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As an angler and a bird hunter, I cherish opportunities to float Oregon’s beautiful rivers and explore my state’s wide open spaces. Part of that exploration process is poring over maps or using my GPS to navigate the polygons of privately- and publicly-owned land to find the places I can access. Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is responsible for some of our state’s best public access. Now that I understand what LWCF does, and why it’s so important to fish and wildlife, I’ve been working to rally support for reauthorizing this critical fund, which is due to expire at the end of the month. And I’m not alone. Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress.
First, a brief history. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 as a bipartisan commitment to a simple idea: Invest a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees towards protecting important land, water, and recreation areas for all Americans to support the outdoor economy. Since its inception, the fund has been used to invest over $16 billion in conservation and outdoor recreation, including the establishment of new public fishing areas, new corridors into previously inaccessible public lands, conservation easements and the acquisition of new public land parcels for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the sporting public.
Find out about projects funded in your state by clicking here.
This fund is due to expire, and without reauthorization from Congress, we will lose critical conservation dollars. This July, I attended IFTD to build business support for LWCF. At the show, I met Johnny LeCoq, founder and CEO of Fishpond and Lilypond, which are brands designed and manufactured for the fishing and outdoor enthusiast. Johnny has created his company with the philosophy that innovation, design, and a responsibility towards the environment are critical to the success of his business.
Johnny knows why LWCF is so important and why Congress needs to fully fund it. This is what he had to say at the North American Wildlife Conference last year:
“The economics behind LWCF demands that we get the full funding appropriated for our natural resources. It is critical to my own business that depends on our watersheds, and just as important to every individual that values our open space, and public access for so many forms of recreation and enjoyment. The public access component of LWCF is crucial for the future of our hunting and fishing industry,” he said.
Here’s the vision Johnny shared for the next 50 years of conservation work in America: One of collaboration. No longer can we look to Washington or our state governments to pave the necessary path for a sustainable future. We need to create private-public partnerships that leverage the strength of both sectors. From businesses like Fishpond to the private landowners who are willing to place their farmland or ranchland into conservation easements, we need to find valuable partners who will help tell the story of how our public lands and waters are linked to a growing economy and uniquely American way of life.
Johnny encouraged the entire Outdoor Recreation Industry, where thousands of companies are represented, to help lead the push for full funding of LWCF—and not to stop there. “It is the responsibility of these American businesses to use the power of their consumer reach to raise additional funds to augment a shortfall of the hundreds of millions of dollars in conservation needs,” he said. “Government funding and taxes alone will not be enough to get us through our environmental challenges, and it will be important for companies like Fishpond to creatively join forces with government and non-profit groups to collaboratively reach our goals.”
If you’re like me and Johnny, please tell Congress to fully and permanently reauthorize the LWCF and protect hunting, fishing, and the recreational industry for years to come. It’s easy to do. Just click here.
Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders, voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress.
Thanks to everyone that has been using the #PublicLandsProud hashtag, showing us why they love public lands, and sharing why we need to stand up for them.
And now the moment we’ve been waiting for: our guest judge, Jess McGlothlin of Jess McGlothlin Media and American Fly Fishing Trade Association (congrats on the new job, Jess!) has selected the winner for our fishing-themed portion of the contest.
Winner: @seaandines with his “blue line sessions” shot. This shot is an awesome reminder that sometimes the fishing we need isn’t on some epic river halfway around the world, but rather right in our backyards. Wherever you live, it’s worth taking the time to appreciate your local waters—you never know what you might find. Also a great example of #keepemwet.
Runner-up #1: @josh.kuntz with his shot of an angler fishing a backcountry lake in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains serves as a potent reminder that fish don’t really tend to live in ugly places, and sometimes the experience is less in the catching, and more in the getting out there.
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”. #Aristotle ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho are a popular public land backpacking and fishing destination. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Photo: An angler casts into the reflection of Upper Cramer Lake in the early morning. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #fishing #mountainlake #backpackfishing #backpacking #id #idaho #solitude #publiclandsproud #thetrcp #keepitpublic #bha #backcountryhuntersandanglers #reflection #sawtooths #idahogram #exploreidaho
Runner-up #2: @mt406shooter with his shot of a “proper double haul” on the Yellowstone. Good composition, beautiful water, and a strong cast. Solid.
Here Amidea is showing the boys whats up with a bombing cast on the Yellowstone River. We even landed 3 big cutts and took some great photos. Looking forward to your next trip out guys. @gdflyfish55 #winstonrods #bestrodsonearth #BIIIx #madisonriveroutfitters #MRO #hatchreels #lamsonreels #rioflylines #smithsunglasses #Yellowstone #yellowstoneriver #simmsfishing #loonoutdoors #Nikon #D3s #gitzotripod #lenscoat #tugisadrug #streamercity #cutthroat #fishpond #nomadnets #yeticoolers #girlswhoactuallycatchfish #bestofmontana #visitmontana #publiclandsproud
Show us your #PublicLandsProud moment and you could be featured on our blog, not to mention win a new pair of Costa Sunglasses or a Yeti Cooler. From now until October 4, show us the best scenery shots from public lands and tag them with @thetrcp and #PublicLandsProud, and our guest judge, Johnny LeCoq of Fishpond will be watching. More details and all entries are here.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today that the range-wide population of greater sage grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. This decision comes after years of coordination and planning among federal, state, and local stakeholders to better protect sage grouse and other sagebrush-dependent species, while allowing for energy development, livestock grazing, and recreation to continue.
