Kristyn Brady

May 18, 2016

House Passes Dangerous Sage-Grouse Rider in Defense Bill

 

State and federal progress to keep iconic Western gamebird off endangered species list could be undone by Congress

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act. Contained in this ‘must-pass’ legislation that funds America’s military readiness was language that would force the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to abandon successful sage-grouse conservation plans. These federal plans resulted from years of collaboration and millions of taxpayer dollars that successfully kept the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species Act list.

“Sportsmen across the country are very disappointed with the House’s action to play politics with our national defense by inserting unrelated and detrimental language about sage-grouse conservation into the bill,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “If language contained in the House bill were to become law, it would throw into question decades of statutory precedent, scores of environmental laws, and the subsequent legal decisions around those laws. This legislation is a Trojan horse for transferring public lands to the states and stands to have lasting repercussions beyond curtailing conservation efforts in sagebrush country.”

Opponents of the 2015 conservation victory would rather see state-developed plans implemented instead. The shift in management, elimination of judicial review, and long-term delay of any future listing decision erodes the implementation of bedrock conservation statutes—such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. While many of the 11 western state plans are good, some do not fully address threats to sage-grouse and need to be complimented by federal plans.

“Success for the greater sage-grouse was achieved in 2015 through the combination of strong conservation plans on federal public lands, coupled with state conservation plans and voluntary efforts from private landowners,” said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute. “Future success depends heavily on immediate and consistent implementation of all these combined efforts. Congressional efforts to eliminate federal plans would negate effectiveness of all efforts and result in a waste of both state and federal funds expended to date.”

“We are disappointed to see this effort by the House to snatch defeat from the jaws of a victory that has already been achieved,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. “The eleven western states, federal agencies, and private landowners must continue with their unprecedented efforts to conserve and manage sage-grouse. Congress simply needs to fund implementation of these combined efforts, especially private landowner efforts to conserve sage-grouse and 350 other sagebrush-dependent species.”

Sportsmen organizations continue to communicate to lawmakers that the best thing they can do for sage-grouse is ensure that adequate funding goes toward implementation of federal plans, that necessary resources go to the states, and that private lands conservation continues. If implemented, these plans would be a windfall for habitat of species like mule deer and pronghorns, not to mention a boon to sportsmen. Undoing those conservation plans might be the best way to ensure a listing—bad news for just about everyone.

The Senate is expected to consider their version of the NDAA—which currently does not include the detrimental sage-grouse provisions – sometime next week. “This issue has no link to military readiness and it’s simply playing politics to suggest otherwise,” continued Fosburgh. “Our community looks forward to working with the Senate to ensure that these provisions to undermine sage-grouse conservation are kept out of their version of the legislation.”

Kristyn Brady

May 12, 2016

WATER CONSERVATION FUNDING IN SENATE SPENDING BILL WILL BENEFIT RIVERS AND FISH

News for Immediate Release

May. 12, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Increased funding will go to proactive, collaborative projects that leave water in the river for fish and wildlife, with new aid available for drought-stressed areas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Senate passed a bill that sets funding levels for energy and water development and includes increased investments in conservation that would benefit fish, wildlife, riparian habitat, and sportsmen, especially in drought-stricken states.

In a victory for sportsmen, the bill did not include a rider to block the Clean Water Rule, which will restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands that are critical for fish and the majority of the country’s waterfowl. The Senate rejected Sen. Hoeven’s attempt to add the rider in late April.

“Hunters and anglers understand the essential nature of clean water and healthy river systems as well as the threats posed by drought and falling water levels,” says Jimmy Hague, director of the Center for Water Resources with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Senate’s investments in water conservation will bring about tangible benefits for all species, improve our days afield, and begin to restore balance to the wild places we cherish.”

Senators voted to match the president’s request for critical funding in the WaterSMART Program, operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. With $24 million available for WaterSMART Grants, projects can move forward that leave more water in our rivers for fish and wildlife. The appropriations bill also includes $100 million to help address Western drought issues, and increases the amount that can be spent on cooperative water conservation efforts for the benefit of the entire Colorado River system.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with drought, and Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Feinstein have wisely chosen to fund programs that will help us find adequate water for fish and rivers, as well as for farmers and cities,” says Steve Moyer, vice president of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. “We are also pleased by the amendment offered by Nevada Senators Reid and Heller, which will strengthen a new and promising effort to develop water solutions for the Colorado River basin.”

