Kristyn Brady

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September 19, 2016

Plumer Joins TRCP as Chief Conservation Officer

Former congressional staff member and policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy brings expertise on appropriations process, proactive solutions for fish and wildlife, and renewable energy to TRCP’s conservation mission

Christy Plumer, former director for federal land programs and lead lobbyist for The Nature Conservancy, is joining the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership as the organization’s new chief conservation officer.

“I am thrilled to be joining the TRCP team and augmenting their work to ensure every American has quality places to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors,” says Plumer, who travels out to Bozeman, Montana, to meet with TRCP senior staff and the Board of Directors today. “As a country, we are at a crossroads for conservation, access, our outdoor recreation economy, and land management decisions that will have an impact for generations to come. Now more than ever, we need organizations like the TRCP to lead the way and unite sportsmen and women around the key issues facing fish and wildlife. I’m excited about the important role this organization will play in tackling the conservation challenges of today and crafting the real-world solutions of tomorrow.”

Image courtesy of Christy Plumer.

Plumer comes to the TRCP after spending the past year working to advance solar and renewable energy policy with SolarCity, America’s foremost full-service solar energy provider. In her previous role at The Nature Conservancy, Plumer lobbied for improving conservation funding levels through the federal appropriations process, enhancing natural resources policy, and creating proactive solutions for fish and wildlife habitat. She also spent two years as director of government relations for The Conservation Fund and seven years on Capitol Hill working for moderate Republicans, including Sen. John Chafee and Sen. Bob Smith. Plumer also served as staff director for the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water under then-chairman Sen. Lincoln Chafee. She holds a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Environmental Studies from Brown University.

“Having worked on both sides of the legislative process, as a congressional staff member and a lobbyist, Christy’s insider perspective will be invaluable to the TRCP at a pivotal time in Washington,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “Her leadership will be an asset to the organization, our partners, and the conservation community as a whole, as we move forward with ambitious goals for conservation policy and welcome a new administration and Congress.”

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September 15, 2016

Six Out-Of-Office Replies That’ll Make You Proud to Be a Sportsman

When we’re not working tirelessly to protect our country’s hunting and fishing heritage, we’re outside enjoying it, so leave a message

For the next few months, you can expect to get a lot of automated out-of-office replies from folks who love to hunt and fish. And, while we never stop working to guarantee all Americans quality places to pursue these sports, TRCP staffers definitely take the time to get outside and enjoy the season when we can.

We like to have a bit of fun, while we’re at it. Here are the real and embellished email replies you’ll get from some of us this fall, complete with shout-outs to our favorite spots and critters. Our time out there inspires what we do for conservation, and it might just inspire a little envy for those of you stuck at your computers.

Spot and Stalk

Coo, Hiss

 Free Relationship Advice, Anyone?

Unicorns and Daydreams

Steak Out

Why We Do This

TRCP’s director of Western Lands. Image courtesy of Joel Webster.

 

Kristyn Brady

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Everglades Restoration and Fish Habitat Get a Boost in Senate Water Projects Bill

Major water projects legislation authorizes Everglades restoration, using wetlands as infrastructure, and improving habitat connectivity

The U.S. Senate has passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), which contains provisions to benefit fish and wildlife habitat and water quality in some of America’s most iconic places. The bipartisan bill would authorize more than $10 billion in water projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 18 states.

Notably, the legislation authorizes $1.9 billion for restoration projects in the Everglades, where critical steps for restoring natural flows and removing pollutants must be fast-tracked to reverse algae blooms and other conditions devastating South Florida’s fisheries.

Image courtesy of Daniel Hartwig/Flickr.

“We are delighted to see key Everglades restoration projects advancing in the Water Resources Development Act,” says Dawn Shirreffs, senior Everglades policy advisor for the Everglades Foundation. “Authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project is critical to removing barriers and restoring Everglades water flow, which can bring 67 billion gallons of water to improve habitat in Florida Bay. This is particularly important for spotted seatrout and snook, but also helps prevent future seagrass die-offs that affect the entire fishery.”

