Anna Grubb

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posted in: Outdoor Economy

January 9, 2018

Executives of Strong Outdoor Brands and Major Conservation Allies Join TRCP Board

The organization’s Board of Directors has acquired top talent from REI and Bass Pro Shops and welcomes back leaders of Orvis and Pheasants Forever

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is honored to announce the newest additions to its Board of Directors: Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI; Megan Morris, foundation and philanthropy advisor for Bass Pro Shops; Dave Perkins, vice chairman of the Orvis Company; Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever; Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association; and Alston Watt, executive director of the Williams Family Foundation of Georgia.

“This new slate of Board members makes the TRCP a stronger organization,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “They include some of the nation’s most prominent names in conservation, philanthropy, and the hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation industries. Their willingness to serve—or in some cases, serve again—affirms the integrity of TRCP’s bipartisan and science-based approach to safeguarding America’s conservation legacy.”

Stritzke and Morris represent leading outdoor retail brands with impeccable conservation values, while Watt brings experience with non-profit management, fundraising, and philanthropy. Perkins, Vincent, and Nussman are returning to the Board after previously serving full terms.

Four members also concluded their time with the Board in December: John Doerr, previously CEO of Pure Fishing; Mike Fitzgerald, co-owner and president of Frontiers Travel; Jay McAninch, the recently retired president and CEO of the Archery Trade Association; and George Thornton, the recently retired CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Rod Nelson of Houston, Texas, a former vice president for government and community relations for Schlumberger Limited, was elected as Board chair in December. He replaces Weldon Baird of Atlanta, Georgia, who served as chair for three years.

See the full roster of the TRCP Board of Directors here.

Bios for our newest Board members are below.

Jerry Stritzke joined REI as president and CEO in 2013. Under his leadership, REI launched its extremely successful #OptOutside campaign and reinvested nearly 70 percent of its profits back into the outdoor community in 2017 through co-op members, employees, and nonprofit partners. Stritzke grew up in Oklahoma and enjoys bow hunting, fly fishing, hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.

Megan Morris is the foundation and philanthropy advisor for Bass Pro Shops, following in her father Johnny Morris’s footsteps as an advocate for local and national efforts to conserve fish and wildlife habitat, connect kids and families to the outdoors, and safeguard hunting and fishing traditions. Morris graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado and earned her Master’s in public administration with a concentration in non-profit management from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dave Perkins joined Orvis in 1979 and is now the vice chairman of retail and sporting traditions, overseeing Orvis retail operations and the company’s core sporting traditions businesses. An avid fly fisherman and wing shooter, Perkins travels extensively to pursue these interests.

Howard Vincent has been with Pheasants Forever for 30 of the organization’s 34 years. In 2000, he was appointed CEO after previously serving as senior vice president and chief financial officer. In that time, it has grown from a $1M to $89M organization, while maintaining 90 percent mission efficiency. He and his wife Wendy have been married for more than 37 years and live in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where he enjoys chasing the wily ringneck with his two sons, Marco and Ian.

Mike Nussman is the president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association, having served previously on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for 9 years. At ASA, Nussman has been a driving force behind numerous pieces of legislation and policy directives to minimize access restrictions, promote clean water, and restore fish populations. He has helped to grow the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) Show and launched KeepAmericaFishing™, the industry’s angler advocacy initiative.

Alston Watt is the executive director of the Williams Family Foundation of Georgia. She previously worked for CARE in Haiti and Bangladesh—administering programs in microcredit, health, and water— and the North Luangwa Conservation Project in Zambia. Watt grew up hunting with her brothers, cousins, and uncle. She has two sons with husband Philip, and their family is never happier than when they are fishing, hunting, and hiking.

 

Top photo by Dave Nomsen.

4 Responses to “Executives of Strong Outdoor Brands and Major Conservation Allies Join TRCP Board”

  1. Hugh Carola

    I hope the board members and TRCP will pull out all the stops and use every ounce of influence they have w/ the GOP leadership in Congress to stop the sell-off of public lands, the loosening of clean water protections, and the rollbacks of longstanding and successful wildlife conservation initiatives already underway by the current administration.

