Whit Fosburgh


posted in: General

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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posted in: General

April 29, 2013

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Elise Goldstein, the lucky winner of our .22 Browning rifle.

Elise is a biologist with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and was one of nearly 2,000 individuals who signed up as partners at the TRCP booth during one of the conferences and conventions we attended this year.

Thanks to everyone who signed up. We appreciate your commitment to fish, wildlife, hunting and angling!


posted in: General

April 23, 2013

Welcoming Sally Jewell

Last week we took some time out and got to know the new Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell.

Secretary Jewell has called sportsmen “critical partners” in assuring the responsible management and conservation of the nation’s natural resources. Whether it be fly fishing in a backcountry stream, waterfowl hunting in the Chesapeake Bay, stalking big game in the Rockies or bass fishing in Oklahoma’s Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, our nation offers a diversity of outdoor opportunities that is unequaled.

American sportsmen look forward to working with Secretary Jewell as she continues our nation’s commitment to conservation, which stretches back more than a century.

Send Secretary Jewell a welcome message via her Twitter handle @SecretaryJewell or leave a message in the comments section below.


posted in: General

April 19, 2013

Video: Sportsmen and Climate Change

  • In the next century, nearly 40 percent of the natural ecosystems where sportsmen hunt and fish will change due to a number of reasons, including climate change.
  • Higher water temperatures in waterways such as Montana’s Yellowstone River negatively impact trout populations.
  • Drier and warmer weather patterns aggravate fire cycles in states like Oregon.
  • Temperature changes can push out native species and allow foreign species to disrupt the natural food cycles.



posted in: General

April 16, 2013

Featured Conservation Leader: Mike Simpson

Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho is dedicated to the conservation of our natural resources both today and into the future. Simpson took some time to answer a few questions for the TRCP.

The TRCP is set to honor Simpson at the 2013 Capital Conservation Awards Dinner held April 18.

How did you become passionate about the outdoors?

Like most people, I became passionate about the outdoors because of my family. My father had a profound love for the outdoors, hunting, fishing and for Idaho’s natural beauty. He instilled that passion in my brother and me. I have carried that passion with throughout my life – and into my service in Congress.

What is a favorite memory of a trip afield?

My favorite memories of outdoor trips involve my favorite memories of outdoor trips involve family vacations to Redfish Lake.  To this day, I love returning to that lake, enjoying its natural beauty and basking in the memories that are so important to me and my family.

To this day, I make it a priority to join the Idaho Conservation League each summer in Redfish Lake and engage in dialogue about the importance of protecting Idaho’s outdoor heritage.

Photo by Dona Cox/Idaho Fish and Game.

What is your go-to piece of hunting or fishing gear?

The hunting-related possessions I treasure most are the rifles and shotguns passed down to me by my father. I also cherish his wildlife mounts which are now on display in my Washington, D.C. office.

What led you to a career in Congress?

I never set out to be a member of Congress. I ran for the Blackfoot City Council hoping to serve a community that had been very good to me and my family. I chose to run for the State Legislature and eventually for Congress because of the opportunity each office provided for serving the people of Idaho.

I’m not sure anyone knows what they are signing up for when they run for Congress, but it has been among the greatest honors of my life. Serving Idaho in Congress allows me an opportunity to work every day on the issues that are most important to the people and the state I love.

What role do you see sportsmen playing in the conservation arena?

Sportsmen play a critical role in the conservation community because they are arguably the most diverse subset. Sportsmen and -women know firsthand the value of the collaborative process that holds the greatest promise for finding long-term solutions to conservation challenges.

What are some ways sportsmen can become involved in public policy?

Sportsmen can go individually or in groups to meet with their elected officials and impress upon them the importance of their cause. They can also work through the many conservation organizations dedicated to impacting public policy and advancing the cause of sportsmen.

It is critical that sportsmen and -women take the time and get involved in the public policy arena at the local, state and federal levels and make sure that politicians clearly understand the size and passion of the sporting coalition that exists in this country.

What do you think are the most important issues facing sportsmen today, and how do you hope your work in Congress will resolve these issues?

The federal budget crisis is the single most important issue facing everyone who has interests in Congress – including sportsmen. The need to reduce federal spending naturally puts pressure on many of the programs most important to the sporting community. These include the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Program, the Conservation Reserve Program and many others.

I am working to preserve these programs because I understand their importance, not only to our nation today, but to future generations.

In the simplest terms, why do you care about conservation?

Countries throughout history that have ignored or betrayed their natural treasures have always come to regret such decisions. I greatly respect the cultural, artistic, historical and natural diversity of our nation and believe we are duty bound to protect it and pass it on to future generations.

Any conservation leaders or heroes you look up to?

Idaho Senator Jim McClure had a significant impact on my view of conservation and collaboration. Senator McClure was a conservative republican, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and icon to Idaho’s ranchers, loggers, miners and multiple-use advocates.

He was a leader who understood the value of natural landscapes, was a strong supporter of sportsmen and -women, and believed strongly in the importance of collaboration and dialogue in advancing public policy.



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.

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