Kristyn Brady

September 18, 2017

TRCP Responds to Leaked National Monument Report

A handful of positive measures in the report are overshadowed by recommendations to reduce the size of several national monuments

In a report leaked to the press yesterday, Secretary Ryan Zinke recommends measures to protect hunting and fishing in ten of the 27 national monuments reviewed this summer, but the report also suggests modifying them in either size or scope of management. This includes reducing the size of four land-based monuments and two marine monuments, with an eye towards opening three marine areas to commercial fishing.

“I wish these recommendations were limited to protecting the ability of Americans to hunt and fish within national monuments and setting an example for the appropriate use of the Antiquities Act,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Instead, the handful of positive measures in the report are overshadowed by recommendations to reduce the size of several national monuments. Our hunting and fishing traditions are not threatened in most of the areas reviewed, and executive branch actions to diminish one monument could threaten the legitimacy of all national monuments, even those created by Theodore Roosevelt dating back to 1906.”

Of the 27 monuments reviewed by Secretary Zinke, 22 are open to hunting or fishing and are highly valued by 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.

The move to open three marine national monuments to commercial fishing is not supported by recreational fishermen. “Saltwater anglers currently enjoy the privilege of using these areas, which are protected from the very real threat of overharvest,” continues Fosburgh.

Ultimately, decisions affecting the future of America’s national monuments rest with President Trump, and it is not yet clear what the White House will do with the recommendations.

“The TRCP encourages President Trump to support the integrity of the Antiquities Act by rejecting any measures to reduce the size of a national monument through executive action—sportsmen and women would rather be partners in using the Antiquities Act responsibly,” says Fosburgh. “Sportsmen don’t want to be used as a wedge in this process. If the president is most interested in supporting hunters and anglers, he will limit his actions under this report to protecting recreational hunting and fishing and supporting state agency authority over wildlife management.”

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Kristyn Brady

September 7, 2017

A Confirmed Decline in Hunter Participation Should Be a Call to Action for Sportsmen

It’s time for our community and decision makers to get serious about R3 efforts, adequate conservation funding, and smart policies that enhance hunters’ opportunities afield

A new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that 101.6 million Americans participated in wildlife-related outdoor recreation last year. Unfortunately, while the number of people participating in fishing and wildlife-watching is up, participation in hunting dropped by about 2 million people to a total of 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters also declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion.

This has significant ripple effects on not only the key federal funding models that support conservation of fish and wildlife, but also the base of support for our public lands and thoughtful natural resources policy.

“It is time for our community and our decision makers to get serious about R3, or recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters, because the implications for conservation are dire if this trend continues,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The report indicates that participation in fishing increased 8 percent since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016, and total nationwide spending by anglers was up 2 percent. R3 efforts geared toward fishing and boating have been successful thanks to a funding provision in the Dingell-Johnson Act, also called the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, that allows a small percentage of these excise tax revenues to be used for recruitment and retention programs.

The Pittman-Robertson Act, which created the excise tax on guns, ammunition, and archery equipment, does not permit using the funds for R3 activities.

“We must modernize the Pittman-Robertson Act so we can promote hunting the same way we promote fishing and boating, bring the hunter education and licensing systems into the 21st century, and immediately address serious threats to hunting, like chronic wasting disease in deer,” says Fosburgh. “We must also focus on expanding access and improving the quality of the hunting experience—better habitat means more animals and more opportunities for success.”

Decision makers should further support the future of America’s hunting traditions by passing a fiscal year 2018 budget deal with robust funding for conservation and crafting a 2018 Farm Bill that not only enhances conservation tools for private lands but also incentivizes private landowners to enroll acres in voluntary public access programs. It is more critical than ever that sportsmen and women continue to be engaged in the public process of planning for management on America’s multiple-use public lands, as well.

It appears the USFWS will update this page with preliminary findings on the latest five-year report.

Top photo by Tim Donovan at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission via Flickr

Kristyn Brady

August 31, 2017

Idaho Sportsmen Identify Most Valued Hunting And Fishing Destinations

New data will help state and federal agencies prioritize conservation and access projects in areas most used by hunters and anglers

Maps of Idaho’s most valued hunting and fishing areas have been made available to state and federal agencies, as well as the public, to help guide future land management decisions.