  2. Kathy Etling

    The new board members should work with TRCP to ensure the survival, as they were, of ALL of our precious National Monuments and work diligently to keep the extractive industries — drilling and mining — at bay. With 8000 leases already going unused, I fail to see the urgency to open new, untrammeled areas to exploitative activities that will pollute and corrupt the air, soil and water and jeopardize our wildlife. They also need to protect our Wilderness Areas from being bisected by roads and destroyed by vehicles. If a hunter or angler wants it bad enough, s/he can walk in for it. I am in my 70s and I would NEVER expect a Wilderness Area to be made ‘easier’ just so I could hunt it. Some things are meant to be saved in their pristine state. Wilderness Areas are too beautiful, too holy, to be destroyed for a few lazy hunters and anglers.

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posted in: Outdoor Economy

January 5, 2018

Six New Year’s Resolutions We Wish Congress and DOI Would Make

These conservation policy priorities, if accomplished, would ensure that America’s fish, wildlife, public lands, and sporting traditions all prosper in 2018 and beyond

It’s the time of year when many of us, to the point of a cliché, personally examine our priorities and plan for future improvements. And since we’re in the business of safeguarding America’s fish and wildlife habitat, clean water, sportsmen’s access, and outdoor recreation economy, we’d love to see our country’s decision makers resolve to create or move policies forward that will allow hunting and fishing to thrive.

Here are the New Year’s resolutions we wish that Congress and the Department of the Interior would make for conservation.

Fix Our Forests

A looming budget deadline offers a great opportunity to finally fix the way we pay for catastrophic wildfires—and reform forest management to help prevent fires in the first place. Lawmakers should pass a comprehensive fire funding fix in the next budget deal to stop taking funds from forest restoration programs like prescribed burning and removal of invasive species and diseased trees. Make sure your decision makers hear about this by using our quick and easy Twitter tool.

 

Bulk Up Water Quality Efforts in the Farm Bill

In 2018, Congress will need to pass a new Farm Bill—and we hope it’s one that strengthens and maintains funding for USDA conservation programs. The work done with these funds keeps tons of pollutants out of rivers and expands water conservation on farms, which improves river flows that support healthy fisheries, strong outdoor recreation businesses, and flourishing rural communities.

 

Invest in Access on Private Land

With legislation as massive and far-reaching as the Farm Bill, there’s also a unique opportunity to boost hunting and fishing access in areas where there are few, if any, public lands. If Congress can reauthorize and expand the popular Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program—the U.S. Department of Agriculture program that incentivizes landowners to open their property for public hunting and fishing access—the improved opportunities for hunters and anglers would create a draw in some rural communities that desperately need an economic boost.

 

Defend the Clean Water Act

Congress should not let the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers pass a rule that guts the Clean Water Act. Americans overwhelmingly support protecting headwater streams and wetlands, which are critical to fish and waterfowl populations. Trimming down on regulation doesn’t have to mean leaving these foundational waters and rapidly disappearing wetlands vulnerable to pollution or destruction.

 

Modernize Marine Fisheries Management
Image courtesy of Amanda Nalley/Florida Fish and Wildlife.

 

For the last five years, the leading advocates of recreational fishing and conservation have worked with policy makers to improve federal recreational fishing management by modernizing data collection and allowing more involvement from state agencies and anglers. These badly-needed changes were included in legislation that passed the House Natural Resources Committee in December and will now head to the House floor. But the Senate has the opportunity to improve upon this legislation and ensure that the vital contributions—cultural, economic, and conservation efforts—of the recreational saltwater fishing industry are finally recognized in federal law and policy.

 

Champion Conservation and Access Equally

Some of the best news of 2017 came out of the Department of the Interior on new hunting and fishing access on previously landlocked public lands and national wildlife refuges. While this is to be celebrated, we’d like to see the DOI define a “conservation vision” for valuable habitats and hunting and fishing areas, to work in tandem with the vision that they have already established for expanding sportsmen’s access. This should include clear measures to recognize and conserve wildlife migration corridors, avoid or minimize impacts to habitat from development, plan locally to safeguard our best hunting and fishing areas, and let the conservation plans for greater sage grouse work as intended.

