Whit Fosburgh

April 30, 2013

The TRCP and Guns

I want to address the common questions that we get along the lines of, “Why hasn’t the TRCP taken a position on gun control?”

The TRCP was created in 2002 with a very focused mission: To guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. Our mission has been reaffirmed over the years and is being done so again this year.

Gun owners are very effectively represented in Washington, D.C. What was lacking before the TRCP came along was a single organization to pull together the disparate voices of the hunting and fishing community to work together on issues related to conservation and access.

Roosevelt in Africa on horse with gun
Image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress.

Very simply, others know far more than we do about the Second Amendment, not to mention school safety, the mental health system, weapons trafficking and other key components of the gun-violence debate today.

Mission drift is a concern for all organizations. That is why they create missions, visions and strategic plans to guide their actions.

The range of conservation issues in which the TRCP does engage is diverse and represents the interests of the millions of hunters and anglers in this country. From water quality, private lands conservation and marine fisheries management to responsible energy development and conservation on federal public lands, the TRCP works collaboratively with our partners to develop smarter natural resource policies – policies that promote the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitat, increase funding for responsive resource management and enhance public access for sportsmen.

There are a few issues important to sportsmen (in addition to the Second Amendment) that fall outside our organization’s charter. We do not engage in youth education efforts, in large part because so many of our partners, from the National Wild Turkey Federation to the International Hunter Education Association, do such a great job at this work.

We don’t do on-the-ground habitat conservation projects. That’s already being done by Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and many others. And we don’t do electoral politics – we don’t have a political action committee and we remain fiercely nonpartisan. In short, we focus on what we do best: advocating for habitat, funding and access.

It is worth noting the important role that hunters and anglers play in funding conservation in America.  For more than 75 years, the Pittman-Robertson Act, which created an excise tax on guns and ammunition sales, has thrived, providing more than $6.5 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies.

As sportsmen, our priority should be to ensure the successful continuation of funding for key conservation programs. Not only are such programs critical for fish and wildlife habitat, they make good economic sense. This is a point we have stressed to Congress and the administration since the TRCP was created, including during the gun debate.

While the gun control debate has dominated the recent news cycle, conservation, funding and access continue to demand our attention and advocacy – and will do so well into the future. The TRCP will remain at the forefront of these issues and will persevere in our efforts to uphold opportunities to hunt and fish for this generation and those that follow.

17 Responses to “The TRCP and Guns”

  1. Alan Wentz

    Whit, Great points in your blog! TRCP needs to keep its focus and work hard on keeping sound conservation policies in place. Habitat and access are critical issues if we and future generations are going to be able to enjoy the resources we all cherish. Keep up the excellent work!
    Alan Wentz
    TRCP Board Member
    Chief Conservation Officer for Ducks Unlimited (retired)

  2. Gary Schweitzer

    I am very disappointed with TRCP’s neutrality on Second Amendment issues. I do agree with this statement from your article, “As sportsmen, our priority should be to ensure the successful continuation of funding for key conservation programs.” And no program has been more successful than the Pittman-Robertson Act and the money generated by sales of guns and ammunition that this act authorizes. What becomes of conservation programs when civilian ownership of firearms is no more? No one is this country can be neutral in the face of the current attack on gun ownership. And the TRCP is foolish to believe that it can be!

  3. Dan Bantley

    I am very concerned that TRCP is just disguised as a sportsmen’s organization (like many others). Based on numerous times seeing far left agendas such as; global warming, excuse me that was exposed as a farce so now it’s climate change, honoring Tester who is also far left and has voted against 2nd amendment issues, Obama care, etc., with TRCP being silent in the recent 2nd amendment fight and coming out with this excuse “We don’t know anything about it!” , silent about the wolves destroying our elk, deer and moose herds out west, backing federal government land grabs “Wilderness Areas” where they take out the roads and bridges and access to sportsmen. Just to name a few. Sounds to me like an ENEMY to sportsmen!

    • Brian J

      Your tin foil hat is squeezing your brain. I think all useful discussion stops when the partisan dogma starts. And seriously, how many scientists still question the potential fall out of what is now almost 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere? I guess I just like roadless wilderness as much as like firearms…

  4. K-Lynn Paul, M.D.

    I agree with the approach described above. Those of the gun advocate group who oppose extending background checks do not represent me. It is like saying we should oppose laws against drunk driving because they won’t prevent all alcohol related deaths.

