Mia Sheppard

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posted in: General

September 24, 2015

Why Fishpond Founder Supports Land and Water Conservation Funding

As an angler and a bird hunter, I cherish opportunities to float Oregon’s beautiful rivers and explore my state’s wide open spaces. Part of that exploration process is poring over maps or using my GPS to navigate the polygons of privately- and publicly-owned land to find the places I can access. Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is responsible for some of our state’s best public access. Now that I understand what LWCF does, and why it’s so important to fish and wildlife, I’ve been working to rally support for reauthorizing this critical fund, which is due to expire at the end of the month. And I’m not alone. Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress.

First, a brief history. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 as a bipartisan commitment to a simple idea: Invest a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees towards protecting important land, water, and recreation areas for all Americans to support the outdoor economy. Since its inception, the fund has been used to invest over $16 billion in conservation and outdoor recreation, including the establishment of new public fishing areas, new corridors into previously inaccessible public lands, conservation easements and the acquisition of new public land parcels for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the sporting public.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Stumpf.

Find out about projects funded in your state by clicking here.

This fund is due to expire, and without reauthorization from Congress, we will lose critical conservation dollars. This July, I attended IFTD to build business support for LWCF. At the show, I met Johnny LeCoq, founder and CEO of Fishpond and Lilypond, which are brands designed and manufactured for the fishing and outdoor enthusiast. Johnny has created his company with the philosophy that innovation, design, and a responsibility towards the environment are critical to the success of his business.

Johnny knows why LWCF is so important and why Congress needs to fully fund it. This is what he had to say at the North American Wildlife Conference last year:

“The economics behind LWCF demands that we get the full funding appropriated for our natural resources. It is critical to my own business that depends on our watersheds, and just as important to every individual that values our open space, and public access for so many forms of recreation and enjoyment. The public access component of LWCF is crucial for the future of our hunting and fishing industry,” he said.

Here’s the vision Johnny shared for the next 50 years of conservation work in America: One of collaboration. No longer can we look to Washington or our state governments to pave the necessary path for a sustainable future. We need to create private-public partnerships that leverage the strength of both sectors. From businesses like Fishpond to the private landowners who are willing to place their farmland or ranchland into conservation easements, we need to find valuable partners who will help tell the story of how our public lands and waters are linked to a growing economy and uniquely American way of life.

Image courtesy of Fishpond.

Johnny encouraged the entire Outdoor Recreation Industry, where thousands of companies are represented, to help lead the push for full funding of LWCF—and not to stop there. “It is the responsibility of these American businesses to use the power of their consumer reach to raise additional funds to augment a shortfall of the hundreds of millions of dollars in conservation needs,” he said. “Government funding and taxes alone will not be enough to get us through our environmental challenges, and it will be important for companies like Fishpond to creatively join forces with government and non-profit groups to collaboratively reach our goals.”

If you’re like me and Johnny, please tell Congress to fully and permanently reauthorize the LWCF and protect hunting, fishing, and the recreational industry for years to come. It’s easy to do. Just click here.

Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders, voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress. 

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Mia Sheppard

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posted in: General

Why Fishpond Founder Supports Land and Water Conservation Funding

As an angler and a bird hunter, I cherish opportunities to float Oregon’s beautiful rivers and explore my state’s wide open spaces. Part of that exploration process is poring over maps or using my GPS to navigate the polygons of privately- and publicly-owned land to find the places I can access. Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is responsible for some of our state’s best public access. Now that I understand what LWCF does, and why it’s so important to fish and wildlife, I’ve been working to rally support for reauthorizing this critical fund, which is due to expire at the end of the month. And I’m not alone. Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress.

First, a brief history. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 as a bipartisan commitment to a simple idea: Invest a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees towards protecting important land, water, and recreation areas for all Americans to support the outdoor economy. Since its inception, the fund has been used to invest over $16 billion in conservation and outdoor recreation, including the establishment of new public fishing areas, new corridors into previously inaccessible public lands, conservation easements and the acquisition of new public land parcels for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the sporting public.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Stumpf.

Find out about projects funded in your state by clicking here.

This fund is due to expire, and without reauthorization from Congress, we will lose critical conservation dollars. This July, I attended IFTD to build business support for LWCF. At the show, I met Johnny LeCoq, founder and CEO of Fishpond and Lilypond, which are brands designed and manufactured for the fishing and outdoor enthusiast. Johnny has created his company with the philosophy that innovation, design, and a responsibility towards the environment are critical to the success of his business.

