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Julia Peebles

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posted in: General

January 18, 2017

Glassing the Hill: January 17 – 20

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

Administration picks continue to be put to the test before lawmakers. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a confirmation hearing on Congressman Zinke’s (R-Mont.) possible role as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. On Tuesday, Rep. Zinke, who is perhaps the least controversial pick among President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees, answered questions on federal public land transfer, coal programs, energy extraction on public lands, funding for land management agencies, and other conservation issues.

The following day, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, who will testify and answer questions about his agenda as the next administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

We’re still watching out for President-elect Trump’s pick for secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has yet to be announced.

Budget resolutions were filed, indicating lawmaker priorities. Last week, the Senate and House passed the Fiscal Year 2017 budget resolution by the skin of its teeth, with a 51-48 vote, mostly as a legislative vehicle for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. While budget resolutions are non-binding, they are taken into account when lawmakers sit down to draft the real deal.

We can also look to natural resources amendments, which were filed but not considered on the Senate floor last week, to predict what will be submitted for the next year’s budget resolution. The FY18 resolution will likely be much more relevant to conservation policy, and we expect it to be introduced in the Senate and House by the end of February.

Another forecast: The Clean Water Rule could be withdrawn. In order to clarify the jurisdiction of headwater streams and wetlands, Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced a non-binding resolution that would express Senate support for the withdrawal of the Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule.

To cap the week, Washington, D.C. is expecting an influx of visitors for the presidential inauguration. President-elect Trump will be sworn into office on Friday, January 20.

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Jonathan Stumpf

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posted in: General

January 10, 2017

All the New Features of TRCP’s Revamped Website

It’s a new year and a new chapter in Washington, and we’re geared up to tackle the future of conservation with a completely redesigned trcp.org.

With our new look, we’ll continue to bring you up to speed on the conservation issues that matter to you, but it’ll be a lot more fun. Here’s what to expect:

  • Total access, no squinting. No matter where you are, you’ll now be able to enjoy our content, take action, or make a donation comfortably from any of your devices.
  • All our content under one roof. Now, there’s just one destination for our latest news and blog posts.
  • Personalized reading lists. If you’re interested in a topic, we’ll serve up a “playlist” of posts that you might be into.
  • A deeper dive on the issues. Conservation is a complex topic, but what we care about boils down to this: We need habitat and clean water, plenty of access to hunting and fishing spots, and support for conservation funding and outdoor recreation businesses. Explore the legislation and management challenges related to these essential fights, and we’ll always give you at least one opportunity to take action and make a difference.
  • Inspiration from T.R. himself. We put some of Theodore Roosevelt’s best quotes about conservation front and center on the homepage to remind us of the legacy we’re here to uphold.

We hope our fresh design will make it easier for you stay in-the-know and engaged on the front lines of conservation. Let us know what you think of our makeover by emailing info@trcp.org. We’d love to hear from you.





Julia Peebles

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posted in: General

January 9, 2017

Glassing the Hill: January 9 – 13

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

Last week was the kick-off of the 115th Congress. Here’s what you may have missed:

Public lands were threatened on the first day. A provision was included in the House rules package that would allow the Congressional Budget Office to not consider the lost revenues from transferring public lands, potentially easing the path forward for transfer. The package passed the House on party lines.

Efforts were made to eliminate recent regulations during the first week. The House quickly passed two bills which aim to facilitate the removal of rules that were made in the final days of the Obama administration. “The Midnight Rules Relief Act” would allow a single joint resolution by lawmakers to disapprove multiple rules finalized in the administration’s final days, and “The Regulations from Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act” (REINS Act) would require congressional approval for any federal rule that would impact the economy with costs that exceed $100 million. The Senate introduced their own versions of these bills as well: S. 34 and S. 21.

Another way to undo previous rules might be used to weaken water protections. As Obama-era regulations continue to be a major focus of the new Congress, it seems likely that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) may be utilized to stop the most highly controversial rules. The CRA would allow Congress to consider stopping rules that were introduced after May 16, 2016 with only a simple majority. One rule the Republican leadership would like to see blocked first is the Stream Protection Rule, which would limit regulations for coal mining near waterways. The House is expected to begin considering rules under the CRA as early as January 30.