The BLM finalized a critical step toward achieving the not-warranted finding by signing two Records of Decision that will amend nearly 100 resource management plans (RMPs) across the West to benefit the bird.
Sportsmen’s groups are encouraged by the decision and appreciative of the 11 states, federal agencies, private landowners, and other vested stakeholders that have come together in a daunting, often controversial effort. “The work to benefit sage grouse over the last five years has been the greatest landscape-scale conservation effort undertaken in modern times,” says Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The collaboration we’ve seen is unprecedented and extraordinary. It sets forth a model for what I believe to be the future of conservation in America.”
For many of the groups involved in this effort, today’s announcement comes with a cautious sense of relief. “For years, sportsmen, ranchers, developers, and biologists have anxiously awaited the day when the sage grouse listing decision would be made,” says Steve Riley, president and CEO of the North American Grouse Partnership. “Now, it is imperative that these collective conservation efforts are implemented and monitored for effectiveness in the long-term if we are to avoid winding up with sage grouse again at risk further down the road.”
Sportsmen have argued that an “all-of-the-above approach”—with distinct plans developed and implemented by the federal, state, and private sectors—was the only way to get to a not-warranted decision and sustain conservation into the future. Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever notes that private landowner efforts, led in part by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, were a critical piece of the success leading to today’s decision. “Partnership-driven, voluntary conservation efforts have contributed to a positive decision for greater sage grouse and ranching communities in Western states, but our work has only just begun,” says Vincent. “We must continue to build upon this unprecedented level of management for sage grouse populations from federal and state agencies and the ranchers who are implementing landscape-level habitat improvements on private lands.”
The benefits of today’s decision, and the implementation of robust conservation plans already in progress, will extend to more than just sage grouse. “Thriving sage grouse populations are an indicator that sagebrush ecosystems are healthy, and this is important for more than 350 species of plants and animals, including many that are popular with sportsmen,” says Miles Moretti, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “Now, we must remain invested in sustaining the health of this bird—and the landscapes that support it.” Land Tawney, executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, notes that sportsmen and women will benefit as well. “What is good for the grouse is good for the grandeur—the large landscapes being conserved will help sustain backcountry hunting opportunities and big game populations,” he says. “That’s positive for sportsmen and the local communities that depend on proceeds from outdoor recreation-based businesses.”
The work of implementing conservation on the ground is just beginning, and threats still remain. “We’re happy with today’s decision, which proves that collaborative conservation can work,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “But it is critical that state and federal agencies enforce the full implementation of their plans and that we continue to oppose Congressional attempts to weaken them.”
Management of sagebrush habitat is a long-term endeavor that costs money and resources, and no one understands that better than a former director of the agency responsible for today’s announcement. “Investment in sagebrush management that balances many uses of the land, including responsible energy development and sustainable ranching, with conservation is essential for our nation’s economy and the Western way of life,” says Williams. “We have the blueprint in place, and now it’s time to build our future. Congressional support and funding can help get us there.”
The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress
The Senate will be in session all week, except on Wednesday. The House will reconvene Tuesday, with votes expected on Thursday and Friday.
The much-ballyhooed arrival of Pope Francis on Tuesday brings Congressional business to a standstill, and leaves Congress with just four legislative days to negotiate a budget agreement to keep the government from shutting down on October 1. A compromise on defunding Planned Parenthood may have emerged out of Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) office: He suggested linking the controversial issue with the budget reconciliation process and letting a clean funding agreement move forward in the meantime. Now, conservatives in both chambers just need to agree to that strategy. If they don’t, House Speaker Boehner will have to choose between using Democratic votes to keep the government open or siding with House conservatives to pass a bill that the Senate can’t pass and the President won’t sign, ensuring shutdown gridlock. His history seems to indicate a clean bill will come forward, but some in the most conservative wings of the House GOP caucus have begun to foment a rebellion against the Speaker if he takes the route of compromise.
In the Senate, the Majority Leader has filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. The Senate will consider it on the floor on Tuesday. The cloture effort is almost certain to fail, but may serve to illustrate more clearly that the Senate simply cannot move legislation dealing with abortion (including Planned Parenthood defunding.)
Anything else to worry about? Yep, September 30 is still the deadline for a listing decision from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on greater sage grouse (read about their most recent population numbers here) and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (contact your lawmaker about LWCF here.)
On the Floor
The House will begin consideration of Rep. Marion’s (R-PA) RAPID Act (H.R. 348), legislation that would establish regulatory review for environmental assessments. Both Chambers will hold a joint session with Pope Francis on Thursday at 10:00AM.
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.Learn More