Kristyn Brady

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December 15, 2016

TRCP Adds Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation as 50th Partner

Coalition’s growth in past year gives hunters and anglers a stronger voice in Washington

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation announced their formal partnership today, bringing the conservation organization’s growing coalition up to 50 partner groups. The new relationship will hopefully lead to greater collaboration on marine fisheries issues in the Everglades and coastal communities across the U.S.

“After partnering on several projects with the TRCP in the past, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is honored to officially become a member of this great consortium,” says Greg Jacoski, executive director of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. “The TRCP works with some of the top conservation organizations in the country, and we are looking forward to working together for effective management of our natural resources.”

Image courtesy of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

Since July 2015, the Archery Trade Association, Wild Sheep Foundation, National Deer Alliance, Student Conservation Association, and National Wildlife Federation also became TRCP partners.

“We’re excited about our growth and enhanced ability to convene like-minded groups, provide value to all our partners, and present a united front with lawmakers who are ultimately responsible for America’s conservation legacy,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “We’re all working to educate decision-makers and the public in order to advance positive solutions for fish and wildlife habitat, sportsmen’s access, and outdoor recreation businesses. At TRCP, we like to say that when sportsmen unite, sportsmen win, and hunters and anglers can feel confident that they have a strong, focused community working for them in Washington.”

Partnership does not necessarily imply that these groups participate in all of the TRCP’s work, but organization leaders meet biannually to identify areas of consensus, coordinate work towards shared priorities, and establish plans for action to benefit fish and wildlife. Partners engage more frequently in smaller working groups to organize around specific policy outcomes. Here is the full list of partner organizations.

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Kristyn Brady

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posted in: News

TRCP Adds Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation as 50th Partner

Coalition’s growth in past year gives hunters and anglers a stronger voice in Washington

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation announced their formal partnership today, bringing the conservation organization’s growing coalition up to 50 partner groups. The new relationship will hopefully lead to greater collaboration on marine fisheries issues in the Everglades and coastal communities across the U.S.

“After partnering on several projects with the TRCP in the past, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is honored to officially become a member of this great consortium,” says Greg Jacoski, executive director of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. “The TRCP works with some of the top conservation organizations in the country, and we are looking forward to working together for effective management of our natural resources.”

Image courtesy of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

Since July 2015, the Archery Trade Association, Wild Sheep Foundation, National Deer Alliance, Student Conservation Association, and National Wildlife Federation also became TRCP partners.

“We’re excited about our growth and enhanced ability to convene like-minded groups, provide value to all our partners, and present a united front with lawmakers who are ultimately responsible for America’s conservation legacy,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “We’re all working to educate decision-makers and the public in order to advance positive solutions for fish and wildlife habitat, sportsmen’s access, and outdoor recreation businesses. At TRCP, we like to say that when sportsmen unite, sportsmen win, and hunters and anglers can feel confident that they have a strong, focused community working for them in Washington.”

Partnership does not necessarily imply that these groups participate in all of the TRCP’s work, but organization leaders meet biannually to identify areas of consensus, coordinate work towards shared priorities, and establish plans for action to benefit fish and wildlife. Partners engage more frequently in smaller working groups to organize around specific policy outcomes. Here is the full list of partner organizations.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: News

November 13, 2016

Congress Fails Sportsmen on Many Conservation Priorities in Final Hours

Everglades restoration can begin, but provisions to improve fish habitat, wetlands health, and access to hunting and fishing get left behind again

Today, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act awaits the president’s signature, the final step needed to authorize $1.9 billion in restoration projects to help reverse longstanding habitat and water quality issues in South Florida, while moving water south. This should be celebrated as a major win for anglers, guides, and other local businesses that rely on healthy fish habitat.

But in almost every other way, lawmakers overpromised and under delivered on the pending legislation important to hunters and anglers in the 114th Congress. Bipartisan support for provisions that would improve fish habitat, wetlands health, and public access across the country as part of a larger energy modernization bill brought the Sportsmen’s Act closer to the finish line than ever before. But it was not enough to finally do right by America’s sportsmen after attempts in three consecutive Congresses.

Image courtesy of Jesse Michael Nix.
Image courtesy of Jesse Michael Nix.

