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September 15, 2016

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Six Out-Of-Office Replies That’ll Make You Proud to Be a Sportsman

When we’re not working tirelessly to protect our country’s hunting and fishing heritage, we’re outside enjoying it, so leave a message

For the next few months, you can expect to get a lot of automated out-of-office replies from folks who love to hunt and fish. And, while we never stop working to guarantee all Americans quality places to pursue these sports, TRCP staffers definitely take the time to get outside and enjoy the season when we can.

We like to have a bit of fun, while we’re at it. Here are the real and embellished email replies you’ll get from some of us this fall, complete with shout-outs to our favorite spots and critters. Our time out there inspires what we do for conservation, and it might just inspire a little envy for those of you stuck at your computers.

Spot and Stalk

Coo, Hiss

 Free Relationship Advice, Anyone?

Unicorns and Daydreams

Steak Out

Why We Do This

TRCP’s director of Western Lands. Image courtesy of Joel Webster.

 

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Everglades Restoration and Fish Habitat Get a Boost in Senate Water Projects Bill

Major water projects legislation authorizes Everglades restoration, using wetlands as infrastructure, and improving habitat connectivity

The U.S. Senate has passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), which contains provisions to benefit fish and wildlife habitat and water quality in some of America’s most iconic places. The bipartisan bill would authorize more than $10 billion in water projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 18 states.

Notably, the legislation authorizes $1.9 billion for restoration projects in the Everglades, where critical steps for restoring natural flows and removing pollutants must be fast-tracked to reverse algae blooms and other conditions devastating South Florida’s fisheries.

Image courtesy of Daniel Hartwig/Flickr.

“We are delighted to see key Everglades restoration projects advancing in the Water Resources Development Act,” says Dawn Shirreffs, senior Everglades policy advisor for the Everglades Foundation. “Authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project is critical to removing barriers and restoring Everglades water flow, which can bring 67 billion gallons of water to improve habitat in Florida Bay. This is particularly important for spotted seatrout and snook, but also helps prevent future seagrass die-offs that affect the entire fishery.”

The Senate version of the bill also contains a provision that would emphasize the use of nature-based infrastructure, like wetlands, dunes, and reefs, over new man-made structures. Natural infrastructure provides for sustainable and cost-effective means of reducing flood and storm damage, improving water quality, and protecting vital fish and wildlife habitat in the process.

“As we’ve learned from recent storms and floods, nature is often our first and most effective line of defense against such natural disasters,” says Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy’s managing director for public policy. “The projects and policies included in this WRDA emphasize the important role nature can play to help meet the needs of people, communities, and public safety.”

More than a dozen groups—including the American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, B.A.S.S., Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership—have been calling on Congress for support for “water resource development projects that consider natural and nature-based features” since June 2016.

The Senate version of WRDA also contains language to ensure that enhancing and sustaining fish and wildlife habitat connectivity is a robust part of the Army Corp’s mitigation planning process.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reported out their version of the 2016 WRDA reauthorization, but the bill has not yet come to the House floor for final passage. The House bill does not currently contain funding for Everglades restoration or a push for natural infrastructure, but once passed, the process of reconciling the Senate and House bills can begin.

“With the clock ticking down to the end of the 114th Congress, the Water Resources Development Act remains amongst TRCP’s highest conservation priorities,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “With expiration of the current law set for 2017, it is critical for this Congress to send a WRDA bill to the president, so that we don’t have to start this process over again next year. Today’s action by the Senate, on a bill with many benefits for fish and wildlife habitat, is a great first step. Now, the House must act expeditiously.”

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September 14, 2016

Working Toward Conservation Solutions After Election Day

Fringe views on land management can’t distract from the real work that must be done as a new administration enters the White House

At the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, we do not engage in elections other than to make sure that voters understand where the candidates stand on major conservation and access issues. This is why we hosted a forum, moderated by Field & Stream, at our Western Media Summit, where surrogates for the Trump and Clinton campaigns had an hour to discuss their priorities and take questions from the sporting and mainstream media. (Watch the unedited footage of these Q&As with Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Mike Thompson.)

America’s sportsmen and women tend to be fairly mainstream. We care about lands and waters and want America’s conservation legacy to endure for future generations. But we use these lands and choose to pursue some of the critters we work so hard to conserve. Sometimes we even kill and eat those critters. And we’re proud of the fact that our dollars and volunteer efforts have made America’s fish and wildlife some of the healthiest and best-managed populations of species in any industrialized nation in the world.

We have been critical of some right-wing politicians and their enablers in industry who would sell off the nation’s remarkable public lands, which provide the foundation for hunting and fishing in America. But there are times when the left fringe can be equally ideological and out of touch.

Image courtesy of Tami A. Heilemann/Dept. of Interior.

