Steve Kline

October 27, 2017

A Toast to the Patron Saint of Conservation on His 159th Birthday

If you’ve looked at the state of our country lately and thought, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ this might be your answer 

Hunting and the American outdoors were fundamental to who Theodore Roosevelt was—without them, he would be unrecognizable. There have been other sportsmen in the White House (Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower were all passionate flyfishermen), but T.R.’s greatness cannot be separated from his passion for the outdoors, which is what makes him the patron saint of conservation in America.

So, it’s no wonder we’re thinking of him today, as his 159th birthday coincides with a pivotal time for our nation and the conservation priorities he helped to set in motion.

Theodore Roosevelt led with a clarity of purpose, and he would have seen clearly the task facing modern-day hunters and anglers—it is no less than the survival of our outdoor traditions. The future of hunting and fishing, not to mention our fish and wildlife resources, is in the hands of decision-makers who are often uninformed or downright hostile. But it is also in our hands. We must move fish and wildlife conservation up the hierarchy of our own political decision-making and vote accordingly.

If, like Roosevelt, hunting and angling are foundational to your very being, something you want to pass down to your children, then you can’t afford to be passive about policies that will affect your access or the responsible management of fish and wildlife habitat.

A generation ago, many elected leaders learned the language of the land as kids, knew the culture of opening day, and shared stories of blaze orange and bird dogs at the Formica counters of small town diners. But today, the lawmakers who understand our culture beyond its value at the voting booth are few and far between. This reality reflects broader trends: an increasingly urban population that’s more and more profoundly disconnected from wildlife and wild places.

Still there is no more important issue in this country than conservation, and to celebrate T.R. is to celebrate his famous maxim.

Subsequently we must hold our elected officials accountable when they make decisions that threaten habitat and access. We must inform others, and be informed ourselves, on the importance of the North American model of wildlife management, and explain how hunters and anglers play an absolutely essential role in the funding of conservation work. After all, following in T.R.’s footsteps, we are the prime authors of some of the greatest fish and wildlife conservation success stories in the history of the world.

To be a hunter or an angler in 2017 is to be a steward for the future. It is no less an essential call than the one that motivated Theodore Roosevelt and a generation of American conservationists, to whom we owe a profound debt of gratitude. The hunters of the next century need us to carry that mantle forward with our words and actions.

Get started right now by pledging to do more for America’s public lands. If we only rally around keeping them public and ignore the more complex issue of responsible land management, it’s possible for decision makers to make access promises while voting to undermine everything we want access to. Click here to learn more.

 

This post was originally published on October 27, 2016 and has been updated.

8 Responses to “A Toast to the Patron Saint of Conservation on His 159th Birthday”

  1. TR is virtually ignored by the conservatives of today, because of his label as a Progressive and his anti-trust positions. Republicans and Libertarians would do well to promote him.

    Now for the Democrats and Progressives. It is ironic that today’s Progressives are not TR type Progressives. They and the Democrats want the government to protect natural resources, but don’t support use for all citizens. They agree with the idea of making public lands national monuments or parks, so hunting and other activities that do not suit their taste are prohibited. This is the greatest danger to sports-people of today…the loss of use of public lands.

  2. Phyllis Park

    Here in Ohio there isn’t a whole lot of public land for hunting. We have state parks and the Wayne Nat’l Forest. In December the BLM has plans to lease thousands of acres in the Wayne to gas and oil corps for fracking. This will be devastating for wildlife and water quality in the forest. I would appreciate it if you all would write your legislators and let them know that National Forests should not be opened up to exploitation by oil and gas corps. If they do it in Ohio, other National Forests will be next.

  3. James Saunders

    If you are in favor of the BLM or any other government agency overstepping their authority and taking ranch land or water rights from ranch families then you can go to hell and never darken my “door” again. Bundys and Fictum etc are the victims here and will go down as heros.

  4. Harried Harry

    I agree, Teddy Roosevelt was a great conservationist. In his day, the most common mode of transportation was the horse. Today many use a powered vehicle such as a Jeep or 4×4 truck. I believe we need to factor these vehicle’s into modern conservation issues. As some people get older, they can no longer walk the long distances they could when younger, thus they rely on the Jeep or other type of powered vehicle. I know people who are mobility challenged but who enjoy the fun of fishing and camping. We need to provide opportunities for everyone, not just those healthy enough to walk everywhere they want. I pay for my fishing license as well as for the use of my Jeep and 4×4 truck. Without these vehicles I could not enjoy the outdoors. Thanks for your articles.

