Kristyn Brady

August 24, 2017

Hunters and Anglers Want More Than Thin Details on Monument Recommendations

TRCP calls for a public report of findings on 27 national monuments that are overwhelmingly supported by American sportsmen and women

Today, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted a report to President Trump that outlined recommended actions for 27 national monuments, including 11.3 million acres of public land. A summary of the report released by the Department of the Interior is heavy on process and thin on the subject of the actual recommendations, including the number of monuments that might be cut back in size.

“These are our public lands, and the public deserves to know what the administration plans to do with them,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These recommendations have the potential to impact the future of world-class hunting and fishing on some of America’s finest public lands and set a precedent for the future status of all national monuments, even those created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906—but we won’t know until the results of this public process are made public.”

Although the report summary states that residents local to some monuments expressed concern over hunting and fishing restrictions, 22 of the 27 monuments reviewed are open to hunting and fishing and a number were created with the active support of sportsmen and women. Of the more than 1.3 million people who commented during the review period, more than 99 percent were in favor of keeping national monuments intact.

Similarly, a recent poll commissioned by the TRCP found that 77 percent of Republican and 80 percent of Democratic sportsmen and women support keeping the existing number and size of national monuments available for hunting and fishing.

Now that Zinke’s recommendations have gone to President Trump, sportsmen are anxiously awaiting further detail on the acres affected. Hunters and anglers will also be watching the White House. No president has ever attempted to eliminate a monument through executive action, and no president of the modern era has attempted to drastically reduce the size of a monument.

“We ask that President Trump support the legacy of sixteen past presidents from both sides of the aisle—eight Republicans and eight Democrats—by rejecting any proposal to shrink or undo any national monument through executive action,” says Fosburgh. “The future of some of America’s finest landscapes is directly tied to the health of the $887-billion outdoor recreation economy, and with a major focus on jobs, the White House would do well to recognize how these public lands serve local communities as they are currently managed.”

32 Responses to “Hunters and Anglers Want More Than Thin Details on Monument Recommendations”

  1. Mary and John K. Martin

    We ask that President Trump support the legacy of sixteen past presidents from both sides of the aisle—eight Republicans and eight Democrats—by rejecting any proposal to shrink or undo any national monument through executive action. The future of some of America’s finest landscapes is directly tied to the health of the $887-billion outdoor recreation economy, and with a major focus on jobs, the White House would do well to recognize how these public lands serve local communities as they are currently managed.

  2. Maurine Moen

    The current administration must not be allowed to exploit our national parks and monuments. If the congress allows Trump to do this, we will have a Democrat congress after the next election. Trump and the congress are infuriating the public with their efforts to destroy our country and the things we hold dear. 2018 is not that far away and more people than ever are unhappy with this administration’s tactics. Congress must stand up against this greedy grab of Public Land by special interests that take away from the country and gives to the rich.

    • A little input from the locals should be heard! Sorry there are over 500 Tule Elk Starving to death at the Pt Reyes National Seashorenand a private enterprise could manage this herd than some bureaucrats from Sacramento or Washington DC!

  3. The conservation of forests and water was the focus of the first environmental stewards of this country. They knew that without forests, civilization and culture would collapse. At this pivotal moment in our history, there is no more important effort that must be made than the protection of clean drinking water for public use and consumption, affordable to all, as was the intention of the early proponents of this nation’s public lands base, including Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot and other “wilderness warriors.” We are the beneficiaries of a great natural heritage that must be preserved for the good of all citizens.

  4. Matthew Cade

    United in strength our voices must be heard as one. We need to continue the conversation with our representatives and make our voices heard against this disgrace to OUR lands.

  5. tom warner

    I speak as an 83 year old hunter, fisherman and outdoors man all of my life, when I say that this current administration our heritage of public lands – a unique American treasure. It frightens me profoundly.

