Kristyn Brady

November 19, 2019

Senate Committee Advances Key Public Lands Bills and DOI Nominee

Sportsmen and women can celebrate bipartisan support for mandatory LWCF funding, but a parks maintenance backlog bill doesn’t go far enough to create solutions for public lands

In a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting today, decision-makers voted to advance legislation to invest in public lands access and maintenance. The big win for sportsmen and women was bipartisan support for mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which would provide certainty for the program and no longer require Congress to debate LWCF funding levels every year at appropriations time.

If lawmakers can see this through, it would complete the second half of a major victory for public lands and outdoor recreation, which began with permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in early 2019.

“Securing dedicated funding for the LWCF would represent one of the biggest legislative accomplishments for America’s public lands in recent memory,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “As conservation’s share of the federal budget continues to shrink, it is extremely meaningful to see investments in habitat, access, and outdoor recreation uncoupled from a deeply entrenched federal appropriations process. We encourage lawmakers to move this bill swiftly to the Senate floor.”

The LWCF is funded through oil and gas revenues but Congress regularly diverts much of this funding for unrelated purposes.

Among other business, lawmakers on the committee also passed the Restore Our Parks Act, which would establish a fund to pay $1.3 billion per year toward the more than $11-billion deferred maintenance backlog on National Park Service lands over the next five years. Hunters and anglers argue that this does not go far enough to address crumbling infrastructure and facilities on all of America’s public lands, including an additional $5 billion in deferred projects on Forest Service lands.

A House bill would address paying down backlogs at not only the National Park Service, but also the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Without a plan to address these rising costs across the entire public land system, the result will be more closed roads, trails, and campgrounds—and less access for sportsmen and women,” says Fosburgh.

The committee also voted to advance Katharine MacGregor toward confirmation as the next deputy secretary of the Interior. The TRCP is supportive of her nomination, having worked with MacGregor on various DOI initiatives, including implementation of Secretarial Orders on hunting and fishing and the advancement of new policies and funding streams for migration corridors and crossings. Fosburgh wrote the following to committee leadership in October 2019: “We have found her to be accessible and willing to consider the perspectives of sportsmen and women, and we encourage the Senate to move forward with her confirmation as Deputy Secretary.”

Read the letter supporting MacGregor’s nomination here.

Top photo by Bob Wick/BLM via flickr.

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Kristyn Brady

November 1, 2019

Five Public Lands Bills to Have on Your Radar

This Congress continues to show an appetite for boosting outdoor recreation opportunities on lands open to all Americans

After a historic win for public lands across the U.S. in March—we’re talking, of course, about the milestone package of legislation that permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund and made many other improvements that benefit hunters and anglers—conservation and access advocates aren’t resting on their laurels. And Congress continues to show an appetite for passing commonsense legislation that boosts access, habitat, or funding for fish and wildlife resources, even with an incredible amount of to-dos lined up to distract them.

Here are five bills on the move that you should know about.

Photo by Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Instagram.
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act

The CORE Act would safeguard approximately 400,000 acres of Colorado’s most rugged landscapes that define an outdoor way of life—particularly the sprawling Thompson Divide, where thousands of hunters pursue elk each year. Roughly half of the area is roadless and provides refuge for abundant fish and wildlife populations. The bill, which has benefited from the input and the support of a long list of diverse stakeholders, including sportsmen and women and business leaders, passed out of committee in July and succeeded in a 227-182 vote on the House floor this week.

Next step: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee should move forward with a legislative hearing on the CORE Act in the near future.

Photo by flickr user Cowgirl Jules.
The Recreation Not Red-Tape Act

Across our nation’s public lands, hunters, anglers, guides, and outfitters find legal access difficult, but not always because of closed gates or lack of trails: A complicated and outmoded process for permitting outdoor recreation activities on public lands can keep kayaks in storage and guide vehicles stuck in park.

Supported by the TRCP and championed by partners like the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, the Outdoor Industry Association, and others, the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act seeks to improve access to public lands by modernizing the process of permitting for certain kinds of outdoor recreation—including by bringing that process online—and creating a system of National Recreation Areas. It would also help prioritize access improvements that benefit military veterans and emphasizes the need for adequate staffing of facilities on our public lands. Expert witnesses from the outdoor recreation industry testified in support of the RNR Act in both a House Small Business Committee hearing and a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing this week.

Next step: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee can now move forward with passage. In the House, the legislation has been referred to multiple committees, and an agreement should be reached by leadership to move this important and bipartisan legislation forward to the floor.

Photo by Grand Canyon National Park via flickr.
The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act

Passed on the House floor this week with a bipartisan vote count, this bill would make permanent the 20-year mining withdrawals that were made administratively in 2012, aimed at protecting the lands around Grand Canyon National Park from uranium mining. In a place that has long been associated with Theodore Roosevelt and is one of the most iconic landscapes in all the world, uranium mining poses an unacceptable risk to the region’s air and water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and critically important outdoor economy. H.R. 1373 has been a longtime priority of Arizona sportsmen and women.