The national monument designation process is also under scrutiny. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and 25 Senate Republicans introduced “The Improved National Monument Designation Process Act,” which would require congressional approval, state legislature and local support, and a certification of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act before national monuments and marine monuments can be declared by the president.

This is what we’re scoping this week:

We’ll be watching 2017 budget discussions for provisions that affect habitat and access. To this point, 21 amendments have been filed to the Senate Budget Resolution, with many more expected. The Senate is expected to be voting on budget-related amendments for the majority of this week, including a likely “vote-a-rama,” during which many votes will be stacked one after the other into a late-night voting session. Amendments must be written in a way that makes them germane to the budget, but can cover a wide range of policy issues.

The process of confirming Trump’s cabinet might begin this week with testimonies in nominees’ respective Senate committees. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, attended meetings with Republicans and Democrats last week in advance of confirmation hearings that will be announced soon. Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Trump’s Interior Secretary nominee, will be meeting with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members this week in advance of a confirmation hearing that Chairwoman Murkowski pledged will happen before the inaugural ceremonies on Jan 20.

Julia Peebles

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posted in: General

January 5, 2017

Ending 2016 with a Bang—Literally

A holiday mixed-bag hunt results in the proud harvest of a first deer and some much-needed inspiration

Back in December, when our lawmakers were ultimately unable to pass many critical provisions for sportsmen and wildlife that have seen bipartisan support in multiple congresses, I was disheartened about the future for hunting and fishing. As a government relations representative for the TRCP, I sit in many meetings with Congressional staff, advocating for policy that would improve sportsmen’s access, fund essential restoration projects, and support the outdoor industry economy. With lots of highs and lows in the final weeks of the year, I was relieved to get in the car and drive far away from the D.C. politics for the holidays and venture into the great outdoors.

Julia and her husband, Hunter, wait for Belle to fetch a dead chukar. Image courtesy of Julia Peebles.

It only took a few days in the woods of Tennessee and Missouri with a pretty special Christmas gift—a Ruger .243 from my in-laws—to rekindle my spirit for the work we do. I think you’ll see why.

First, we settled into “base camp”—a cabin my father-in-law built with his own two hands outside Only, Tenn.—and geared up to hunt chukars. These were pen-raised birds my father brought down from a hunting preserve in Indiana—it’s rare to find wild chukars and quail in the region due to the decline in ground cover habitat these birds need to survive.

I grew up hunting upland birds, and quickly settled into a rhythm with my English setter, Belle, as she followed the scent of chukars. We ended the hunt with six out of eight chukars that were ready to be plucked and eaten for our New Year’s Eve dinner.

Later that afternoon, I changed into my camo and quickly switched out my shotgun for my new rifle to sit in a deer stand until sunset. I sat only two crop fields away from where we’d spent the morning with the bird dogs, and though no deer appeared, it occurred to me how fortunate I was to have this special place all to myself.

The next morning, my husband, Hunter, his father, Paul, and my dad, Mike, drove about three hours to private land near Hornersville, Mo., where Paul shares the lease with 12 buddies to have access to excellent waterfowl hunting and keep costs down. It’s pretty typical for this region. The majority of cars on the road with us were from out of state and loaded down with trailers. Many local hotels were full of out-of-town cars, too. It was easy to see that duck hunting was the draw that kept these local businesses humming at this time of year.

Julia’s first whitetail will provide about 30 pounds of venison for the winter. Image courtesy of Julia Peebles.

Once we reached our destination, we walked to the middle of a flooded rice field in our waders and climbed into a dugout ditch. This was technically my first time in a duck blind. I’d only ever hid in the brush along the river before. After four hours, we didn’t get any ducks into shooting range, but we made plenty of jokes while we waited.

Back at the cabin, on the last day of 2016, I woke up early to make my way to a deer stand that Paul had picked out for me. It was raining and foggy, and I climbed up in the box stand a bit later than I’d planned, burrowing into my oversized clothes to keep warm. Growing frustrated with the lack of deer, I propped up my legs and leaned back to play Sudoku on my phone, allowing an hour to pass. I finally texted Paul to say that I’d head back to base camp within 15 minutes. At three minutes before eight o’clock, I sat up to gather my things and was surprised to see three does feeding on turnip greens in the field below. I slowly got into shooting position. One of the whitetails heard me and began trotting away, but I had my eye on another larger doe. I clicked the safety off, aimed for the heart, and BANG, the doe jumped, and then fell 10 yards away. The adrenaline set in and my hands were shaking uncontrollably to the point where I could barely text Paul to come help me field dress my very first deer.