Johnny knows why LWCF is so important and why Congress needs to fully fund it. This is what he had to say at the North American Wildlife Conference last year:

“The economics behind LWCF demands that we get the full funding appropriated for our natural resources. It is critical to my own business that depends on our watersheds, and just as important to every individual that values our open space, and public access for so many forms of recreation and enjoyment. The public access component of LWCF is crucial for the future of our hunting and fishing industry,” he said.

Here’s the vision Johnny shared for the next 50 years of conservation work in America: One of collaboration. No longer can we look to Washington or our state governments to pave the necessary path for a sustainable future. We need to create private-public partnerships that leverage the strength of both sectors. From businesses like Fishpond to the private landowners who are willing to place their farmland or ranchland into conservation easements, we need to find valuable partners who will help tell the story of how our public lands and waters are linked to a growing economy and uniquely American way of life.

Image courtesy of Fishpond.

Johnny encouraged the entire Outdoor Recreation Industry, where thousands of companies are represented, to help lead the push for full funding of LWCF—and not to stop there. “It is the responsibility of these American businesses to use the power of their consumer reach to raise additional funds to augment a shortfall of the hundreds of millions of dollars in conservation needs,” he said. “Government funding and taxes alone will not be enough to get us through our environmental challenges, and it will be important for companies like Fishpond to creatively join forces with government and non-profit groups to collaboratively reach our goals.”

If you’re like me and Johnny, please tell Congress to fully and permanently reauthorize the LWCF and protect hunting, fishing, and the recreational industry for years to come. It’s easy to do. Just click here.

Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders, voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress. 

Jonathan Stumpf

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posted in: General

We have a winner! Fishing and #PublicLandsProud

Thanks to everyone that has been using the #PublicLandsProud hashtag, showing us why they love public lands, and sharing why we need to stand up for them.

And now the moment we’ve been waiting for: our guest judge, Jess McGlothlin of Jess McGlothlin Media and American Fly Fishing Trade Association (congrats on the new job, Jess!) has selected the winner for our fishing-themed portion of the contest.

Your winners: 

Winner: @seaandines with his “blue line sessions” shot. This shot is an awesome reminder that sometimes the fishing we need isn’t on some epic river halfway around the world, but rather right in our backyards. Wherever you live, it’s worth taking the time to appreciate your local waters—you never know what you might find. Also a great example of #keepemwet.

Always fun hanging out at the best “rest area” along I-40. #bluelinesessions

A photo posted by Sean Deines (@seandeines) on

Runner-up #1: @josh.kuntz with his shot of an angler fishing a backcountry lake in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains serves as a potent reminder that fish don’t really tend to live in ugly places, and sometimes the experience is less in the catching, and more in the getting out there.

“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”. #Aristotle ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho are a popular public land backpacking and fishing destination. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Photo:  An angler casts into the reflection of Upper Cramer Lake in the early morning. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #fishing #mountainlake #backpackfishing #backpacking #id #idaho #solitude #publiclandsproud #thetrcp #keepitpublic #bha #backcountryhuntersandanglers #reflection #sawtooths #idahogram #exploreidaho

A photo posted by Josh Kuntz (@josh.kuntz) on

 

Runner-up #2: @mt406shooter with his shot of a “proper double haul” on the Yellowstone. Good composition, beautiful water, and a strong cast. Solid.

 

Show us your #PublicLandsProud moment and you could be featured on our blog, not to mention win a new pair of Costa Sunglasses or a Yeti Cooler. From now until October 4, show us the best scenery shots from public lands and tag them with @thetrcp and #PublicLandsProud, and our guest judge, Johnny LeCoq of Fishpond will be watching. More details and all entries are here.

Here are three ways you can support sportsmen’s access on public lands. 

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posted in: General

September 21, 2015

Glassing The Hill: September 21 – 24

The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress

The Senate will be in session all week, except on Wednesday. The House will reconvene Tuesday, with votes expected on Thursday and Friday.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The much-ballyhooed arrival of Pope Francis on Tuesday brings Congressional business to a standstill, and leaves Congress with just four legislative days to negotiate a budget agreement to keep the government from shutting down on October 1. A compromise on defunding Planned Parenthood may have emerged out of Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) office: He suggested linking the controversial issue with the budget reconciliation process and letting a clean funding agreement move forward in the meantime. Now, conservatives in both chambers just need to agree to that strategy. If they don’t, House Speaker Boehner will have to choose between using Democratic votes to keep the government open or siding with House conservatives to pass a bill that the Senate can’t pass and the President won’t sign, ensuring shutdown gridlock. His history seems to indicate a clean bill will come forward, but some in the most conservative wings of the House GOP caucus have begun to foment a rebellion against the Speaker if he takes the route of compromise.