Next step: The House passed the legislation this week by a vote of 236-185, and while there is not a Senate companion at this point, the legislation should be made a priority in that chamber, as well.

“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison–beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world… Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act

Similar to the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act, the SOAR Act is supported by businesses and nonprofits across the industry and would help ensure the continued growth of the $887-billion outdoor recreation economy by further improving and modernizing the recreational permitting process on public lands.

The legislation reauthorizes the permitting authority of the BLM and Forest Service, and it brings the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation under the authority of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, allowing those agencies to retain and reinvest permit fees. Importantly, the bill also allows agencies to issue a single permit when a trip crosses an agency boundary, a significant improvement over current policy which requires multiple permits for the same trip.

S.1665 was also included in this week’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing, which featured testimony from leaders of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, education and research initiatives, and the ski industry.

Next step: With hearings complete, it is time for both the House and Senate Committees to move this bill forward for floor votes.

Photo by flickr user mksfca.
The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019

Another effort to balance demands on public lands from energy development, this House bill would protect areas around Chaco Canyon—a world heritage site known for its archaeological significance and cultural importance—from oil and gas development. The legislation would make permanent a current administrative deferral of oil and gas leasing instituted by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt earlier this year. It was passed in a bipartisan 245–174 vote on the House floor this week. Besides the buildings and sacred dwellings still standing from the 9th,  10th, and 11th centuries, Chaco Canyon is also home to pronghorn antelope and mule deer.

Next step: A Senate companion bill was introduced and debated in committee early this year. That will have to move to successful floor consideration in the Senate before these can be conferenced, likely as part of a bigger comprehensive public lands package.

 

Top photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS.

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

Cory Deal

October 15, 2019

How to Set Up a Facebook Fundraiser in Honor of Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday

His legacy lives on in the form of 230 million acres of public land set aside for Americans to enjoy and countless species saved by the conservation model he helped to spearhead. It only takes a few minutes to honor Theodore Roosevelt by calling on your own community to give back to conservation.

Here’s how to do it.

On Your Desktop (Recommended)
  1. Click here to visit the Facebook Fundraisers page.
  • You’ll need to be logged in to your Facebook account. You can also find the Fundraisers page icon to the left of your newsfeed.
  • Once there, you will be presented with two options: Raise money for a nonprofit or raise money for you or a friend.
  • Under “Raise money for a nonprofit,” click the button for “Select Nonprofit.”
  • A search bar will appear. In this bar, search “Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership” and select our page to designate the TRCP as your benefiting charity.

2. Tell your friends why you need their help.

  • Select yourself as the organizer, indicate how much you would like to raise, and set the end date as October 27, 2019 (Theodore Roosevelt’s 161st birthday!)
  • Here are some suggested fundraising goals for you to use:

$161 total, in honor of T.R.’s 161st birthday

$230 total, in honor of the 230 million acres of public land T.R. helped to set aside for Americans

$260 total, by getting ten friends to donate $26 each in honor of our 26th president

$500 total, because everyone likes a nice round number

$1027 total, in honor of T.R.’s October 27th birthdate

$1858 total, in honor of the year T.R. was born

  • Facebook will auto-populate the next screen with a fundraiser title and description, but personalizing these fields will make your ask more compelling. Here are some suggestions:

Title: Help Me Support Conservation in Honor of Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday

Description: October 27 would have been Theodore Roosevelt’s 116th birthday, which is why I’m asking my friends to consider donating whatever they can to carry on this incredible sportsman’s conservation legacy. Whatever I raise will go to support the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in their efforts to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. I’ve always admired T.R. for his [tell your personal story here] and I have gained so much from my experiences in the outdoors that wouldn’t have been possible without healthy wildlife habitat, clean water, and access close to home. I hope you’ll help me give something

  • Once you’re satisfied with your fundraiser’s title and description, click “Next.”

3. Next, set a cover photo. 

  • We created one for you. Just select T.R.’s smiling face from TRCP’s most recent cover photos right below the preview box.
  • You can also add a downloaded photo by clicking the “Edit” button next to the little camera icon in the lower-righthand corner of the preview box. Select “Upload New Photo/Video” and choose the file on your computer.

  • Once you’re satisfied with your cover photo, title, description, and goal amount, select “Create” to publish your fundraising event!

 

On Your Mobile Device

  1. Open the Facebook application on your phone or other mobile device.
  • You’ll need to be logged in to your Facebook account. You must also make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version of the Facebook mobile application.
  • Open the menu by clicking the icon on the bottom righthand side of your screen.

