Kristyn Brady

February 1, 2017

Congress Overreaches to Roll Back Americans’ Say in Public Land Management

News for Immediate Release
Feb. 1, 2017
Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Lawmakers pursue obscure legislative process for blocking a rule created to give the public more say in management plans for 245 million acres of BLM public lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sportsmen, landowners, and former Bureau of Land Management employees strongly criticized a move by senators and representatives to overturn the BLM’s revised land-use planning rule, known as Planning 2.0. Using the obscure and rarely used Congressional Review Act, federal decision makers took a first step toward repealing the new rule and rolling back opportunities for the public to have more say in land management decisions.

In a statement, Senate co-sponsors of a Congressional Review Act resolution cite bad information as motivation to revoke the rule, namely that the final rule fails to prioritize feedback from all stakeholders, including local governments. However, if lawmakers are successful, the BLM would continue using outdated guidelines for land-use planning established in 1983, which keep the public in the dark until very late in the planning process.

“It has been publicly recognized by county commissioners and conservation districts that the BLM took meaningful steps between the draft and final planning rules to accommodate requests from local governments and the public in reworking land-use planning,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now, Congress is taking steps to reduce agency transparency and limit the public’s ability to have a say in how their public lands are managed. While a few concerns might remain, Congress is going about this the wrong way.”

The Congressional Review Act is a little-known law that enables Congress to roll back regulations within 60 legislative days of their enactment. The BLM planning rule, while under development since 2014, was finalized in December 2016, so it falls within the window of eligibility for repeal by the CRA. The process has only been successful once.

“The Western Landowners Alliance supports the BLM’s efforts in updating planning to meet today’s needs in the West,” says Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance. “There are opportunities for improvement, but not to the detriment of eliminating all the good progress that has been made to date. We believe working  through the Secretary of Interior is the best way to achieve our goals and constructively address any remaining concerns with the rule.”

Most disturbingly, once a rule is overturned through the CRA, no new rule that is “substantially the same” can be developed.

“A Congressional Review Act repeal would eliminate Planning 2.0 and likely eliminate the BLM’s authority to revise their planning regulations ever again in the future,” says Jesse Juen, president of the Public Lands Foundation and a longtime BLM employee. “Instead of stripping the incoming Secretary of the Interior of his authority before he takes office, lawmakers should work with the new administration to make refinements to a planning process that many stakeholders championed.”

Hunters and anglers in Western states can click here to write their lawmakers and urge them to let Planning 2.0 stand.

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Kristyn Brady

January 19, 2017

Trump Taps a Quail Hunter for Secretary of Agriculture Seat

News for Immediate Release

January 17, 2017

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

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue understands the balance between agriculture and wildlife habitat on America’s private lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The hunting and fishing community recognizes the potential for collaboration and compromise in President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture, announced today. An avid sportsman, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has the kind of personal and policy experience that is likely to benefit the nation’s farmers and ranchers, as well as fish and wildlife habitat on private and public lands.

In Georgia, Perdue implemented the first comprehensive statewide land conservation plan, which included policy provisions aimed at improving wildlife habitat and boosting outdoor recreation opportunities, but his response to a major drought in 2007 was somewhat controversial. He also established a trust fund for the state to purchase conservation lands and encouraged the donation of perpetual conservation easements through a new tax credit that successfully conserved more than 185,000 acres.

“We’re happy to see that a true sportsman is a candidate for this position, especially one who worked to create a culture of conservation during his tenure as governor,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It’s clear to us that, where private lands dominate the landscape, local hunters and anglers track and care deeply about ag policy and its impacts on fish, wildlife, and water quality. They can feel optimistic that Perdue is up to the task of serving rural communities and our natural resources well.”

The Secretary of Agriculture oversees many of the federal agencies with a major role in conservation, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and U.S. Forest Service. The next person to fill this leadership role will not only engage in debate over the 2018 Farm Bill, he or she will also lead the implementation of this legislation and oversee approximately $5 billion in annual conservation spending on private lands.