  6. Woody Guthrie
    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From the California to the New York island
    From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
    This land was made for you and me
    As I went walking that ribbon of highway
    I saw above me that endless skyway
    And saw below me that golden valley
    This land was made for you and me
    I roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
    To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
    And all around me , a voice was sounding
    This land was made for you and me
    When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
    In the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
    The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
    This land was made for you and me
    This land is your land and this land is my land
    From the California to the New York island
    From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
    This land was made for you and me
    When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
    In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
    The voice come chanting as the fog was lifting
    This land was made for you and me

  7. Robert E Lick

    I urge we start over by eliminating all federal land holdings except military bases. We then begin to follow the Constitution of the United States of America Article 1, Sections 8 & 10.
    All lands within a State are the property of the State unless, “purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State…” per Article 1, Section 8.
    Amendment X applies because nothing in the Constitution talks about the Federal Government holding land except as mentioned above.
    Therefore, the Antiquities Act is clearly a violation of the Constitution. The Act itself has been violated many times where is states, “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
    No single person should ever have the power to lock up vast amounts of acreage.

    • Kristyn Brady
      Kristyn Brady

      Hi, Thomas. You should see that your comment was approved. We try to go through our comments thoughtfully–sorry for the delay. Hope you have great hunting and fishing this year! -Team TRCP

  8. GD Evans

    The work of Obama arbitrarily expanding monuments and wilderness areas in an area that has been used for logging and grazing for years and closing existing road systems in Oregon wipes out hunting and recreation opportunities and should be undone at once!

  9. Thomas Doyle

    The proposed action by Mr. Trump will not have the job creating action that he believes. Oil wells only generate a few temporary jobs and even fewer permanent jobs. Any mining jobs will be of the strip mining type. These do not require the numbers of people that underground mines require.
    Any uncontrolled lumber harvesting will cause environmental issues for a centuries. The topsoil erosion will be disastrous. That soil will end up in the streams and rivers making them un-navigable.
    What is even worse is that once the administration is done raping and pillaging the landscape the small businesses in the towns around these areas are going to suffer also. These people rely the tourist trade that eats in their restaurants, stay in their lodging, and support the local fly and gun shops. There are many examples of this around the country where some political hack has been given the order to create jobs and ends up eliminating more jobs than they create (see what will happen in Grayling Mi if the fish farm isn’t stopped).
    The big box stores in the major towns cannot provide the personal services that the small business owners can.
    Keep our lands for all people to enjoy.

  10. Ronald Urban

    Leave the lands be, not for greedy profits for developers, gas and oil profiteers or Trump Loyalists. Keep them as is so future generations can enjoy them for their beauty, historical values and recreation of all sorts.

  11. William Blount

    This whole process is about gaining access for extracting resources..plain and simple. They’re selling snake oil if they say otherwise. Trump needs to get off his manicured golf courses and spend some time in the great outdoors. I really hope this goes nowhere..

  12. Loretta Neuman

    When a land developer and his rich buddies get put in the White House, what did everyone expect? Public land belongs to everyone to enjoy! Public land belongs in public hands!!

  13. Sorry; The Pt Reyes National Seashore has been a disgrace how they manage the Tule Elk herd. 200 of them died during the No Cal drought. A private Company could manage the herd better than Sacramento or DC!

  14. I’ve never seen a National Monument that was open to hunting! I’ve lived around several and they are not open to hunting. These National Monuments should be handed over to the Forest Service or BLM and be annexed into National Forest or BLM. The land would be preserved and it would much less restrictive than it is right now. I won’t even visit these Monuments any more because they are too tightly controlled and you always feel like a dog on a leash when your there. I say get rid of all National Monuments, because they are a huge waste of money. These Monuments would be open to hunting without any restrictions if they were annexed into the Forest Service and that would be excellent!

  15. Mike Scott

    This review of national monuments is warranted especially given the way the Antiquities Act is being abused. Thr Act was not meant to protect on a landscape level! Further, these lands will still remain public even if the monument status is lifted, so please try and be honest about it in discussions.

  16. Murray Smart

    Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke, and Scott Pruitt are more interested in serving the fossil fuel industry than protecting our national heritage and public lands for ALL Americans. Don’t kid yourself, local control means sell to the highest bidder and that is not the American people. If this continues we will turn into Europe and we will see less and less Americans involved in outdoor activities. Wildlife and wildlife habitat will pay a heavy price. The legacy of their behaviors and actions will go down as a very bad very sad chapter in the history of our great American outdoor heritage.

  17. Glenn Reynolds

    Monuments close roads and trails and limit access for people with handy cap. Instead of just protecting the area of most concern they take out millions of acres that the public used to travel to their special camping spots. Monument put into place a restriction on what can be do to repair existing roads and trails. Monument stop any logging or work to prevent wild fires. Monuments are a bad deal for everyone.

