Cory Deal

November 15, 2019

Three Ways You Can Help Improve Fishing Opportunities Today

For many of us, winter is closing in and our days on the water are numbered—make the most of the off-season by taking action for fish and clean water

While I’m hiking to my favorite trout stream or trailering to the neighborhood boat ramp, I’m almost always focused on the day ahead—imagining the line pinched between my index finger and thumb, the breathless anticipation of watching a fish trail my rig, and the heart-stopping joy that takes over after a successful hook-set.

The future is full of possibilities on the morning of a fishing trip. It’s easy to lose sight of the challenges facing the broader future of fishing in America, and how much influence we have as anglers.

With some seasons winding down and winter closing in, take the energy you’d normally put into planning your next camping trip or day on the water and put it toward securing the future of our fishing opportunities.

Here are three things you can do to help America’s fisheries right now.

Volunteers work with Officials to Improve Lake Habitat. Photo Friends of Reservoirs – Shelbyville Lake, IL
Tell Congress to Fund Fish Habitat Improvements

There are many threats facing many of our fish habitats, including polluted runoff, coastline degradation, invasive species, aging infrastructure that blocks fish passages, and water mismanagement in places like the Everglades. Often, habitat restoration is too big a job for any one agency—whether state or federal—to address. The National Fish Habitat Partnership was created to tackle these issues with a boots-on-the-ground approach.

One of the country’s most successful conservation programs, this partnership has almost 900 completed programs under its belt and is made up of 20 distinct groups that work across America to bring together state, federal, tribal, and private resources. This approach has enabled partners to boost existing fish populations, improve vast swaths of habitat, and restore rivers to their historic flows.

In Shelbyville, Illinois, for example, the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership has succeeded in activating a group of 100 volunteers and professional fisheries and reservoir managers to improve existing habitat, stabilize shorelines, and restore native aquatic vegetation.

Jeff Boxrucker, the partnership’s lead coordinator, praised the success of this project and its forward-thinking approach, but stressed the program’s need for additional funding. “We need to demonstrate the positive return on investment of restoration efforts to not only ensure continued funding but to show that we have moved the needle.” His group is not alone.

The National Fish Habitat Partnership program has no permanent funding, but a piece of legislation could change that. Known as the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, this bill would secure reliable funding for NFHP through 2023. Your comments could rally lawmakers to move this bill to a vote—show your support now.

Man Flyfishing. Photo Joseph via Flickr
Defend Headwater Streams and Wetlands

In September 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized its plan to roll back clean water protections for 50 percent of America’s wetlands and 60 percent of our stream miles. This announcement was made despite the thousands of public comments made by sportsmen and women in opposition to the agencies rule and the 92 percent of hunters and anglers who would strengthen or maintain current safeguards for clean water—not relax them.

Clean, productive wetlands and headwater streams are important for everyone, but essential for hunters and anglers and the species we love to pursue. These ecosystems enhance water quality, control erosion, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and maintain ecosystem productivity—and all of this supports a robust outdoor recreation economy worth $887 billion.

Together we can make a difference and hold the EPA accountable for jeopardizing healthy habitat and strong fisheries. Join the TRCP’s fight for clean water today and support our efforts to keep the Clean Water Act working for wetlands and trout streams.

Capt. Paul Dixon and Angler Rick Bannerot Pose with Striped Bass
Support the Forage Fish that Keep Sportfishing Fun

Forage fish make up the base of the marine food chain and include species such as menhaden, herring, anchovies, and sardines. A critical food source for predator fish such as tuna and striped bass, these small fish are essential for a healthy ecosystem.
But commercial fishing pressures are sometimes at odds with the needs of our tiniest baitfish and the sportfish that rely on them for food. Fortunately, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to promote more responsible management and conservation of critical forage fish. In the meantime, we need anglers to take action quickly to prevent further declines in one important Atlantic species.

Menhaden—also known as bunker or pogies—are the preferred forage of striped bass that are suffering on the East Coast, according to recent stock assessments. Menhaden also play a vitally important role as food for red drum, bluefish, tarpon, and summer flounder. But hundreds of metric tons of these fish are removed from the region’s waters every year to be turned into pet food, fish meal, and other products.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will soon implement an ecosystem-based management of menhaden, which will take into account the baitfish’s important role in the broader marine food web. They must also hold commercial fishing operations accountable for harvesting more menhaden than they should—this only robs struggling striped bass of their food source.

Sign our open letter and let the ASMFC know that you support healthy sportfish populations, strong marine ecosystems, and the menhaden fishery.

