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March 16, 2017

dove hunting near Bismarck, 9.11.13, K McKalip

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Our Work’s Cut Out for Us on Public Lands (and We Like It That Way)

A sandhill crane hunt in New Mexico that wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of scouting and some die-hard devotion to public lands

Hunting sandhill cranes in southern New Mexico is one of the many hunting traditions my buddies and I enjoy every year in this beautiful state. Several years ago on a cold, early January morning, we headed toward the border in the pre-dawn light. As we got closer, we could hear the distinctive call from thousands of sandhill cranes roosting on a playa one quarter of a mile across the border. There was no need to tote silhouette decoys for this hunt thanks to our extensive scouting. My five buddies and I knew where the birds were headed at first light, and we intended to be waiting for them.

Shortly after daylight, our month-long pre-hunt scouting groundwork paid off. A feeding frenzy led the birds right to the cut grain fields directly behind us. They came in steady waves, directly over our heads, so we had plenty of opportunities. The limit is three cranes per hunter per day, and we came just two birds short of limiting out in one morning. The other two fell from the sky that evening.

I’m proud to say that we all went home with more than enough “ribeye in the sky” to justify the expense of the hunt, but the experience would have been worth it either way. Knowing we’d soon taste those juicy strips of grilled crane breast was just a tasty bonus.

This year, we repeated this tradition with another successful hunt in the northwest part of Doña Ana County close to and on the Rio Grande River. The six of us were hunting public lands on a diversion reservoir in Doña Ana County, one of five counties in New Mexico that recently passed official resolutions supporting public lands. Simply put, without our national public lands, hunts like ours would not be possible.

Like a growing number of county commissioners across the West, Doña Ana elected officials chose to recognize the cultural importance and economic benefits of public lands within their county. A total of 26 pro-public-lands resolutions have been passed by county and municipal governments across the West in the past two years. This is part of a major movement to prove the value of national public lands to detractors who would transfer or sell them off forever. The five counties behind resolutions in New Mexico—Doña Ana, Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Taos, and San Miguel counties—represent one million residents, or nearly half the state’s population, whose lives are improved by the proximity to public lands.

My friends and I were lucky enough to draw coveted permits for the blink-of-an-eye sandhill crane season, just two days long in the southwest portion of the state, and take full advantage of the public lands we love. That includes plenty of pre-season scouting if you hope to be in the action on opening day. Cranes have keen senses and once an area is hunted they usually don’t return to give you a second chance.

When it comes to our public lands, nothing is ever certain. You might get the luck of the draw during tag season, and perhaps a fortunate wind on opening day. But whether we limit out or not, sportsmen and women have to keep doing the work to defend our access and keep public lands well managed. Here’s a good start: Sign the petition at sportsmensaccess.org to let your legislators know that public lands are a critical part of our sporting heritage.

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Slashed Budget Would Cut Conservation Right Where It’s Needed Most

Gutting programs and agency budgets that support healthy fish and wildlife, public access to the outdoors, and our nation’s rich heritage will hurt rural economies

A broad coalition committed to safeguarding the future of our country’s fish and wildlife populations, outdoor recreation opportunities, and national heritage is dismayed at the deep level of cuts recommended by President Trump in an official budget request released today.

If enacted, Trump’s budget proposal would offset a $54-billion boost to defense spending by cutting foreign aid and domestic programs. This includes a proposed 12-percent decrease to the Department of the Interior budget, which is likely to slash resources needed to manage public and private lands, support state management of fish and wildlife, and enact conservation across the country. This would have devastating impacts on the ground for natural resources, historic sites, and the rural American communities that thrive off outdoor recreation and tourism spending.

“Gutting the programs and agency funding that helps conserve fish and wildlife and our sporting traditions is no way to support the rural and local economies that need outdoor recreation dollars most,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a lead group in the coalition known as America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation, and Preservation. “Ignoring the real benefits of investing in conservation will erode the foundation of hunting and fishing—public access and quality places to pursue our traditions.”

Trump’s budget could also shrink the federal workforce by the largest margin since World War II. “Outdoor recreation businesses drive spending and sign paychecks in rural communities, but they certainly couldn’t thrive if public lands and waters were closed or left without active management,” says Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “The places where America plays, and the products Americans use in the outdoors, wouldn’t exist without those other made-in-America jobs—those of the federal land managers, park rangers, and biologists who safeguard our lands and waters so we can enjoy them.”

Congress still holds the power of the purse, and hundreds of organizations and businesses are calling on lawmakers to work constructively and collaboratively on a budget that reflects the real value of outdoor recreation opportunities, fish and wildlife habitat, and preservation of America’s rich history. More than 200 AVCRP members sent a letter to Congress and to the White House asking for the strongest possible funding levels to support the conservation of America’s wildlife, fisheries, public lands, cultural resources, and associated economic and recreational benefits.

“Lawmakers should understand that cutting the budget for America’s historic preservation programs will directly affect each state’s bottom line,” says Adam Jones, associate director of government relations for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Slashing federal funding for historic preservation and National Park Service operations will negatively affect heritage tourism, limit states’ abilities to protect their most important historic sites, and blunt the economic benefits of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, which has preserved more than 41,000 buildings, created 2.3 million jobs, and catalyzed $121 billion in community revitalization for Main Streets throughout America.”

AVCRP first joined the federal budget debate in 2011, when sequestration threatened to undo conservation and our country’s outdoor legacy. Learn more about the coalition here.




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AVCRP Coalition: Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts Deepest in Rural America

 

News for Immediate Release
Mar. 16, 2017
Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, kbrady@trcp.org

Gutting programs and agency budgets that support healthy fish and wildlife, public access to the outdoors, and our nation’s rich heritage will hurt rural economies and Main Street U.S.A.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad coalition committed to safeguarding the future of our country’s fish and wildlife populations, outdoor recreation opportunities, and national heritage is dismayed at the deep level of cuts recommended by President Trump in an official budget request released today.

