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August 15, 2016

ARIZONA SPORTSMEN IDENTIFY MOST VALUED HUNTING AND FISHING DESTINATIONS IN THE STATE

News for Immediate Release

Aug. 15, 2016

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

New visual data will help sportsmen, plus state and federal agencies, prioritize the conservation needs of Arizona’s favorite hunting and fishing areas

PHOENIX, Ariz. — When it comes to telling others about their “secret” spots, hunters and anglers are famous for holding their cards close to their game vests and wading jackets. Yet, more than 1,200 Arizona sportsmen have willingly tipped their hands to identify their favorite destinations on a map. It’s all part of a national initiative to conserve fish and wildlife habitat while protecting and improving public access for hunting and angling.

The statewide effort was recently completed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), in cooperation with Arizona sportsmen’s groups. Maps from the Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project are now available to the public, as well as state and federal agencies.

“Some of the most valued public hunting and fishing areas in Arizona are at risk because of deteriorating habitat conditions, limited access and increased development pressures,” said John Hamill, TRCP’s field representative in Arizona. “With the help of sportsmen, we’ve been able to pinpoint lands that are cherished for their hunting and fishing values, so that land managers can prioritize habitat conservation and the enhancement of public access in these areas.”

Maps for 15 species or species groups—including elk, mule deer, whitetails, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, turkeys, quail, doves, waterfowl, predators, and fish—are now available on the department’s website. One each map, the most highly valued areas are in red and orange, moderately high-valued areas are in yellow, and less highly valued areas are in green. The maps allow the user to view, pan, and zoom in or out to explore the most highly valued hunting and angling locations in Arizona. The species are also ranked for popularity based on the survey responses.

While the maps will be useful to sportsmen, they were largely developed to guide conservation efforts. The maps have been assembled in a geographic information system (GIS), where they can be overlaid with maps of critical habitat, land ownership, and other data.

The resulting maps will provide important and previously unavailable data to state and federal agencies for the following purposes:

– To balance other land uses with the needs of fish, wildlife, hunters and anglers.
– To identify areas where public access needs to be maintained or improved.
– To identify areas needing stronger conservation efforts, or expansion of hunting and angling opportunities.
– To identify key high-use areas warranting special conservation strategies, because of their value to sportsmen.
– To justify actions and funding requests aimed at conserving highly valued wildlife habitat, and hunting and fishing areas.

Last fall, a random sampling of 7,500 Arizona hunting and fishing license holders were mailed a postcard inviting them to participate in the survey. Those who received a postcard were directed to a specially designed website where they could highlight on a map their most valued hunting and fishing destinations. The survey also included questions about why sportsmen identified a particular area as being important.  The most highly valued areas are typically those that offer the greatest chance of harvesting game, contain trophy-size game or fish, are closest to home, or have traditionally been the area that sportsman or family has hunted or fished. The results demonstrate the importance of maintaining quality fish and wildlife habitat and providing readily available public access for hunting and angling.

The Sportsmen’s Values Mapping Project is a national initiative that was launched in 2007 by the TRCP. The project has been endorsed by the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, an alliance of more than two dozen Arizona sportsmen’s groups.

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.

August 2, 2016

NOAA FISHERIES RELEASES FISHERIES ALLOCATION POLICY

News for Immediate Release

Aug. 02, 2016

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

Recreational fishing community still sees the need for legislative action to require allocation reviews

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to decades of criticism over not examining how the nation’s public marine fisheries resources are divided among fishing stakeholders, NOAA Fisheries released a Fisheries Allocation Review Policy that describes potential criteria for reviewing fisheries allocations. The recreational fishing and boating community expressed appreciation for this long-awaited recognition of the need to have an allocation policy, but also concern about the lack of firm commitments and timelines for initiating allocation reviews.

“We recognize and appreciate that allocation reviews are inherently difficult, but these decisions are too important for managers to continue dragging their feet,” said Mike Leonard, Ocean Resource Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association. “While the Fisheries Allocation Review Policy represents an important acknowledgement from NOAA Fisheries of the long overdue need to address allocations, the amount of indecision in the policy leaves us questioning whether any meaningful action will result from it.”

In most federally managed fisheries that are targeted by both recreational and commercial fishermen, the formula used for dividing the quota between the two sectors was determined decades ago based on historic catch. Many in the recreational fishing community contend that these decisions need to be updated based on modern criteria that take into account the economic, social and conservation benefits the sectors provide to the nation.

The Fisheries Allocation Review Policy provides guidance to the Regional Fishery Management Councils on when to revisit allocations and what factors they might consider when making allocation decisions. Within the next three years, or as soon as “practicable,” the Councils are responsible for determining what triggers would prompt a review of specific fishery allocations.

“In many ways, this policy tells us what we already knew: that allocation decisions are controversial and that federal fisheries managers will come up with all sorts of reasons to avoid having to review them,” said Ted Venker, Conservation Director for the Coastal Conservation Association. “While we appreciate that NOAA Fisheries took the initiative to develop this policy, it unfortunately provides a litany of excuses for why not to review allocations, with only minimal recognition of the potential benefits that reallocations could provide to the nation. This reinforces to us the need for legislative action to require legitimate allocation reviews.”

