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April 27, 2017


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April 25, 2017

Reversing Land Loss and Improving Fish Habitat in the Bayou

TRCP hosted reporters in Louisiana to showcase the benefits of sediment diversion projects (and to catch our limit of keeper redfish!)

More than 25 years ago, Captain Ryan Lambert navigated a winding maze of bayous and bays to bring clients from the lodge at Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, Louisiana, to prime saltwater fishing and duck hunting areas. Today, he can point the bow of his boat south and barely turn the steering wheel at all.

To prove just how quickly land is being lost in Louisiana’s hunting and fishing paradise, Lambert pulled out his phone and showed me a photo he snapped of his GPS screen on a recent trip to productive redfish waters. It showed his boat sitting on land, but he certainly hadn’t run ashore. His electronics just can’t keep up as land is eroding and being swallowed by sea level rise all at once.

Image courtesy of Captain Ryan Lambert.

Solutions are in the works, and I was visiting my colleague Chris Macaluso to view one of them, a sediment diversion project planned for the Barataria Basin before doing a little fishing on the east side of the Mississippi River. Outdoor and environmental writers and TV hosts from across Louisiana were also there to witness the drastic consequences of cutting off the sediment supplies to the marshes of the Mississippi, the primary culprit in the loss of nearly 2,000 square miles of coastal wetlands.

The brown, murky water blocked us from seeing the floor of Barataria Basin, which is covered by loose soils made of rotting vegetation, rather than the layers of sediment once deposited by annual spring flooding of the Mississippi. The resulting land loss threatens species like pintails, teal, redfish, and speckled trout, which has implications for our days afield and on the water.

This diversion project aims to reverse this land loss and improve habitat for the species we love. #Louisiana Click To Tweet

The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project aims to reverse this land loss and improve habitat for the species we love. It was approved in 2012 by the Louisiana state legislature as part of a comprehensive plan to restore Louisiana’s wetlands and protect coastal communities. With 75,000 cubic feet of water and sediment diverted every second during high-river periods, the benefits from this diversion would be swift—reinstituting fish and waterfowl diversity, especially for game species like largemouth bass, redfish, speckled trout, teal, and gadwalls, and providing a buffer from catastrophic storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

But the environmental review process is delaying construction, just as the Louisiana coast is more vulnerable than ever. So, the need to expedite the environmental permitting procedures is essential to reversing land loss and improving fish habitat.

fish habitat Louisiana redfish

Several reporters and I stuck around long enough to experience what could be the future of Barataria Basin for recreational fishermen. On the east side of the Mississippi, I was hauling fish after fish into the boat after only one or two casts. Where it was tough to imagine (never mind see) fish in the basin’s straight, murky corridors between the barges, these marshes and inlets were hiding all sizes of specks and redfish. Within a few hours, I’d caught my limit—15 redfish over 16 inches, with one over 27 inches, and 25 speckled trout.

But days like this are at stake where marshes are critical to the coastal ecosystem and yet disappearing at an alarming rate. It’s critical that projects like the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion move forward.

VIDEO: Catch the segment of our tour from the Paradise Louisiana television show here. 


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April 24, 2017

Sportsmen Look to Secretary Perdue to Champion Conservation That Works for Rural America

The Georgia quail hunter will oversee $5 billion in conservation funding on private lands, which benefits farmers, ranchers, wildlife, clean water, and sportsmen

In an 87-11 vote, the U.S. Senate has officially confirmed Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia and an avid sportsman, to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he’ll oversee land and water conservation on private lands and operation of the U.S. Forest Service. Hunters and anglers are optimistic that Perdue is up to the task of serving our rural communities and our natural resources well.

“As a hunter and angler, Secretary Perdue understands the importance of wildlife conservation,” says Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “He has a record of working in a bipartisan fashion to advance innovative land conservation programs, increase water conservation, and restore longleaf pine forests. We look forward to working with Perdue on critical issues facing USDA, including protecting America’s grasslands, expanding successful farm bill conservation programs and wildlife initiatives, and reducing nutrient runoff to improve water quality.”