  5. Many of the reasons I belong to TRCP are superbly articulated by Whit in this short piece. It’s admirable, and a little astonishing, that TRCP remains “fiercely nonpartisan,” when so many non-profit organizations are drawn down into recriminations and exclusion.

    Whit is right that the voices of hunters and fishermen are “disparate.” In the continual partisan bickering which seems to be our lot in modern American, we lose sight of the fact that outdoorsmen and -women are united in their hearts by the love of wild places. We are joined in a unity granted by nature herself. From time to time (and, if we’re lucky, more often) we share a oneness with the wild that’s unique to those who fish and hunt.

    I think that it is sad, maybe even a little tragic, that people who enthusiastically engage in outdoor sports generally–whether these be left-leaning climbers and kayakers or right-leaning range-shooters–sometimes lose sight of our shared responsibilities as stewards of our great open spaces.

    In the twenty-first century, we face environmental and cultural challenges not known to our grandparents. As Whit points out, our shared energy is needed to show to modern urbanites (the vast majority of our fellow citizens) just how crucial the American outdoors is to our identity as Americans, whether we live out our lives in Los Angeles, California, or Madison, Arkansas.

    As humans, and especially as Americans, we have many channels to protect our rights. But the wilderness needs our protection as well. Neither it nor the American generations that revered the wild before us can now speak in its behalf. The TRCP, however, is doing just that with the single-mindedness of mission this vital task requires, as Whit justly points out. In this one area–the continuing health of and reverence for our shared wild places– we need to stand together in light of a greater need that should transcend partisanship.

    I am convinced that we can better know our true and basic commonalty as Americans through the shared love of the outdoors so clearly and so forthrightly shown by the TRCP.

    • Scott Hed

      I was going to chime in with my own comment, but read this one and it says pretty much everything I was thinking of writing. The TRCP plays a crucial role in modern America’s sporting conservation community, and I’m proud to be a member and supporter. Keep up the great work, Whit and team!

    • John Gale

      This response is spot on and I have little to add except to say that Whit Fosburgh’s comments should remind all of us to keep our focus trained on the commitments that we’ve made to ensuring that our public lands continue to support healthy populations of fish and wildlife in defense of their habitat and our unique American heritage as sportsmen. I tip my hat to Mr. Fosburgh and TRCP.

  6. Johnny Sain

    Proud that TRCP has stayed the course and proud that they have managed to remain outside of the gun debate along with other political pitfalls. TRCP has in eye for the big picture when it comes to the challenges that wildlife and sportsman will face in the future.

  7. dannyb

    I was going to add to the discussion, but Steve pretty much summed it up. I think its smart for the TRCP to stay out of the name calling and militant politics that both the far right and far left are engaging in in terms of the so called “war against guns”.

    The TRCP is about conserving wildlands and animals for everyone, not to supporrt someones inane desire to own a AR-15 so they can pretend to play “Rambo” or “Red Dawn”

  8. We need to ALL work together for good legislation that is effective. We need to stop settling for the best we can get at any given time. i believe background checks are a responsible approach. However, the proposed bill that failed would not have prevented the school shootings. As Whit mentioned there are many parts to the subject of gun and crime control. Citizen groups need to write out their own ideas and present our ideas to the politicians. Let us all remember they work for us.

  9. Duffy Leahy

    If you are concerned that TRCP isn’t working on 2nd amendment issues, join the NRA. Problem solved. TRCP doesn’t cost anything to join and they have been very effective in many problem areas affecting sportsman. While I am a fierce defender of the 2nd Amendment, I put my money where it does the most good politically for 2nd Amendment issues and let the TRCP (who can also use our support) handle the environmental side.

  10. I just want to add my support to Whit’s blog as well as some of the comments such as Steve’s above. I believe we need to be staunch supporters of conservation the 2nd amendment. Without both the world will be a lesser place, that is why I am a supporter of the NRA and TRCP.

    • Mike Olson

      Partisan politics is adversarial to the Sportsman and conserversationist The same money that supports 2nd amendment rights may restrict conservation programs and or support jobs being shipped overseas that restrict our economic freedom to enjoy hunting and fishing

  11. As a hunter very concerned with wildlife conservation, I only just recently heard about TRCP. Because of this article I will now HAPPILY be donating to your organization. The only thing holding me back was my worry that you were affiliated with the NRA which, in this man’s humble opinion, has become the primary factor in the toxicity of the gun debate. Glad I found you and please keep up the good work.

