Kristyn Brady

November 15, 2018

Senate Bill Would Boost CWD Research and Testing

Combined with a companion bill in the House, this legislative effort would also provide resources to state agencies facing a looming crisis for wild deer and elk herds

Just days into the lame duck session, Sens. John Barrasso, Doug Jones, and Michael Bennet have introduced legislation to ramp up on research and testing for chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, and other cervids. Combined with a companion bill previously introduced in the House by Rep. Ralph Lee Abraham, the aim of the bill would be to understand as much as possible about this always-fatal disease and implement research findings as a critical component of a nationwide response to CWD.

“Chronic wasting disease has negatively affected white-tailed and mule deer in Wyoming for decades,” says Sen. Barrasso. “To protect our wildlife populations and our hunters, we need to know more about how this disease is spread and which areas are most at risk. Our bill gives wildlife managers the tools they need to research and identify exactly where chronic wasting disease is most prominent and how we can better prevent it. It’s a critical first step to addressing this debilitating disease and keeping our wildlife herds healthy.”

“Passing legislation to ultimately help curb the spread of chronic wasting disease is one of our top priorities for the remaining weeks of this Congress,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Misinformation about CWD and how we should deal with it as a hunting community is almost as rampant as the disease itself, and we need definitive research to chart an ambitious path toward recovery. In the meantime, sportsmen and women are prepared to do our part, and that includes advocating for necessary funding and demanding updates to management practices that have failed our wild deer and elk herds in the past.”

The bill directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on how CWD is transmitted in wild, captive, and farmed deer in the United States. The goal would be to identify all factors that contribute to the spread of the disease and hone in on where deeper research is needed. The bill also calls for a review of the best practices and standards for managing CWD in both captive and wild deer, to result in a report of findings and recommendations.

“We strongly support this important legislation, which, if passed, would aid to combat a serious wildlife health issue,” says Ed Carter, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Chronic wasting disease may be one of the biggest challenges in modern wildlife conservation history, and it will take funding for the best possible science, and many other efforts, to respond swiftly and appropriately.”

The rampant spread of CWD could have a major impact on the future of deer hunting and funding for wildlife habitat conservation. More than 80 percent of the hunting public participates in deer hunting and contributes more money to conservation funding than any other type of outdoor enthusiast through the purchase of licenses and gear.

“We applaud the sponsors of this bill for recognizing that CWD is the most significant wildlife disease issue in more than 100 years,” says Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association. “It is an imminent threat to our wild deer herds, which help generate $39.5 billion in economic impact from hunters annually, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and serving as the backbone for conservation funding in the United States. These deer also, quite literally, provide nearly one billion wholesome meals to Americans each year. The spread of this disease must be stopped.”

Currently, testing for CWD can take time because of the limited number of laboratory facilities across the country, and there are significant cumulative costs for state fish and wildlife agencies. The Center for Disease Control does not recommend eating venison from CWD-positive deer.

“Clearly a concern about deer being safe to eat has a negative impact on new hunter recruitment, as well as the retention of existing deer hunters,” says Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Alliance. “Many new deer hunters became attracted to the sport due to a desire to collect their own safe and organic food, and now that premise is being threatened by this horrible disease. This important bill will help get us the answers we need.”

For more information on chronic wasting disease, click here.

4 Responses to “Senate Bill Would Boost CWD Research and Testing”

  1. Robert Benjamin

    I support the funding for this research 100%. As an avid elk and deer hunter in Colorado, and someone who truly values our wildlife and wild places, I think that answers to this disease are very important.

  2. Brian Sparks

    I have hunted deer in the past because it has not been tainted by the toxic feeds that go into CAFO raised animals. I eat entirely organic because of the toxic food supply in the U.S. that is supported by the government and resent my tax dollars used as welfare for corporate agriculture. Cw
    d has the potential to wipe out deer and other game mammals as well as infecting humans. I support more science on understanding CWD to reduce the spread.

  3. John Matejov

    As a licensed guide and avid hunter, I am pleased to hear of Senator Barrasso’s bill. We just had our first whitetail test positive for CWD in one of our premier deer hunt areas. The Long Island New York hunter who’s deer tested positive, comes to Wyoming as often as he can get tags, and he tells me he is genuinely concerned about the loss of the meat. He has expressed concerns about returning and hopes CWD does not stop his pilgrimage to our state. I am now advocating to testing of all potential species taken with my own deer having been recently tested. (Tested negative) The economic ripple effect to tangent industries other than Game and Fish management like Airlines, Lodging and Restaurants is potentially staggering. (Especially in states like ours where the economy oftentimes depends on seasonal sales. The hunting season here is indeed one of those arenas.)

