Ed Arnett

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posted in: Highlights

May 12, 2013

Ten Tips for Renewable Energy Development on Public Land

Turbines at Foote Creek
Photo courtesy of Ed Arnett.

Chances are that most sportsmen do not spend much time thinking about energy development. But whether you know it or not, hunters and anglers have much at stake when it comes to our energy resources, including renewable sources such as wind.

As head of the TRCP’s energy program, it is my job to carry the sportsman’s voice in the energy development processes. My objective in this is clear: to ensure our nation’s energy needs are balanced with those of sportsmen.

Sportsmen should be encouraged that renewable resources like wind have shown so much promise. With clean-up still underway on the tail of the three-year-anniversary of the BP oil spill, many in the conservation community are encouraged by the forward momentum on renewable resources.

The concern for sportsmen is that the rush to develop and bring renewable energy resources to the market will negatively impact fish and wildlife and result in loss of access for hunters and anglers.

As with traditional forms of energy development like oil and natural gas, renewable resources must be developed and implemented with what the administration calls a “smart from the start” mentality. The TRCP, along with Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation, head up the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development – a coalition dedicated to bringing balance to oil and gas development.

SFRED lays out 10 considerations for developing renewable energy on public lands. They are as follow:

  1. Give sportsmen a voice in decision making.
  2. Protect roadless backcountry, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and local and state public lands.
  3. Conserve important fish and wildlife habitat.
  4. Consult with state fish and wildlife officials first.
  5. Rely on the latest science.
  6. Strengthen the permitting and leasing process.
  7. Monitor impacts to fish, wildlife and water.
  8. Mitigate damage and reclaim affected land and water.
  9. Comply with all relevant environmental laws.
  10. Hold industry accountable for development costs.  This includes monitoring and mitigation costs.

When applied, these principles ensure that renewable energy development can be compatible with the needs of fish, wildlife and hunters and anglers.

The TRCP’s energy program will continue to carry the sportsman’s voice in land-use planning and policy debates so that all forms of energy are balanced. We will call on you to speak up when it matters.

Watch the video below and visit the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development website to learn more.

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posted in: Highlights

May 10, 2013

The Cost of Conservation

Money
Behind every thrilling hunting tale are the policies and politics that govern how, when and where we can pursue our passions.

When people learn I work in conservation, it often elicits responses of “that must be exciting!”  Truly, sometimes it can be.  More often though, the issues that the TRCP deals with on a daily basis, those  that have the greatest impact on hunting and fishing, are not the thrilling “in-the-field” projects people envision.

Take the subject of conservation funding for example – this is something every sportsman should be concerned about.  However, when I mention it to many avid hunters or anglers, I receive a glazed expression and a swift change in the conversation.

Federal funding for wildlife conservation is an integral part of our economy and allows resource managers to sustain fish and wildlife habitats and sporting opportunities. Since 2011, there has been a frenzy of budget cutting and deficit-focused politics in Washington, DC and unfortunately, federal funding to fish and wildlife conservation programs have taken a disproportionate hit. As a result, many natural resource agency budgets have also been slashed, and my home state of Wyoming is no exception.

Facing a budget shortfall of $7 million, mostly due to increasing costs with no additional revenue, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently proposed license and tag fee increases – a measure which was not supported by sportsmen. It’s easy to see why; nobody wants to pay more, especially in these tough economic times. However, I suspect that had more of Wyoming’s hunters and anglers been educated about conservation funding, what it provides and the potential ramifications of a lack of funding, they would have supported the proposed fee increase.

Wyoming sportsmen are about to lose much more than the extra $17.00 it would have cost for a resident antelope tag or $14.00 for an annual fishing license. The proposed budget reductions will have a direct impact on the places we hunt and fish, most importantly the loss of public access through easement reductions on private lands. There is also going to be less game to chase and fewer fish to catch, as Wyoming is losing both wildlife biologists and habitat improvement projects (which will affect future wildlife numbers). By 2014 there will be more than 600,000 fewer fish stocked in our reservoirs annually.

