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June 28, 2016

Glassing the Hill: June 27 – July 1

The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress.

The Senate will be in session this week and the House will be in recess until Tuesday, July 5.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The clock is ticking, as the House and Senate each only have one legislative week remaining before a six-week recess. That’s one week each before their set deadline of July 15 for passing all 12 appropriation bills. As plenty of obstacles continue to slow lawmakers down, it becomes increasingly likely that a continuing resolution or an omnibus spending package will be considered before September 30. The House recessed earlier than planned last Thursday due to a Democratic sit-in on gun control. However, the House did advance a conference report that would provide $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus in the military construction and veterans’ affairs spending bill.

Guns will likely be discussed in the Senate this week – the House is not in session – but ramifications remain unclear. Last week, the Senate halted floor activity to vote on a motion to table Senator Collins’ (R-Maine) bipartisan gun control amendment that would limit gun sales to persons on the terrorist watch list. The vote was considered a ‘test’ and the amendment may be discussed further this week; “The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act” remains the business on the floor of the Senate, but cloture has not been filed on the legislation, and it is unclear how the Collins amendment might slow its path forward.

While gun-related measures may slow action on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to move on to other legislation this week, a motion to go to conference on the Mil-Con $1.1 billion package for Zika virus emergency funding; and House-passed legislation that would address the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Lawmakers say they are ready to negotiate an energy bill—one that will not be vetoed. More closed-door meetings occurred last week with the “Big Six,” including Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Rep. Bishop and Rep. Upton wrote their willingness to negotiate in a letter they released last week.

Even though the House is not in session this week conversations could continue, and Senate leadership could decide to bring the conference vote to the floor for consideration this week.

Greater sage-grouse conservation plans are under scrutiny. On Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining will hold an oversight hearingon the implementation of the greater sage-grouse habitat conservation plans of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The subcommittee will discuss the federal agencies’ collaboration efforts with state agencies’ management plans.

Wildfires continue to be a hot topic as another bill is introduced. Introduced by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, “The Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act” addresses wildfire spending and forest management, including provisions such as allowing the U.S. Forest Service to expedite forest management procedures on 5,000 or less acres and providing a budget cap adjustment to fund wildfire suppression that may exceed a 10-year average cost. The bill is similar to Rep. Westerman’s (R-Ark.) legislation, which was referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee after passing the House with a 262-167 vote.

A hearing on this bill have not been scheduled at this time.

Also on our radar:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Legislation that would prevent the creation of a no-fishing zone in Biscayne National Park will be on the docket in a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee mark-up

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Enforcement and Compliance Programs will be discussed in a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight hearing

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VIDEO: DONALD TRUMP JR. AND REP. MIKE THOMPSON REVEAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES’ CONSERVATION VALUES

News for Immediate Release

Jun. 28, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Watch their unedited remarks from a forum with outdoor writers and reporters at the TRCP’s Western Media Summit

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Cameras rolled late last week as Donald Trump Jr., speaking on behalf of his father, and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), serving as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, addressed the conservation attitudes of their candidates and responded to questions from outdoor writers and editors on issues important to sportsmen. Topics spanned public land transfer, sportsmen’s access, endangered species, increasing demand on water resources, energy regulation, gun control, and fisheries management. The Q&A was moderated by Mike Toth, special projects editor at Field & Stream.

Uncut video from the forum-style meetings at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Western Media Summit, an invitation-only media event hosted in Fort Collins, Colo., is now live on YouTube here and here.

“This is where we’ve probably broken away from a lot of the traditional conservative dogma on the issue, in that we do want federal lands to remain federal. That’s not to say that the states shouldn’t have a larger role perhaps in managing some of those lands. I think, you know, their scientists are there, they’re on the ground, they understand those issues, I think, certainly better than a lot of bureaucrats in D.C.” –Donald Trump Jr.

“[Clinton] doesn’t believe we should be selling public land. She’s been very straightforward about that. She gets it. She understands that not only is it important for people who hunt and fish and hike and recreate in the outdoors to have those public lands to do that, but it’s important to everything else that we care about. It’s important to clean air and clean water. It’s important to our economy.” –Rep. Mike Thompson

Learn more about the TRCP’s annual media summits here.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

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Glassing the Hill: June 27 – July 1

The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress.

The Senate will be in session this week and the House will be in recess until Tuesday, July 5.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The clock is ticking, as the House and Senate each only have one legislative week remaining before a six-week recess. That’s one week each before their set deadline of July 15 for passing all 12 appropriation bills. As plenty of obstacles continue to slow lawmakers down, it becomes increasingly likely that a continuing resolution or an omnibus spending package will be considered before September 30. The House recessed earlier than planned last Thursday due to a Democratic sit-in on gun control. However, the House did advance a conference report that would provide $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus in the military construction and veterans’ affairs spending bill.