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Whit Fosburgh

August 23, 2017

Public Lands for All Americans: The Best Deal Going

Why Theodore Roosevelt saw public lands as fundamentally democratic—not something to be sold off for a quick buck

Like zombies, many bad public policy ideas are difficult to kill. Just when you think they are finally discredited, those bad ideas stagger from their graves under a new administration and once again require a unified effort to be put down.

So it is with the notion of privatizing public lands. In his column “The Best Deal Going: Privatize U.S. Public Lands” for Forbes, Steve Hanke opines that this misguided idea could again gain traction if President Trump is willing to take his Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, “to the woodshed” for his full–throated support of America’s public lands.

Good luck with that one. Zinke was not chosen as Interior Secretary in spite of his public lands stance; he was chosen because of it. Candidate Trump came out firmly in favor of keeping public lands in public hands, and for good reason.

The modern public lands system dates back to the days of Theodore Roosevelt, who set aside about 230 million acres of national parks, refuges, and forests during his presidency. He did it to conserve wildlife, protect water quality, ensure that the nation had sustainable supplies of raw materials (like timber), and give all Americans the ability to get outside and test themselves in nature, which he credited for making him the man he was.

Roosevelt did not see this as socialism; he saw it as fundamentally democratic. When speaking of the need for conserving our natural resources, Roosevelt stated:

“Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”

Today, America’s public lands system is the envy of the world and part of what makes our nation unique. Every American, regardless of class or economic status, can fish, hunt, hike, bike, camp, or paddle on the 640 million acres that they collectively own. These lands form the backbone of the $887-billion outdoor recreation economy, employing more than 7 million people and generating more than $100 billion in tax revenues every year. Thanks to the excise taxes and license fees that all hunters and anglers pay, America boasts the best-managed fish and wildlife in the world.

The American people know what they have and will not give it up without a fight. When Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced legislation earlier this year to sell off 3.3 million acres to help balance the budget, the outcry was immediate and severe. Chaffetz then took to Instagram, wearing camo and holding a hunting dog, to announce that he was withdrawing his bill. Shortly thereafter, he resigned from Congress.

Instead of concocting schemes to sell off or dismantle America’s public lands systems, our academics, think tanks, and politicians should focus on ways to improve the management of public lands.

Let’s commit to giving the agencies the resources they need to better manage these lands. Let’s figure out ways to improve access so that more Americans can experience them. Let’s improve the way we handle energy development on public lands, so we can have energy independence and world-class wildlife and recreation. Let’s create better partnerships between the states and the federal government when it comes to managing lands and species. And, because water flows downhill and fish and wildlife do not read ‘posted’ signs, let’s incentivize private landowners to do what is right for conservation and manage entire ecosystems for future generations.

America’s public lands are not something to be sold off for a quick buck. They are, in the words of Wallace Stegner, “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

Let us embrace that.

Guest blogger Debbie Hanson

August 14, 2017

Five Things Your Fishing License Does for Conservation While You Catch Fish

These are your license dollars at work for fish habitat, water quality, and the next generation of anglers

When you’re buying or renewing your fishing license, you’re probably only thinking about the possibility of the new season or exploring a promising new stretch of river. But are you aware of just how hard your fishing license is working on your behalf of your future days on the water?

Here are five examples of how the dollars spent on your fishing licenses, boat registrations, and excise taxes on fishing gear and boat fuel purchases go back to conservation and public access. And at $1.1 billion that’s a sizeable down payment on the next generation of anglers in America.

Improving Fishing and Boating Access

First, funds from license sales go toward fishing and boating access projects. One example is the Ramps & Pier Program in Mississippi, which helps pay for repairs to existing access points and the construction of four to six new boat ramps each year. The state of Oregon also has an excellent model of involving state and federal agencies in adding and upgrading new boating facilities.

Enhancing Water Quality

Boat registration funds help implement clean water projects that benefit fish habitat and improve the experience of anglers and boaters. The Clean Vessel Act program in Hawaii, for example, helped use these funds to construct a new sewage pump-out station and three new floating restrooms at the Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor—all in an effort to protect the sparkling turquoise waters of Hawaii for future generations.

