June 27, 2013

Only 3 More Days to Speak up for Bristol Bay

Join the TRCP and the sporting community in protecting the abundant fish and wildlife resources in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Speak up today and be entered to win a trip for two in Alaska’s Crystal Creek Lodge.

The time is now to tell the EPA to act upon its scientifically sound watershed assessment showing Bristol Bay salmon are at grave risk if Pebble Mine is allowed to proceed.

Pebble would be the largest open pit mine in North America and would create up to 10.8 billion tons of waste containing heavy metal toxins known to destroy salmon spawning and rearing habitat.

Southwest Alaska’s remarkable web of abundant wildlife, including salmon, bears, moose, wolves and migratory waterfowl, is in serious jeopardy – along with one of the nation’s foremost sporting destinations.

Take a stand for Alaska’s greatest fish and wildlife habitat and you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to Crystal Creek Lodge in Bristol Bay.


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June 18, 2013

Can Crowd-Sourced Funding Save Conservation?

When times are tough, people get creative. One TRCP partner in particular has developed an out-of-the-box strategy to cure the conservation-funding blues.

National habitat and conservation organization, National Wild Turkey Federation, has recruited the help of an online crowd-sourced funding platform called CrowdTilt to fulfill their organizational goals.

Crowd-sourced funding, or crowdfunding, is a fundraising approach that allows many individuals to make small online donations toward a common project – in this case, conserving the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota.

Unable to standby and watch as a mountain pine beetle epidemic devastated the area, NWTF decided to take action. The obvious solution to hire a dedicated forester for the area was shot down due to a lack of funding for such a position.

NWTF  has turned to crowdfunding to raise money for the position. The hiring of a forest manager is a crucial first step toward ensuring the long-term health of the Black Hills and the wildlife that calls its forests home.

From the CrowdTilt page:

By helping to secure this professional forester, you can support wildlife habitat enhancement, reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, forest management planning and mountain pine beetle prevention and treatment. These improvements will cover more than 2,000 acres and be funded by cost share dollars, possibly as much as $800,000, available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service and a previously acquired federal grant.

NWTF’s CrowdTilt campaign already has raised $440 of the $10,000 needed to make am impact on the pine beetle epidemic in the Black Hills. Stay tuned to find out whether NWTF reaches their goal.

Do you think the idea will catch on?

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posted in: Policy Updates

May 28, 2013

How Much Is a Fish Worth?

From supporting American jobs to providing a healthy protein source for our food supply, commercial fishing is enormously important to the United States. Although our overall take is obviously much lower than commercial sectors, saltwater recreational fishing also provides great value to the nation.

Saltwater recreational fishing benefits the U.S. in that it:

-brings economic activity,
-connects people to the outdoors and
-provides funding for conservation.

All these benefits aside, recreational fishing often is treated as an afterthought in federal saltwater fisheries management.

Tarpon by Dusan Smetana.
Photo by Dusan Smetana.

A first-of-its-kind report recently released by the American Sportfishing Association, Comparing NOAA’s Recreational and Commercial Fishing Economic Data, makes a strong case for elevating the attention policy makers and resource managers pay to recreational fishing.

Did you know that for every 100,000 pounds of fish landed there were 210 recreational fishing jobs but only 4.5 jobs in the commercial sector? Or that saltwater landings used by recreational anglers contribute three times more to the national gross domestic product (GDP, or value-added) than commercial landings?

Figures in the report highlight the importance of saltwater recreational fishing from an economic perspective. We at the American Sportfishing Association long have argued that anglers deserve equal footing in the fisheries management process. Now we have the numbers to prove it.

Mike Nussman is president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association and a TRCP board member.

Ed Arnett

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posted in: Policy Updates

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.

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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

Learn More
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