Mia Sheppard

December 4, 2017

It’s Time to Put the Most Engaged Public Lands Advocates Back to Work

RACs, the regional groups that help land managers balance multiple uses of public land, are allowed to start meeting again after a half-year hiatus, but there is a catch

Having partial ownership of 640 million acres is a unique privilege that comes with a huge responsibility, and that’s why you’ll often hear us say that sportsmen and women need to do more than simply keep public lands public. Quality management of America’s public lands requires balancing all the diverse demands on these lands.

This land belongs to all of us, and each stakeholder group—from hunters and anglers to ranchers and commercial interests—has its own distinct goals. This makes the grand ideal of multiple-use management pretty complicated to carry out on the ground. So, to make this juggling act work, land managers need to hear directly from local and regional interests.

Up until recently, one of our best channels for communication between locals and public land managers was temporarily shut down—we’re slowly getting back to the table to have meaningful discussions about how public land management impacts locals, but things have changed. Here’s what you need to know.

The RAC Pack
Above and top photo by Greg Shine.

Public-land resource advisory councils—commonly known as RACs—are collaborative committees made up of individuals from diverse interest groups, usually with relevant professional knowledge, who provide input on management of the natural and cultural resources on public lands. Having served on the RAC for Bureau of Land Management lands in Southeast Oregon since 2015, I’ve been a part of a developing recommendations on land-use planning, motorized vehicle access, sage grouse conservation, recreation fees, wild horse and burro management, grazing, and fire projects.

The Department of the Interior oversees more than 200 individual advisory committees, including 38 RACs that meet with the Bureau of Land Management—the largest public-land management agency in the country. There are two other TRCP field staffers serving on full RACs in Idaho on New Mexico and weighing in on issues affecting BLM lands. Or they did, until their meetings were suspended.

Per instruction from the Department of the Interior, the BLM notified all RAC members in May 2017 that meetings would be postponed until at least September in order for the agency to review the “charter and charge of each Board/Advisory Committee.” Members could not meet to discuss pressing local issues, like sage grouse conservation, or get clarity on public lands issues of a national scope, like the review of certain national monuments.

In short: Those of us who have been passionate enough to devote our free time to collaborating on the best use of our land were effectively asked to stand down during a time of important decision-making.

Slowly Returning to the Table
Photo by Larisa Bogardus.

In October, the suspension was lifted, and in Southeast Oregon, our full RAC has been able to have our first meeting back. But there’s a catch: Our subcommittee meetings are still not being scheduled, and since we can’t meet without approval from the national BLM office, our hands are tied.

Subcommittees might sound like a trivial thing, but they are where the action happens. These groups collaborate and compile detailed information and research on specific topics and pass recommendations along to the full RAC and district managers. Continued delay of the subcommittee meetings could mean a less effective RAC overall.

For example, I serve on the Lands with Wilderness Character Subcommittee. Before the suspension, we began some thoughtful discussions on land-use planning and possible management approaches to the district’s revised Resource Management Plan, a draft of which is expected in January. Our subcommittee’s feedback is not likely to appear in the draft, since we haven’t met to finalize any of our initial thoughts and recommendations—the final plan will guide the management of our BLM public lands for 20 years or more.

Put RACs Back to Work

RAC members care about our public lands and public participation. This is a platform where diverse users come together, talk about our differences, and, more often than not, find common ground to forge agreements. The longer we go without proper meetings, the harder it is to say that federal land management agencies value our local perspective.

Really, we just want the chance to get back to work for public lands.

Like all members of the public, there is something we can do in the meantime—let our decision makers know where we stand. A great place to start is the Sportsmen’s Country petition to support responsible management of public land and wildlife habitat.

Once you’ve signed, tweet this: It’s time to do more than #keepitpublic. Add your voice at sportsmenscountry.org Click To Tweet

Executive Actions to Alter Monuments Set Bad Precedent for Public Lands Valued by Sportsmen

The authority to modify national monuments lies with Congress alone, and this path throws into question the future of all monuments—including those created with the support of hunters and anglers

Today, President Trump announced his plans to use executive authority to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments in Utah. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership expressed serious concern about the larger implications of this decision, especially considering the importance of national monuments to sportsmen and women as part of our uniquely American public lands system.

“There is a right and a wrong way to go about this, and the administration’s decision to skirt Congress in these decisions threatens to upend 111 years of conservation in America, putting at risk the future of any monument created under the Antiquities Act dating back to 1906, when President Theodore Roosevelt created Devils Tower,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. 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.