 

Maintaining Fish Habitat

The excise taxes on your fishing gear go toward fisheries maintenance projects that help manage our state sport fisheries. For example, in New York State, biologists collect data through creel surveys and work to restore fish habitat for native brookies, American shad, river herring, and striped bass largely thanks to the taxes paid by the manufacturers of your fishing rods, reels, lures, baits, and flies. In Massachusetts, these funds are used to map fish habitat with GPS technology, sonar, and underwater vehicles through the state’s Fisheries Habitat Program. The more these experts learn, the better prepared they are to spot habitat issues and plan for improvements.

 

 

Teaching and Recruiting New Anglers

Fishing license funds also go to work for educational and recruitment programs that introduce new anglers to the sport. As more people take up fishing, there is a greater need for education on topics like species identification, conservation, regulations, and proper catch-and-release techniques. The state of Texas offers free workshops for first-timers or anyone who wants a refresher on the basics, and the saltwater angler education programs hosted by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries have been so successful that they hope to extend courses to all coastal areas of the state.

 

Planning for Long-Term Conservation

With an eye toward investing in our marine and freshwaters resources, as well as the next generation of anglers, fishing license fees support long-term conservation plans for our rivers and streams. This robust funding, which has nothing to do with the federal balance sheet, is critical to ensuring an adequate quantity and quality of water to maintain the natural balance of aquatic ecosystems. Texas has used this money to fund its River Studies Program that addresses long-term water development, water planning, and water quality issues.

 

Whether state agencies are studying rainbow trout populations or repairing boat ramps, your license fees are put to excellent use. Want to get started on your next fishing trip and give back to conservation?  Buy or renew your license here.

Sportsmen and women have a long history of giving back to conservation through our purchases. Read about the federal program responsible for that funding model and the hunters in one Western state who wholeheartedly supported raising license fees earlier this year to do even more for fish and wildlife.

TakeMeFishing.org contributor Debbie Hanson is an outdoor writer and avid angler who has written articles on fishing and boating for publications such as USA Today Hunt & Fish and Game & Fish Magazine. She is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Read her blogs at takemefishing.org/blog and visit her personal blog at shefishes2.com.

Photos courtesy of Canstock Photo.

Julia Peebles

August 3, 2017

Congress Wants to Boost Renewables and Fund Conservation

A bill moving through the House could create a rare win-win scenario for energy and wildlife

The Trump administration and Republican leadership in Congress have an aggressive agenda for the next few years: To reform the tax code, balance a federal budget, increase funds to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border, and pass a one-trillion-dollar package that addresses America’s crumbling infrastructure while providing stability for rural communities. The infrastructure package is going to be decorated like a Christmas tree with bills and amendments, but some ornaments will light up more than others.

One of these may be the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act, which unanimously passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee last week. The bill, which was introduced by Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and co-sponsored by 38 representatives from both sides of the aisle, would promote economic growth in the energy development sector while providing for conservation from a portion of the leasing revenues.

Here’s How PLREDA Would Work

The bill would achieve a win-win scenario by thoughtfully balancing renewable energy development and habitat needs through a robust permitting system and creating a consistent stream of revenue to fund essential fish and wildlife management projects in proximity to renewable energy projects.

PLREDA would boost the incentive for local stakeholders to support renewable energy projects, because 25 percent of the leasing revenues would go back to counties and states. Another 25 percent of leasing revenues would be dedicated to a fish and wildlife conservation fund, the Renewable Resource Conservation Fund. These funds could help open up access to public lands, enhance clean water resources, and improve habitat for elk, wild trout, mule deer, sage grouse, and other important game species.

TRCP strongly supports this bipartisan bill, which illustrates a balanced, common-sense approach to energy development on public lands. At a time when lawmakers have many legislative priorities, it’s heartening to see investments in America’s infrastructure and economic health that also create new revenue streams for conservation.

Learn More

Want to hear the latest on PLREDA and other legislation that could affect the places where you hunt and fish? Become a TRCP member (it’s free) and we’ll keep you informed.

Top photo by BLM/Flickr.

Ed Arnett

August 2, 2017

Here Are the CliffsNotes on Why Everyone’s Still Talking About Sage Grouse

From signs of decline decades ago to a definitive moment for sagebrush country—catch up and learn what’s at stake for sage grouse and the sportsmen who depend on them.

I had hiked for what seemed like hours and endless miles through the central Wyoming sagebrush, working my dogs in every place I’d ever found sage grouse in years past. I was a bit dumbfounded as these areas usually produced birds in fairly short order, but it seemed that all those honey holes were dry this year. I wondered what happened, as I kneeled down and poured some water into a bowl for the dogs and then took a sip myself.