  • Scroll down to find and select the Fundraisers page. You may need to expand more options by tapping “See More.” Fundraisers will be next to a yellow circle with a heart in it.
  • From the “Explore” tab, tap the blue “Raise Money” button.

  • A pop-up will appear with the question “Who are you raising money for?” Select “Nonprofit.”
  • A search bar will appear. Type in “Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership” and tap our page to designate the TRCP as your benefitting charity.

2. Tell your friends why you need their help.

  • Facebook will auto-populate the next screen with a fundraiser title and description, but personalizing these fields will make your ask more compelling. Here are some suggestions:

Title: Help Me Support Conservation in Honor of Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday

Description: October 27 would have been Theodore Roosevelt’s 116th birthday, which is why I’m asking my friends to consider donating whatever they can to carry on this incredible sportsman’s conservation legacy. Whatever I raise will go to support the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in their efforts to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. I’ve always admired T.R. for his [tell your personal story here] and I have gained so much from my experiences in the outdoors that wouldn’t have been possible without healthy wildlife habitat, clean water, and access close to home. I hope you’ll help me give something back.

3. Next, set a cover photo and fundraising goal.

  • We created one for you. Tap the “Edit” button on the lower-righthand side of the existing photo, tap “Select Photo,” and find T.R.’s smiling face among TRCP’s most recent cover photos.
  • You may also upload your own image: Tap the “Edit” button on the lower-righthand side of the existing photo, tap “Upload Photo,” and choose something from your Camera Roll.
  • Select yourself as the organizer, indicate how much you would like to raise, and set the end date as October 27, 2019 (Theodore Roosevelt’s 161st birthday!)
  • Here are some suggested fundraising goals for you to use:

$161 total, in honor of T.R.’s 161st birthday

$230 total, in honor of the 230 million acres of public land T.R. helped to set aside for Americans

$260 total, by getting ten friends to donate $26 each in honor of our 26th president

$500 total, because everyone likes a nice round number

$1027 total, in honor of T.R.’s October 27th birthdate

  • Once you’re satisfied with your cover photo, title, description, and goal amount, select “create” to publish your fundraising event!
Thank you for your support of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership!

If you need help setting up your fundraiser, please contact Cory Deal at cdeal@trcp.org or 202.639.8727 x18.

 

Randall Williams

October 8, 2019

Finding Landlocked Parcels is the First Step to Creating New Access

While the extent of the challenge is huge, we can’t tackle it unless we face it head-on 

While passionate sportsmen and women have rallied around the issue of landlocked public lands since the release of our initial report last year, we’ve noticed that there have been some who wonder about the possibility of this work backfiring on our community.  

The risk, so the thinking goes, is that land transfer advocates could characterize our data as evidence in support of the idea that there is already too much public land in the West. Or, it could be argued, that these landlocked lands aren’t doing much good currently and that the public would be better served by the revenue they could generate if they were sold to private interests. Here’s why these concerns—although well-intentioned—shouldn’t keep hunters and anglers up at night. 

 

Q: Will identifying landlocked lands help politicians justify disposing of them? 

A: Although some might misrepresent the take-away of our findingsthere are programs and policies currently in place to ensure that this information is put to the right use by decision makers. 

For one thingrecent mandates from federal agency leads and Congress alike direct our public land management agencies to focus their efforts on creating new access to landlocked public lands. 

In 2017, then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed S.O. 3356, which—among other things—directed the BLM to identify inaccessible or difficultto-access public lands as well as opportunities to make them accessible to the public.  

The TRCP and onX are actually working to help the BLM with this effort right now. 

Also, Section 4105 in the John Dingell Act (S. 47)which was signed into law in March 2019, requires the federal land management agencies to identify landlocked lands and opportunities to make them accessible. Specifically, the law requires that the government evaluate the potential for recreational use, the likelihood of resolving the existing obstacles to public access, and whether access could be created through an easement, right-of-way, or land acquisition. Priority opportunities must be submitted for the consideration of Congress, along with a report on the options available to secure access. 

Meanwhile, at the state level, the information from our report is helping to drive proactive work like Montana’s Public Access to LandActMT Plan, and Unlocking Public Lands. Idaho’s “Access Yes” and New Mexico’s “Open Gate” programs are also great examples of this work. Not only does the data allow agency personnel to identify access opportunities more effectively, the overall findings make clear the importance of this work—further strengthening public and institutional support for it. 

Given all we’ve heard from the land transfer crowd in the past, it’d be no surprise if they tried to spin the landlocked issue into an attack on our public lands. Thankfully, however, sportsmen and women have not only public opinion, but also public policy on our side.  

And the fact of the matter is that we can’t begin to solve this issue unless we shine a light on it, even if that means we hear some bad-faith arguments from the anti-public lands crowd. They’re not going away any time soon, so we can’t be afraid to take up this issue if we hope to expand public land access in a meaningful way. 

 

Photo: Bob Wick/BLM via Flickr

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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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