While adjustments to national monument boundaries were made by the executive branch long ago, no president has attempted to do so in more than 50 years, and such decisions have never been tested in a court of law, according to the Congressional Research Service.

“If a president can redraw national monuments at will, the integrity of the Antiquities Act is compromised and many of America’s finest public lands face an immediate risk of exploitation,” says Fosburgh. “The power to create national monuments under the Antiquities Act lies with the President, and that authority is to be kept in check by Congress alone. We have repeatedly asked the administration to walk a path that upholds this precedent. Instead, the legacy of 16 former presidents, and the future status of some of America’s most iconic public lands, will be thrown into question.”

The future may also be uncertain for the numerous national monuments cherished by the sporting community, like those outlined in a report supported by 28 hunting and fishing organizations and businesses. More than 20 hunting and fishing businesses recently sent a letter to the White House encouraging the administration to “set an example for how the Antiquities Act should be used responsibly.”

Top photo by the Bureau of Land Management via flickr.

Kristyn Brady

November 30, 2017

105 Wildlife and Habitat Experts Urge BLM and Zinke to Stick to the Science on Sage Grouse

Former wildlife agency leaders, scientists, and other natural resource professionals warn that any changes to BLM’s sage grouse conservation efforts should be based on science and focused on the sagebrush habitat that supports 350 species

In a letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke, DOI staff, and the BLM today, more than 100 wildlife and natural resources professionals urged the administration to stick to the science when considering any changes to federal sage grouse conservation plans.

These professionals—each with ten to 57 years’ experience in wildlife and natural resources management, research, and conservation—came together to respond to the Bureau of Land Management’s intent to consider amending the current federal sage-grouse conservation plans finalized in the summer of 2015. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s landmark decision not to list greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered that same year was predicated, in part, on the effectiveness of these plans for millions of acres of the bird’s core habitat.

Many consider this to be the greatest landscape-scale conservation planning effort of modern times. “In the many years I worked as a wildlife agency director, I learned that strong cooperation between state and federal agencies is essential for successful wildlife management, and the collective compromise that kept the greater sage grouse off of the threatened and endangered species list is a shining example of wildlife management done right,” says Willie Molini, former director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “I believe that it would be best to let the existing sage grouse habitat plans work for a couple of years before any significant changes are considered.”

The letter asks that the plans be implemented and analyzed for effectiveness before they are altered. At the very least, the group would like to see the BLM exhaust all existing administrative methods of changing the plans before considering amendments that could delay or drastically re-chart the course for conservation. If amendments must be considered, they should be supported by science and maintain strong conservation outcomes for sage grouse. “We do not support weakening restrictions on development within priority habitat and feel any such actions would not be supported scientifically,” they write.

“We have a long way to go to keep that ‘not warranted for listing’ decision intact for sage grouse,” says Dr. Jack Connelly, a former wildlife research biologist with the Idaho Game and Fish Department, who spent most of his 41-year career working on sage grouse habitat issues. “Major changes, delays, or management actions that are not supported by the best-available science could threaten the entire conservation strategy that got us to this point—and that level of coordination and planning was an exceptional accomplishment.”

Hunting and fishing groups have been at the negotiating table in sagebrush country for years and recognize that some changes to the plans may be necessary. But a total overhaul of the plans would only serve a select few stakeholders in a diverse Western economy that has a lot riding on conservation outcomes.

“No land-use management plan—state nor federal—is perfect, so these plans should be improved upon over time,” says Dr. Ed Arnett, senior scientist for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Some changes to the plans may be acceptable right now, as long as they are science-based and don’t alter the entire course for conservation. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Interior and BLM to ensure sage grouse conservation is effective and also works for stakeholders across the West.”

The comment period on the BLM’s intent to consider amendments closed December 1. The agency will now begin analyzing feedback.

Read the letter from 105 wildlife and habitat experts here.

Signers include six former state agency directors, former U.S. Forest Service chiefs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directors, sage grouse scientists, habitat specialists, and wildlife biologists employed by state and federal agencies, universities, and non-profit conservation organizations concerned about the future of sage grouse and sagebrush conservation.

Top photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via flickr.

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