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posted in: General

May 31, 2012

Conservation Finds Renewed Importance in Dire Economic Straits

“Conservation is a luxury we simply can’t afford.”  This is what sportsmen and women were told in 2011 as the House of Representatives passed a budget that eliminated or eviscerated almost every major conservation program, from wetlands conservation and public lands management funding to the Open Fields program that encourages landowners to open their lands to public hunting and fishing.

Finally, anti-conservation members of Congress had their excuse to attack programs that they had never liked, programs they believe thwart the full development of our natural resources. A slew of “riders” unrelated to the budget proved that this was more about ideology than deficit reduction.

But faced with giving up a century of conservation progress, hunters and anglers came together and reached out to the outdoor recreation and historic preservation communities to make the case that conservation is not a luxury; it is fundamental to what makes America great and it provides jobs.  The coalition, called America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, now boasts more than 1,200 groups, including many of our partners.

It released a comprehensive economic study that showed hunting and fishing, other outdoor recreation, and historic preservation support 9.4 million American jobs, result in $1.06 trillion in annual economic impact and generate $107 billion annually in tax revenue. And these are jobs that cannot be exported.

It’s also important to note that conservation did not create the budget deficit and it cannot solve the problem.  As a percentage of federal spending, conservation has decreased from about 2.5 percent in the 1970 to about 1.26 percent today.

You could eliminate every conservation program and barely make a dent in the deficit.  Moreover, as everyone who has ever worked on a local conservation project knows, every dollar of federal funds is leveraged several times over by state and private funds and volunteer labor.

I am pleased to report that common sense finally ruled the day and the Senate reinstated about $1.8 billion in conservation funds in the final budget agreement.  But the House is now poised to repeat history by passing a bill almost identical to its 2011 disaster.

Once again it is time for sportsmen and women of all stripes to speak up for what Theodore Roosevelt called the common man’s birthright.

One Response to “Conservation Finds Renewed Importance in Dire Economic Straits”

  1. Great points Whit, and kudos to the folks who prepared the report.

    There are countless chambers of commerce promoting their communities based on natural amenities and open space which are factors dependent upon conservation budgets. Those chamber leaders recognize that outdoor recreation opportunity is a major draw, along with quality schools and good hospitals, when recruiting new businesses to locate in their city/county/state. Let’s get them in the coalition along with all the car companies using wide open spaces and beautiful natural land settings in their commercials. Range Rover has a cool one out now. Congress would take notice if we recruit these non-traditional nature beneficiaries to the coalition.

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posted in: General

May 28, 2012

A Simple Mission

Here at the TRCP, our mission is simple. In order to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish, we strengthen laws, policies and practices affecting fish and wildlife conservation by leading partnerships that influence decision makers.

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May 27, 2012

A Moose Shed That’s Bigger Than My Head

Portland Stock Cleaver with a moose shed found on a recent camping trip. Photo courtesy of Erica Stock.

We want to see your photos! Post them on the TRCP Facebook page or e-mail them toinfo@trcp.org for your chance to be featured!

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The Broad Country We Both Loved…

Roosevelt called often at my office to discuss the broad country we both loved, and we came to know each other extremely well. Though chiefly interested in big game and its hunting, and telling interestingly of events that had occurred on his hunting trips, Roosevelt enjoyed hearing of the birds, the small mammals and the incidents of travel of early expeditions on which I had gone. He was always fond of natural history, having begun, as so many boys have done, with birds; but as he saw more and more of outdoor life his interest in the subject broadened and later it became a passion with him.

– George Grinnell

Excerpt from American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation by John F. Reiger.

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May 26, 2012

Erica M. Stock

Image Courtesy Erica Stock.

Current location: Denver, Colo.

A self-proclaimed “native trout freak” Erica Stock has been working in the conservation arena for more than 10 years. Erica got her start on the water in Oregon where she fell in love with salmonids. She currently resides in Colorado with her daughter, Portland, and husband, Tim. When she’s not out bow hunting or fly fishing, Erica spends her time rallying for native trout restoration and habitat conservation projects throughout the west.

What are you up to right now?

I like to joke that I have two full-time jobs. I’m working as the outreach director for Colorado Trout Unlimited and the director of strategic partnerships for the Western Native Trout Initiative.

Why are you so passionate about native trout?

Native trout are majestic fish. Each one is distinct and beautiful. Once they are gone you can’t go into a lab, re-create them and put them back in a river somewhere.

Native fish have been reduced to such a small fraction of their historical range that some species have been lost all together. It would be a shame to see this trend continue, but, given all the threats faced by native trout, it is a very real possibility.

That’s where groups like WNTI and TU come in. Both of these organizations have been integral in uniting the community and developing the National Fish Habitat Action Plans. These plans give us a glimmer of hope.

Tell us a little bit about National Fish Habitat Action Plans.

These plans encourage collaboration between different state agencies, federal agencies, local partners and non-profit organizations that have an interest in fish conservation and management. These plans allow for much more progress than if all these groups were working separately.

Prior to the establishment of these plans, there was so much fragmentation and inefficiency. Everyone was out doing what they thought were the top priorities – using their own science or no science at all. NFHAPs provide a game plan so individuals and groups can work together toward the common goal of rebuilding some of these fish populations.

Tell us about what you do for TU.

I work with our grassroots; Trout Unlimited has 23 chapters and 10,000 individual members in Colorado. I work with these partners on some great native trout projects and projects that benefit local communities directly – regardless of whether there are native trout involved.

How did you get into fishing?

I was on the Deschutes River in northwestern Oregon doing invasive plant removal. We were just getting off the river for the day when I decided to pick up my friend’s fly rod. It was on an Orvis four-piece rod. I was immediately hooked.

What are some of the greatest threats faced by fish populations?

There are 15 native trout for which WNTI works. Seven of these are threatened and the remainder are species of concern. Development has degraded important habitat for a long period of time. The introduction of non-native species like rainbow and brown trout has caused serious competition between native and non-native species. These non-native fish will hybridize with the natives, destroying their genetic purity.

Climate change is another big threat to native trout. We need to make sure these fish are going to have habitat as the climate shifts. Fortunately these fish are in headwaters and roadless areas on public lands – and that’s no coincidence. The best hunting and fishing are found in roadless areas. We need to be sure these areas remain pristine and relatively untouched.

Check out “TRCP’s Native Trout Adventures,” a video series featuring native trout fishing expeditions in spectacular landscapes across the Rocky Mountain West.

Learn more about the Western Native Trout Initiative.

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CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

As our nation rebounds from the COVID pandemic, policymakers are considering significant investments in infrastructure. Hunters and anglers see this as an opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations.

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