In the Senate, the Majority Leader has filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. The Senate will consider it on the floor on Tuesday. The cloture effort is almost certain to fail, but may serve to illustrate more clearly that the Senate simply cannot move legislation dealing with abortion (including Planned Parenthood defunding.)

Anything else to worry about? Yep, September 30 is still the deadline for a listing decision from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on greater sage grouse (read about their most recent population numbers here) and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (contact your lawmaker about LWCF here.)

On the Floor

The House will begin consideration of Rep. Marion’s (R-PA) RAPID Act (H.R. 348), legislation that would establish regulatory review for environmental assessments. Both Chambers will hold a joint session with Pope Francis on Thursday at 10:00AM.

Ed Arnett

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posted in: General

September 18, 2015

The Gap Between Better Lek Numbers and Sage Grouse Success

The pending decision on federal protections for the greater sage grouse has dominated a lot of the recent discussion about conservation in America. After all, multiple industries and millions of people have a lot at stake when it comes to use of lands containing the iconic Western sagebrush habitat, where the birds are determined to be at risk.

Healthy sagebrush ecosystems that support sage-grouse also provide excellent hunting opportunities for mule deer, pronghorn and other species. Image courtesy of Ed Arnett.

‘But, wait,’ you might say, ‘I just read that the sage grouse populations are rebounding.’ You wouldn’t be wrong, but we have a long way to go, and there is still justification to move forward with landscape-scale conservation, the results of collaborative planning efforts like we’ve never seen before.

Let’s clear this up.

For many species of wildlife, like the greater sage grouse, it’s extremely difficult to count or estimate population sizes and trends. Gamebird populations are often cyclical—they can wax and wane over the course of up to 10-year cycles—and fluctuate closely with precipitation levels. Rain yields grass, grass serves as ground cover, and cover usually translates to good nest production and chick survival.

It’s easy to get depressed when bird numbers are down or get excited when they are up. It’s also easy to jump to premature conclusions about what those numbers really mean, if we forget that one year’s counts are just a small part of the bigger picture.

Just two years ago, amidst a serious West-wide drought, numbers of male sage grouse attending their dancing grounds, or leks, were at near-record lows. Recently, however, rains have drenched much of the birds’ range, and numbers have responded as most might expect. In fact, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) recently reported a range-wide increase in males attending leks in 2015—up 63 percent from 2013.

While this is great news, some opponents of federal land management plans, which are about to be signed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are taking these numbers completely out of context to support their agenda. In an August 24 letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, the American Exploration and Mining Association said, “We believe this study demonstrates that state and private conservation efforts to conserve greater sage grouse and its habitat are working… It also demonstrates that the mineral withdrawals and draconian land use and travel restrictions in the proposed Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) land use plan amendments are unnecessary to provide meaningful protection of sage-grouse habitat. The WAFWA report provides ample data and evidence in support of BLM adopting each state plan as the land use plan amendments across the 11 sage-grouse states.”

Other groups have made similar claims that increased numbers of grouse somehow prove that the BLM plans are unnecessary and that state plans and voluntary efforts are adequate. These statements are wildly misleading for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, the recent increase in sage grouse populations has not altered the overall downward trend from 1965 to present—the average decline over the past 50 years is actually about one percent a year, slowly but surely chipping away at the basis for survival of the species.

Also, the 63-percent increase this year is relative to the second-lowest counts on record. While perhaps on the high end, this increase falls within the range of normal fluctuations for any gamebird population, especially given the climate conditions across much of the birds’ range. Fluctuations documented by the WAFWA report cannot be attributed to any one factor. This analysis was not designed to isolate the effectiveness of state plans, voluntary measures, or any other conservation effort, and shouldn’t be used to make that case. WAFWA makes this very clear in its report and in the accompanying press release.

Recently-employed conservation efforts have no doubt contributed to the improvement of conditions, but it is premature to say that increased numbers of males at leks are being driven by those efforts. It’s certainly inappropriate to debunk the need for strong conservation on federal lands that make up a significant portion of the birds’ range and that must be managed for multiple uses, like sustainable ranching, responsible energy development, and recreation. State conservation efforts are fundamental to achieving long-term conservation, but they cannot stand alone. And at this point, despite what opponents may say, there is no scientific data to prove that they should.

The good news is that climatic conditions have aided the population’s rebound and further conservation efforts are about to be put in place across the Western landscape by federal, state, and private sectors. This “all-of-the-above” approach is, in my opinion, the only way we’ll get to a place where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can say that sage grouse are not warranted for Endangered Species Act protections—and defend that decision in court. Only then do we have any chance of reversing long-term overall habitat and population trends from negative to positive.

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