More than 400 hunters and anglers contributed to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s mapping project, and the data have been assembled in a geographic information system that can be overlaid with maps showing critical habitat, land ownership, and planned development. After hosting 20 mapping events with sporting clubs from around the Gem State, the TRCP confirmed that hunters are fiercely protective of nearby hunting and fishing opportunities and are profoundly aware of the areas with the most waterfowl, fish, upland birds, predators, and big game.

A waterfowl hunter from Coeur d’Alene identifies his favorite hunting area during a mapping event sponsored by the TRCP. From 2015 to 2017, the TRCP interviewed 400 hunters at 20 mapping events held statewide. The information will be used to focus attention on areas that need help. Images courtesy of Rob Thornberry.

“With the help of sportsmen, we’ve been able to pinpoint lands that are cherished for their hunting and fishing values, so that land managers can prioritize habitat conservation and the enhancement of public access in these areas,” says Rob Thornberry, TRCP’s Idaho field representative out of Idaho Falls.

New maps of #Idaho’s most valued #hunting & #fishing areas could help guide conservation decisions Click To Tweet

The Idaho results showed a sporting community that is loyal to public lands near home, with most residents picking favorite hunting and fishing areas within three hours of their front doors. “There was great fidelity to the public lands in our own backyards,” Thornberry says. “At the same time, roughly a third of sportsmen and women from all 20 mapping events said they still travel all over the state to pursue game and fish.”

Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore participates in the Sportsmen’s Value Mapping Project in Boise in 2016. Moore said he hopes the information will help hunters guide their hunting choices. In 2016, Moore predicted Idahoans would “circle every inch of the state.” They did.

Sportsmen were interviewed in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Salmon, Stanley, Boise, Twin Falls, Moscow, and Coeur d’Alene. The resulting maps will provide important and previously unavailable data to state and federal agencies to help:

  • Balance other land uses with the needs of fish, wildlife, hunters, and anglers
  • Identify areas where public access needs to be maintained or improved
  • Identify key high-use areas warranting special conservation strategies
  • Justify actions and funding requests aimed at conserving highly valued wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing areas

“This map will serve as a useful tool for conservation and management as state and federal agencies evaluate areas for habitat improvements and hunting and fishing opportunities,” says Mark Gamblin, regional supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game in the Pocatello region.

“Knowing Idaho’s population is increasing by 20,000 to 30,000 each year, sportsmen and women need to consider this growth to ensure that wildlife and quality habitat remain abundant,” says Brian Brooks, the executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. “This map highlights, quite literally, where we should focus our efforts.”

The first mapping project of its kind was launched by the TRCP in 2007. Maps have also been completed for Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona.

 

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.”

Kristyn Brady

June 30, 2017

Senators Introduce the Strongest Legislative Package of Sportsmen’s Priorities in Years

A package of bills introduced today has bipartisan support and will benefit habitat, access, and conservation funding

Only hours ahead of their departure for the Fourth of July recess, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and a bipartisan group of senators introduced S. 1514, a strong package of bills that would benefit fish and wildlife habitat nationwide, while funding critical watershed restoration efforts in the Mid-Atlantic and improving access for recreational shooters on public lands.

The legislation would:
  • Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act—a grant program through which each federal dollar invested is matched an average of three times over by non-federal dollars—at $50 million annually through 2022.
  • Authorize the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which was created to foster partnerships that improve conditions for fish species and enhance recreational fishing opportunities.
  • Reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the nation’s largest conservation grant-maker.
  • Reauthorize Chesapeake Bay restoration program at $90 million per year through 2022.

“What makes this effort different from sportsmen’s packages of the more recent past is that, right from the outset, it deals with meaningful conservation priorities by reauthorizing and instituting programs that will actually enhance fish and wildlife populations, habitat, and access,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We applaud Sen. Barrasso, Sen. Cardin, Sen. Boozman, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Capito, and Sen. Baldwin for their leadership and recognition of what American hunters and anglers value.”

The legislation is not without controversy, but a provision to delist gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes has bipartisan support from lawmakers and has been recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “When we take recovered species off the list, we strengthen the Endangered Species Act by making truly endangered species a priority—species shouldn’t stay on the list forever,” adds Fosburgh. “We trust in state fish and wildlife agencies to manage wildlife, and science indicates this is the next step for wolves.”

With the bipartisan support of the Chairman and members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, this legislation has a good chance of moving forward quickly.

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