The House still needs to vote on its energy and water appropriations bill, which contains the harmful rider that would block the Clean Water Rule.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

Kristyn Brady

BLM’S PLANNING RULE FOR PUBLIC LANDS WILL GIVE LOCALS MORE OF A VOICE, NOT LESS

News for Immediate Release

May. 12, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Stakeholders call on House subcommittee to support Planning 2.0 when county commissioners voice their concerns today

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sportsmen, Western landowners, and other public-lands stakeholders are expressing clear support for the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed land-use planning rule, dubbed “Planning 2.0,” as House lawmakers convene a May 12 oversight hearing to discuss county commissioner concerns about this revision to the planning process.

“We appreciate the careful and thoughtful approach BLM used in revising its planning regulations,” says Ed Shepard, president of the Public Lands Foundation, which represents a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience in public land management. “This rulemaking makes clear that the BLM, the public, and others have matured in their approach to planning, based on results achieved on the ground. It will be critical to garnering valuable public input.”

The effort to update how the agency creates Resource Management Plans (RMPs), which are the basis for every action and approved use of BLM-managed lands, represents the first substantial revision to the land-use planning process since 1983.

“Many Western landowners depend on BLM-managed public lands to make a living,” says Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance. “We believe that the BLM Planning 2.0 proposals are a positive step forward, because they would create more transparency and opportunity for public involvement when decisions are made about the management of our public lands. Enabling earlier and more meaningful participation by stakeholders in assessing resource values and management needs should result in higher quality information, better plans, and better outcomes.”

The proposed rule would also see that the BLM is planning at the landscape level to account for resources that span jurisdictional boundaries, like a mule deer herd that might migrate beyond the borders of a local BLM field office. “The agency should be able to take into account the landscape conditions, not just what they see inside the drawn lines on a map,” says Joel Webster, director of Western lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

According to the oversight hearing memo, some county commissioners are concerned that landscape-level planning will move decision making out of their communities, reducing their influence over the process. Yet, some commissioners have questioned the agency’s recent move to create additional opportunities for the public to comment, saying that it undermines their special cooperator status.

“If county and federal lawmakers are truly interested in creating better management of our public lands and increased community involvement on land-use decisions, they should be giving Planning 2.0 a big thumbs-up at this hearing,” says Webster. “The proposed revisions would increase public engagement and satisfaction with the use of our public lands, while also giving local, state, and tribal governments more chances to participate in BLM land management decisions.”

The comment period for the proposed BLM planning rule closes on May 25, and the final rule is expected to be published later this year. Many public lands stakeholder groups are encouraging their members to comment in support of the overarching principles of the proposed rule.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

Kristyn Brady

May 10, 2016

Sportsmen Laud Browns Canyon National Monument as Model for Landscape-Scale Conservation

Maintaining outdoor traditions, generating local sportsmen support must be key considerations for future national monument proposals, according to national report

Designation of the new, 21,586-acre Browns Canyon National Monument is delivering landscape-scale conservation benefits, continued hunting and angling opportunity, and economic payoffs, said sportsmen-conservation leaders at a gathering of decision-makers and journalists on the Arkansas River over the weekend. Coloradans worked for more than 40 years to permanently conserve and protect the diverse terrain of Browns Canyon, which includes high alpine meadows and lakes, winter range in the pinon-juniper hills, habitat for iconic big game species, and the Arkansas River—one of Colorado’s most popular trout fisheries. The monument was formally designated on Feb. 19, 2015.

“The Arkansas River and Browns Canyon is a story about persistence and working together for the common good,” said Corey Fisher, senior policy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “Fixing water quality problems caused by historical mining pollution has taken decades of work and numerous partners, and the same can be said for finally achieving protection for Browns Canyon. Protecting and restoring Colorado’s longest Gold Medal trout fishery has required all of the tools in the tool box, including the Antiquities Act.”

Permanent protection of this area also safeguards the estimated $55 million in recreation spending that boosts central Colorado’s economy each year. “Maintaining public access to one of the most popular and iconic stretches of the Arkansas River is a major benefit for the wellbeing of the upper Arkansas valley communities,” said Bob Hamel, owner of Arkansas River Tours in Cotopaxi and Canon City. “The businesses in this area can now rest assured that Browns Canyon will remain a special place to share with locals and visitors.”

