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October 24, 2012

Joel Webster

Center for Western Lands Director — Joel Webster

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October 23, 2012

Remembering Dr. James ‘Bud’ Range

Anyone who’s been around the TRCP for a while has heard about Jim Range. Jim is thought of as the primary founder of the TRCP, and while many individuals contributed to the organization’s foundation, Jim had the strategic vision and extraordinary passion that remain at the heart of the organization to this day.

Jim’s instincts for the necessity of the TRCP for American sportsmen have proven to be 100 percent on target in the ten years since he led the way in launching the sportsmen-conservation organization. He was a brilliant strategist and known widely in Republican and Democratic circles in Washington, D.C., as one of the best brains in town. He could walk up to a legislative problem, measure it up and down, cut to a diagnosis and course of treatment without a lot of fancy talk.

Like a country doctor looking over a sick kid, Jim worked as quickly as anyone I’ve ever seen and the solutions he prescribed were always nonpartisan in nature. If you knew Jim’s dad, there was no great mystery as to how he came by this gift.

Jim’s dad, Dr. James J. Range, passed away in early October. “Bud” as his friends knew him, was 94 years old. Unlike Jim, who passed away three years ago at the age of 63, Dr. Range lived the kind of long, full life he deserved. I was fortunate enough to get to know Dr. Range as were many of Jim’s friends and while their outward personalities were markedly different, Jim took after his dad in many ways.

In the mountains of Tennessee around Johnson City, Jim gained a deep appreciation of the outdoors from his dad and it set him on a professional path that would see him become one of the most important sportsmen-conservation advocates of his generation. Jim took traits and smarts learned from his father and applied them to the political arena where he worked to heal divisions that threatened to forfeit American’s great natural resources and the outdoor way of life.

I mostly spent time with Dr. Range out at Jim’s place in Montana. Jim was such a huge personality and such a giant in the political and conservation arenas and it was fascinating to get to know the man who had, along with Jim’s mother, unleashed this whirlwind on all of us. Dr. Range was a warm wonderful person and it clicked for me right away – how this mellow and methodical doctor was connected to his colorful son. They both loved hunting and fishing and the outdoors deep down in their hearts and they both cared so much about other people.

So today I’ll just say thanks to Jim one more time for all he did for me as a friend and for all he did for this country’s sportsmen. And I’ll say thank you to Dr. Range for spending part of his long wonderful life raising such a fine son. We miss you both.

This article was written by TRCP board member George Cooper.

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October 16, 2012

Billfish Conservation Act Passes Congress, Changing Commercial Harvesting Standards

By Jason Schratwieser, Conservation Director, International Game Fish Association

It’s been a long, slow road, but the Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 has been signed into law by the president. The new law prohibits the importation of marlin, sailfish and spearfish in the continental United States. It represents the culmination of nearly four years of sweat equity overcoming hurdles, roadblocks and naysayers.

The Billfish Conservation Act already is making waves around the world, with groups in other countries considering similar measures. Photo by Mac Stone.

The process began from concerns raised from members of the International Game Fish Association, a TRCP partner group, about the large quantities of marlin and sailfish that were being commercially harvested in Central America. For some time, IGFA also had periodically sent letters of opposition to restaurants and grocery stores known to serve or carry marlin and sailfish. However we didn’t really know how big the problem was until went looking.

In 2007 IGFA commissioned a report to investigate the global billfish market. We wanted to find out which countries were harvesting, exporting and importing the most billfish. What we found shocked us. With an average of 2.7 million pounds each year, the U.S. was squarely identified as the world’s biggest importer of billfish.

At that point it became clear that a reactive approach of writing letters to businesses selling billfish was not the answer. To tackle the problem IGFA partnered with the National Coalition for Marine Conservation to develop a proactive campaign to educate the American populace as to what billfish are, their imperiled status and their importance to ocean ecosystems.

The Take Marlin off the Menu campaign was successful in that several very prominent restaurants, grocery stores and even celebrity chefs decided to go “marlin free.” Interactive media polling also showed that the campaign was making an impact in consumers’ perceptions about importing, selling and consuming billfish. Still, we knew the only way we could get rid of America’s dubious distinction was to seek legislation that would end these practices outright.

In 2010 we were successful in introducing legislation in Congress that would ban the commercial harvest, sale and importation of billfish in the U.S. Our billfish report found that annual U.S. billfish market revenues (including harvest and sale from Hawaii) totaled a measly .07 percent of the entire U.S. commercial fishing industry. Nevertheless, Hawaii proved to be an unsurpassable obstacle in the bill’s progress.

By the time the next congressional session convened, we had a new strategy. In order to avoid the ire of commercial fishing interests in Hawaii, we created a carve-out that would exclude Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Territories. Billfish no longer would be able to be imported into the continental U.S., but Hawaii still would be able to harvest and sell billfish commercially. While not our ideal strategy, the strategy allowed us to reach our primary objective: ending the reign of the U.S. as the world’s largest importer of billfish. With the leadership of Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, the Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 was introduced in the 112th Congress.

The successful progression of the bill did not come from one person, or one organization. It was made into a law with the help of other recreational fishing organizations including the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Keep America Fishing, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and numerous other NGOs from the conservation community.

We felt that closing the U.S. to billfish imports would do two things: (1) close a sizeable piece of the international billfish market and (2) position the U.S. to take a more aggressive approach to international billfish management and conservation. The Billfish Conservation Act already is making waves around the world, with groups in other countries considering similar measures.

I suppose the old adage “change is slow” is true. But, it sure is sweet when it finally happens.

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October 9, 2012

Wednesday Win: Help Name the TRCP Blog

Help name the TRCP Blog and win the ultimate TRCP care package.

We launched the TRCP Blog back in June and we’ve heard lots of positive feedback from our partners in the conservation community. But now we’d like to hear from you.

We want to give the TRCP Blog a name worthy of its content and we want you to help select a new name.

Submit your ideas for a blog name on our Facebook page, tweet it to @theTRCP with the hashtag #TRCPBlog or e-mail us at info@trcp.org. The contest will be open from Wednesday, Oct. 10, to Wednesday, Oct. 17.  We will be narrowing down the suggested blog names and asking our partners to vote on the names they like best, then announcing the winner on Friday, Nov. 2.

If your blog name is chosen, we will send you the ultimate TRCP care package, including a TRCP Buck knife, a signed copy of Steven Rinella’s new book, “Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter,” a TRCP hat and a Bully Bugger made exclusively for the TRCP. The first and second runners-up will receive TRCP hats.

Good luck!

P.S.  When brainstorming blog names, keep in mind our focus on all things Theodore Roosevelt, conservation, fish and wildlife.

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Colorado State Fish Swims in Only One Stream

Can you tell whether this is a greenback? Photo courtesy of ‘TRCP’s Native Trout Adventures.’

The greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish, can be found only in a 4-mile span of Bear Creek, located southwest of Colorado Springs.

A recent study conducted by the University of Colorado delved into the genetics of the greenback cutthroat trout and found that many were mistaking the Colorado River cutthroat, Rio Grande cutthroat and others for the greenback.

The U.S. Forest Service is currently exploring options to conserve the greenback and creek upon which the fish depends. Meanwhile, TRCP partner Trout Unlimited is working to address trail impacts the Bear Creek area.

For any anglers out there thinking they caught a greenback only to learn later that they were mistaken, the TRCP feels your pain. Last summer, we shot an episode of “TRCP’s Native Trout Adventures” in which we mistakenly thought we were fishing for – and catching – greenback cutthroat trout in Pike National Forest near South Park, Colo.

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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