“While I’ve yet to meet the Governor, as hunters I’m sure we have commonality in understanding the importance of policies and programs that assist our nation’s farmers and ranchers with meeting resource conservation needs important to the overall sustainability of our agricultural system, while also benefiting fish and wildlife,” says Howard Vincent, president of Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever.

“We believe Gov. Perdue’s experiences afield will lead to a greater understanding of conservation needs, shared access, and multi-use opportunities on the numerous public lands managed by the USDA,” says George Thornton, CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Learn more about the coalition of hunting, fishing, and conservation groups working to enhance conservation funding, improve water and soil quality, and boost voluntary access programs in the next Farm Bill.

Kristyn Brady

January 10, 2017

TRCP’s Revamped Website Makes Conservation Accessible to All Sportsmen

News for Immediate Release

Jan. 10, 2017

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

Redesign highlights the organization’s core issues, superior content, and opportunities for advocates to take action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to announce the official launch of its newly redesigned website at trcp.org. The site overhaul puts original content, educational resources, and opportunities for action front and center, so American sportsmen and women have the tools to advocate for conservation policy that benefits fish, wildlife, and habitat.

“Conservation is the bedrock of all our American traditions in the outdoors, but it is often forged online by the sportsmen and women willing to engage and speak out for better policies and funding,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “We hope our new site will continue to serve as an invaluable resource, point of discovery, and outlet for action.”

TRCP worked with Sage Lion Media, a marketing agency out of Denver, Colo., to focus on ease of navigation with a new mobile-responsive design. The homepage showcases some of Theodore Roosevelt’s best quotes, as well as the core issues that the organization fights for: habitat and clean water, sportsmen’s access, and a robust outdoor recreation economy. The TRCP blog features a customized reading list to introduce users to other conservation topics of interest. And with all its content under one roof, nearly every page showcases beautiful photos and the engaging opinion-driven conservation stories that TRCP is known for.

Visit trcp.org now to see what’s new.

Kristyn Brady

December 15, 2016

Trump’s Pick for Interior is the Best Cabinet Nominee for Sportsmen, So Far

News for Immediate Release
Dec. 15, 2016
Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Congressman Ryan Zinke has been solid on public lands and outdoor recreation

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership affirms that America’s hunters and anglers can be optimistic about the management of public lands and sportsmen’s access under President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior. After days of rumors, the transition team confirmed Trump’s intent to nominate U.S. Congressman Ryan Zinke in a statement today.

“Zinke is someone we can work with,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “He’s shown the courage to buck his own party on the issue of selling or transferring public lands that provide 72 percent of Western sportsmen with access to great hunting and fishing. He’s a lifelong outdoorsman, who we’ve found to be receptive to sportsmen’s interests in Montana and D.C. We won’t agree with him on everything, but we think he’s someone who will listen and has the right instincts.”

Image courtesy of Ryan Zinke.

In June, Zinke was the only member of the House Natural Resources Committee to cross party lines and vote against a bill that would allow states to acquire up to two million acres of national forest lands to be managed primarily for timber production, locking Americans out of our public lands. Later this summer, he resigned as a delegate to the Republican nominating convention because of the party’s position on the transfer of federal public lands to the states. Zinke is also in favor of full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenues from offshore oil and gas production to conserve important natural resources and open public access.

The Secretary of the Interior oversees management of public lands, minerals, and endangered species. Senior officials nominated to lead other Cabinet departments will be just as critical to the future of hunting and fishing.

“The Secretary of Agriculture is another leadership position that will drive habitat and access improvements in America through Farm Bill programs, and we simply cannot have someone in that seat who is hostile to conservation,” says Fosburgh.

Learn more about the value of public lands and Farm Bill funding for conservation on private lands.

Kristyn Brady

December 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.

Image courtesy of Jesse Michael Nix/Flickr.

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.

“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.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Hall/USFWS.

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.

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