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Kristyn Brady

October 10, 2018

Water Resources Bill Goes to Trump with Big Win for Everglades Restoration

Water infrastructure package with benefits for fish, wildlife, and the outdoor recreation economy heads to president’s desk with bipartisan support

Today, in a 99-1 vote, senators acted overwhelmingly in support of water resources and sent landmark legislation to the president’s desk that would expedite restoration efforts in the Everglades. The “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 3021) also takes important steps to advance nature-based infrastructure solutions—like restoring wetlands and dunes to reduce flood and storm damage—that are more cost-effective for the American taxpayer.

The House passed the bill unanimously last month.

“This is the biggest step forward for natural infrastructure that we’ve seen this Congress, and it builds on recent momentum to restore critical habitat and water quality in the Everglades,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “American sportsmen and women should be heartened to see this level of bipartisanship for conservation, especially at a moment in the political calendar when both sides typically retreat to their own corners. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Barrasso, Sen. Carper, Rep. Shuster, and Rep. DeFazio.”

The legislation advances two critical projects that will improve clean water flows throughout South Florida and supports the development of technologies to reduce harmful algal blooms that infamously killed fish across the state this summer. It will also provide for more advanced research on preventing the spread of invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels, whose growing populations threaten many popular fishing destinations.

“Today is a great day for America’s Everglades and the people of Florida. Construction can now begin on a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that is vital to reconnecting the lake to the Florida Keys. The economic benefits of this project cannot be overstated, as Florida’s economy depends on clean water, thriving fisheries and a robust real estate market,” says Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.

Indeed, improving habitat and supporting predictable fishing opportunities will benefit Florida’s $2.9-billion recreational fishing industry.

“Passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act is a monumental step in restoring the Everglades and providing clean water for Florida’s fisheries. This legislation is crucial to reducing the ongoing estuary discharges and algal blooms affecting the state, and we greatly appreciate the leadership of Florida’s Congressional Delegation in securing its passage. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that sufficient funding is available to carry out the Act’s provisions,” says Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.

The bill also greenlights a feasibility study for habitat restoration projects in the Lower Mississippi River region. These projects could produce multiple benefits for fish and wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities across six states.

Another important provision of this legislation will help to give higher priority to natural and nature-based infrastructure solutions that reduce storm risks, enhance public safety, and conserve fish and wildlife habitat near Army Corps of Engineers project sites. Lawmakers supported requiring the Government Accountability Office to examine the costs and benefits that the Corps considers when authorizing projects. The current process likely underestimates the long-term cost savings of natural infrastructure projects, and bringing greater transparency to project deliberations is a positive step toward righting this imbalance.

 

Photo courtesy of Oliver Rodgers.

Kristyn Brady

October 2, 2018

Farm Bill Expiration Brings Uncertainty for Landowners, Sportsmen, and the Rural Economy

Without a new five-year bill, conservation and voluntary access incentive programs are currently unavailable to well-intentioned landowners

On Sunday night at midnight, the 2014 Farm Bill expired, effectively hitting the pause button on a number of vital conservation programs. If Congress can’t get a new five-year bill reauthorized by the end of this Congress, it could have profound impacts on future funding for conservation programs and begin to influence whether farmers and ranchers across the nation even want to take advantage of conservation incentives.

“Farmers, ranchers, and forest owners across the country depend on Farm Bill conservation programs for the tools they need to protect and improve soil, water, and wildlife habitat on working lands, and this failure to pass an on-time Farm Bill means that farmers and ranchers will no longer be able to enroll in the full suite of conservation programs over the coming weeks,” says Aviva Glaser, director of agriculture policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “We call on Congress to come together quickly to pass a strong, bipartisan, and conservation-friendly Farm Bill.”

Until lawmakers resolve debate and vote to pass a new bill, well-intentioned landowners—whose demand for conservation programs already outstrips the funding available—can’t enroll in important programs and services that benefit wildlife, water quality, and outdoor recreation.

“Farmers, ranchers, and landowners need these conservation tools available to them to address natural resource concerns on their property,” says Jim Inglis, director of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Right now, for example, enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program—one of our country’s most successful conservation programs that provides tremendous benefits for wildlife while reducing soil erosion and improving water and air quality—is not possible. This means a loss of habitat benefits for pheasants, quail, and many other species across the country that we enjoy pursuing each fall.”