Guns will likely be discussed in the Senate this week – the House is not in session – but ramifications remain unclear. Last week, the Senate halted floor activity to vote on a motion to table Senator Collins’ (R-Maine) bipartisan gun control amendment that would limit gun sales to persons on the terrorist watch list. The vote was considered a ‘test’ and the amendment may be discussed further this week; “The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act” remains the business on the floor of the Senate, but cloture has not been filed on the legislation, and it is unclear how the Collins amendment might slow its path forward.

While gun-related measures may slow action on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to move on to other legislation this week, a motion to go to conference on the Mil-Con $1.1 billion package for Zika virus emergency funding; and House-passed legislation that would address the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Lawmakers say they are ready to negotiate an energy bill—one that will not be vetoed. More closed-door meetings occurred last week with the “Big Six,” including Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Rep. Bishop and Rep. Upton wrote their willingness to negotiate in a letter they released last week.

Even though the House is not in session this week conversations could continue, and Senate leadership could decide to bring the conference vote to the floor for consideration this week.

Greater sage-grouse conservation plans are under scrutiny. On Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining will hold an oversight hearingon the implementation of the greater sage-grouse habitat conservation plans of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The subcommittee will discuss the federal agencies’ collaboration efforts with state agencies’ management plans.

Wildfires continue to be a hot topic as another bill is introduced. Introduced by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, “The Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act” addresses wildfire spending and forest management, including provisions such as allowing the U.S. Forest Service to expedite forest management procedures on 5,000 or less acres and providing a budget cap adjustment to fund wildfire suppression that may exceed a 10-year average cost. The bill is similar to Rep. Westerman’s (R-Ark.) legislation, which was referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee after passing the House with a 262-167 vote.

A hearing on this bill have not been scheduled at this time.

Also on our radar:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Legislation that would prevent the creation of a no-fishing zone in Biscayne National Park will be on the docket in a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee mark-up

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Enforcement and Compliance Programs will be discussed in a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight hearing

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June 27, 2016

Dan Ashe’s Manifesto: It’s a Make-or-Break Moment in Conservation History

In his stirring remarks to conservation leaders and journalists attending our 14th annual Western Media Summit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director challenges us to stay optimistic, fix dysfunction, and keep fish and wildlife issues relevant

It’s an honor for me to speak to you at what is truly a make-or-break moment in conservation history.

Image courtesy of TRCP.

I’m going to cover three topics: First, and briefly, the nature of the challenge we face today, and will increasingly face tomorrow. Second, the growing dysfunction in the conservation community. Third, a specific part, or symptom, of that dysfunction – the growing irrelevancy of conservation.

Many of you have heard me say this: Our challenge in conserving wild creatures is human ecology. The Earth’s population continues to grow. Today, we share the planet with 7.3 billion others of our species. By mid-century, we will be approaching 10 billion. And it’s not just our growing numbers, but our expanding affluence.

The world’s population is growing to be more like us, and increasing its demands for access to things like electricity, education, transportation, and health care. These people will require more fuel, more fiber, and more food, and we will all consume more of the planet’s ecological space just to keep pace. Though we wish it were not so, that means less and less for the rest of what we collectively call biodiversity.

This exploding demand for resources is altering the biochemical processes of the planet. 2014 was the warmest year on record – until 2015. This year could eclipse even that record.

The evidence is all around us:

  • Scorching temperatures and rampant wildfires are bedeviling the southwest.
  • Record high temperatures were recorded in the Arctic in January and February—who would ever have imagined the now routine need to truck in snow for the Iditarod?
  • More than 90 percent of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has experienced bleaching in the past several months.
  • PLUS: The great prairies of North America are in crisis. Asian carp assault the Great Lakes. Burmese pythons strangle the Everglades. Elephants, rhinos, and other wildlife are decimated by a global epidemic in trafficking. State and federal refuges in California (anchors of the Pacific Flyway) are starved of water. Mule deer are disappearing from large expanses of the West. Every native trout species is imperiled. Grassland birds are declining precipitously. And on, and on.

And yet, I don’t know if we’ve ever been less prepared, as a conservation community, to cope with these enormous challenges.

Image courtesy of TRCP.

And that’s a good transition to my second point. As a community, we have a significant and growing dysfunction. We seem to increasingly view ourselves as an island in a rising sea of change, seeking to armor ourselves against the momentous tides of transformation around us. We are reflexive, defensive, and increasingly angry at the growing proportion of the population that just doesn’t get it.

