Kristyn Brady

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posted in: General

February 11, 2016

Congress Should Take a Page from Obama’s Proposed Budget

House and Senate should support increases for conservation funding that would benefit fish, wildlife, and sportsmen

On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled his final budget proposal, a $4.1-trillion total ask for fiscal year 2017, which includes proposed increases for conservation projects across the country. Though largely symbolic, these requests indicate that conservation of natural resources, including the fish and wildlife species important to sportsmen, is a key priority for the administration. As decisions about 2017 funding levels now move to Capitol Hill and the Congressional appropriations process, sportsmen will be looking to Congress to also commit to robust funding for fish, wildlife, and our unmatched American public lands system.

Image courtesy of 401kcalculator.org/Flickr.

“Investment in conservation is actually an investment in our economy. These funding proposals by the president are positive benchmarks that we hope will kickstart an earnest discussion about investing in conservation through the appropriations process,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The TRCP is also thinking about the next administration and making it clear that sportsmen and women want a president who is prepared to make these investments in conservation. We won’t stand for seeing wildlife agencies bled dry while habitat suffers.”

Obama’s FY2017 budget reinforces the value of conservation and wildlife management across a broad spectrum, including such sportsmen’s priorities as State Wildlife Grants, conservation of sage steppe landscapes, private lands conservation through USDA, water conservation and resiliency efforts through the WaterSMART program, and data collection improvements at NOAA Fisheries. Notably, this budget proposal includes full funding at $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a strategy for permanent reauthorization by 2018. Here’s the list of proposed projects for LWCF dollars.

The President’s budget released today represents the next step in what has been a positive trend for conservation funding, building as it does off of the comprehensive budget deal Congress and the President agreed to in December that made key investments in conservation for fiscal year 2016. Sportsmen need to see this trend continue—especially considering that conservation spending has been cut in half in the past 37 years. This will continue to be a long-term effort, and will require the full engagement of future administrations and future Congresses.

To learn more, review the budget fact sheets for the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Commerce.

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John Hamill

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posted in: General

Why We Do This: Because This Arizona Mom Needs Quality Places to Hunt with Family

She wins our mapping project prize, while all Arizona sportsmen benefit from the data we’re collecting

When Jennifer Comer from Tucson, Ariz., put in for her first-ever big-game tag, she was hoping to join her husband and teenage son in the field. They’d started hunting just four years earlier, and her son bagged his first deer last year. While she didn’t draw an elk tag, she won a new Kimber rifle and became part of something pretty special in the Grand Canyon State.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Comer.

Last summer in Arizona, the TRCP partnered with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, an alliance of 25 regional sportsmen’s groups, to gather input from sportsmen and women about the state’s most valued places to hunt and fish. We asked a random sample of adults who purchased Arizona hunting and fishing licenses to visit a specially-designed website where they could outline their most valued hunting and fishing areas on a map. As a little incentive, we offered participants a chance to win a Kimber Classic 7mm Remington-08 rifle.

Jennifer weighed in and won, and we’re pretty excited to see this prize go to a family that has a new, deepening interest in our sports. You see, the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project was created to protect important wildlife habitat and maintain public access to highly-valued hunting and fishing areas with the hope that we can defend these opportunities for the next generation of Arizona outdoorsmen.

The TRCP launched the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project in 2007 in Montana, before expanding to Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona. What made the project special in my home state was the ease of the survey app, which the AZGFD experts in computer mapping were pivotal in designing to bring the project online—the best way to yield scientifically defensible results.

AZGFD is currently in the process of analyzing all the survey results from more than 1,200 hunters and anglers. Later this year, Sportsmen’s Values Maps will be assembled in a geographic information system (GIS), where they will be used, along with other data, to develop conservation and management strategies. The final maps will be accessible to sportsmen and key decision-makers through the TRCP and AZGFD websites. We’re hopeful that the maps will also be used to help prioritize management actions and funding requests aimed at conserving and restoring high valued wildlife habitat and expanding access, and we’re certainly committed to using this information to insure that Jennifer and her family will have quality places to hunt for many years to come.

For more information about the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project in Arizona and across the West, click here.

She wins our mapping project prize, while all Arizona sportsmen benefit from the data we’re collecting

Kristyn Brady

by:

posted in: General

Congress Should Take a Page from Obama’s Proposed Budget

House and Senate should support increases for conservation funding that would benefit fish, wildlife, and sportsmen

On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled his final budget proposal, a $4.1-trillion total ask for fiscal year 2017, which includes proposed increases for conservation projects across the country. Though largely symbolic, these requests indicate that conservation of natural resources, including the fish and wildlife species important to sportsmen, is a key priority for the administration. As decisions about 2017 funding levels now move to Capitol Hill and the Congressional appropriations process, sportsmen will be looking to Congress to also commit to robust funding for fish, wildlife, and our unmatched American public lands system.

Image courtesy of 401kcalculator.org/Flickr.

“Investment in conservation is actually an investment in our economy. These funding proposals by the president are positive benchmarks that we hope will kickstart an earnest discussion about investing in conservation through the appropriations process,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The TRCP is also thinking about the next administration and making it clear that sportsmen and women want a president who is prepared to make these investments in conservation. We won’t stand for seeing wildlife agencies bled dry while habitat suffers.”

Obama’s FY2017 budget reinforces the value of conservation and wildlife management across a broad spectrum, including such sportsmen’s priorities as State Wildlife Grants, conservation of sage steppe landscapes, private lands conservation through USDA, water conservation and resiliency efforts through the WaterSMART program, and data collection improvements at NOAA Fisheries. Notably, this budget proposal includes full funding at $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a strategy for permanent reauthorization by 2018. Here’s the list of proposed projects for LWCF dollars.