Top photo by Kent Krebeck

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Kristyn Brady

November 8, 2019

Fishermen Schooled Congress on These Three Possible Impacts of Pebble Mine

Sportsmen took the real concerns of the outdoor recreation economy to D.C. lawmakers

In a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, expert witnesses testified in opposition to the Pebble Mine project proposed for the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Alaska. Seated beside the CEO of the mining company that would benefit from the construction of Pebble, an environmental scientist, local sporting outfitter, and commercial fisherman highlighted the very real concerns of Alaskans and outdoor businesses.

Reminder: The now-infamous plan to carve out an open pit at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s two largest rivers would threaten clean water in one of the finest fishing destinations on Earth and degrade fish habitat in a region that produces about half the world’s sockeye salmon. If Pebble were constructed, billions of tons of mine waste could remain in the area forever.

But that’s not all. Here are three lessons lawmakers learned from anglers and experts who know the real stakes.

Spawning sockeye salmon. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
We’re Talking About 100% Consumption of the Habitat

Brian Kraft, owner of two remote sportfishing lodges in Alaska and an advocate for Bristol Bay’s salmon for the past 15 years, hosts fishing clients from every state in the nation and not one has failed to remark on how unique the landscape and fishery are. He says he and his wife understand the concerns of businesses in their community as part of the $65-million sportfishing industry in Alaska.

In his testimony, Kraft pointed out that the simple question of “Is this the right place to mine?” can only be answered when you assume that the mine will consume 100 percent of the habitat it touches. In this particular case, you can’t directionally drill and you can’t shift the ore deposit, so the smaller of the two mine proposals would still consume 80 miles of streams and 3,500 acres of wetlands in an area that was legislatively preserved for its fisheries in 1972.

Photo by Chris Ford via flickr.
The Army Corps Has Yet to Address the Concerns of Salmon Fishermen

Three generations of Mark Niver’s family have worked as commercial fishermen in Alaska, and as an expert witness, he pointed out that fishermen are just one link in a chain—Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery employs 14,000 people every summer and generates $1.5 billion in worldwide economic activity. But he adds that this wouldn’t be possible without the area’s pristine, undeveloped freshwater habitat and science-based fisheries management. “For over a decade, the proposed Pebble Mine has cast a shadow of uncertainty over my livelihood and my family’s future,” he said. “Nowhere in the world has a mine of this type and size been located in a place as ecologically sensitive as Bristol Bay.”

After weighing in thoughtfully at multiple stages of the lengthy public process to consider the mine, commercial fishermen have not had their concerns adequately addressed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Niver told lawmakers that he fears the permitting process is a runaway train toward approval, despite the science indicating that salmon and Pebble Mine cannot coexist.

Photo by Jonny Armstrong.
Unless the Proposed Footprint is Expanded, the Mine Will Lose Money

In his testimony, geologist and environmental scientist Richard Borden agreed that energy development is necessary in our society, but not all ore deposits can or should be mined. He believes Bristol Bay is the most “sensitive, globally significant, and challenging environmental setting” of any project he’s ever reviewed in more than 30 years of consulting for the mining industry, and the environmental impact statement completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in haste six months ago is deeply flawed. But, perhaps most surprisingly, he points out that the mining company is basing their timeline and promises about impact avoidance on examples of much smaller mines. To construct a mine on a scale that—they say—would minimize environmental risks, investors would certainly lose money, and pressures to expand the mine’s footprint would likely follow.

Now You Have Three Reasons to Get Involved

This testimony gives anglers three more reasons to speak out against Pebble Mine and safeguard habitat and our fishing opportunities in Bristol Bay. Sportsmen and women sent thousands of messages to the Army Corps during the last public comment period, but our lawmakers need to hear from YOU to influence Bristol Bay’s future. Reach out to your senators NOW using our simple action tool.

 

Watch the subcommittee hearing on the Pebble Mine project here.

Top photo by Wild Salmon Center.

November 4, 2019

Podcast: Whit Fosburgh Discusses Conservation on Bass Pro’s Outdoor World

TRCP’s president and CEO Whit Fosburgh appeared on Sirius XM’s Rural Radio channel 147 this weekend to talk about conservation with Bass Pro’s podcast with host Rob Keck. The Outdoor World show airs every Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. across the nation.

Carl Erquiaga

October 30, 2019

Putting Boots on the Ground for Bighorn Sheep

A volunteer effort in Nevada highlights the commitment of wildlife managers and conservationists

Of all the big game species in North America, bighorn sheep hold a special place in the hearts—and dreams—of many hunters. But these animals have been struggling for generations due to a number of factors, such as habitat loss and disease.