Perhaps most importantly, Perdue will contribute to the debate around the 2018 Farm Bill, the legislative vehicle that drives approximately $5 billion in annual conservation spending on private lands. Voluntary, incentive-based programs authorized by past farm bills have been widely successful, helping to prevent the Endangered Species Act listing of the greater sage grouse and contributing to cleaner waters in the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are eager to begin working with Secretary Perdue to implement good conservation programs on working farms and ranches,” says Dr. Frank Rohwer, president and chief scientist at Delta Waterfowl. “The next farm bill will provide great opportunities to come up with solutions that work well for our nation’s producers, sportsmen, waterfowl, and other wildlife.”

Besides the Forest Service, Perdue will direct many of the other federal agencies with a major role in conservation, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency. Almost immediately, Perdue will need to defend his department’s budget and staff against cuts from congressional appropriators.

“With record demand from agricultural producers for the technical assistance and financial certainty that USDA programs offer, Secretary Perdue already has his work cut out for him, but sportsmen and women are also depending on his leadership in rural counties that are economically reliant on outdoor recreation, like hunting and fishing, that gets a boost from habitat improvements on private lands,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which came out in support of Perdue early on.

“These programs cannot survive proposed budget cuts, especially when critical functions at the USDA, including wildfire suppression in national forests and conservation planning assistance for landowners, are already chronically short on funding,” says Fosburgh. “Sportsmen and women call on Secretary Perdue to strongly defend the USDA against budget cuts and support long-term, practical investments in natural resources management on public and private lands.”

April 20, 2017

The Dream Team Restoring Elk to the Appalachian Region

To reintroduce and sustain an elk herd lost since the Civil War, it took a diverse partnership that is representative of 21st century conservation efforts—no one group can do it alone

As the TRCP’s newest formal partner, we’re in really good company with 51 other groups that are working toward a brighter future for America’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources. And we’re thrilled to work with passionate sportsmen and women bringing conservation priorities to the attention of D.C. decision-makers.

Partnerships can be multifaceted and powerful, aligning people and organizations to do more together than they could ever do alone. In essence, this describes The Conservation Fund’s core approach to everything we do. And in this day and age, collaboration isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s necessary to craft conservation solutions that support fish and wildlife habitat, public access to the outdoors, and local economies.

A crowd gathered to witness the reintroduction of elk to the area. Key project partners, including The Conservation Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Walmart, WV Division of Natural Resources, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, shared in the celebration. Top image: Elk are a wide-ranging species that will benefit from the more than 32,000 acres of publicly accessible land acquired to establish this wildlife management area in West Virginia. More than 20 elk were reintroduced in December 2016. Images courtesy of Frank Ceravalo.

That’s why we were founded more than 30 years ago with a unique dual-charter mission to not only protect America’s land, water, and wildlife, but to do so with a clear focus on generating economic returns for surrounding communities. By working in partnership with others who share our conservation goals—including federal and state agencies, land trusts, local community organizations, businesses, foundations, and other nonprofits—we do just that. The Conservation Fund has conserved nearly 8 million acres and counting.

For example, in southern West Virginia, coal fueled the state’s economy for generations. But in recent years, the industry has slowed, and local communities are struggling economically. By working directly with community members and local, state, and federal partners across the Appalachian region, we’re helping these communities transition by demonstrating how conservation can also support economic development.

Through our Working Forest Fund, a dedicated source of bridge capital, we purchased more than 32,000 acres of privately owned forestland that was vulnerable to fragmentation and development in the southern part of the state. We are now working with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to co-manage the property as a sustainable working forest, safeguarding the timber economy and forestry-based jobs while providing habitat for reintroduced elk—which had not been seen in the region for almost 150 years. This property is now the state’s largest conserved block of prime elk habitat, and it’s open to the public as a wildlife management area.

West Virginia wildlife management area Appalachian elk
Previously industrially owned, this rough, rugged territory will be open to the public as a wildlife management area, helping people to reengage with land they are culturally connected to. Image courtesy of Frank Ceravalo.

The prospect of bringing elk back to West Virginia for both wildlife viewing and hunting purposes has triggered excitement across the region, not least for the tourism opportunities that could drive spending in the rural communities that need it most. It’s no secret that sportsmen and other public land users help support $646 billion in annual consumer spending and 6.1 million jobs—numbers impossible to ignore. Read more about this partnership effort in West Virginia in an interview with WV DNR and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

It’s clear that making conservation work for America will take more than one group or individual. But we’re confident that as partnerships grow, so do the possibilities for fish, wildlife, and vibrant communities.

Whitney Flanagan is the creative director of The Conservation Fund, TRCP’s newest partner group. See all 52 partners here



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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