“For six years, or longer, we’ve needed this policy support for the very infrastructure of conservation and access, which keeps rural America in business during hunting and fishing season,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We owe a debt of thanks to senators who voted 97-0 to move conservation forward with the energy bill, but sportsmen and women should be angry and frustrated that good things like this can’t get done in the end.”

While major opportunities were lost by failing to authorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, and Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act—a critical conservation tool for Western lands—there was also a disappointing last-minute addition to the water projects bill that would weaken protections for salmon and other fish.

“We are deeply disappointed that language was added to the bill that diverts water away from fisheries that are already struggling, puts wild salmon in jeopardy of extinction, and targets other sportfish for eradication,” says Scott Gudes, vice president of government affairs with the American Sportfishing Association. “Senators Barbara Boxer, Maria Cantwell, and all the Northwest U.S. senators, are to be commended for their efforts to defeat this last-minute water grab, which redirects water to agriculture and undercuts environmental protection for fisheries. Unfortunately its passage creates a significant threat to fishing communities, anglers, and the sportfishing industry in the state.”

The TRCP opposed the drought provision airdropped into final negotiations and was supportive of a provision to promote use of natural infrastructure, like wetlands, reefs, and dunes.

In a major defensive victory, language that would have undercut sage grouse conservation was removed from the final conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed last week. And a continuing resolution passed in the wee hours of Saturday morning will keep the government funded through April 28, 2016 at decent levels for conservation. But additional threats to protections for sage grouse, headwater streams, and BLM backcountry lands could be yet to come in the new Congress, with the possibility of cuts, riders, and budget reconciliations.

Follow along with the TRCP in 2017, as we work to highlight the relevance of hunters and anglers to their elected officials in Washington and advance conservation in America.

Steve Kline

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posted in: News

November 10, 2016

Welcome to the Next Four Years of Conservation in America

After an election night upset, the Trump camp takes up the immediate task of assembling a new administration. Our work for fish and wildlife, as always, continues

Sportsmen and women from across the country offer their congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump and wish him the best of luck as he begins his first term as the president of the United States. Indeed, we tip our camo hats to all of those who threw their names in the ring for elected offices, up and down the ballot and at the local, state, and national level. It is an honorable sacrifice of time and energy, and we thank you all.

But, of course, there is no job quite as tall as the one before President-elect Trump. The business of running the executive branch of the government is an immense task, and after an unprecedented election season, Trump only has about two and a half months before the inaugural kicks off his official presidency. In order to hit the ground running, things have to be well under way: Cabinet secretaries must be nominated, and the process of filling thousands of jobs must be started. To do this, not long after the nominating conventions, both presidential candidates started to assemble their transition teams—the folks, usually organized by cabinet department, who will help a new president enter the White House ready to get to work on day one.

Now, in this time of incredibly high activity, priorities are being determined and the rhetoric of campaign season is being turned into workable policy proposals, so it is imperative that sportsmen-conservationists are communicating clearly and repeatedly to new administration leaders. Over the past several weeks, the TRCP staff has been crafting transition documents that outline all of our policy priorities for the next four years of conservation success, including a 100-day agenda and goals for one year and two years into the new administration. Here are our top three asks.

Quality Places to Hunt and Fish
We’ll be making sure that our next president continues to hear from sportsmen and women that the defense of our national public lands is a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. This is a fundamental priority that both candidates heard from hunters and anglers throughout the course of the long campaign. Along with key partners, we will also work to make sure new public officials understand the importance of full implementation for the conservation plans in core sage grouse habitat across the West, as well as the need to defend those plans on Capitol Hill.

We anticipate that President-elect Trump will seek an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, an idea we think makes good sense, as long as commonsense rules apply for oil and gas development and the production of renewable energy on public lands. Namely, we’ll push for a robust planning process that accounts for impacts to fish and wildlife habitat, as well as recreational access, and identifies places where energy production of all kinds can proceed with little impact to resources or places that might be too special to hunters and anglers to become energy production zones. And, just like oil and gas, renewables should be contributing a reasonable percentage of their profits from production on public lands into a trust fund that pays for mitigation of impacts on habitat and access.

Better Investments in Conservation
One of the very first things that the new administration will have to do is send Congress a budget outlining funding priorities for fiscal year 2018. Insufficient funding continues to be a major barrier to all kinds of conservation goals, like collecting reliable offshore recreational fishing data in order to improve fisheries management or providing technical assistance to our nation’s farmers and landowners who are interested in implementing wildlife habitat and water quality projects on private lands. And, of course, a litany of active management and restoration projects on national public lands has stalled out for want of funding, so it is well time to put the conservation house back in order.

