Kristyn Brady

by:

posted in: General

March 2, 2016

This Task Force Just Revealed How $1.3B from Development Could Help Fish and Wildlife

Blue Ribbon Panel releases recommendations for funding conservation through a portion of development revenues from public lands

Today a task force of conservation, business, and energy industry leaders revealed its strategy for proactively investing in fish and wildlife resources to combat habitat loss and species decline while boosting American participation in the outdoors.

Image courtesy of Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources has recommended reallocating $1.3 billion in revenue from energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program. These funds would go toward state-based conservation projects that could benefit thousands of species and ensure that Americans continue to have access to our unmatched wild places.

“This is a very diverse group that realized very quickly we should be redefining how we support efforts to maintain diverse wildlife populations,” said panel co-chair David Freudenthal, the former Wyoming governor, during a media event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “The principle is that America has something to treasure and pass on to the next generation, but we have to realize it’s not free, and we don’t have sufficient funding from sportsmen and sportswomen spending alone in order to do that. We believe we have a sound proposal to address this.”

Annual investments from these development revenues would allow state fish and wildlife agencies to proactively manage species, rather than spend taxpayer dollars to bring endangered species back from the brink—a process that typically also creates red tape for local businesses and outdoor recreationists.

“Something we’ve known, but certainly proved true earlier this year when the greater sage grouse was not listed for Endangered Species Act protection, is that proactive conservation is effective, less costly, and more flexible for local communities than reactive conservation measures launched when a species is already in crisis,” says Steve Williams, president and CEO of the Wildlife Management Institute. “But we need a better way to fund these efforts proactively, too.”

Panel co-chair John Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops reiterated that state fish and wildlife agencies are being asked to do more with less, and there is a tremendous need for new funding solutions that don’t rob from conservation work already being done for game species.

“As the original conservationists, America’s hunters and anglers should celebrate this kind of collaboration on real solutions for fish and wildlife,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This funding program is inspired, in part, by the way sportsmen have invested in conservation through our license, ammunition, and firearms purchases for decades, and we’re grateful for the panel’s efforts to highlight the benefits that proactive conservation would provide our entire country.”

Sportsmen had a strong voice on the Blue Ribbon Panel, with representatives from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Outdoor Industry Association, Ducks Unlimited, American Sportfishing Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Wildlife Management Institute, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, and Pure Fishing, Inc. Created in 2014, the panel was charged with recommending a new funding mechanism to support state fish and wildlife conservation and ensure the sustainability of these resources for future generations.

“This recommendation is an incredible opportunity for individual states to strengthen their already existing public and private lands partnerships that have proven critical for overall wildlife management efforts in the United States,” says Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Hunting access, wildlife populations, and future generations of sportsmen and women stand to benefit greatly from full funding of the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program.”

3 Responses to “This Task Force Just Revealed How $1.3B from Development Could Help Fish and Wildlife”

  1. Michael Wells

    $1.3 billion is a drop in the bucket. That doesn’t come close to fixing squat. Animas River catastrophe, mine waste from way back yonder creates multi-state disaster, and somehow $1.3 billion is the whole country’s premium payment? It won’t do. As long as we allow these penny stock mining ventures to claim they have billions under foot, we should demand an extraction of billions from each of them as the price they pay to rob us of our collective wealth and of our ecosystems they shall surely alter for the worse. We have to stand up and demand more. This land is our land, not theirs. You’ve got to stand for something America, stop rolling over.

Do you have any thoughts on this post?

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

by:

posted in: General

March 1, 2016

Glassing the Hill: February 29 – March 4

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

The Senate will be in session Monday through Friday. The House will be in session from Monday through Thursday.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

A House divided over finances is nothing new. House GOP leadership had planned to hold floor votes on a fiscal year 2017 budget in early March, but an intra-party squabble—between those who want to stick with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 agreement and those who want a new budget with deeper cuts—seems to be preventing lawmakers from moving forward. Any attempt at additional cuts could threaten spending levels for sportsmen’s access and programs that conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat. Many members of the TRCP Policy Council are going on the record this week to encourage Congress to adhere to the budget agreement struck in October 2015.

Weeks ago, the fate of the bipartisan Senate Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 was inextricably linked to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., as several Senators insisted that energy legislation could not move forward without an aid package included. Now, many in the upper chamber have publicly indicated that an agreement on Flint has emerged, though the path forward for the energy bill is still unclear. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR), and lead author of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, has pledged to keep working to move the legislation to the Senate floor, where she remains confident it could be passed rapidly, along with a short list of amendments.

