Kristyn Brady

November 14, 2019

Former Crapo Ag Strategist Joins TRCP as Director of Private Lands Conservation

Capitol Hill veteran will work on farm bill conservation policy, chronic wasting disease, forest management, and other rural land issues

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to welcome Andrew Earl to the staff as director of private lands conservation.

Previously, Earl advised U.S. Senator Mike Crapo on agriculture and natural resource-related issues. With his help over a five-year period, their legislative team succeeded in reforming federal budgeting for wildfire suppression, enacted targeted land management reforms, and led several bipartisan efforts to achieve record appropriations for species and habitat conservation programs.

“Andrew joins us at a critical time, as farm bill conservation programs are being implemented after passage of the new five-year bill and rural America faces new challenges that make these incentives even more relevant to farmers and ranchers who already want to do right by wildlife,” says Whit Fosburgh, the TRCP’s president and CEO. “We’re thrilled to have his expertise and Hill knowledge on the team as we work on chronic wasting disease and forest management, as well.”

Earl is a graduate of the American University School of Public Affairs and a native of upstate New York. Outside the office, he enjoys hiking and camping in the Shenandoah Valley as well as trapshooting, fishing, and cooking.

“TRCP has built a reputation as a purpose-driven organization committed to the type of collaborative policymaking becoming increasingly uncommon in DC,” says Earl. “I could not be more excited to join this dynamic team and work to ensure that the goals of wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s access are accounted for within federal agricultural policy.”

Click here for the full roster of TRCP leadership and staff.

 

Top photo by Larry McGahey via flickr.

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Marnee Banks

October 29, 2019

Commission Holds Foreign Company Accountable for Breaking Rules in the Chesapeake Bay

Sporting groups hail decision to preserve striped bass nursery

An interstate commission has responded to the industrial fishing giant Omega Protein’s violation of key menhaden catch limits in the Chesapeake Bay. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board unanimously voted this week to find Virginia’s menhaden reduction fishery out of compliance with the regional fishery management plan.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American Sportfishing Association, and Coastal Conservation Association all objected to Omega Protein’s fishing practices, which intentionally ignored the Commission’s 51,000-MT catch limit in the Chesapeake Bay. Omega previously made a commitment to comply with the limit, but last month announced it would exceed the cap.

“We commend the Board for holding Omega accountable and finding Virginia out of compliance with the management plan,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Association. “We are confident that the Secretary of Commerce will recognize the powerful economics of fishing for all species and not allow a single foreign company to set their own catch limits and jeopardize coastal economies that depend on sportfishing.”

“The Chesapeake Bay Harvest Cap is a wise management solution that conserves menhaden as critical forage for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem while reducing conflicts between an industrial fishing fleet and the sportfishing community,” said Mike Waine, Atlantic fisheries policy director for the American Sportfishing Association. “Allowing Omega to make its own rules when harvesting America’s natural resources is not in the best interest of the nation’s sportfishing businesses and anglers.”

“It’s significant this was a unanimous vote of all Atlantic coast states to find Omega out of compliance,” said Richen Brame, Atlantic states fisheries director for the Coastal Conservation Association. “The vote included each state’s fishery agency director or their representative, all trained natural resource professionals, and they found Omega had crossed the line. We sincerely hope Secretary Ross agrees and does the right thing—close down menhaden harvest until they come into compliance.”

Research suggests industrial fishing of menhaden could be responsible for as much as a 30-percent decline in striped bass. A study determined the 2016 striped bass fishery generated $7.8 billion toward our nation’s gross domestic product.

The ASMFC Interstate Fisheries Management Program Policy Board and the full Commission will make a final decision on Virginia’s compliance with the Menhaden Management Plan on Thursday. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will then make a concurrence determination within 30 days. Should the Secretary side with the unanimous decision of the states on the Menhaden Management Board, then the fishery will be shut down until Virginia comes into compliance with the regional fishery management plan.

Omega Protein, a division of Canadian-owned Cooke Inc., is the only reduction fishing operation on the U.S. East coast. The company harvests more than 140,000 metric tons of fish per year, 74 percent of the total coastwide quota.

The full Commission will vote in 2020 on whether to implement an ecosystem-based management plan for menhaden. Learn more here.

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posted in: Press Releases

October 23, 2019

Senate Reintroduces Bill that Would Balance Renewable Energy with the Needs of Fish and Wildlife

This win-win legislation would provide funds to conservation projects, states, and counties

The Senate has reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would ensure smart-from-the-start development of renewable energy resources. The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act would help build an efficient framework for development on public lands and direct royalty funds to fish and wildlife conservation projects in the communities hosting wind and solar development.

A House version of the bill was introduced in July 2019.

Royalties funneled into a newly established conservation fund could be used to restore fish and wildlife habitat affected by development and maintain access to hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands.

Representatives from three major sportsmen’s groups applauded this effort, noting that hunters and anglers are supportive of the development of renewable energy resources on public lands when it is done in the right places and in a manner that conserves fish and wildlife habitat.

“This bill would achieve a rare win-win scenario by thoughtfully balancing renewable energy development and habitat needs, while creating a consistent stream of revenue to fund essential fish and wildlife management projects,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We’re grateful for the support of Senate lawmakers who are prioritizing opportunities to enhance sportsmen’s access, clean water resources, and critical habitat for important game species through this common-sense approach.”

“Our energy future is reliant on the development of renewable energy–that’s not a political statement, it’s simple economics,” says Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Solar and wind are now more cost-effective than ever before. But even renewable energy has an impact on public land and we must balance renewable development with the protection of fish and wildlife resources. This bill ensures smart development from the start, funding important conservation measures and giving back to the communities who shoulder these projects. TU has supported the concepts contained in this bill for nearly a decade, and we’re grateful to the House and the Senate continuing to pursue its passage.”