One of the recommendations of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission named after co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats, was to require an objective process and regular time intervals for reviewing allocations.

A provision to require allocation reviews in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico that was championed by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was included in a bill that passed the House of Representatives last year to reauthorize the nation’s federal fisheries management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Similar language was also included in Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) Florida Fisheries Improvement Act, which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last year. However, neither of these bills have been signed into law at this time.

“Based on the significant progress made in recent years in ending overfishing, often with harsh impacts on fishing stakeholders, it’s clear that federal fisheries managers can achieve certain goals when sufficiently motivated,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “We are grateful that many in Congress have recognized the need to provide the necessary motivation on reviewing allocations, and we’ll continue to push for Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization to address this and other challenges for saltwater recreational fishing created by the current federal fisheries management system.”

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.

July 26, 2016

IDAHO’S TETON COUNTY OPPOSES TRANSFER OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS TO THE STATE

News for Immediate Release

Jul. 26, 2016

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

County commissioners pass resolution supporting sportsmen’s access and outdoor recreation spending

DRIGGS, Idaho – After hearing support for continued federal management of public lands from a dozen residents yesterday, the Teton County Board of Commissioners voted to formally oppose efforts to transfer America’s public lands to the state of Idaho or local governments. A growing number of counties in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona have recently done the same.

Teton County Commission Chairman Bill Leake said yesterday’s resolution highlights the value of public lands to county residents. “The Board of County Commissioners strongly supports federal ownership and management of public lands in Teton County and the incredible value of federal lands bring to our county’s economy, recreation, heritage, and quality of life,” Leake said, quoting from the resolution.

County Commissioner Cindy Riegel added that public lands are “a huge part of our lives, our economic health.” And that theme was reinforced by Teton County residents who spoke about the state’s inability to pay the bills for the federal public lands we all love.

“We are all supported in some way by our public lands,” said fly fishing industry leader Robert Parkins, who has lived in the valley for more than a decade and is a board member with theAmerican Fly Fishing Trade Association.

“Public lands are a key driver to our local economy,” said Jeff Klausmann, who owns Intermountain Aquatics, an environmental consulting business based in Driggs. “Hunting, fishing, bird watching, hiking, and biking attracts locals and tourists alike. The benefits to service-oriented businesses are obvious, but these lands also help anchor natural-resource-based businesses like ours through subcontracts for land management services and supplies.”

“Public lands are our economic future,” said conservationist Shawn Hill, executive of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development. “Teton County is part of a growing network of counties in the West that are pushing to protect public lands. We applaud that.”

The county’s resolution recognizes the importance of public lands for:
• Providing fish and wildlife with habitat, while offering opportunities for outdoor recreation—including hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife-watching, horseback riding, and bicycling—that is essential to residents’ quality of life.
• Attracting outdoor recreation tourism that drives local spending and employs hundreds of county residents.
• Preserving historically significant and irreplaceable cultural sites and landscapes.

Public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service comprise 62 percent of Idaho and 33 percent of Teton County. These areas are cherished for their top-notch fisheries, beautiful open landscapes, and exceptional wildlife habitat, says Joel Webster, Western lands director at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We applaud Teton County for taking this stand,” says Webster. “We also look forward to working with county leadership across the West to continue building a strong base of support for America’s public lands and our access to hunting and fishing.”

To learn more about county opposition to the sale or seizure of America’s public lands, or to take action, 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.

July 13, 2016

RECREATIONAL ANGLING GROUPS CALL FOR INNOVATIVE NEW APPROACHES TO MARINE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

News for Immediate Release

Jul. 13, 2016

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

Collaborators reveal the findings from a series of workshops on alternative solutions for federal fisheries

ORLANDO, Fla. — Today at ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, recreational fishing and conservation group leaders revealed the preliminary findings from a series of collaborative workshops on alternative approaches to federal fisheries management.

The same broad coalition behind the 2014 landmark report on recreational fisheries managementworked closely with NOAA Fisheries, state game and fish managers, biologists, and researchers to identify ways to revise the current approach. Right now, federal fisheries managers set catch limits for both commercial and recreational sectors in a way that undervalues recreational fishermen and their $70-billion contribution to America’s economy. Innovative new solutions could give anglers more predictable seasons, boost conservation, and improve local economies in coastal communities and beyond.

“Although recreational anglers only catch two percent of the total fish harvested in U.S. waters, we create almost as many jobs as the commercial fishing industry”—455,000 jobs, in fact, said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association, the trade group that produces the ICAST conference and events. This year’s is their biggest show yet, with 13,000 attendees walking a 650,000-square-foot showroom packed with close to 600 exhibitors—a perfect backdrop for a discussion of new ideas.