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Ed Tamson

October 26, 2017

An Everglades Restoration Project Could Help Florida Recover from Hurricane Irma

Moving water south from Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades has been a goal for decades, but securing funding for and breaking ground on the project could end up helping hurricane-ravaged South Florida recover just as much as the fish habitat

While parts of Florida are steadily recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Irma’s vicious winds and storm surge, rural communities like Everglades City and Chokoloskee—home to fishing guides, marina owners, and others who make a living from the popularity of sportfishing—have a tougher road ahead. For these towns to recover, become more resilient, and continue to welcome countless anglers, there are a number of immediate and long-term challenges to overcome.

 

Home and Habitat Damage

Initial damage assessments concluded that more than half the houses in Everglades City were destroyed and 95 percent of area businesses were closed. Running water and electricity wasn’t available for weeks, and area sewage treatment failed, with sewage backing up into the streets. While basic utilities have been restored in the last month, many of the areas where vacationing anglers would stay and the homes where locals and guides live are still in disrepair.

Wetlands and waterways suffered, as well. Storm surge brought saltwater deep into brackish and freshwater wetlands, and streams became clogged with debris, like tree branches, sunken boats, siding, and appliances. Sewage spilled into waterways, and samples of receding floodwaters one week after the hurricane indicated the presence of more human or animal waste than the test could quantify.

All of this illustrates the need for basic infrastructure improvements to ensure that the Everglades can remain a pristine and safe place to fish, even after the next hurricane.

 

Restoration Must Continue

Fortunately, many experts on the ecology of the Everglades believe the system will heal itself in time, boosted by ongoing efforts to move freshwater back into the area from Lake Okeechobee. But these projects must proceed into the engineering and construction phases without delay.

Moving clean water south from the lake will help alleviate the lingering effects of this year’s tropical storm season. Heavy rains from Irma and other storms have filled Lake Okeechobee to an unsafe level, potentially stressing the dike that surrounds the lake and protects local communities. Too much freshwater in coastal estuaries, a condition that caused crippling algae blooms in the summer of 2016, is hurting fall fishing for redfish, speckled trout, and snook.

This is why the TRCP and a host of other sportfishing and conservation groups are working with Congress to expedite construction on projects to restore and protect critical habitat for fish and wildlife in South Florida.

In a letter to Senate and House leaders on October 10, a dozen groups—including the TRCP, Everglades Foundation, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, B.A.S.S., Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and International Gamefish Association—asked for funding to complete a water control structure that is critical to allowing water to move into affected areas. We also requested their long-term commitment to funding other approved Everglades projects.

Our hearts go out to fellow anglers and all Floridians who are rebuilding after the storm. The angling community in South Florida and beyond has responded by raising thousands of dollars to help those affected. This will help in the short term, but the long-term health of the area’s economy will depend on anglers returning to hire guides, buy ice and tackle, stay in area hotels, and eat at local restaurants. It is worth investing in infrastructure and habitat improvements to make sure that happens.

 

Kristyn Brady

October 24, 2017

Congressional Farm Tour Highlights Conservation Achievements for Wildlife, Water, and the Economy

Hunting and angling groups joined members of the Iowa delegation to highlight opportunities to enhance conservation programs in the 2018 Farm Bill

On Friday, congressional staff representing Sen. Joni Ernst, Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Rep. David Young toured four southwest Iowa farm operations that have implemented conservation practices using funding and technical support from the federal Farm Bill. The tour was sponsored by a unique coalition of state and federal natural resource agencies and agriculture, conservation, and hunting and fishing groups working to enhance conservation provisions in the next five-year Farm Bill.

“We appreciate the Iowa delegation’s interest in seeing firsthand the practical application of conservation on private lands, and we hope to see these decision makers go on to lead the conversation about the many benefits of the Farm Bill Title II programs that enhance wildlife habitat, water quality, public access to hunting and fishing, and diverse rural economies,” says Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The tour highlighted Farm Bill projects that have led to the recovery of pheasant and bobwhite quail habitat, wetlands restoration, nutrient loss and soil erosion prevention, improvements to water quality, enhancement of voluntary public access for hunting and fishing, and efforts to incentivize putting marginal lands into conservation instead of agriculture. The conservation discussion continued after lunch at the Winterset Gun Club with representatives from the TRCP, Iowa Soybean Association, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, National Association of Conservation Districts, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s easy to appreciate the appeal of or need for Farm Bill conservation cornerstones like the Conservation Reserve Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program when you see quail, pheasants, and pollinators restored with native vegetation on the landscape,” says Tom Franklin, agriculture liaison for the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. “In Iowa, the results are real and tangible, and we appreciate the opportunity to show lawmakers those results.”