All of a sudden, my chocolate lab, Deke, perked up his ears, began wagging his tail, and briskly walked toward a line of sage that we had yet to push through about 20 yards away. Apparently, the wind had shifted into our faces, and he was finally on some birds. No sooner had I grabbed my 20-gauge when a half-dozen sage grouse erupted from the brush. I dropped one, fired again and missed, and then hit a second bird with my last round. Just like that, we were done for the day—and the season, as it turned out. There were no birds the next day, no matter how far we wandered.

That hunt took place in 2012, just as I had started working in the complex world of policy and management of the greater sage grouse with the TRCP. It was also during a crippling drought, the likes of which the West hadn’t experienced for several years.

I wasn’t the only hunter to get skunked, either. The second-lowest number of male sage grouse since 1965 were counted on their breeding grounds that year, following decades of sagebrush being degraded or lost to urbanization, crop conversion, energy development, fire, and invasive weeds. In total, the West had lost nearly 50 percent of its sagebrush country by the new millennium, and grouse numbers followed suit, declining about one percent each year on average since the mid-1960s.

A lot has happened since then. Though state agency biologists put forth a range-wide conservation strategy in 2006, it took a petition to list the species—and ultimately a court order mandating that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determine whether the species warranted protections under the Endangered Species Act by September 2015—to send most states and federal agencies into action.

Wyoming led the way in this effort, bringing multiple interest groups together to craft a balanced approach to conservation and knowing full well that a listing would cripple the state and much of the West. As the September 2015 deadline approached, 11 Western states had all developed some sort of conservation plan for greater sage grouse, and the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service finalized their own plans for conservation on public lands just before the USFWS’s final decision was announced.

Private landowners jumped in, too. The Natural Resource Conservation Service, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, created the Sage Grouse Initiative to help landowners get technical advice on tailoring their operations to help grouse and their rangeland and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into habitat improvements, like removing invasive trees to improve grass and forb (sage grouse food) production. It was mutually beneficial for ranchers and the iconic dancing birds—as one rancher from Oregon has famously said, “What’s good for the bird is good for the herd.”

Sage grouse aren’t the only game species that rely on the sagebrush habitat. Image courtesy of Nick Dobric.

When this historic collaborative work paid off, and the Department of Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the range-wide population of greater sage grouse did not warrant protections under the Endangered Species Act, a collective sigh of relief could be felt across the West.

I’ve been a professional wildlife biologist for almost 30 years, and for me and most of my colleagues it is clear that the work to benefit sage grouse over the last several years has been the greatest landscape-scale conservation effort undertaken in modern times. Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute and a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director, has stated that the unprecedented and extraordinary collaboration we’ve seen sets forth a model for the future of conservation in America.

But the work has only just begun. One thing we all need to keep in mind is that the decision to keep sage grouse off a threatened or endangered species list was predicated on the promise of implementing both federal and state conservation plans simultaneously and without interruption, all while conservation efforts on private lands continue. No single effort can stand alone to deliver the necessary conservation benefits or regulatory certainty to avoid a future listing.

But major amendments and lengthy disruptions could drastically alter the course for habitat conservation and undo years of hard work—years that sage grouse don’t have to waste.

There’s simply no denying that long-term conservation measures will benefit everyone in the end.

So why do we think it’s so important for sportsmen and women to understand all of this, even after the not warranted decision for sage grouse was issued? We depend on public lands for quality habitat that allows fish and wildlife populations to thrive. And we know that sagebrush provides habitat for more than 350 species of plants and wildlife, including many beyond sage grouse, like pronghorns, wild trout, mule deer, and elk.

Major disruptions in #sagegrouse plans could drastically alter the course for habitat #conservation. Click To Tweet

These iconic species define the Western landscape and our days afield. Meanwhile, the extraordinary outdoor recreation opportunities in sagebrush country help drive spending in our local communities, supporting the $887-billion outdoor recreation economy and more than 7.5 million jobs. These pursuits mean big business, and the places where we are free to hunt and fish define us as Americans.

This is why we need to keep this historic collaborative conservation effort moving forward, while continuing to work with the states and all stakeholders on thoughtful improvements. It is critical to our outdoor heritage, economy, and Western way of life.

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