Kristyn Brady

February 6, 2018

TRCP Ranked Among Top U.S. Charities for Fifth Year in a Row

Our financial health and accountability has earned us another exceptional 4-star rating from the leading charity evaluator in America

Usually we’re in it for the meat, not the trophies, but the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is very proud to announce our fifth consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator—that’s the highest possible rating awarded by the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator.

This five-time recognition of TRCP’s financial health, accountability, and transparency puts the organization in the top 8 percent of American charities rated.

In a letter, Charity Navigator president and CEO Michael Thatcher says this designation indicates that the TRCP “executes its mission in a financially efficient way,” exceeding industry standards and outperforming most charities—not just in our area of work, but in the country overall.

“We’re honored to be recognized as a solutions-oriented organization that sportsmen and women can trust to represent their needs in Washington, D.C., where ongoing policy debates will decide the future of hunting and fishing,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Establishing this track record of financial accountability and transparency has been of utmost importance to us, and we hope it underscores the integrity with which we approach all of our communications and relationships with members, donors, foundations, and partners.”

The rating is based on TRCP’s financials and audit report through the end of 2016. Learn more here or read the Annual Report, which also details some of TRCP’s recent conservation policy successes.

 

Cheers. Photo courtesy of The Element.

 

Top photo by Steven Earley via Pheasants Forever

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Kristyn Brady

January 20, 2018

Hunting and Fishing Access Closed and Conservation Work Halts as Government Closes

UPDATED 1/23/2018: On Monday, Congress ended the three-day government shutdown by passing a short-term funding agreement through February 8. Congress now has just a few legislative work days to figure out a more durable and bipartisan path forward on a host of issues before facing another shutdown crisis. By that time, the federal government will have been funded by short-term agreements for at least one third of fiscal year 2018, which began on October 1, 2017.

Posted 1/20/2018:

Congress’s failure to pass a stopgap spending bill means on-the-ground conservation professionals across the federal government won’t be reporting for work

This morning, the federal government will begin the process of closing, after the Senate was unable to pass a stopgap spending bill Friday night.

The effects of a government shutdown will be felt most acutely by sportsmen and women who were planning late-season hunts on national public lands and those who fish on lakes, rivers, and reservoirs administered by the Army Corps of Engineers or Bureau of Reclamation. Conservation projects will come to a standstill as federal land management agency staff are furloughed until Congress can reach an agreement.

“Although there’s less disruption to hunting and fishing opportunities at this time of year, we’re still disappointed to see this inability to find common ground and keep funds flowing to agencies that administer conservation and public access to America’s best fish and wildlife resources,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The closure of national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands during the 16-day shutdown in October 2013 sparked outrage and prevented licensed sportsmen from accessing hunting and fishing areas, while many outdoor recreation businesses were forced to cancel client bookings at the start of the lucrative fall season. This time around, the Interior Department has said that public lands will remain “as accessible as possible,” but that some areas could be closed without staff, campground maintenance crews, or rangers to patrol culturally sensitive or backcountry areas for visitor safety.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, where a late-season deer hunt was planned for January 20. Photo by flickr user Jeffrey

The impacts of a federal shutdown are not limited to national public lands and waters. Private lands conservation professionals at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will be staying home instead of helping farmers and ranchers write conservation plans or prepare for the critical spring planting season. And everything from fish passage projects to chronic wasting disease research will be on hold.

“Hunters and anglers have a long list of things that Congress needs to address, including a much-needed funding fix for catastrophic wildfires,” says Fosburgh. “The continued brinksmanship on Capitol Hill serves no one; it only locks in problems and pushes real solutions further down the road. The public deserves better from its elected leaders.”

 

Top photo by Wisconsin DNR via flickr

Anna Grubb

by:

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.

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.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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