Wild sheep conservation sometimes depends on reintroducing these animals to their historic ranges and ensuring that they are healthy once they arrive. In Nevada, there has been tremendous success by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and groups such as Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Elko Bighorns Unlimited, Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, and the Wild Sheep Foundation. As a result, our state’s sheep have become a valuable resource for repopulating other areas of the West, growing new herds and pushing back against the many challenges faced by bighorns.

Last week I helped out on a desert bighorn sheep capture project in the Stillwater Mountains (Unit 044/182) of western Nevada. The animals we captured were transported to Utah for release into the Mineral Mountains near Beaver, in the west-central part of the state.

Folks onsite included a lot of staff from the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, plus several volunteers, including two state wildlife commissioners.


The goal was to have 50 sheep to reestablish bighorns in the Mineral Mountains. The first day was a little slow, only resulting in 15 sheep in the trailer, but when the work was over, 51 sheep had been transported. Even 25 or 30 sheep is enough to get a new herd off the ground.

As you can see, it’s a very intensive process once the sheep are brought in. Wildlife biologists take a myriad of samples and administer injections. The animals’ temperatures are monitored constantly; if they rise too high, water, ice baths, and sometimes IVs are used to lower body temps and alleviate the related stresses.

Before being loaded for transport, each sheep was fitted with a GPS collar that can be monitored remotely. These collars allow researchers and wildlife managers to monitor the health of the transplants and how they utilize their new habitat.

This project was delayed a day, because the capture crew was busy in Arizona capturing pronghorns and other bighorns for migration studies. The helicopter contractor, Quick Silver Air, out of Alaska, is one of the best in the business. I have been on numerous captures with them, and they are true professionals. It’s an extremely dangerous profession, and I shake my head in wonder every time I see it happen.

Most of the photo credits go to my hunting buddy, Patti Lingenfelter, who did a great job of documenting the efforts of all involved. In addition to being a lot of fun, these projects are always a learning experience for me, as well as a testament to the dedication of our wildlife professionals and conservationists of different backgrounds.

Kristyn Brady

October 25, 2019

14 Reasons to Celebrate Theodore Roosevelt on His Birthday

We’re not the only ones who look to America’s conservation president for inspiration

While conservation and partnership are key to our mission, perhaps the most important part of the TRCP’s moniker is our namesake, the patron saint of conservation, public lands policy, and progress for fish and wildlife populations: Theodore Roosevelt. Most would agree that this bespectacled badass set us all up to succeed in safeguarding what makes the wildest parts of our country special. And he was well known for touting the value of spending time outdoors to heal, find solitude, and test one’s strength.

May we always follow his example.

On Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday, October 27, we will wrap up a week-long celebration of his conservation legacy. Thanks for following along and for your support of the TRCP throughout the year. Today, we end the week with thoughts from our staff, partners, members, and industry friends on what T.R. means to them. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Randy Newberg.

“My lesson taken from Roosevelt’s legacy is that conservation is always difficult, is always uncomfortable, and always inconvenient. Such was the case 115 years ago, and such is the case today; as it will always be.” — Randy Newberg, hunter and public lands advocate

“Theodore Roosevelt felt that all Americans should have the chance to prove themselves in the wild and enjoy the incredible natural resources that our forests, rivers, mountains, and prairies provide. His vision inspired the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and his forward-thinking actions have made all of us richer in our ability to access public lands for recreation. We strive to honor his legacy by continuing to build upon his vision.” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

“Learning about T.R. in high school changed the course of my life. He inspired me to trust myself. Over the years, I have leaned on his words for strength—his ‘man in the arena’ speech taught me that failure was part of taking chances, but that it doesn’t define you.” — Christopher Hall, Talkeetna, Alaska

“These days, it’s easy to take for granted the things that Theodore Roosevelt fought so hard to establish, including opportunities to hunt and fish on public lands. Roosevelt’s birthday gives us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible vision for conservation and public lands that he instilled into the national conscience through sheer will and a determination to fight for future generations.” — Jared Mott, conservation director for the Izaak Walton League of America

Photo courtesy of YETI.