Take the reaction to Secretary Clinton’s announcement that former Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar would oversee her transition team, if she is elected president. The announcement was greeted by most as a sensible and strong choice, but not from many on the left, who described the pick as a sell-out to corporate America. One blogger posted that Salazar’s selection meant “…the oil and gas industry just hit a political gusher.”

We worked closely with Ken Salazar when he was Secretary of the Interior from 2009 until 2013. During this time, he initiated major reforms in oil and gas drilling on federal lands, known as “master lease planning,” to ensure that new development would only occur in the right places at the right times, without impacting sensitive lands and species. He blocked oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, home of the world’s largest salmon runs, and launched a major process to develop solar energy zones on public lands as a way to address a warming climate. These and other actions were largely criticized by the oil and gas industry.

Ken Salazar is a fifth-generation rancher from Colorado who loves the land and understands that it can and must support multiple uses. This is not just true for agricultural lands in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, but also for America’s 640 million acres of public lands. Some areas are national parks or wilderness areas. Others should be managed for wildlife and others for grazing, timber, or energy production. This is how it is supposed to work.

But for extremists on both sides, this is not the way they want it to work.

At the TRCP, we will work with whichever candidate is elected. If Secretary Clinton is elected, I know we can work with Ken Salazar, because we have done so in the past, and we understand his commitment to well-managed public lands and, more broadly, America’s conservation legacy. It is safe to say that we will not get everything we want, but that is not our definition of success.

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September 13, 2016

A Conservation Convert Goes Back to School

Our summer intern leaves for the fall semester with a newfound appreciation for habitat conservation, sportsmen’s access, and the outdoor recreation economy

Image courtesy of Shannon Fagan.

After a summer interning for the TRCP in Washington, D.C., I’m headed back to school with a whole new perspective on conservation policy, Congress, and the role of sportsmen. So, for my final blog, I’d like to share a little bit of what I learned about the TRCP and what they do for sportsmen and women across the country.

From day one, I was surprised by the range of issues that impact our ability to hunt and fish. For example, at first glance, the Farm Bill might not seem that important to sportsmen, but I learned that this giant bill encompasses many provisions that affect wildlife. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), in particular, helps establish and conserve habitat for quail, pheasants, waterfowl, whitetails, and countless other critters that are important to sportsmen. For you anglers out there, CRP also helps protect 170,000 stream miles through riparian buffers, which keep pollutants from reaching the water.

I was surprised that despite support from farmers, sportsmen, and both sides of the aisle, eligible CRP acreage has been shrinking, which means less habitat benefits for fish and wildlife. Not only did I see firsthand how the TRCP engaged in discussion with partners about how to protect the program, but I also got to sit courtside as we launched a #CRPWorks petition to urge lawmakers to build a better CRP in the next Farm Bill.

Because of the TRCP’s Sportsmen’s Access campaign and website, I learned a lot about the ongoing threats to America’s public lands, as well. I grew up on the east coast and I go to college in the Midwest, where folks are not as aware of talk about transferring public land to states, despite some local governments’ history of selling or closing off land to recreation.  At the TRCP, I gained valuable perspective on this issue from the Western field representatives, who live and work in the communities that would directly feel the impacts of these proposed policies, and the government relations team in D.C., who do their best to share this local sportsmen’s perspective with members of Congress.

I understand now that my name on a petition does make a difference, and when a stack of names—like the more than 32,000 on TRCP’s petition opposing public land transfer—appears on the desk of your Congressmen, it’s hard to ignore. I’m grateful that groups like the TRCP won’t let lawmakers forget that they aren’t standing with their constituents who hunt and fish if they support or vote for land transfer.

I’ve also learned that sometimes the provisions that aren’t included in legislation are just as important to sportsmen as the provisions that are. For example, the TRCP staff has spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep language that would effectively halt federal conservation plans to restore and protect greater sage-grouse habitat out of the National Defense Authorization Act. And, in a big win for public lands this May, lawmakers blocked a proposal to transfer the popular Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to the commonwealth of Puerto Rico for debt relief, a move that would have set a harmful precedent of privatizing public lands that are crucial to outdoor recreation.

Overall, I had an amazing summer here at the TRCP. I learned a ton about federal policy, habitat conservation, the outdoor recreation economy, and how they are interconnected. It’s been great to work with a dedicated staff that is also intelligent and incredibly kind. I came to D.C. as an outdoor enthusiast, and I’m leaving as a well-informed conservation advocate, ready to take action and support the ambitious community of conservation partners I’ve come to admire over the past few months. I look forward to seeing all the great things to come for conservation!

Shannon Fagan was the TRCP summer intern through the Demmer Scholar Program. She is now in her senior year at Michigan State University where she is majoring in Social Relations and Policy and minoring in Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy.

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.

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