One of those amendments just might be a portion of the Senate Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act that recently passed out of the ENR Committee. That portion of the bill includes some key provisions, such as Making Public Lands Public and reauthorization of the Federal Land Transfer Facilitation Act, but doesn’t include important conservation reauthorizations like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which are included in the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee portfolio. If the ENR-only portion moves forward, sportsmen’s groups will have to devise a strategy for getting the EPW provisions over the finish line.

And ICYMI, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act passed the House in a 242 to 161 bipartisan vote. This legislation would promote and enhance sportsmen’s access to hunting, fishing and recreational shooting areas. If the Senate energy bill is amended to include Sportsmen’s Act provisions, it is possible that the House-Senate energy bill conference could also serve as the conference on the Sportsmen’s Act. Read more about the SHARE Act here.

What We’re Tracking

Conservation funding, as budget requests are examined for the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

International fisheries management, in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing regarding the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act

Voluntary conservation efforts, to be discussed in a House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing regarding technology and innovation

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Invasive species and coastal restoration, to be taken up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. They will mark up legislation for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, plus a bill that would deal with oil spills from foreign offshore facilities.

Renewable energy, in a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development hearing on technology, renewable energy, and climate change funds for Fiscal Year 2017

Coal mine cleanups, in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Federal fisheries management and small businesses will be discussed by the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee in a hearing

Kristyn Brady

by:

posted in: General

February 26, 2016

House Passes SHARE Act to Enhance Access for Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting

Vote marks next step in effort to pass broader package that benefits fish, wildlife, and America’s sportsmen

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 2406), also known as the SHARE Act, to require federal land managers to promote and enhance sportsmen’s access to public hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting areas. Final passage of this bill is a critical next step towards sending a comprehensive sportsmen’s package to the president’s desk.

Photo by Dusan Smetana

“We’re happy to see this legislation clear the House and move forward with bipartisan support—it’s a step in the right direction for what we hope is a truly comprehensive final package that the president can sign into law,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“What’s important now is Senate action on a suite of sportsmen’s priorities, including provisions aimed not only at expanding access but also at investing in key habitat conservation programs. Open gates aren’t much good if there isn’t quality habitat behind them. We’ll continue to emphasize this point with Congress and America’s hunters and anglers,” says Fosburgh.

The SHARE Act was introduced in May 2015 by the bipartisan leadership of the House Sportsmen’s Caucus: Representatives Robert Wittman (R-Va.), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and Gene Green (D-Texas). It also passed in the last Congress but failed to reach the president’s desk.

Two Senate committees recently passed portions of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act which would provide the investments in habitat conservation that the House package currently lacks. Read more about those bills here and here.

Ariel Wiegard

by:

posted in: General

February 25, 2016

First-Ever National Quail Summit Explores Models for Conservation Success

The tide may be turning for Gentleman Bob and other native species

The 2016 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic just came to a close in Kansas City, Mo., where more than 20,000 hunters and conservationists convened at the nation’s largest upland event. As always, we were thrilled to participate in the annual Fest, which really does have something for everyone—from hunters and farmers to foodies and dog lovers.

Thorny the Spinone Italiano. Photo by Ariel Wiegard

This year’s event was particularly special, as it hosted the first-ever National Quail Summit, which brought together policymakers, upland biologists, hunters, and landowners to discuss long-term habitat solutions for the restoration of bobwhite quail populations in the U.S.

Here are a few things we learned at the summit:

  • CRP works for quail. The Conservation Reserve Program is absolutely critical to quail population success. “Bobwhite buffers,” the 30- to 120-foot-wide habitat buffers for upland birds and just one of the conservation practices encouraged under CRP, add 30,000 bobwhite quail coveys annually to the landscape. Farmers and landowners love these buffers, which became part of CRP back in 2004, and they got even more buffer options last year when the USDA began allowing farmers to enroll disconnected patches of farmland. This small change has caused enrollment to skyrocket in the last four months, and quail numbers are expected to get a big boost as a result.
  • Sportsmen can’t shoulder the conservation load alone. Here’s one good illustration of the state of the bobwhite and of bobwhite hunters: In Kansas in 1999, there were 117,000 quail hunters who harvested 1.3 million quail. In 2014, there were just 38,000 hunters and 175,000 quail harvested. That is a shocking decline on both counts, and it doesn’t bode well for a conservation model where sportsmen and shooters, by and large, pay for conservation. Less habitat means fewer quail, which means fewer quail hunters and fewer dollars for quail habitat restoration—it’s an endless and destructive cycle for game species. The state of Missouri, where the summit was held, happens to have a different model, which is held up as one of the best conservation funding mechanisms in the nation. Everyone pays for conservation through a 1/8-cent sales tax, adding about $110 million to the state’s conservation budget each year. The result? Everyone benefits.
  • But sportsmen will remain essential. That’s why states like Missouri are investing their conservation dollars in programs like the brand new Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP). Just like other beneficiaries of the USDA’s Voluntary Public Accessprogram, MRAP pays landowners to allow hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing on private property, and even incentivizes landowners to improve habitat on their lands. Access to hunting land remains the biggest hurdle to hunter recruitment and retention, but by connecting outdoor recreation to private lands conservation, MRAP will help to reverse that destructive cycle we just mentioned: Having more hunters leads to more dollars for conservation, which leads to better habitat and more quail.
  • We need purposeful management on a meaningful scale. Purposeful management—whether for habitat maintenance or habitat restoration—means to provide the specific habitat components that will sustain quail populations at the landscape level. Managing explicitly for adequate amounts of nesting cover, woody cover, and food access is essential. Setting land aside and hoping wildlife will move in is less successful. In many parts of the country, this means reintroducing fire to the landscape through prescribed burning, which helps recreate the native habitat that was once present. (It’s worth noting that land managers get very excited about prescribed fire. Robert Perez from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department joked at the summit that “inside the heart of every wildlife biologist is a pyromaniac dying to get out!”)
  • Conservation doesn’t happen by accident. We make it happen through funding, legislation, and hard work on the land. The only way that we’re going to win the war for conservation—especially to benefit quail, pheasants, and all the critters we love to hunt and fish—is if we form coalitions, work together, and remind people of the famous T.R. line: “There is no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” If that’s the only message taken to heart by every Pheasant Fest attendee, we’d be pretty happy.

Looking around at the crowd listening intently to these facts and principles made me excited for the bobwhites’ prospects. Surrounded by hundreds of vendors showcasing guns and gear and puppies and delicious food, these individuals took the time to discuss bringing back our native species from the brink. It was easy to walk away feeling like we might just succeed.

Kristyn Brady

by:

posted in: General

February 24, 2016

Bills Up for House Debate Are an Affront to America’s Public Lands Legacy

House committee takes up legislation that overtly attempts to undermine public lands

On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on Federal Lands will discuss a handful of bills that promote the idea of transferring America’s public lands to individual states.

Image courtesy of Nicolas Raymond.

Two of these bills, in particular—Rep. Don Young’s H.R. 3650 and Rep. Raul Labrador’s H.R. 2316—are overt attempts to undermine public land ownership. Young’s bill is sweeping in its impact, allowing states to select and acquire millions of acres of national forests to be completely owned and operated by states and managed primarily for timber production. The Labrador bill would transfer management authority for large segments of our national forests to “advisory committees” and exempt these lands from bedrock conservation laws like the Clean Water Act, all while expecting the American taxpayer to continue to fund costs associated with wildfires on these once-public lands.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) has sent subcommittee members a letter signed by 115 national and state-based hunting and fishing organizations urging lawmakers to reject attempts to seize America’s public lands. The group has also collected nearly 25,000 signatures on a petition opposing the seizure of America’s public lands and loss of sportsmen’s access.

“Even preliminary discussion of this legislation undermines the businesses that rely on public lands to keep their doors open, ignores the very real economic contribution that hunters and anglers make in this country, and panders to private interests at the expense of the public benefit,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP. The group and its partners have been calling for decision-makers to end this conversation since January 2015.

“We’ve seen this movement flare up and get stamped out this month at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. In the last year, we’ve seen 37 bills at the state level, 31 of which were defeated. Now, this is the most overt discussion of seizing or selling off public lands to take place on Capitol Hill. At what point will lawmakers see that this is a non-starter with hunters, anglers, and American families who enjoy public access to outdoor recreation?” asks Fosburgh.

The TRCP is urging sportsmen across the country to contact members of the committee. Here’s the easiest way.

To learn more about efforts to transfer, sell off, or privatize public lands, click here.

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
Subscribe

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!