The Senate version of the bill also contains a provision that would emphasize the use of nature-based infrastructure, like wetlands, dunes, and reefs, over new man-made structures. Natural infrastructure provides for sustainable and cost-effective means of reducing flood and storm damage, improving water quality, and protecting vital fish and wildlife habitat in the process.

“As we’ve learned from recent storms and floods, nature is often our first and most effective line of defense against such natural disasters,” says Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy’s managing director for public policy. “The projects and policies included in this WRDA emphasize the important role nature can play to help meet the needs of people, communities, and public safety.”

More than a dozen groups—including the American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, B.A.S.S., Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership—have been calling on Congress for support for “water resource development projects that consider natural and nature-based features” since June 2016.

The Senate version of WRDA also contains language to ensure that enhancing and sustaining fish and wildlife habitat connectivity is a robust part of the Army Corp’s mitigation planning process.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reported out their version of the 2016 WRDA reauthorization, but the bill has not yet come to the House floor for final passage. The House bill does not currently contain funding for Everglades restoration or a push for natural infrastructure, but once passed, the process of reconciling the Senate and House bills can begin.

“With the clock ticking down to the end of the 114th Congress, the Water Resources Development Act remains amongst TRCP’s highest conservation priorities,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “With expiration of the current law set for 2017, it is critical for this Congress to send a WRDA bill to the president, so that we don’t have to start this process over again next year. Today’s action by the Senate, on a bill with many benefits for fish and wildlife habitat, is a great first step. Now, the House must act expeditiously.”

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September 13, 2016

A Conservation Convert Goes Back to School

Our summer intern leaves for the fall semester with a newfound appreciation for habitat conservation, sportsmen’s access, and the outdoor recreation economy

Image courtesy of Shannon Fagan.

After a summer interning for the TRCP in Washington, D.C., I’m headed back to school with a whole new perspective on conservation policy, Congress, and the role of sportsmen. So, for my final blog, I’d like to share a little bit of what I learned about the TRCP and what they do for sportsmen and women across the country.

From day one, I was surprised by the range of issues that impact our ability to hunt and fish. For example, at first glance, the Farm Bill might not seem that important to sportsmen, but I learned that this giant bill encompasses many provisions that affect wildlife. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), in particular, helps establish and conserve habitat for quail, pheasants, waterfowl, whitetails, and countless other critters that are important to sportsmen. For you anglers out there, CRP also helps protect 170,000 stream miles through riparian buffers, which keep pollutants from reaching the water.

I was surprised that despite support from farmers, sportsmen, and both sides of the aisle, eligible CRP acreage has been shrinking, which means less habitat benefits for fish and wildlife. Not only did I see firsthand how the TRCP engaged in discussion with partners about how to protect the program, but I also got to sit courtside as we launched a #CRPWorks petition to urge lawmakers to build a better CRP in the next Farm Bill.

Because of the TRCP’s Sportsmen’s Access campaign and website, I learned a lot about the ongoing threats to America’s public lands, as well. I grew up on the east coast and I go to college in the Midwest, where folks are not as aware of talk about transferring public land to states, despite some local governments’ history of selling or closing off land to recreation.  At the TRCP, I gained valuable perspective on this issue from the Western field representatives, who live and work in the communities that would directly feel the impacts of these proposed policies, and the government relations team in D.C., who do their best to share this local sportsmen’s perspective with members of Congress.

I understand now that my name on a petition does make a difference, and when a stack of names—like the more than 32,000 on TRCP’s petition opposing public land transfer—appears on the desk of your Congressmen, it’s hard to ignore. I’m grateful that groups like the TRCP won’t let lawmakers forget that they aren’t standing with their constituents who hunt and fish if they support or vote for land transfer.

