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April 9, 2013

Featured Conservation Leader: Senator Jon Tester

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana continues to make big strides for the conservation community while maintaining the trademark down-to-earth personality so common among sportsmen. Tester took some time out from tending his farm and working in the halls of Congress to answer a few questions for the TRCP.

The TRCP is set to honor Tester at the 2013 Capital Conservation Awards Dinner held April 18.

Image courtesy Sen. Jon Tester.

Name: Jon Tester

Occupation: U.S. Senator/Organic Farmer

Location: Big Sandy, Mont.

How did you become passionate about the outdoors? I grew up fishing and riding horse in the Bear Paw Mountains in north-central Montana with my dad and two older brothers. We learned that enjoying Montana’s treasured outdoors comes with the responsibility of preserving our lands and waters for future generations to enjoy as well.

What is a favorite memory of a trip afield?  Stream fishing in the Bear Paw mountains with my folks.

What is your go-to piece of hunting or fishing gear?  It depends on the time of year, but right now my .218 Bee that I use to shoot gophers on the farm.

What led you to a career in Congress?  I ran for the Montana State Senate in 1998 after the State Legislature deregulated Montana’s power industry, resulting in higher power costs.  This change put an unfair financial burden on average Montanans. After serving as the president of the State Senate in 2005, Montanans elected me to the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Image courtesy Sen. Jon Tester.

What role do you see sportsmen playing in the conservation arena?  Sportsmen and women know our lands as well as anyone, and they know what it will take to preserve our outdoor heritage. Sportsmen and women provide me with some of the best conservation ideas and the best ways to increase access to public lands because they use it. Lawmakers do their best work when they get good ideas from the ground and the sportsmen’s community will be critical to making sure we can preserve our lands and pass our outdoor traditions down to our kids and grandkids.

What are some ways sportsmen can become involved in public policy? Building coalitions that put forward good ideas will make sure sportsmen and women have a seat at the table. It’s also important to reach out to folks that you normally wouldn’t work with in order to find common ground. My Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is the product of conservationists and folks in the timber industry sitting down at the table to improve how we manage our forests. Each group gave a little but in the end they got a lot more. All Montanans will benefit from this legislation, whether they rely on our forests for work or recreation.

What do you think are the most important issues facing sportsmen today, and how do you hope your work in Congress will resolve these issues? Sportsmen and women tell me that their No. 1 issue is access to public lands. That’s why I’ve pushed for my Making Public Lands Public Act that will increase access to public lands. Sportsmen and women are also concerned about land and species conservation, which is why stronger protections were a major part of my Sportsmen’s Act last year.

In the simplest of terms, why do you care about conservation?  As someone who works and plays outdoors, I know the importance of preserving our lands and water for future generations to enjoy. Montana’s outdoor economy is also a nearly $6 billion industry that creates jobs and strengthens our state’s economy. But more importantly, our outdoors are why we live here.

Any conservation leaders or heroes you look up to? There are many conservation heroes, including those who use our lands wisely today, but you named your organization after one of my favorites: Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a visionary. He pioneered our earliest conservation efforts and fought to change Americans’ perceptions about the land. His commitment to responsible stewardship of our lands and water is something for all of us to aspire to.

Image courtesy Sen. Jon Tester.

One Response to “Featured Conservation Leader: Senator Jon Tester”

  1. Mike Jeffords

    If Tester is such a friend of outdoor recreatonists, why does he refuse to talk to and listen to motorized users? When he was making his deal on his forest bill, he would not even invite motorized users to the table and listen to them. Where is the fairness in that when he excludes a large portion of the recreating public?

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April 2, 2013

Saving Texas Bighorn Sheep

Steven addresses concerns about Texas bighorn sheep in light of exotic and invasive species introductions within the bighorn’s native range.

  • Bighorn sheep are what biologists call an “indicator species” – one whose presence, absence or abundance is reflective of a larger environmental trend.
  • After years of declining numbers resulting from unregulated hunting and disease, Texas bighorns have rebounded to their pre-settlement population levels.
  • Bighorns are threatened by the introduction of the exotic and invasive Aoudad sheep. Aoudad sheep compete with bighorns for habitat and risk transmitting viral and bacterial pathogens foreign to bighorn immune systems.
  • The greatest limiting factor in bighorn recovery, however, is disease transmission from domestic sheep and goats.
  • In order for Texas bighorn populations to remain robust, management practices must eliminate contact between bighorns and domestic sheep and goats and strictly manage Aoudad numbers.

Wild sheep populations in Texas may be recovering, but herds across the West continue to dwindle due to factors such as disease transmission and climate change.

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March 25, 2013

Speak up to Save Critical Grassland Habitat

The TRCP joins partners Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited and others in urging sportsmen across the nation to contact their House representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Protect Our Prairies act (H.R. 686).

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), would reduce crop insurance assistance for the first four years for crops grown on native sod and certain grasslands converted to cropland.

Learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Reducing crop insurance assistance so it is proportionate with the production capability of this land, rather than insuring it at the same rate as land that has been farmed for years, could save taxpayers nearly $200 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate from the 112th Congress.

Importantly, this legislation does not prevent producers from making their own planting decisions.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Call your representative today and ask him or her to co-sponsor Protect Our Prairies Act (H.R. 686) and defend grasslands for pheasants, quail and other wildlife.

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New Hope for Native Grasslands

Iowa Barn
Photo by Scott Bauer.

There’s new hope that native grasslands—arguably the most threatened wildlife habitat in the nation – can be saved.  But the House of Representatives will have to follow the bipartisan lead of a couple of prairie state representatives to get that done for sportsmen.

The Protect Our Prairies Act recently introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) would help protect the nation’s remaining native sod and grasslands by reducing federal crop insurance subsidies for the first four years those acres are farmed.

This is a new version of the “Sodsaver” concept that has been around for some time, with the aim of preventing native grasslands from being plowed for two important reasons: This habitat is critical for a wide range of upland birds, migratory waterfowl and numerous other species; and they are far less productive for crops than other lands.

Outdoor writer Bob Marshall explains why the need for Sodsaver has never been greater, and how the recent push for corn-based ethanol and soaring world commodity prices have led to a dramatic increase in conversion of grasslands to row crops.

Read the full story on the Field & Stream website.

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March 20, 2013

Wednesday Win: Walleye

Photo courtesy Outdoor Nebraska.

This week’s Wednesday Win comes courtesy of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Watch out, there’s math involved!

Wild, female walleye will typically lay their eggs in a rocky area during the night, secreting upwards of 300,00 eggs. Although females produce eggs in abundant numbers, less that five percent of their young successfully hatch. If only five percent of the 300,000 eggs survive, how many walleye does that leave?

Send your answers to info@trcp.org or post a comment on the TRCP Blog by Friday to be entered to win.

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