Whit Fosburgh

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posted in: General

May 7, 2013

We Can Do Better

Normally I post deep thoughts about matters of conservation policy. Today I will rant.

Just over a week ago I met two friends, packed up the car in Washington, D.C., and headed for Pennsylvania’s Little Juniata River, one of the best trout rivers in the East. The fabled Grannom caddis hatch was on, and it had been six months since I’d stood in a river chasing trout.

As has been my tradition for most of the last 15 years, we left town early to hit Spruce Creek Outfitters, an excellent fly shop where we could buy licenses, stock up on the latest bugs and hear fish tales before hitting the river for the afternoon. Unfortunately, the fly shop no longer sells licenses. Instead they told us to use our smart phones to buy the licenses online.

We set off for a high spot on the road where we could get cell service. After about 30 minutes, my friends succeeded in their efforts. I was unable to complete the transaction but decided to put my friends on the river and then complete my purchase at some other high point along the river.

After sending off my friends, I again found a spot with service and tried to purchase my license, each time reaching the final stage (after entering my credit card information) before receiving the message that the server was busy and to try again later. About 15 minutes into this process I called the toll-free help line and was put on hold to wait for the next available agent. Surely, I thought, between my continued efforts with the Pennsylvania website and help from a live person, I would succeed.

Nearly an hour later I had yet to speak to an agent and was still without a license.

Approaching a murderous rage, I gave up, drove back to the river, put on my waders and walked out to live vicariously through my friends, watching them catch fat brown trout on dry flies. After dinner that night I was finally able to complete my transaction and fish the next day.

Across America, conservation groups work to get kids outdoors and pass along the traditions of hunting and fishing. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation spends millions of dollars encouraging people to rejoin fishing or try it for the first time – and with remarkable success. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, participation was up 11 percent in the last five years, reversing a 20 year decline.

Photo by, Dusan Smetana

To ensure that we have quality places to hunt and fish, conservation groups also are restoring our lands and waters. Look no further than the Little Juniata, which 40 years ago was an open sewer devoid of most fish life.

Groups like the TRCP work to implement new programs, like the Open Fields program of the Farm Bill, to open private lands and waters to hunting and fishing. Since Open Fields launched in 2010, approximately 3 million acres have been opened to the public.

All this work on engagement, habitat and access falls by the wayside if sportsmen must struggle to obtain the proper licenses and tags. The responsibility for licensing falls to the states. According to a recent RBFF study, only five of the 50 states offer mobile friendly websites and only two of the 50 states offer mobile friendly license sales.  Really?

Folks, our sports depend upon participation. Fish and game agency budgets depend upon license sales. Conservation groups depend upon engaged members who will work like dogs for the resource but who deserve to be able to enjoy that resource with as little hassle as possible.

I’d like to think of my experience with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an exception, but the RBFF numbers indicate otherwise. We can do better, and all sportsmen and -women should make sure that their states join the 21st century and make it as easy as possible for people to enjoy their resources.

One Response to “We Can Do Better”

  1. Howard Bradley

    Right on, Whit. Give’em hell. 2 friends and I recently travelled to Hall’s Crossing Utah on Lake Powell for 3 days fishing only to find that the local store and marina no longer sold fishing licenses and the only way was to purchase by phone and credit card. Luckily, we HAD cells (not all outdoorsman embrace them ya’know) and could get coverage and were able to buy them almost as fast as with a live person. But there will be problems without alternatives. We were surprised and a little aprehensive, but gotter done. Meanwhile, NM has made it easier to purchase online, while still leaving some stores with hard copies. I like the online method, as easy to replace a lost license without another charge. And Colorado has a great computerized system thru their vendors, but, I understand no online purchasing system?? Each state is a crap shoot!
    Thanks

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Former Aide to Colo. Sen. Udall Becomes Advocate for Conservation Group

Story courtesy of E&E News

Scott Streater, E&E reporter

Published: Friday, May 3, 2013

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today announced the hiring of a top aide for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall (D) to lobby on water resource issues on Capitol Hill.

Jimmy Hague had been Udall’s primary adviser the past four years on various conservation and natural resources issues, focusing among other things on water and conservation sportsman issues, said Mike Saccone, Udall’s spokesman in Denver.

Saccone said Hague was instrumental in helping Udall work with U.S. EPA to clarify liability protection for independent groups that pitch in to help clean up the thousands of abandoned hardrock mines that litter the landscape across the West.

EPA in December released a memorandum clarifying that so-called good Samaritan groups don’t need a Clean Water Act permit for certain discharges connected to abandoned mine cleanups under the federal Superfund law. That move came after years of lobbying by conservation advocates and supportive lawmakers like Udall and fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) (E&ENews PM, Dec. 12, 2012).