The President’s budget released today represents the next step in what has been a positive trend for conservation funding, building as it does off of the comprehensive budget deal Congress and the President agreed to in December that made key investments in conservation for fiscal year 2016. Sportsmen need to see this trend continue—especially considering that conservation spending has been cut in half in the past 37 years. This will continue to be a long-term effort, and will require the full engagement of future administrations and future Congresses.

To learn more, review the budget fact sheets for the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Commerce.

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posted in: General

February 9, 2016

Glassing The Hill: February 8 – 12

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

The Senate and the House will be in session this week.

Flint could derail a sweeping energy bill while Obama delivers his last budget request. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 enters its third week on the floor of the United States Senate this afternoon, after a Thursday cloture vote to end debate on the measure failed and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held negotiations over the weekend. Hundreds of amendments have been filed, but the real question is whether the water crisis in Flint, Mich., will hold things up indefinitely. If an agreement on providing aid to Flint can be reached, the Energy Bill is expected to move forward, with a slew of votes and final passage tomorrow. However, without an agreement on Flint, the Senate may be forced to move on to North Korean sanctions later in the week.
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, has also emerged as an issue in the wide-ranging energy bill. Senator Murkowski has offered only the half of the Sportsmen’s Act that passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as an amendment (reminder: here’s what’s in that half), an action that leaves the other portion of the bill, recently passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee, on the cutting room floor. This would prevent a clear path forward for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, or the Fish Habitat Conservation Act. We expect all of these issues to be resolved, one way or the other, by the end of the day Tuesday.

On the same day, President Obama will publicly announce his final presidential budget request, for fiscal year 2017. It was revealed last week that the budget proposal will include full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million. Read more about that here. You may remember that Congress passed a two-year bipartisan budget agreement back in October 2015, so the expectation is that Congress will move directly to appropriations measures for FY2017.

What We’re Tracking

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Collaborative fish and wildlife management, to be discussed in a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife hearing regarding interaction between the feds and the states

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Updates to flood protection and water studies, in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the Water Resource Development Act

Invasive fish species, to be discussed in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing regarding “The Costly Impacts of Predation and Conflicting Federal Statutes on Native and Endangered Fish Species”

Environmental and energy rules, in a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing

The Flint, Mich., water crisis will be the subject of a House Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee hearing

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Modifying public land boundaries for monuments, to be discussed by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands

EPA outreach to farmers and ranchers—the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will testify before the House Agriculture Committee hearing

Funding for private lands conservation, on deck for a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the Department of Agriculture’s budget

Funding for water conservation, on deck for a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the Bureau of Reclamation budget

Ariel Wiegard

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posted in: General

February 4, 2016

Homegrown Sportsmen’s Pride in Kentucky

What we learned from Louisville locals at last week’s Deer & Turkey Expo

Everyone likes a day out of the office, but we really cherish opportunities to be in the field, chatting one-on-one with sportsmen and women who have deep personal connections to the conservation issues we work so hard to drive, fund, or promote.

Late last week, we got the chance to do that in Louisville, Ky., at the Field & Stream/Outdoor Life Deer & Turkey Expo. This was the first of five regional expos this year and our very first time participating in one, and we were blown away by the people we met—hunters from the Upper South and Midwest, representatives from 150 exhibitors, and experts running workshops on everything from calling and decoying gobblers to hunting for shed antlers with dogs.

Image courtesy of Cyrus Baird.

We were thrilled (but not surprised) to find that so many sportsmen in the region share our feelings about access, habitat, and quality days afield. Here’s what was important to the folks we talked to:

  • Access: Kentucky—and much of the region—is mostly locked up in private lands, so it’s fairly obvious that sportsmen do much of their hunting on private property. But we kept hearing that even private land access is disappearing as landowners face down liability issues and encroaching development. This raises the stakes for the few public lands, like wildlife management areas, available to local hunters. Although these local WMAs can’t hold a candle to the vast public lands out West, they are in some cases the only viable option, especially for budding outdoorsmen who aren’t ready or able to invest in a lot of travel to hunt or fish. We talked with one ten-year-old boy, already an avid hunter, who called himself “privileged” and “blessed” to have access to public lands in his home state. At that moment we couldn’t have been more proud of the work we do to ensure all sportsmen have quality places to hunt and fish.
  • Image courtesy of Cyrus Baird.

    Healthy habitat: Access means nothing without decent cover or a hardy food source for the game we pursue. We traded tips and tricks for turning private lands habitat into a honey hole—everything from planting quality food plots to taking advantage of state and national programs that can cover the cost of attracting game. For instance, many landowners that we spoke with didn’t know that CRP works for sportsmen and for wildlife by paying cost-share for food plots, tree plantings, or field and stream buffers—all things that make whitetails and wild turkeys fat and happy.

  • Quality days afield: Everyone loves a “big fish” story, and we heard many deer-woods equivalents as we swapped hunting stories from the past season with expo attendees. Even when hunters told us about going home empty-handed, they still told a terrific tale. As our partners at the Quality Deer Management Association say: “We measure success in memories made, not inches of antler.” That said, there were many inches of antler on display, too! The trophy deer contest was one of the highlights of the event, and we gladly congratulated hunters on their trophy mounts—another reminder that solid resource management on public and private lands means bigger, better harvests for sportsmen.

All in all, it was a fantastic event, and we’re looking forward to swapping more tips and tales later this year. We’ll be at the Deer & Turkey Expos in Madison, Wis., from April 1 to 3 and in Bloomington, Ill., from August 12 to 14. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by our deer camp and talk conservation with us. See you there!

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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