“Sportsmen and women are practical about the increasing demands of renewable energy development on our public lands, and we want to avoid impacts to wildlife habitat,” says John Gale, conservation director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “PLREDA prioritizes development away from wildlife conflicts, proactively mitigates impacts from energy development and creates a royalty structure that will drive new revenue for impacted states and communities while also dedicating a separate conservation funding stream. We thank Sens. McSally and Heinrich for introducing this bipartisan legislation that promotes responsible energy development and safeguards critical fish and wildlife habitat for future generations.”

Kristyn Brady

October 17, 2019

TRCP’s Fosburgh Testifies Before Congress on Ways to Slow the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

The coalition-builder’s president and CEO offers solutions that require federal investment in state efforts

Today, the president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee on ways that Congress can invest in efforts to study, test for, and slow the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer and elk herds. CWD is a highly contagious, fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose.

Whit Fosburgh offered solutions, including securing bipartisan and bicameral support for the investments in research and testing that have been proposed in two House appropriations bills.

“CWD is one of the greatest threats facing the future of hunting in America,” said Fosburgh. “To its credit, Congress seems to recognize the risk that CWD poses to hunting, agriculture, and even human health—and this subcommittee has certainly stepped up. I encourage you to continue to advocate for the funding levels set in the final version of both the House Interior-Environment and House Agriculture Appropriations bills, because surveillance and testing are key to controlling CWD. By knowing where it is, states can take the management actions necessary to contain the disease.”

CWD deteriorates the animal’s brain over time, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions, and death. It was first identified in 1967 and remained isolated to a core region between Colorado and Wyoming for decades. But starting in the early 2000s, CWD began to spread rapidly—positive cases have now been confirmed in 26 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, and wildlife managers are tasked with responding to the epidemic with limited resources.

Deer hunters make up 80 percent of the American hunting public, contribute nearly $40 billion to the U.S. economy, and support wildlife conservation efforts through their purchases of licenses and gear. Currently, testing for the disease is costly and time consuming, and the presence of CWD-positive deer already has some hunters questioning whether their venison is safe to eat. This could mean greater declines in hunting participation and less funding for states that already depend on hunting license and equipment sales for their conservation budgets.

“According to the USFWS, participation in hunting has been declining from about 13 million to 11 million people in the last decade,” Fosburgh testified. “One bright spot in those numbers, has been the growth of the field-to-table movement, or those who hunt to provide lean, organic, locally sourced protein to their family and friends. If people become wary of eating deer and elk, this area of growth in participation could fall away entirely. And conservation will be the biggest loser.”

In June 2019, the House approved a spending bill for federal agriculture, interior, and environmental agencies (H.R. 3305) with amendments that would send $15 million to the states to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer and direct $1.72 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance CWD research and testing methods.

The TRCP has asked sportsmen and women to urge lawmakers to invest in better research and testing for CWD through the annual appropriations process. Learn more about CWD and the hunter’s role in combatting the spread of this disease.

This House subcommittee hearing marks the fourth time this year that the TRCP has represented the interests of American sportsmen and women by delivering official testimony before Congress. View details on our previous testimony related to improving access to public lands, the five priority pieces of legislation that would invest in fish and wildlife habitat, and how to create drought solutions while enhancing conditions for fish in the Colorado River Basin.

Randall Williams

October 15, 2019

Proposed Rule Would Roll Back Conservation in the Tongass National Forest

The draft Alaska Roadless Rule undermines collaboration and creates long-term uncertainty

The U.S. Forest Service today released a proposal that would eliminate conservation safeguards for 9.2 million acres of roadless public lands in Alaska.

The agency issued the proposed rule for the Tongass National Forest after the president instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to roll back an 18-year-old limitation on timber harvest and road building within certain backcountry areas of the iconic forest.

“For years, sportsmen and women have been calling for a lasting solution for Alaska roadless areas that would conserve valuable fish and wildlife habitat and provide certainty for local communities that depend on the balanced use of these public resources,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Yet because of direct intervention from the White House, we are facing conservation setbacks within the Tongass that will affect more than half of the world’s largest temperate rainforest.”

Roadless areas within the Tongass National Forest, which have long been managed under the direction of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, provide vital habitat for salmon and Sitka blacktail deer. They also provide outstanding opportunities for hunting and fishing that support a strong tourism economy and are important for subsistence.

In January 2018, the state of Alaska petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow for the development of a state-specific roadless rule. Many hunting and fishing groups and businesses demonstrated a willingness to collaborate and support such a rule if a durable, good-faith compromise could be reached. One such solution was within the range of proposed options recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee chartered by Governor Walker and is the path supported by a strong majority of Alaskans.

Yet the possibility of a broadly supported, long-term solution that is good for Alaska was all but eliminated this past summer when the White House intervened after an off-the-record meeting with Governor Dunleavy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service were directed to propose the most extreme option.

“If implemented, today’s proposal would lead only to more conflict over the future of these lands, harming local communities and everyone’s interests over the long haul,” says Fosburgh. “We encourage the administration to right this ship, and we ask for leadership from the Alaska congressional delegation to shape a long-lasting outcome for the Tongass that brings people together.”

Last fall, the TRCP asked sportsmen and women to urge the Forest Service to support safeguards for Alaska roadless areas. In March 2019, the TRCP also warned against weakening conservation in roadless areas in Utah.

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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