We received the following photo submission from Laura Morris, the PR coordinator for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. Laura wrote, “Here’s what I was doing on my vacation! This was my first-ever redfish.” Congrats Laura!
When “jobs, jobs, jobs” seems to be the refrain coming from the halls of Congress, you’d think these elected officials would embrace the economic importance of our nation’s conservation programs. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives proved last week that it is not ready to give these programs the respect they deserve.
Funding levels and policy riders approved by the House Appropriations Committee in its fiscal year 2013 Interior appropriations bill would slash operating budgets for agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Numerous programs critically important to the sportsmen’s community, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, face deep cuts and damaging impacts from policy riders in the bill. State and tribal wildlife grants, which support cooperative projects with states and private landowners to keep species from being listed under the Endangered Species Act, would be cut by 50 percent.
If the proposed cuts – including a $50 million reduction for the National Wildlife Refuge System – advance, look for major layoffs of biologists and law enforcement personnel, closures of visitor centers and reductions in such activities as managed hunts.
Ourrecreation economy creates 6.1 million American jobs that cannot be exported overseas. Unfortunately, these facts were lost on members of the House Appropriations Committee, as it cut the very programs upon which the recreation economy depends.
While sportsmen are willing to help shoulder our share of the nation’s economic burdens, the fact remains that conservation programs did not create the budget deficit, and slashing conservation funding cannot solve the problem. As a percentage of federal spending, conservation has decreased from about 2.5 percent in the 1970s to about 1.25 percent today.
Congress could eliminate every conservation program and barely make a dent in the deficit. Moreover, as all of us who work on conservation projects in our communities know, every dollar of federal funds is leveraged several times over by state and private funds as well as volunteer labor.
The House can and must do better. All sportsmen need to make their voices heard: Conservation is a fundamental part of what makes America great, and it is central to our economy. Congress ignores this at its own peril.
Common sense and the best interests of Western wildlife prevailed last week when Representative Mike Simpson withdrew his policy rider to the House appropriations bill for interior, environment and related agencies. The amendment would have prevented the implementation of a management plan in the Payette National Forest in Idaho that would separate bighorn sheep from domestic sheep grazing on public lands.
Keeping the two species apart is critical in the effort to prevent the transmission of a fatal respiratory disease from domestic sheep and goats to bighorn sheep. The respiratory disease has devastated populations of bighorn sheep throughout the West.
Not only was the removal of the rider a victory for wild sheep, it was a win for science-based policy and the consensus on grazing that’s been forged between wildlife professionals, range managers and the hunting community.
We live in a world where we can obtain breaking news by simply looking at a smartphone or firing up a computer. Most of us want to spend our free time afield or on the water – enjoying the outdoors with our families and friends – and not reading headlines.
As president and CEO of the TRCP, I understand the sheer volume of information competing for attention in your mailboxes, inboxes and online. In an effort to respect your time while ensuring you remain up to date on issues affecting hunting and angling, fish and wildlife, and national conservation policy, the TRCP is launching a brand-new email newsletter.
I am pleased to introduce “The Roosevelt Report.” In the spirit of T.R. himself, our new offering pulls no punches and delivers you the most current, most compelling news central to our outdoor traditions. The new layout is streamlined and concise, serving up the latest in policy news of interest to the sportsman-conservation community and complemented by an engaging mix of old and new features – “T.R.ivia,” Featured Conservationist interviews and more.
We look forward to bringing you an in-depth look at conservation and natural resources policy with this weekly newsletter. These “insider reports” not only will be delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis but will be a headline component of the new, stand-alone TRCP blog which will include engaging stories, entertaining highlights, giveaways and more.
As always, we are proud to feature the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt in both our online efforts and our efforts in the public policy arena. I invite you to explore the “TRCP Blog” and “The Roosevelt Report” and drop us a line with your ideas or input.
Thanks for reading, for your commitment to our outdoors legacy and for your dedication to our goal of “guaranteeing you a place to hunt and fish.” As always, we appreciate your support!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.