“Teddy Roosevelt inspired me to grow a mustache. However, I know it’ll never be as thick as T.R.’s, a man who protected 230 million acres of land for public use. I won’t stop trying, nor will I stop roaming and exploring the land he set aside for me. Thank you, Teddy!” — Sloane Brown, hunting expert at YETI

“I don’t think it’s widely known that Teddy Roosevelt grew up sickly in urban New York City. This may have been what drew him to the wonders of nature and to experience the healing powers of time spent outside. No matter what the activity—hiking, hunting, or fishing—Teddy treasured the beauty of the outdoors and dedicated himself to preserving these places for future generations. Let’s continue this legacy of protecting our public lands and waters and connecting people with the incredible economic, social, and health benefits of outdoor recreation.” — Jessica Wahl, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

“When I teach my students about the Progressive Era, I go above and beyond to stress the significant impact that T.R. made on this country, and particularly how he fought to change public perception of how our wildlife and other natural resources should be utilized. He not only championed our natural resources, but he significantly altered the president’s role in serving as the steward of our public resources. I hope that my teaching will help to pass on his legacy to future generations.” — Matthew Ryan, high school history teacher in Ohio

“For a man with all the means in the world at his disposal, T.R. took it upon himself to provide for all, not just the wealthy and privileged. He had ample opportunity to throw in the towel on his career with each milestone and accolade, but he kept going and fought with equal tenacity for causes both popular and unpopular, like the notions of public land and national forests open to all.” — Ryan Callaghan, conservation director for MeatEater

“The legacy of Theodore Roosevelt looms large in the mind of the avid angler as the result of our 26th president’s commitment to the conservation of public lands. His bold ideas and relentless pursuit to maintain the nation’s natural resources has created boundless opportunities for anglers to pursue one of America’s favorite pastimes. As we celebrate his 161st birthday, I am reminded of his efforts—as he would put it—’to work hard at work worth doing.’ All of us at ASA have worked hard and will continue to lead by his example to make sure public lands and waters remain open to foster the next generation of anglers.” — Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association

“Among the scores of conservation giants who have influenced our nation’s conservation history and ethic, critically few politicians make the list. POTUS Roosevelt truly stands out as one of America’s most stalwart and effective politicians advocating a pro-hunting and conservation-based idealism.” — Dan Forster, vice president and chief conservation officer of the Archery Trade Association

Photo by @othercindylou on Instagram.

“Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy reminds me that when the world is too much, when I am hurting and need a reprieve, I can find the solace I need in the wilderness. He lost his wife and mother the very same day. That would break most people, and yet he retreated to the only place that could make him whole again, the open lands of the West, and came out of it a few years later a stronger, more determined man than ever. I never suffered a loss like his, but I suffered greatly for many years, and the countless hours spent in the woods, finally gaining some footing and developing as a hunter, have had the same end result for me. I am stronger, I am determined, and I will forge on.” — Cindy Stites, hunter and dedicated conservation volunteer in Indiana

“Every morning when I wake up, I try to ask myself, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ If we all do that every day, our hunting and fishing opportunities and public lands legacy will be secure for future generations to ask that exact same question.” — Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

“I am blessed to work along the Carolina coast managing the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area. We have nearly 300 acres of old-growth maritime forest and estuarine habitat preserved in an area that has seen a tremendous amount of development over the past 50 years. Roosevelt’s dedication to conservation and land management is inspiring to so many of us, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of all who walk our trails and explore our shore.” — Wayne Justice, Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina

“Theodore Roosevelt was an avid sportsman and hunter, and his devotion to conserving our natural and cultural history established a precedent for our nation. It is because of trailblazers like Teddy Roosevelt that we continue to have the privilege of investing in conservation to benefit both wildlife and people. He believed in cherishing our natural resources, not wasting them, and is remembered as a true pioneer of conservation.” — Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited                                                      

“I credit TR and his example with my decision to leave the real estate business and pursue land conservation in the West full time. I also credit T.R.’s ability to work harder than anyone, have plenty of irons in the fire, and embrace the strenuous life with inspiring me to start my own podcast, which highlights innovators of the American West, like ranchers, writers, conservationists, athletes, adventurers, and artists. It’s no exaggeration that, other than my family, TR has been the biggest influence on my life and career.” — Ed Roberson, Colorado Springs, Colo.

“President Roosevelt preached the virtues of hard work and commitment, knowing a passion for outdoor pursuits would sustain the nation into the future. 161 years later, fly fishermen are still supporting conservation every day, ensuring we have healthy water, habitat, and fisheries.” — Patrick Berry, president and CEO of Fly Fishers International

 

How does Theodore Roosevelt inspire you? Tell us in the comments.

Top photo courtesy of Harvard College Library. HOLLIS Image: Roosevelt Class No. 520.3, 560.3

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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