Randall Williams

December 20, 2018

Congress Fails to Reauthorize LWCF, Advance Lands Package

Critical measures for public lands and sportsmen’s access had broad support but didn’t make it across the finish line

Last night, the 115th Congress moved closer to adjourning after failing to advance a wide-ranging and noncontroversial public lands package that had been under careful development by lawmakers for years. Part of the proposed legislation was a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, key provisions from the Sportsmen’s Act, Pittman-Robertson Modernization, and numerous regionally specific bills.

“These critical measures for our public lands and sportsmen’s access were teed-up and ready to go with broad support, yet Congress still failed to get them across the finish line,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “While we truly appreciate the best efforts of some lawmakers who went to bat for this, we are disappointed to see common-sense solutions kicked down the road yet again.”

Chief among the opportunities missed was a reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired on September 30 despite the efforts of an outspoken, diverse coalition of advocates. For more than 50 years, the LWCF has helped conserve habitat and create public access for hunting and fishing all across the nation.

“Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund should have been an easy win for lawmakers of both parties,” says Fosburgh. “We still have 9.5 million acres of landlocked public lands in the West, and the task of conserving important fish and wildlife habitats is no less critical, but we no longer have at our disposal the best tool to address these issues.”

With the 115th Congress now at a close, sportsmen and women are turning their attention to the prospects of advancing the lands package in the next two years. When a new Congress convenes in January, much could be accomplished by making good on the unfinished business of the last session, with a simple reintroduction of these bills and expeditious votes.

Congressional champions of the public lands package include Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st) and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz., 3rd). These decision-makers fought hard for consideration of the package this year and are now working to secure a commitment from House and Senate leadership to move to consider the package in early 2019.

There have been few chances in recent memory to achieve so much for fish, wildlife, and the future of hunting and fishing, and certainly none as ready-made as this. “If our Congressional leaders take seriously the priorities of sportsmen and women, this lands package should be high on their agenda when they begin work in 2019,” says Fosburgh. “Common-sense, noncontroversial solutions to some of the most pressing conservation challenges are simply waiting for our elected officials to act. We hope that the next Congress will honor the collaboration and effort that went into this deal by considering and voting on these bills when they convene in early January.”

 

Photo Credit: Wyatt Bensken

4 Responses to “Congress Fails to Reauthorize LWCF, Advance Lands Package”

  1. Sally O. Smyth

    This quote suggests bias and makes me want to read the fine print: “If our Congressional leaders take seriously the priorities of sportsmen and women, …” What about the priorities of wildlife watchers and habitat for non-game species??

    • Bryant Helvey

      Sally- since the author made no fewer than six references to hunting or sportsmen/women, he is clearly trying to address an audience and would likely not deny bias. He would probably also encourage everyone to “read the fine print.”
      All of the many sportsmen/women I know are also avid wildlife watchers and proponents of non-game species habitat (usually good habitat is good for all species.)
      Is there a reason you feel this should be a “us vs. them” topic? I’m sure the TRCP wants to see ALL wildlife supporters united on our vast common ground on these issues.

  2. Thomas Doyle

    The priorities are the same. Both groups want access and protection of these resources. Without the blending of the two, opposition to improper use and destruction cannot be challenged. I am more than happy to share my quiet places.

  3. Michael Nigl

    I have a very hard time supporting the NRA in the past few decades. While organizations like our TRCP work hard to keep enviromental, conservation, and public land access laws strong so hunters and fisherman have game and a place to persue or interests, the NRA seems to be supporting just the contrary. Republicans seem to be working against TRCP goals while the Democrats are working against the NRA goals by wanting more gun laws. Who should we support at election time?
    If the NRA would back off on some on their stance against an gun controls, and work with conservation and true hunting organizations; I believe all Sportsman and Sportswomen will be better off in the long run. I don’t hunt deer and coyotes with an military assault weapon with a silentcer or puchase my guns at paramilitary guns shows to avoid registration.
    We need to work together on all these issues . Not be divided.

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December 7, 2018

Featured Podcast: Will Congress Act in Time to Pass a 2018 Farm Bill?

Tune in to find out how the Farm Bill could enhance habitat and access on private land—if lawmakers can strike a deal in time

The hosts of the Your Mountain Podcast remind us that decisions are being made every day that could affect your land, water, and wildlife. So you should know about them. That couldn’t be more true right now, when we’re anxiously awaiting an agreement on the next Farm Bill. This critical legislation helps landowners implement conservation practices and open hunting and fishing access you wouldn’t otherwise have in rural America.