However the losses that will potentially have the greatest long-term impact are the cuts to youth programs. The Wyoming Hunting and Fishing Heritage Expo – a program essential to introducing school age Wyomingites to safe outdoor recreation and the value of wildlife conservation will be cancelled. Department support for the National Archery and Fishing in Schools programs is also disappearing.  Without future generations being responsibly introduced to hunting and fishing, declining sportsmen’s numbers are inevitable.

Wyoming sportsmen are no doubt going to weather the challenges resulting from their current conservation funding crisis, but this situation is not limited to the Cowboy State. As belts continue to be tightened nationwide we all need to remember that activities related to hunting and fishing have a significant economic impact, the sporting community is part of an outdoor recreation economic sector that generates more than $1 trillion for the U.S. economy every year.

All sportsmen have the obligation to become engaged in more than just the aspect of hunting that rolls around each spring and fall. Behind every thrilling hunting tale are the policies and politics that govern how, when and where we can pursue our passions. We cannot afford to be apathetic when it comes to the less exciting aspects of hunting or fishing; conservation-minded sportsmen must actively support legislation that provides adequate and stable funding for conservation programs to ensure that we all have quality places to hunt and fish, both now and for the future.

Whit Fosburgh

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posted in: Highlights

April 30, 2013

The TRCP and Guns

Now that the gun debate in Congress has died down, I wanted to address those questions that we got along the lines of “why hasn’t the TRCP taken a position?”

The TRCP was created in 2002 with a very focused mission: to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. Our mission has been reaffirmed over the years and is being done so again this year.

Gun owners are very effectively represented in Washington, D.C.; what was lacking before the TRCP was a single organization to pull together the disparate voices of the hunting and fishing community to work together on issues related to conservation and access.

Roosevelt in Africa on horse with gun
Image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress.

Very simply, others know far more than we do about the Second Amendment, not to mention school safety, the mental health system, weapons trafficking and other key components of the gun-violence debate today.

Mission drift is a concern for all organizations. That is why they create missions, visions and strategic plans to guide their actions.

The range of conservation issues in which the TRCP does engage is diverse and represents the interests of the millions of hunters and anglers in this country. From water quality, private lands conservation and marine fisheries management to responsible energy development and conservation on federal public lands, the TRCP works collaboratively with our partners to develop smarter natural resource policies – policies that promote the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitat, increase funding for responsive resource management and enhance public access for sportsmen.

There are a few issues important to sportsmen (in addition to the Second Amendment) that fall outside our organization’s charter. We do not engage in youth education efforts, in large part because so many of our partners, from the National Wild Turkey Federation to the International Hunter Education Association, do such a great job at this work.

We don’t do on-the-ground habitat conservation projects. That’s already being done by Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and many others. And we don’t do electoral politics – we don’t have a political action committee and we remain fiercely nonpartisan. In short, we focus on what we do best: advocating for habitat, funding and access.

It is worth noting the important role that hunters and anglers play in funding conservation in America.  For more than 75 years, the Pittman-Robertson Act, which created an excise tax on guns and ammunition sales, has thrived, providing more than $6.5 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies.

As sportsmen, our priority should be to ensure the successful continuation of funding for key conservation programs. Not only are such programs critical for fish and wildlife habitat, they make good economic sense. This is a point we have stressed to Congress and the administration since the TRCP was created, including during the gun debate.

While the gun control debate has dominated the recent news cycle, conservation, funding and access continue to demand our attention and advocacy – and will do so well into the future. The TRCP will remain at the forefront of these issues and will persevere in our efforts to uphold opportunities to hunt and fish for this generation and those that follow.

Mia Sheppard

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posted in: Highlights

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.

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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CONSERVATION ISN’T
RED OR BLUE

But a little green never hurt anyone. Support our work to ensure that all hunters and anglers are represented in Washington.

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