Easy things seem hard. Hard things seem impossible.

Case-in-point is what we call “The Sportsmen’s Bill”. And this is not a criticism of the Congressional sponsors, because they are responding to us. We are the problem. This is our dysfunction. Instead of marshalling our resources and asking for Congress’s support to confront these challenges, we ask Congress to address the import of 41 polar bear trophies, killed in 2008, all in the name of sportsmen.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund expires. But in the name of sportsmen, we ask Congress to exempt lead bullets from regulations in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), well-knowing that lead bullets are not being regulated by TSCA.

It’s a failure of imagination, vision, and unity that will continue to cost us, if we don’t address it.

Across the West, the very concept of public lands are under sustained assault from federal, state and local politicians and the special interests who fund them. The illegal occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year was just the latest escalation in an ongoing effort by armed extremists to intimidate public employees and keep them from doing their jobs.

I’ll pause here to thank the TRCP and its grassroots advocates. You stood with us during the occupation, and continue to advocate forcefully against the transfer and sale of public lands. We are enormously grateful for the support.

We need all the help we can get, because these ideologues are waging a relentless campaign to undermine the legitimacy of public lands, public resources, and wildlife held in trust for the public. They want the federal government to divest hundreds of millions of acres of public land—not for sportsmen or women—but for economic development, private use, and corporate profit.

They’re doing what we used to do so well. They’re playing the long game, and they are succeeding in their larger aim—to undercut public support and confuse the issue for voters.

The Malheur occupation didn’t occur in a vacuum. It happened because there are people, many of whom occupy positions of power and influence across the West, who share their values and beliefs, even if they recoil at their methods—for now.

Sadly, the public doesn’t seem to realize the stakes.

We’re heading into the heat of a pivotal election season, one that will likely determine the fate of those public lands and North America’s wildlife for years to come. We will need more strong voices during this election and beyond, as we see this cancer growing in Congress and state legislatures across the nation.

Which brings me to my third point. Conservation is increasingly irrelevant in today’s changing American society.

Relevance is the noun form of the adjective relevant, which means important to the matter at hand. To us—anglers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts—and our predecessors, conservation has long been relevant, because it sustains the things we care about. The matters at hand. But fewer and fewer people are fishing, hunting, and spending time outdoors. More than eight in ten Americans live in urban and suburban environments. Urbanization is accelerating, and the nation will soon be made up of a majority of minorities.

You, me, our organizations, others in our profession and our community, we do not look like America. We do not think like America. How then can we even understand, let alone achieve, what is important to the matters at hand in a changing America?

This is a crisis for conservation. We simply must address it. We must change and change rapidly. And yes, change comes hard. But, as General Eric Shinsheki teaches us, If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less. We are seeing the early stages of the irrelevance of conservation.

So, we’re facing big challenges. Here’s what I believe we need to do:

  • We have to break out of the disciplinary silos that we have built and that have served us so well in the 20th century. We can’t do 21st century conservation if we see the world divided into fish, wildlife, range, and forestry. We have to unite these great disciplines and see conservation in a larger context, and design conservation on a larger scale.
  • We have to have zero tolerance for politicians, at all levels of government, who support divestiture of public lands. No candidate should be able to call themselves a sportsman unless they defend, loudly and at every turn, the benefits and importance of public land ownership and professional stewardship. It’s an election year, and we need a true Sportsmen’s Platform. Not platitudes about rights to hunt and fish. We need sportsmen to make it a priority to support—in every sense of the word—candidates who embody this platform. And to oppose those who do not. We need to support politicians who will stand up for clean air and water and protection of habitat, and stand behind the professional public servants—local, tribal, state, and federal—who dedicate their lives to conserving wild places and wild creatures.
  • We need a professional ethic that unites us as a community. President Ronald Reagan united his political party in the 1980s, and coined what he called the “Eleventh Amendment”: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. We need our own Eleventh Amendment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow conservationist. Sure, we may disagree from time to time, but these need to be professional, courteous, and respectful differences of opinion. Those in our community who sow seeds of anger and adversity must meet with what Aldo Leopold called social disapproval. If we let these people divide us, and play us off each other, then we, and the resource we love, will lose. How can we expect the faith and confidence of the public if we do not reflect faith and confidence in one another?
  • We must diversify our organizations, our profession, and our community. This must be a collective priority. We need to set measureable goals and attain them. We can’t just welcome families and children from urban and diverse communities to the outdoors – we have to actively seek them out and make it easier for them to experience their natural heritage. We have to recruit them at a young age and expose them to careers in conservation.