Here’s what you need to know about the time crunch and how conservation could lose out if lawmakers need to start the process all over again next Congress.

Learn more about the Your Mountain Podcast here.

November 29, 2018

Featured Podcast: Voluntary Public Access Is a Farm Bill Success Story

Tune into this hour-long podcast to learn how the Farm Bill helps create public hunting opportunities on private land, where some of the best hunting east of the Rockies can be found

TRCP’s Alex Maggos and Zane Zaubi of Horizons Land and Farm Development sit down with East to West Hunting Podcast to talk about how the Farm Bill’s $5 billion in conservation funding is put to work in ways that benefit sportsmen and women. From improving water quality and wildlife habitat to facilitating walk-in access on private land where hunters and anglers need it most, the Farm Bill has something for everyone.

Give it a listen below.

Learn more about the East to West Hunting Podcast here.

Kristyn Brady

November 21, 2018

We Make Time for the Outdoors, So Why Not for Conservation?

The TRCP is joining forces with REI to urge you to #OptOutside on Black Friday—and get more involved every day in the conservation issues that matter

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we’re proud to link arms once again with our friends at REI—and hundreds of global brands—to urge hunters and anglers to #OptOutside.

This year’s theme is about breaking our routines and finding time to spend in the outdoors. And this resonates with many of us, even if, as hunters and anglers, we probably go outside more than the average American. No matter how many days you log in the woods or on the water, don’t you feel the tug of your smartphone screen or the ping of a busy schedule?

This is a troubling factor in the decline of hunter participation overall, and certainly one that we need to reckon with to ensure the future of our traditions.

It never hurts to slow down, shut our devices off, and head down the trail to where true adventure is within our reach—even if we may be unreachable for a few hours. But making time to enjoy the outdoors (and derive the cortisol-lowering benefits of testing ourselves in the pursuit of game and fish) is only meeting half the need.

It’s also critical that we prioritize taking action to safeguard our outdoor recreation opportunities for the next generation.

Photo by @brettmlynar

Engaging in the fight for well-managed public lands, cleaner water, better habitat, more funding for conservation, and stronger outdoor recreation businesses looks different for everyone. You might donate to an organization you trust. (After all, Giving Tuesday is coming up—hint hint.) You might sign a petition, attend a workday, or share an article on social media that taught you something about conservation, hoping others will learn from it, too.

But how many times has something like this happened: You get an email about an upcoming meeting hosted by your local BLM field office to collect public comments on a proposed plan for managing public lands in your area. As someone who cares about the fish and wildlife resources and hunting and fishing opportunities on these lands, the stakes are pretty high for you, and your opinion carries a lot of weight in this public process. But the meeting is on a weekday night and you’re not sure you understand all the issues. You delete the email.

Or this: You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a call to action about the lapsed Farm Bill. A conservation organization you trust says that we lose out every day we go without the programs that help farmers improve habitat and walk-in access for hunting and fishing, and it’s imperative that we pressure Congress to take urgent action. You click the link in their bio, but then a stream of text messages come in that you need to respond to, and before you know it, you’re late to drop the kids off somewhere.

Getting more involved in conservation isn’t always convenient, especially when it’s all we can do to carve out time to actually use our hunting and fishing licenses or the access we worked hard to secure with a landowner’s permission. Still, the routine we may need to break is the one where we tell ourselves, “I’ll do it later,” “This is not my fight,” or worse, “Someone else will do it.”

It’s up to all of us to find the time and energy to dedicate ourselves to the conservation issues that will determine whether or not our children and grandchildren have quality places to hunt and fish. We must sign up, step up, and speak out for more responsible management of public lands, stronger habitat and access incentives for private landowners, and the best possible clean water standards and conservation funding levels.

As REI reminds us, #OptOutside is about more than a company making a bold move on Black Friday. It’s about inspiring a movement.

So find the time. Stretch your legs and your mind. Replenish your soul in the outdoors. Then, when you finally head back to your screens and social networks, do whatever you can, whenever you can, to support conservation.

Need more inspiration? Watch our Wake the Woods video now.

 

Top photo by Dusan Smetana.

November 16, 2018

Together We Can Wake the Woods

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership was created to bring together nonprofit partners, individual hunters and anglers, and outdoor recreation businesses to rally behind common conservation policy goals. Here’s why we do what we doand how you can help.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

Learn More
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