We will make sure the next administration prioritizes conservation in their first budget, and every subsequent budget.

More Champions for Fish, Wildlife, and Sportsmen
Finally, as new folks are considered for leadership roles at the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and key agencies—like the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many more—we’ll be helping to make sure that those chairs are filled with bona fide collaborators. This would include practitioners who are committed to the North American model of wildlife conservation and expanding access to quality fish and wildlife habitat, yes, but perhaps also those who are sportsmen and women themselves.

Election Day is the great reset button for American politics and policy making, but TRCP’s priorities, and our defense of the fish and wildlife habitat that America’s hunters and anglers depend on, won’t be subject to any transition.

Help us speak up for the species you love to pursue and the wild places that make our traditions possible—consider making a donation to the TRCP.




Nick Payne

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August 16, 2016

When It Comes to Conservation, We’re Less Divided Than You Think

Many groups are willing to check politics at the door to focus on the best possible management of our public lands

Amidst a historic and unprecedented election season, it seems that our country is more divided—politically and ideologically—than ever. Unfortunately, the conservation and management of our public lands fall prey to this division, and the resulting log jams in Congress, as well. It makes the work we do at the TRCP difficult at times, yet ultimately very rewarding.

In my career—and while I’ve been hunting, fishing, and exploring every nook and cranny of Colorado—I’ve learned a valuable lesson about how much common ground we actually share when it comes to the conservation of our public lands. I’ve spent much of my time at TRCP sitting down with every kind of public land stakeholder: gun shop owners in Cortez, big game guides in Collbran, wildlife biologists in Meeker, politicians in Denver, environmental activists in Salida, and oil and gas operators visiting from Texas. Early on, it was easy to make some assumptions about these different groups and their views on land management, but the reality is different.

Image courtesy of Nick Payne.

What I find when I’m actually face-to-face with these folks is that nearly all of us want the same thing: public lands that we can enjoy in perpetuity; public lands that continue to provide opportunities for outdoor experiences with our families and friends. Even oil and gas developers—whose primary goal is to generate revenue that supports their business—see the value in responsibly managing lands for all the ways American citizens have come to enjoy them.

I’ve realized that no one actually wants this planet to become a barren wasteland, devoid of wildlife and natural places.

Here’s a perfect example. Recently, I joined representatives from the Colorado Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, and Trout Unlimited to meet with officials from the Colorado State Land Board about the 3,500-acre James Mark Jones State Wildlife Area. These are state-owned lands surrounded by 13,000 acres of backcountry BLM lands that hold crucial migration, stopover, and winter habitat for elk. I explained that we’ve been working closely with the BLM on the Royal Gorge Resource Management Plan, which will dictate management of 6.8 million acres of subsurface lands and 670,000 acres of surface lands that surround the state wildlife area.

South Park and Arkansas River drainage.

Unfortunately, the state lands were on the auction block for private oil and gas leasing, and this was contrary to ongoing collaborative efforts to create a Master Leasing Plan (MLP) for the greater South Park area. As many sportsmen know, the main goal of the State Land Board is to maximize revenue from state lands, which is why 82 percent of state lands in Colorado are closed to hunting and fishing. So, I was sure we were in for an uphill battle in asking the board to defer these leases until after the MLP process had been completed. But, after we stated our case, bolstered by a letter of support from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, we were surprisingly successful.

Contrary to their stated mission, the state board voted 4 to 1 to defer the leases. This is a case where sound judgment and collaboration led to a positive outcome for the management of our public lands. Common sense won out over dogma. In the end, it may be that these lands are the most appropriate place to responsibly develop our energy resources, but at least we’ll know that, through the MLP, the proper time, effort, and consideration have been put into ensuring that this is the case.

Gold medal waters of Colorado’s South Platte River. Image courtesy Nick Payne.

Of course, many of us will continue to disagree on the specifics of how our public lands should be conserved, used, and managed. Yet it’s only the most extreme ideologues, driven politically or by their bottom line, who aren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and collaborate on reasonable solutions. It’s time that the rest of us stand up and force these snags to the side. The conservation and management of our public lands should not be a politically driven issue. It should be the commitment we make to future generations. And I believe we’re less divided than we think.

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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