It was the perfect end to my year—being at ease scanning for chukars, sitting in my first duck blind, and packing up 30 pounds of venison harvested from my first doe. These experiences reminded me how fortunate I am to have access to private lands where I can hunt three different critters in one weekend, and family alongside me to enjoy these traditions. Hunting over the holidays revitalized my passion for the issues we fight for here at TRCP and made a lot of the policies I read and think about much more personal to me.

As for the chukars we lost and the ducks we never saw, there’s always next season. Stories like mine need to be told to Congressional staff. I’m taking my refreshed state-of-mind into 2017 and the 115th Congress, where I plan to make sure our decision-makers understand the value of our days afield.

 

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December 27, 2016

What We Bagged in 2016

Here’s to another year of chasing critters, filling freezers, and spending days afield with the family, friends, and pups that we cherish

With the new year quickly approaching, it’s time to reflect. The past 12 months were a mixed bag on the conservation policy front—with some exciting wins and a fair share of disappointments—but our staff still managed to get out and enjoy our hunting and fishing heritage.

Here are some of the stories and memories from 2016 that make all of the hard work worth it.

Ed Arnett, senior scientist

This year marks the 14th hunting season for my chocolate Lab, Sage, pictured here with one of my other Labs, Roux, and a limit of Nebraska pheasants—taken on publicly accessible private lands through Nebraska’s Walk-in Hunting Program. These days, Sage can only go on what I call my “high-grade hunts”—short walks in really good-looking habitat that more often than not produces some birds. On this day, Sage put up a rooster from its bed and made about a 60-yard retrieve after I dropped the bird on the second shot.

 

Chris Macaluso, Center for Marine Fisheries director

Over Thanksgiving week, I had the chance to take my four-year-old son, Hank, and my dad, Joe, fishing over in the marshes and canals east of New Orleans. Hank had been asking me to take him to catch a redfish for months and we finally got the chance. We caught speckled trout all day and finally, at our last stop, I hooked this 25-pound red. Hank got to help me fight it and he jumped up and down when we landed the fish. He couldn’t get over the fact that we had just caught a fish almost as big as him. This instantly became my favorite fishing trip of all time.

 

 

Nick Dobric, Wyoming field representative

This year, I helped two of my buddies each get their first elk—a rewarding experience for all of us. Then, after an amazing archery season chasing bugling elk but never getting a shot, I was fortunate to find an elk on my first morning out with a rifle. The first evening after backpacking into some wild country, I glassed a herd dropping over a pass and into my drainage. At first light the following morning, I was up on the ridge where I expected them to be and started hearing some bugles. Then I watched a cow pop out of the trees, and a big six-by-six shortly followed. I never had a good shot so I was just about to go put a stalk on him when this smaller bull popped out and started grazing broadside, and well within my range. I couldn’t pass him up.

 

Ed Tamson, Florida field representative

Yes, Florida water quality and Everglades restoration are ongoing challenges. Yet in spite of these stressors, it’s still possible to catch some backcountry red fish and snook. It’s a great motivator!

 

Kevin Farron, Western field associate

With a cow elk and a few limits of blue grouse in the freezer, my first fall in Montana has been rewarding. But more often than not, my reward for a day spent hunting is nothing more than a tired puppy. On this single-digit December day, Leo and I tried our luck for pheasants, something we’ve never hunted, and we were skunked. With the near-endless miles of Montana public lands to hide in, we had to tip our hats to the birds for avoiding us that day. But we’ll be back.

 

 

Steve Kline, director of government relations

Earlier this month I had a successful end-of-year reunion, about four minutes from our staff retreat location this past summer, with Chris Macaluso (who works from Louisiana) and former TRCP’er Cyrus Baird.

 

Joel Webster, Center for Western Lands director

Another great elk season on America’s public lands. Conditions were tough, but our party hunted hard and managed to pack four bulls and three bucks into our Montana hunting camp. The freezers are full.

 

 

 

 

 

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