Last weekend’s media event, including speakers, roundtable discussions and field tours, was hosted in Browns Canyon by a coalition of sportsmen’s organizations and businesses that earlier this year released a national report, which lays out a new approach for creating national monuments with hunter and angler support.

“Hunters and anglers have come together in support of leveraging the federal Antiquities Act to permanently conserve landscapes important to fish, wildlife and sportsmen,” said John Gale, conservation director of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Our report outlines a strategy for advancing national monument proposals that can be supported by our constituency. Browns Canyon National Monument, which encompasses wilderness-quality lands and waters that represent some of our most valuable backcountry hunting and angling opportunities, serves as a model for this approach.”

Judicious use of the Antiquities Act can be an effective method for protecting lands and waters of value in lieu of congressional action. It’s a tool that local sportsmen say was necessary to conserve Browns Canyon. “I remember one time we had 900 people show up at a public meeting. Ninety-five percent of them wanted protection for Browns Canyon, but the politics just dragged on and on,” said Bill Dvorak, who owns Dvorak Rafting and Kayaking Expeditions and holds the first outfitter license ever issued by the state of Colorado. “Nobody could get any kind of conservation bill passed, even though this is the most popular whitewater river in Colorado – and not one other protected area in the state has the same diversity of wildlife.”

National Monuments: A Sportsmen’s Perspective” outlines a series of tenets for creating national monuments aligned with the intent of the Antiquities Act. Also featured in the report are profiles of existing national monuments where sportsmen played a key role, including Browns Canyon and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, where the report was officially released in January 2016.

To ensure the success of monuments, while improving highly valued habitat and sportsmen’s access, the 28 sporting groups and businesses backing the report call for local involvement in management decisions, a stakeholder-driven public process, multiple-use management, reasonable public access, state management of fish and wildlife resources and continued hunting and fishing opportunities, among other criteria.

Many national monuments offer world-class hunting and fishing. For that to continue, new proposals need to be locally driven, transparent, incorporate the science-based management and conservation of important fish and wildlife habitat, and uphold hunting and fishing opportunities.

For more information on Browns Canyon and finding common ground on public lands management, read “National Monuments: A Sportsmen’s Perspective.”

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

Header image courtesy of Bob Wick, BLM.

Kristyn Brady

April 27, 2016

TRCP AND CONSERVATION COMMUNITY CELEBRATE CONTRIBUTIONS OF SPORTSMEN WITH SECRETARY JEWELL

News for Immediate Release

Apr. 27, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Jewell discussed the power of hunter and angler voices in Washington and her dedication to public lands access and sage-grouse restoration at annual barbecue on the Potomac

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Last night, at a celebration of her final year in office, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell thanked American sportsmen and women who speak up for conservation funding, habitat management, and the protection of public lands access. The event was hosted by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership at the Potomac Boat Club.

After chatting over barbecue and beer with conservation community leaders from across the country, Jewell addressed the crowd and was candid about her remaining goals related to conservation, hunting, fishing, habitat restoration, public lands, and youth and minority engagement.

“We’re going to keep our good momentum going,” said Jewell, who highlighted the landscape-scale conservation effort on behalf of sage grouse and the need to look to the future of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. “Every day is a tricky balance between the here and now—non-renewable resources, fish and wildlife habitat, the livelihoods and heritage of the tribes and ranchers—and what we leave to future generations. People expect us to be in the forever business.”

Jewell also had advice for conservation advocates: “Never stop talking about how much sportsmen and women contribute to the economy. You represent a constituency that is Republican, Democrat, Independent, hunting, fishing, Latino, Caucasian, new generations waiting to get outside, and people like me, who grew up in the outdoors. All these people can help to make progress on the things we care about,” she said.

“We have a great conservation ally in Secretary Jewell, who understands the clout of the outdoor recreation industry and the restorative power of spending time on our nation’s public lands—in solitude or with family and friends,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP. “Throughout her term, she has been a champion for many of the things sportsmen stand for, including better investments in conservation, improving fish and wildlife habitat, balancing multiple uses of America’s public lands, and access for all. We’re anxious to work with her this year and see these priorities through.”

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

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.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Be The First To Know




  Please leave this field empty

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Be The First To Know




  Please leave this field empty

You have Successfully Subscribed!