In a recent national survey of hunters and anglers, 75 percent agreed with providing financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to implement habitat conservation, and 87 percent said they do not want to see cuts to conservation programs, in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill or anywhere else. This summer, the TRCP’s Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group revealed its list of recommendations for conservation and sportsmen’s access priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill, which Congress needs to finalize by September 30 of next year.

“There’s no question that hunters and anglers are at the table as the Farm Bill debate ramps up, because fewer resources for conservation on private lands means fewer options for American farmers and the loss of access and opportunity for sportsmen and women who spend money in rural communities,” says Eric Sytsma, regional representative for Iowa Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “I think our message to congressional staff on the tour was that cuts to conservation in the Farm Bill would be felt across the state, by farmers, hunters, and the folks who run gas stations, motels, diners, and other small businesses.”

Read the full list of recommendations for growing conservation in the next Farm Bill, supported by 31 hunting and fishing organizations.

Christy Plumer

October 23, 2017

Four Ways the Next Farm Bill Can Help the Colorado River

After nearly two decades of drought, the Colorado River Basin needs this boost to private land conservation to support agriculture, outdoor recreation businesses, and a growing population

Even as the Colorado River enters a 17th year of drought conditions, 35 million people and hundreds of thousands of businesses across seven U.S. states are creating an unsustainable level of demand on this stressed waterway. The mighty Colorado, of such strength that it continues to carve out the Grand Canyon, no longer reaches the sea. And future projections for the river system—based on population growth, increasing temperatures, and changing weather patterns—are troublesome to say the least.

But the 2018 Farm Bill could provide some relief for the overtaxed Colorado. Here are four ways that the conservation programs we already know are good for wildlife and water quality can also support innovation and the long-term health of the river.

Farm Bill Benefits By the Numbers

Recent figures indicate the Colorado River supports an estimated 16 million jobs with a $1.4 trillion economic impact. Along with agriculture, outdoor recreation is a significant economic driver in the region. By one estimate, outdoor recreation in the Colorado River Basin contributes more than $27 billion annually to the region’s economy. The seven states within the river basin—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—attract 1.37 million hunters and 4.2 million anglers annually.

All of this economic activity relies upon the Colorado River system’s ability to sustain fish and wildlife.

But roughly 90 percent of agricultural land in the Colorado River Basin is irrigated by off-farm water-delivery systems, which are not eligible for most Farm Bill conservation program assistance. Many Farm Bill programs are also currently limited when it comes to deficit irrigation, a practice that helps farmers in the Colorado River Basin save water while maintaining important land in production and could help plants “learn” to adapt to drought.

Photo by Doug Greenberg via flickr
Four Ways to a Better Farm Bill for the Colorado

In the next Farm Bill, it may be possible to enhance the flexibility of conservation provisions for the Colorado River and Western farmers and ranchers. Here are four things we’d like to see:

Use the Environmental Quality Incentives program to improve the infrastructure that supports off-farm irrigation. Landowners already use EQIP projects to improve their on-farm water efficiency and, often, because the farmer can divert less water from the stream, they improve stream habitat at the same time. Allowing the Natural Resources Conservation Service to work directly with irrigation districts and the companies that oversee and maintain reservoirs and irrigation ditches would improve the effectiveness of water use on private lands across the West.

Address drought and water conservation practices within the Conservation Reserve Program. For more than 30 years, this popular program has incentivized farmers and ranchers to selectively take land out of production to achieve conservation outcomes, like improving soil and water quality, reducing erosion and nutrient runoff, and enhancing wildlife habitat. Expand it to acres where it might improve water conservation efforts, and give landowners even more options for a successful business plan.

Waive some acreage limits within the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program for projects that address regional drought concerns. Because watersheds in the West are typically larger than in the eastern half of the country, the acreage limits in the program make it difficult for Western irrigators to access these funds. Removing those caps would allow landowners to use Farm Bill dollars to build drought resiliency.

Help innovative partnerships enroll in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Already popular since its introduction in the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP allows landowners to partner with organizations to improve soil, water, and wildlife habitat conditions, but enrollment has been cumbersome so far. The next Farm Bill should clarify this funding arrangement and create the flexibility to promote conservation innovations at the landscape scale.

What You Can Do

The TRCP and our partners will be working to inform decision makers in the Colorado River Basin states and key Farm Bill architects of the benefits these enhancements could make. But as the debate around the next Farm Bill continues and comes to a head in 2018, it’s very likely that there are private lands, waterways, and wildlife habitat at stake where you live. Join the TRCP to be the first to know about ways you can support these ideas and other recommendations that are good for landowners, habitat, outdoor recreation, and rural America.