I’ve also learned that sometimes the provisions that aren’t included in legislation are just as important to sportsmen as the provisions that are. For example, the TRCP staff has spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep language that would effectively halt federal conservation plans to restore and protect greater sage-grouse habitat out of the National Defense Authorization Act. And, in a big win for public lands this May, lawmakers blocked a proposal to transfer the popular Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to the commonwealth of Puerto Rico for debt relief, a move that would have set a harmful precedent of privatizing public lands that are crucial to outdoor recreation.

Overall, I had an amazing summer here at the TRCP. I learned a ton about federal policy, habitat conservation, the outdoor recreation economy, and how they are interconnected. It’s been great to work with a dedicated staff that is also intelligent and incredibly kind. I came to D.C. as an outdoor enthusiast, and I’m leaving as a well-informed conservation advocate, ready to take action and support the ambitious community of conservation partners I’ve come to admire over the past few months. I look forward to seeing all the great things to come for conservation!

Shannon Fagan was the TRCP summer intern through the Demmer Scholar Program. She is now in her senior year at Michigan State University where she is majoring in Social Relations and Policy and minoring in Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy.

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September 12, 2016

Glassing The Hill: September 12 – 16

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

The Senate and House are both in session this week.

Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

A major piece of water legislation will see a final vote early this week. The Senate will begin the week by wrapping up consideration of a two-year reauthorization of “The Water Resource Development Act.” The bill includes important provisions, such as the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), which would restore natural water flows in Florida’s Everglades, and provisions that would aim to improve habitat connectivity.

Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked all Senators to file amendments by last Friday at noon. Two amendments passed with a voice vote, including revisions to the Rural Western Water program – a voluntary land sale or transfer program funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to enhance freshwater habitat. Chairman Inhofe and ranking member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are negotiating on the remaining proposed amendments that will be debated on the Senate floor early this week.

Next, the Senate will decide how to fund the government through December 9. A short-term continuing resolution (CR) could include monetary aid to help combat lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, fund Zika virus relief, and assist with the $8.7 billion in damages from the flood disaster in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

House leadership also met last Friday to discuss what comes after a short-term CR. House Majority Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) suggested passing smaller packages, referred to as “minibuses,” which would fund agencies through multiple spending bills, instead of funding all agencies through a single omnibus package. These would be passed during the lame duck session, which occurs after an election but before a new administration is sworn in. More talks will follow in Congress in the coming weeks, but we expect the Senate to leave D.C. once the short-term CR passes on the Senate floor.

At the tail-end of another record wildfire season, a fire borrowing fix will be discussed by the Senate Agricultural Committee. Chairman Pat Roberts intends to offer a substitute amendment  to Congressman Bruce Westerman’s (R-Ark.) bill, “The Resilient Federal Forest Act” (H.R. 2647), which includes language from his bill, “The Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act.” Democrats on the Committee also intend to offer their own substitute language. Several committees continue to work on forestry and fire borrowing issues, with an eye towards having an agreement ready to move on an omnibus funding bill at the end of the year.

Over in the House, a new bill targets trapping on public lands. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) introduced “The Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping for Public Safety Act” (H.R. 5954) last week. The bill would ban the use of body-gripping devices, such as steel-jaw spring traps, body-crushing traps, and foot and neck snares, on public lands, except to cull invasive species or protect endangered species. In other cases, non-lethal methods must prove to be ineffective before body-gripping traps could be used for control or protection.

What else we’re tracking:

Tuesday, September 13

Livestock grazing practices on public lands will be discussed at a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Interior hearing.

A ban on federal agency use of social media to lobby the public in support of pending rules will be considered at a House Rules Committee meeting.

Wednesday, September 14

The “Utah Public Lands Initiative Act” will be up for debate at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing.

Thursday, September 15

Methane regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency are on the docket in a House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment hearing.

The Army Corps of Engineer chief’s report on water projects will be discussed at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing.

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.

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