The lapse in authorization could also create confusion for hunters and anglers who rely on private land for access. “By missing the September 30 deadline, Congress has created tremendous uncertainty among sportsmen and women who enjoy the conservation and public-access benefits of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, a farm bill program that has opened hundreds of thousands of private acres for walk-in access to hunting and fishing,” says Alex Maggos, director of agriculture and private lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This could cause ripple effects in rural communities that typically see an influx of spending during the fall hunting season.”

Any bill that passes should contain strong conservation provisions and funding for key programs. “The Farm Bill plays a critical role in keeping America’s working lands in working hands and yields significant economic benefits to farms, ranches, and communities across our nation,” says Lori Faeth, government relations director of the Land Trust Alliance. “We urge Congress to pass a Farm Bill that restores funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to $500 million annually and enacts common-sense changes to make the Agricultural Land Easement program more efficient and effective. But Congress must act now. Every day we lack a new Farm Bill is another day we stand to lose another farm or ranch.”

“The expiration of the Farm Bill shuts the door on farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners trying to voluntarily protect and enhance their lands through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program,” says Jenny Conner Nelms, senior policy advisor for agriculture at The Nature Conservancy. “These innovative projects bring together public and private partners, who in the first five years have matched federal funding with more than $2 billion in local and private funding, to tackle local natural resource concerns and boost conservation nationwide. This popular program brings new partners to the table and has already funded projects from irrigation efficiency and soil health to base buffering around military installations—all of this will be on hold until Congress passes a new farm bill.”

“With nearly two-thirds of America’s forests under private ownership, mostly in the hands of families and individuals, the Farm Bill is a critical tool for forest conservation that benefits big game and upland birds,” says Brent Rudolph, director of conservation for the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society. “Improving stewardship of private and family-owned forests should be as bipartisan as any issue out there, especially considering that the Farm Bill is a resource for safeguarding clean air and water, providing incredible recreation and habitat value, and supporting more than 2.4 million rural jobs, as well. The inability to move a Farm Bill that provides such support is a missed opportunity and true disappointment.”

Contact your lawmakers in support of a timely Farm Bill with strong conservation provisions and funding NOW.

by:

posted in: Outdoor Economy

September 27, 2018

New Study: Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife Watching on BLM Lands Generates Billions in Spending

BLM public lands are critical to our hunting and fishing access, but a new study finds that they also support outdoor recreation businesses and local economies in a big way

Total direct spending for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing on the 246 million acres of America’s public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management in the western U.S. totaled more than $2 billion in 2016, according to a new study on wildlife-related recreation spending unveiled yesterday.

Visits to BLM public lands also supported 26,500 jobs, generated more than $1 billion in salaries and wages, and produced more than $421 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

The research was conducted by the independent firm Southwick Associates Inc. with support from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Wildlife Management Institute, Trout Unlimited, Archery Trade Association, and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

Southwick’s analysis found that visits in 2016 to BLM-managed lands in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming for the purpose of wildlife-related recreation resulted in more than $3 billion in total economic output.

“Our research found that recreation associated with fish and wildlife on BLM lands is a significant jobs generator, providing income for rural communities for decade after decade with minimal investment compared to other industries,” says Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates. “Smart business and planning call for managing BLM’s fish and wildlife-related resources as important economic assets.”

“These findings confirm what many of us have known all along: BLM public lands are critically important for public hunting and fishing in America, and these activities are good for businesses and local communities alike,” says Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This report should be a foundational resource as decision-makers consider the economic effects of wildlife habitat conservation on BLM public lands.”

“Hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching are long-standing traditions in the U.S., and public lands and waters offer some of the best places to enjoy these pursuits,” says Matt Skroch, an officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts. “The report underscores the importance to communities in the West of wildlife and its associated public lands habitat and provides a strong economic argument for conserving our wildlife heritage on BLM lands.”

Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute, adds, “This study shows that our public lands provide not just incredible places to hunt and fish; they also boost the economies of local communities while contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.”

“You can’t put a price on the importance of public lands for our outdoor traditions, but this study shows that you can put a price on the economic impact of these special places,” says Corey Fisher, Trout Unlimited’s public lands policy director. “We’ve long known that public lands are critical to the health of our trout and salmon fisheries, and we now know just how valuable fishing on these lands is for the bottom line of businesses large and small.”

Photo by Eric Coulter, BLM via Flickr.