Top photo by USDA via flickr

Kevin Farron

October 12, 2017

This Is One Lucky Dog

Meet the winner of our #PublicLandsPup photo contest and learn what her family loves about hunting and fishing on public lands

We’re excited to announce the winner of our #PublicLandsPup photo contest: Allison Carolan and her Labrador retriever Beau!

With hundreds of photo submissions to choose from, you guys didn’t make it easy for us to pick just one winner. But this lucky pup will receive a new dog bed from Orvis to rest up for her next public-lands adventure.

We talked with the winning #publiclandsproud photographer, Allison Carolan, and asked her to tell us more about the photo, her dog, and what public lands mean to both of them.

TRCP: Congrats on winning the #publiclandspup contest, Alli! Where were you when you took this amazing photo?

CAROLAN: I took this photo in December in the Nemadji River bottoms on public land near Wrenshall, Minnesota. My husband, Andrew, and our 7-year-old Labrador retriever, Beau, and I were looking for grouse at the time, and we had just walked some single tracks for an hour or so before pausing to take in the sunrise over the Nemadji River valley.

It was about three degrees that morning, and everything was covered with hoarfrost in the valley. The frost was so heavy that some of the crystals were blowing off the trees and shimmering in the air in a crazy, otherworldly sort of way. We stopped to stare at the scene and didn’t even care that we hadn’t flushed a single bird yet. It was actually so cold that some of my breath distorted the light just slightly in the photo.

7-year-old Labrador retriever, Beau, will be rewarded for her hard work with a plush dog bed from Orvis. Image courtesy of @alli_ac on Instagram.
TRCP: It made for a truly amazing shot. How does Beau like to enjoy public lands?

CAROLAN: Beau loves to hunt, especially pheasants, Hungarian partridge, and sharptails. She specializes in long, challenging retrieves on the big grasslands of western Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and central Montana. In fact, at this very moment, Beau is with my husband at a base-camp on public land outside of Lewiston, Mont., on the Pheasants Forever Rooster Road Trip. (You can follow along with the adventure here.)

Beau is a wild bird snob, loves an authentic hunting experience, and we really only take her to hunt on public lands. You can tell she loves the challenge of flushing late-season roosters that are holding tight in thick cover, the ones that other dogs might have missed.

TRCP: What about you? What attracts you to our public lands?

CAROLAN: As for me, I just completed my hunter safety course, but haven’t completed my field day training yet. For now, I’m content to walk along, watch Beau work, take photos, and contribute to the wild game dinners afterward. I am, however, an extreme frequenter of public lands. I’m an ultra-marathon runner and wilderness canoeist, so I spend the vast majority of my free time seeking out and training on all kinds of public lands. I’ve run on the backcountry ATV trails of western Montana, in countless national parks and forests, and around portage trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In general, the wilder the place, the more I like it. Since I cover a lot of ground in my training, I’m a decent scout for everything from morel mushrooms to rare plants to birdy-looking areas. I sneak up on a lot of grouse during trail runs and take note of good future hunting locations when I find them.

I also grew up trout fishing in the Driftless Area of northeast Iowa and have spent many hours fishing on public lands in that region and out West.

TRCP: Knowing all this, it seems like Beau truly is a #publiclandspup and well deserving of a new bed from Orvis.

CAROLAN: For sure! Beau will absolutely love the new Orvis bed, and I’ll be putting it in her favorite place in the house—right in front of the fireplace. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it after putting in some hard work this week.

Below are some of our other favorite #PublicLandPup captures shared with us during the campaign.

 

Jake Koehn’s Lab, Milo, is all smiles after a successful pheasant hunt in North Dakota. Image courtesy of @jake_koehn on Instagram.

 

Ryan Cavanaugh’s dog, Daly, stays warm on a chilly duck hunt in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Image courtesy of @ry.cavanaugh on Instagram.

 

Fishing dog, Ginger, knows how to point more than just birds. Image courtesy of @phoebe_s_bean on Instagram.

 

Morgan Brown’s #publiclandspup Lily loves to fish! Image courtesy of @morgan_b_1 on Instagram.

 

Brian Riopelle holding his first Columbian sharp-tailed grouse thanks to the aid of his dog Sadie. Image courtesy of @ab_rio and @b_rio802 on Instagram.

 

Matt Martens’ pointer with his first bird in Idaho! Image courtesy of @matthew_tyler_m on Instagram.

 

Andrew Rappl with a limit of Utah sage grouse thanks to the help of his #publiclandspup, Ozzy. Image courtesy of @rapplandrew on Instagram.

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