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Mia Sheppard

April 12, 2013

Take Action: Stand up for Backcountry in the Beaver State

Oregon offers some of the best public upland game bird hunting in the West. Chukar season ended in January, but die-hard bird hunters already are thinking about next season. Last fall, I shared a particularly fine hunt with Walt Van Dyke, retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, and Pat Wray, author of “The Chukar Hunter’s Companion.”

Watch following video for footage of the hunt and click here to take action and conserve Oregon’s best backcountry.

The weather was warm, and the heat of the day penetrated our bones. By noon sweat dripped from our brows. Nelly, my shorthaired pointer, was unaccustomed to the heat and had drunk almost all the water I was carrying. Van Dyke, Wray and I covered territory that hadn’t seen human footprints in weeks. A breeze was blowing, and the coveys of chukar flushed wild. But hitting a bird was a bonus compared to the remarkable views and solitude we found that day in southeast Oregon.

Along with supporting populations of upland birds, Oregon’s semi-arid mountain ranges hold key habitat for mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and elk. Small streams provide unique fisheries. As a sportsman and a mother, I want to return to these special places with my daughter and see that the landscape hasn’t changed. Better yet, I want to see to it that the habitat has been improved.

To maintain the high-quality fish and wildlife values of these lands, hunters and anglers are calling on the southeast Oregon BLM to implement a new, locally conceived land allocation called a backcountry conservation area, or BCA. As proposed, BCAs would protect public access, honor existing rights and conserve intact fish and wildlife habitat while allowing common-sense activities to restore habitat and protect communities from wildfire.

Under the BCA allocation, the BLM would uphold traditional uses of public land but allow wildlife managers to restore the rangeland and habitat. The proposed plan enables vegetation management to control noxious weeds, restore bunchgrass to benefit wildlife and livestock and reduce the risk of wildfire. BCAs also would allow ranchers to maintain agriculture improvements and continue their operations.

Join thousands of sportsmen working to conserve our public lands by contacting the state BLM office in Oregon and promoting BCAs as a land-management tool.

March 25, 2013

Speak up to Save Critical Grassland Habitat

The TRCP joins partners Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited and others in urging sportsmen across the nation to contact their House representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Protect Our Prairies act (H.R. 686).

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), would reduce crop insurance assistance for the first four years for crops grown on native sod and certain grasslands converted to cropland.

Learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Reducing crop insurance assistance so it is proportionate with the production capability of this land, rather than insuring it at the same rate as land that has been farmed for years, could save taxpayers nearly $200 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate from the 112th Congress.

Importantly, this legislation does not prevent producers from making their own planting decisions.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Call your representative today and ask him or her to co-sponsor Protect Our Prairies Act (H.R. 686) and defend grasslands for pheasants, quail and other wildlife.


posted in: Policy Updates

New Hope for Native Grasslands

Iowa Barn
Photo by Scott Bauer.

There’s new hope that native grasslands—arguably the most threatened wildlife habitat in the nation – can be saved.  But the House of Representatives will have to follow the bipartisan lead of a couple of prairie state representatives to get that done for sportsmen.

The Protect Our Prairies Act recently introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) would help protect the nation’s remaining native sod and grasslands by reducing federal crop insurance subsidies for the first four years those acres are farmed.

This is a new version of the “Sodsaver” concept that has been around for some time, with the aim of preventing native grasslands from being plowed for two important reasons: This habitat is critical for a wide range of upland birds, migratory waterfowl and numerous other species; and they are far less productive for crops than other lands.

Outdoor writer Bob Marshall explains why the need for Sodsaver has never been greater, and how the recent push for corn-based ethanol and soaring world commodity prices have led to a dramatic increase in conversion of grasslands to row crops.

Read the full story on the Field & Stream website.

March 15, 2013

Video: Future of the Farm Bill

Ducks Unlimited’s governmental affairs staff sit down to discuss the future of the Farm Bill with Rep. Kristi Noem (SD) and Rep. Tim Walz (MN). Watch the video below to find out where conservation, commerce and our sporting trations fit in.



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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