoot as the stories go, Larry would impart some wisdom, joke and generally mentor those around him. Kenton nor I, ever made the time to go to one of these shoots. Insert the stereotypical carpe diem of your choice when reading a story involving death.

    We truly believe  First Lite will set an example for other businesses to carry on Larry's legacy. We may have taken our opportunity to shoot with a traditional bowhunting legend for granted, but we will not make the same mistake with our commitment to public lands and wildlife. After all, we have the Larry Fischer award as a reminder that outdoor businesses have a commitment to the outdoors.

4 Item(s)