The first workshop, facilitated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Tampa this May, was geared towards identifying where existing federal fisheries management approaches fail to adequately accommodate the unique nature of recreational fisheries and specific ways to address these issues. The group discussed alternatives that are rooted in existing management practices currently used for fish and waterfowl at the state level, such as:

– Managing for a harvest rate, rather than a quota that must be tracked in real time.
– Spatial management, or allowing fishing out to certain depths or distances from shore, while making deeper waters off-limits to recreational harvest so brood stock can replenish.
– Looking at temporary and long-term allocation shifts between the recreational and commercial sectors, which might include shifting some species from recreational to commercial allocation and others from commercial to recreational.
– Developing new programs to gather better recreational harvest data or take advantage of existing voluntary harvest data.
– Reducing release mortality with new technology or better education on existing tools.

These initial conclusions were presented to congressional staff and representatives of the environmental community at a second workshop this June in Washington D.C. The group also discussed the potential legislative and regulatory changes needed to achieve these possible alternatives. Some solutions possibly require changes to the existing federal fisheries law, but others could be addressed through collaboration with NOAA Fisheries.

“When the Magnuson-Stevens Act was written 40 years ago, recreational fishing was an afterthought in the statute, and it is unlikely that this Congress will get around to discussing reauthorization,” a process that might allow for beneficial updates, said Jeff Angers, president of theCenter for Coastal Conservation. “But we’ve found friends at NOAA who are trying to help. There are things that can be done by an agency that’s willing to look at things a little differently.”

Russ Dunn, the national policy advisor on recreational fisheries at NOAA, for one, says that the agency is currently addressing each of the six recommendations from the coalition’s 2014 report. “It’s undeniable that NOAA Fisheries is more receptive to recreational fishing now than any other time in its history,” he said.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and its sportfishing partners are committed to working within each region and with each fisheries council to determine ways to implement new innovative approaches to federal fisheries management, and they’re calling for collaborative effort from state partners and the public. “Using a commercial fishing paradigm to manage recreational fisheries is holding back our economy, and the nasty fights on issues like red snapper keep anglers from engaging on critical national conservation fights, like state takeover of our federal public lands,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. “With NOAA’s renewed commitment to recreational anglers, there’s a lot we can do.”

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.

July 6, 2016

COUNTY OFFICIALS SUPPORT PROPOSED CHANGES IN BLM’S ‘PLANNING 2.0’

News for Immediate Release

Jul. 06, 2016

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

Western county commissioners and supervisors go on-record supporting the BLM’s land-use planning update after seeing pilot programs in action

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Top county officials from Montana, Colorado, and California say the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed Planning 2.0 rule, which would update how the agency revises land-use plans in the West, will provide additional opportunities for public involvement earlier in the planning process and result in Resource Management Plans (RMPs) that better reflect the diverse needs of county citizens. They sent letters of support for Planning 2.0 to BLM Director Neil Kornze ahead of a House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing on the rule.

The county commissioners and supervisors hail from the three BLM planning areas where the agency is piloting Planning 2.0 measures. The three early adopter land-use plans are the Missoula Resource Management Plan, the Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan, and the Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan.

“We’re seeing that, in places where Planning 2.0 improvements have already been rolled out, there is support from elected officials and the public,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These are the people who will benefit from having more input on land management decisions and enjoy better hunting, fishing, and outdoor experiences because of it. After two oversight hearings in the House and one in the Senate, we hope this is finally made clear.”

The Board of County Commissioners for Missoula County, Mont., wrote to commend the BLM for its efforts to better address the diverse interests in their county and communities across the West. “The proposed rules continue to provide for coordination with state and local representatives” and “early public involvement will help resolve conflicts and produce a Resource Management Plan that better reflects the needs of our citizens as well as others who use public lands and have a stake in their future,” they wrote.

Similarly, Mike Brazell, chairman of the Board of Commissioners for Park County, Colo., writes that he and his colleagues support, in particular, the provisions that plan for additional public involvement earlier in the planning process, “including the chance to review preliminary resource management alternatives and preliminary rationales for those alternatives.” Writing on behalf of Humboldt County, Calif., supervisors from two districts (here and here) emphasized that encouraging public involvement early and often would be especially important given that the BLM’s Arcata Field Office will be using this more inclusive approach as it revises its existing RMP, which dates back to 1995.

Montana’s Lewis and Clark County, though not an early-adopter plan area, has also written a letter in support of Planning 2.0.

As House lawmakers continue to examine the states’ role in Planning 2.0 tomorrow, nearly 8,000 hunters and anglers have signed a petition and sent letters of support for better BLM land-management tools that prioritize public access, conserve and enhance habitat, and balance energy and other development with the needs of fish and wildlife. More than 500 hunting and fishing businesses, sportsmen’s groups, and wildlife professionals have backed the idea that BLM lands are “Sportsmen’s Country” and should be managed in ways that support sportsmen’s values, including habitat conservation and access.

To learn more, visit sportsmenscountry.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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