The reality is that right now, we look in all the same places, we do what we have always done—and we settle for what we have always gotten.

This has to change.

It’s an issue of leadership, and it’s time for leaders to step up and lead. There’s a new generation of potential conservationists out there. They’re in cities. They’re using iPhones and Androids. They don’t hunt or fish. They’ve never spent a night outdoors. Their skin is red or brown. English may be their second language. They are the voters and leaders of tomorrow. If we lose them, there will be no tomorrow for conservation.

We have to find them. We have to inspire and recruit them. They will become the best-and-brightest. They will make conservation relevant. We have to continue to expand our public lands and open them to new opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds to enjoy with their families.

We’ve made this a central priority in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, creating urban wildlife conservation partnerships in more than two dozen cities across the nation. These include cities where we have a land base—like Philadelphia, San Diego, Albuquerque, and Denver—as well as those where we don’t—like Atlanta, Houston, and Baltimore. Through these partnerships, we’re working with community leaders to help thousands of kids and families develop a personal connection with nature.

We’re partnering with organizations like the League of United Latino American Citizens and historically black fraternities and sororities, like Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta, to mentor young people and help them explore STEM careers.

Wherever and whenever we can, we’re expanding hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation programs on our refuges. In fact, I’m pleased to announce that we’re proposing to expand hunting and fishing opportunities on 13 national wildlife refuges across the United States. This will include sportfishing and hunting for migratory birds, upland game, and big game. Right here in Colorado, we’re proposing elk hunting for the first time in designated areas of Baca National Wildlife Refuge, as well as in expanded areas of Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.

Expanded relevance. Less dysfunction. More ambition and creativity. Those are the keys to success, and we have to start today. Most of all, we have to act together and focus on the core values that unite us, not the comparatively trivial matters that tend to divide us as a conservation community.

None of this is easy. It requires us to leave our comfort zones and take risks. But nothing great was ever accomplished by playing it safe, or accepting the status quo.

Thank you for listening.

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June 23, 2016

NOW LIVE: ONLINE HUB FOR WESTERN PUSHBACK AGAINST STATE TAKEOVER OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS

News for Immediate Release

Jun. 23, 2016

Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

One-stop shop for statements of opposition from local leaders in nine Western states and the seminal petition against public land transfer, with more than 28,000 signatures

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Sportsmensaccess.org, the online hub where hunters and anglers can take action against the transfer or sale of federal public lands to individual states, has been updated with new resources on the would-be impacts of transfer and highlights meaningful opposition to the idea that has sprung up across nine Western states.

The homepage now leads off with the Sportsmen’s Access petition and a new video, narrated by hunting TV host and public lands evangelist Randy Newberg, which scrubs out the myths about proposed state management of public lands. “It doesn’t matter how many promises are made, the financial realities would force states to sell off our public lands,” says Newberg. “There goes access to hunting, fishing, camping, and our way of life.”

Sportsmen, Westerners, and the media will also find the real facts on what state takeover of public lands would look like in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, andWyoming. Each state page contains a link to download a fact sheet, plus an exhaustive list of public statements of opposition from elected officials, local leaders, and the 115 organizations that stand with sportsmen. An infographic about the threats to multiple use of our public lands, a mandate that keeps fish and wildlife on the landscape, is also available for download.

This week, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership will deliver the Sportsmen’s Access petition, which recently broke 28,000 signatures, to surrogates representing presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton at a media event in Fort Collins, Colo. As part of a forum with journalists covering hunting, fishing, and the environment, Donald Trump, Jr., will talk about his father’s conservation priorities, and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) will address Clinton’s policy goals for issues important to sportsmen.

“America’s hunters and anglers need more champions in Washington and statehouses across the country—lawmakers who understand that access to public lands where fish and wildlife can thrive is fundamental to our sports, our heritage, and the outdoor recreation businesses that create jobs and prosperity in local communities,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP. “But, beyond that, we need our elected officials to recognize that sportsmen see state takeover of our national public lands, and our inevitable loss of access, as a cold-dead-hands issue. This stack of pages containing the names of 28,000 Americans opposed to this bad idea should serve as a visual reminder.”

Sportsmen have rallied against the transfer or sale of public lands since January 2015, and public outcry has grown since the takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon earlier this year. State legislatures in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming rejected land grab proposals in 2016, yet the House Natural Resources Committee, in a move that’s out of touch with Westerners and sportsmen, voted last week to advance two bills on land transfer for a floor vote.

To learn more about the latest movement on these and other bills that threaten access for hunting and fishing, visit sportsmensaccess.org.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

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