“As advocates for the fly-fishing industry on conservation, access, and business issues, we see firsthand the benefits public lands bring to local economies. As a nation, we must continue to protect access to our public lands; they are an invaluable asset to the people of the United States and our economy,” says Ben Bulis, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

“This study shows that the West’s sporting heritage on public lands, including bow hunting and other archery-related recreation, is a significant driver of jobs and revenue for local communities,” says Dan Forster, president of the Archery Trade Association. “Maintaining this heritage, along with the habitat that our wildlife depend on, is an important priority for our community as well as public land agencies.”

Southwick Associates calculated the economic contribution generated by the spending of visitors who engaged in wildlife-related recreation activities on BLM lands in 11 western states and Alaska. The researchers based their calculations on 2016 visitation data from the BLM and spending data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation.

Read the full report and methodology for this study here.

 

Top photo by Michael Aleo

Randall Williams

September 18, 2018

Innovators in Both Camouflage and Conservation

First Lite is an industry leader for public lands, wildlife, and sportsmen’s access, and they doubled all donations to TRCP through their Round Up for Conservation Program in recognition of National Public Lands Day

In many respects, the history of the hunting clothing-and-accessories company First Lite is one of those classic stories of a great idea turned into a booming business. What started in 2007 as a two-man show offering only a handful of merino wool garments has grown into an industry leader with a full line of technical hunting apparel for both men and women that now employs sixteen enthusiastic hunters and anglers at their headquarters in Ketchum, Idaho.

Although much has changed in the last eleven years of operations, some things have remained constant—among them a core commitment to the cause of conservation, which is why TRCP is proud to have First Lite as a corporate partner. Like many hunters, co-founders Kenton Carruth and Scott Robinson have long felt an obligation to give back to wildlife and wild places in ways that go beyond the bare minimum of buying a license.

From their base of operations in the Wood River Valley, with views of the Pioneer range out the front door and Bald Mountain out the back, it’s plain to see why. Excellent mule deer and elk hunting can be found right outside of town in the Sawtooth National Forest, and anglers enjoy a variety of opportunities on nearby lakes, rivers, and mountain streams.

Ryan Callaghan, First Lite’s Director of Conservation and Public Relations

In their case, too, conservation makes good business sense. From day one, First Lite has catered to the needs of backcountry hunters, fully recognizing that the future of the company depends on the availability of quality public land opportunities for sportsmen and women. “By surveying our customer base we’ve found that over 80 % of our customers hunt on public lands with over 50% hunting public lands exclusively,” says Carruth. “If we didn’t step up and support our customer, why would they support us?”

Conventional wisdom would likely advise a growing business to shy away from controversy, but First Lite jumps into the fray when it comes to topics like public land transfer. Oftentimes leading the charge is Ryan Callaghan, the company’s full-time Director of Conservation and Public Relations, who has earned a well-deserved reputation as a tireless and outspoken public lands advocate. A Montana native who worked as a river and hunting guide until joining First Lite, Callaghan wants to make sure others enjoy the same opportunities he’s had. “My path hasn’t been traditional in any way,” he notes, “but I certainly wouldn’t be here without working on public lands. There is not a single decision I make today that isn’t rooted in some hard earned lesson guiding and playing on public lands.”

In addition to speaking out on the issues that impact sportsmen and women, First Lite has pioneered an innovative way of encouraging others to join the cause. In 2015, they launched Round Up for Conservation, a program that allows customers to round up the cost of their purchase to a specified dollar amount, with the difference directed to conservation groups such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the National Wildlife Federation, and Pheasants Forever.

These good deeds have not gone unnoticed. First Lite’s efforts in the conservation sphere have garnered awards such as the Shift Festival Award for Business Leadership, the Open Country Award from Outdoor Life magazine, and the Larry Fischer Award presented by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. In the hunting and fishing industry, their brand is second to none when it comes to conservation, which has earned them the attention of the broader outdoor recreation community as well.

Despite this recognition, First Lite continues to improve and expand its efforts to unite sportsmen around issues of habitat and access. The most recent project is a newsletter aimed at bringing more exposure to the work of their conservation partners, TRCP included. In short, they want to carry the flag for the causes they support, while also helping their customers become more informed about the current threats and opportunities when it comes to public lands and waters.

Callaghan boils it all down to a simple principle—doing the right thing. “Long before we ever had a strategy in place, we knew what was right when it comes to public lands and hunter access. We’re lucky that we can use our platform and success as a company to support the things we care so much about.”

Photo credit: DirtMyth

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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