Hague this week took over as director of the newly established TRCP Center for Water Resources and will be working to advance policies addressing water scarcity issues and the federal role in water management, allocation and conservation in Washington, D.C., the group announced today.

“I am thrilled to be joining the talented and dedicated team at the TRCP,” said Hague, a West Virginia native who received a master’s degree in environmental policy from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“The TRCP recognizes the importance to the hunting and angling communities of comprehensive, forward-thinking water resources management. Our shared water challenges impact all of our conservation efforts and will do so even more as climate change and population growth exacerbate our immediate water problems,” he added. “I look forward to leading the TRCP’s efforts to find pragmatic solutions to the problems facing our most precious natural resource.”

TRCP’s conservation policy agenda released in January highlights a commitment to water policy issues, which it says in the document is “a new policy area for 2013” and “one of the most important issues facing the conservation community and the country.”

Hague will help guide TRCP’s Water Working Group, which among other things will provide a forum to examine water quality and quantity issues associated with hydraulic fracturing. The working group includes Trout Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy and the American Sportfishing Association.

The addition of Hague is part of an effort by TRCP to expand its influence on water policy issues in Washington that affect the conservation and sporting communities.

Along those lines, TRCP also announced that Steve Kline has been appointed TRCP director of government relations and is overseeing the development and implementation of TRCP’s advocacy efforts both on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. Kline was director of the TRCP Center for Agricultural and Private Lands.

Kline also managed TRCP’s work on the Clean Water Act, which Hague is now taking over, the group announced.

“We’re thrilled to have Jimmy join the TRCP team and to have Steve expand his role within the organization,” TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh said in a statement. “These two policy experts have the knowledge, experience and personal qualities to leverage the power of our partners — in support of legislative solutions that support fish and wildlife conservation and that advance the interests and values of hunters and anglers everywhere.”

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posted in: General

April 23, 2013

Welcoming Sally Jewell

Last week we took some time out and got to know the new Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell.

Secretary Jewell has called sportsmen “critical partners” in assuring the responsible management and conservation of the nation’s natural resources. Whether it be fly fishing in a backcountry stream, waterfowl hunting in the Chesapeake Bay, stalking big game in the Rockies or bass fishing in Oklahoma’s Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, our nation offers a diversity of outdoor opportunities that is unequaled.

American sportsmen look forward to working with Secretary Jewell as she continues our nation’s commitment to conservation, which stretches back more than a century.

Send Secretary Jewell a welcome message via her Twitter handle @SecretaryJewell or leave a message in the comments section below.

Mia Sheppard

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posted in: General

April 12, 2013

Take Action: Stand up for Backcountry in the Beaver State

Oregon offers some of the best public upland game bird hunting in the West. Chukar season ended in January, but die-hard bird hunters already are thinking about next season. Last fall, I shared a particularly fine hunt with Walt Van Dyke, retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, and Pat Wray, author of “The Chukar Hunter’s Companion.”

Watch following video for footage of the hunt and click here to take action and conserve Oregon’s best backcountry.


The weather was warm, and the heat of the day penetrated our bones. By noon sweat dripped from our brows. Nelly, my shorthaired pointer, was unaccustomed to the heat and had drunk almost all the water I was carrying. Van Dyke, Wray and I covered territory that hadn’t seen human footprints in weeks. A breeze was blowing, and the coveys of chukar flushed wild. But hitting a bird was a bonus compared to the remarkable views and solitude we found that day in southeast Oregon.

Along with supporting populations of upland birds, Oregon’s semi-arid mountain ranges hold key habitat for mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and elk. Small streams provide unique fisheries. As a sportsman and a mother, I want to return to these special places with my daughter and see that the landscape hasn’t changed. Better yet, I want to see to it that the habitat has been improved.

To maintain the high-quality fish and wildlife values of these lands, hunters and anglers are calling on the southeast Oregon BLM to implement a new, locally conceived land allocation called a backcountry conservation area, or BCA. As proposed, BCAs would protect public access, honor existing rights and conserve intact fish and wildlife habitat while allowing common-sense activities to restore habitat and protect communities from wildfire.

Under the BCA allocation, the BLM would uphold traditional uses of public land but allow wildlife managers to restore the rangeland and habitat. The proposed plan enables vegetation management to control noxious weeds, restore bunchgrass to benefit wildlife and livestock and reduce the risk of wildfire. BCAs also would allow ranchers to maintain agriculture improvements and continue their operations.

Join thousands of sportsmen working to conserve our public lands by contacting the state BLM office in Oregon and promoting BCAs as a land-management tool.

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posted in: General

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.

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