If enacted, Trump’s proposal would offset a $54-billion boost to defense spending by cutting foreign aid and domestic programs. This includes a proposed 12-percent decrease to the Department of the Interior budget, which is likely to slash resources needed to manage public and private lands, support state management of fish and wildlife, and enact conservation across the country. This would have devastating impacts on the ground for natural resources, historic sites, and the rural American communities that thrive off outdoor recreation and tourism spending.

“Gutting the programs and agency funding that helps conserve fish and wildlife and our sporting traditions is no way to support the rural and local economies that need outdoor recreation dollars most,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a lead group in the coalition known as America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation, and Preservation. “Ignoring the real benefits of investing in conservation will erode the foundation of hunting and fishing—public access and quality places to pursue our traditions.”

Trump’s budget could also shrink the federal workforce by the largest margin since World War II. “Outdoor recreation businesses drive spending and sign paychecks in rural communities, but they certainly couldn’t thrive if public lands and waters were closed or left without active management,” says Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “The places where America plays, and the products Americans use in the outdoors, wouldn’t exist without those other made-in-America jobs—those of the federal land managers, park rangers, and biologists who safeguard our lands and waters so we can enjoy them.”

Congress still holds the power of the purse, and hundreds of organizations and businesses are calling on lawmakers to work constructively and collaboratively on a budget that reflects the real value of outdoor recreation opportunities, fish and wildlife habitat, and preservation of America’s rich history. More than 200 AVCRP members sent a letter to Congress and to the White House asking for the strongest possible funding levels to support the conservation of America’s wildlife, fisheries, public lands, cultural resources, and associated economic and recreational benefits.

“Lawmakers should understand that cutting the budget for America’s historic preservation programs will directly affect each state’s bottom line,” says Adam Jones, associate director of government relations for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Slashing federal funding for historic preservation and National Park Service operations will negatively affect heritage tourism, limit states’ abilities to protect their most important historic sites, and blunt the economic benefits of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, which has preserved more than 41,000 buildings, created 2.3 million jobs, and catalyzed $121 billion in community revitalization for Main Streets throughout America.”

AVCRP first joined the federal budget debate in 2011, when sequestration threatened to undo conservation and our country’s outdoor legacy. Learn more about the coalition here.

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March 14, 2017

Three National Wildlife Refuges Nearly Taken Down by Public Land Transfer Advocates

Let’s not take these hunting and fishing havens for granted after 114 years of conservation and public access benefits

Today, the conservation community celebrates the anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System, exactly 114 years after Theodore Roosevelt founded the first refuge to conserve habitat on Pelican Island in 1903. These days, the refuge system is often overlooked, though it is a jewel among the diverse set of public landscapes in America, with 850 million acres in more than 560 wildlife refuges across the country.

The hunting and fishing opportunities provided by refuges have been greatly expanded over the years, but national wildlife refuges get a lot less glory than national parks and forests—or even the BLM lands popular with Western sportsmen. As recently as six months ago, some lawmakers took advantage of this fact and worked to undermine the importance of refuges while setting a dangerous precedent for transferring management authority to the states. This would have meant one foot in the door toward largescale disposal of America’s publicly lands and, along with them, access to the places where we carry out our hunting and fishing traditions.

Here are three less-than-obvious attacks on national wildlife refuges that were ultimately exposed as public land transfer ploys.

The Bundy Standoff
malheur national wildlife refuge
A group of mule deer bucks moves across Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Image courtesy of Barbara Wheeler/USFWS.

Who could forget the early-2016 occupation that kept Americans from accessing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for 41 days? The militants who orchestrated the takeover were armed with disillusions about returning the land back to the locals, while they were really keeping the true owners and guardians of the refuge out. When all was said and done, real conservation was blocked and the refuge was forced to pass millions of dollars in damages on to the American taxpayer.

A False Promise for Puerto Rico
vieques national wildlife refuge
Vieques Beach at Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico. Image courtesy of USFWS.

Last May, lawmakers introduced legislation that would transfer thousands of acres of the popular Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to Puerto Rico as part of a package meant to help with a looming debt crisis. This bill had the potential to set the stage for a fire sale to private interests in order to raise money to pay down debts. But as powerful economic engines that generate jobs and tax revenue, national public lands are part of the economically sustainable future, not part of the problem. Sportsmen objected, and the transfer provision was removed from the legislation.

An Almost East-Coast Blunder
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge on the Massachusetts sea shore. Image courtesy of USFWS.

In a quiet victory, cooler heads prevailed after transfer of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts was offered as a possible legislative solution to an ongoing dispute between the refuge managers and several local elected officials. The very permanent transfer option, which would impact fishing on the refuge and set a precedent for transfer, was ultimately rescinded and other means of resolution were explored. This was a great reminder that, no matter our challenges in managing public lands—and there are many—giving them up entirely is not a workable solution.

Too Valuable to Overlook

Wildlife refuges bring outdoor recreation within reach of major cities or they system promotes hunting- and fishing-driven spending in rural America. As sportsmen and women, we can’t afford to take any of our public lands for granted — celebrate our National Wildlife Refuges on their 114th anniversary today!

Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge.
The author with her dog at Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

Let’s celebrate them this week, as we mark another year of hunting, fishing, and conservation in America’s refuges.

If you want to help us educate lawmakers on the real value of public lands, and block future legislative attacks in sheep’s clothing, then sign the petition at sportsmensaccess.org. For every signature, we send a letter to your local, state, and national lawmakers about this critical issue.

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.

Learn More

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