Marnee Banks

July 12, 2019

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Creates 21st Century Conservation Model 

Legislation will invest in on-the-ground fish and wildlife management 

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is hailing landmark legislation that will transform fish and wildlife management across the nation.  U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Mich) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to invest meaningful resources into proactive conservation. 

Right now, 12,000 species in America need conservation action and 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater fish species are at risk. This legislation will help prevent those species from becoming threatened or endangered by creating a 21st century funding model.  

“This legislation will invest in critical habitat, stronger wildlife populations, and a more robust outdoor recreation economy,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill empowers on-the-ground wildlife experts to implement science-based conservation plans that will preserve these species into the future.”  

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will invest roughly $1.4 billion to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program for proactive, voluntary efforts led by the states, territories and tribal nations to prevent vulnerable wildlife from becoming endangered. 

A national survey determined that each state needs an average of $26 million in new funding annually to effectively implement their State Wildlife Action Plans to prevent species from becoming threatened or endangered. Current funding levels are less than 5 percent of what is needed. 

 

20 Responses to “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Creates 21st Century Conservation Model ”

  1. Thomas Doyle

    1. When the Bill gets to the Senate will Mitch McConnell kill it?
    2. Will Trump even look at the Bill? Mr. Trump will always say one thing and do something else?
    There needs to be a movement where our elected officials represent the voters. The people get elected and then join group of demagogs running both state and federal governments.

  2. The Republican Senators and Representatives have to step up and support this. What they do or don’t do will send a strong message about what they support and where their real agenda is. It is time for them to act and do the right. thing.

  3. It is a sad time for people who care about conservation. Look, I’m a life long hunter and fisherman, but this situation we have in the congress is disgusting. Fact is (from where I’m sitting) Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump don’t give a rip about the environment. So all of you outdoorsman who own guns and vote for these jerks because they support the 2nd amendment (which I do also) might want to ask yourselves wgat their real interest is. Here’s a hint.$$$

    • Kenneth B Lane

      Spot on! Greed is the guiding factor for most of our politicians as they look just short of their noses at everything–“What’s in it for me” thinking must stop.

  4. Jim Stark

    Would love to see the actual bill in order to see what is actually written. Not that I don’t trust the Trcp, but sometimes they seem to confuse conservation with environmentalism.

  5. Greg Cottle

    A great idea. Current situation is unsustainable-jacking up license fees. It’s not enough. And, yes, it won’t be easy given the current unenlightened political circus. those who support this legislation will probably take some punches. Would be good to have a champion, whatever his or her stipe, at the bully pulpit. Not holding my breath. Time to read “In the Arena “—again.

  6. Dennis Luszcz

    I would think that conservation is one place that we could put politics aside. Unfortunately the previous comments suggest otherwise. I am dissapointed to see this happen. We get enough of this talk everywhere else these days. If this gets to be the norm here I will not continue to support TRCP. I will shift it to other conservation groups. I dont need this

  7. Jeanne Held-Warmkessel

    45 and all his cabinet members hate the environment. Their complete goal is greed and they will destroy anything for a fast buck. Republicans are not going to change. If you keep voting republican, this is what you get- filthy air, water and soil. No bees. No clean anything.

  8. Tim Kress

    Our wildlife needs our protection. Let’s not make this a Trump bashing bandstand. Instead, write our elected officials and let them know the American people are behind this bill.

  9. Ben Sellers

    The partisan bickering is not helpful. How about saying something constructive like “can we start a petition to further this effort” or “what is the best way to individually contact the decision makers”?

  10. Bill Conners

    It’s time to stop looking for the “easy out.” A simple note to your Member of Congress telling him or her that you support the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” will suffice. As a former staff member for a state legislator I will tell you that form letters are not nearly as effective as a short note IN YOUR OWN WORDS. When you simply send on a letter written by some else it shows a lack of commitment and passion. Fight for it!

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Kristyn Brady

June 25, 2019

House Approves Investments in Chronic Wasting Disease Research

After sportsmen and women urged Congress to invest in solutions, spending bill contains new funding dedicated to combatting CWD in wild deer

House spending bill for federal agriculture, interior, and environmental agencies (H.R. 3305) has passed with amendments that create new dedicated funding to research, test for, and battle chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease discovered in deer and elk populations across more than half the U.S. 

Led by Representatives Veasey, Gosar, Kind, and Abraham, an amendment to the House’s Agriculture Appropriations bill will send $15 million to the states to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer.  

“Chronic wasting disease is a dangerous and contagious condition affecting deer, elk, and moose in 26 states and over 250 counties,” said Representative Marc Veasey (D-Texas). The disease spreads to new counties and states every year, threatening our wild deer populations rises. State fish and wildlife agencies are doing their best to combat the spread of this disease with the limited resources they have, but they need more support from the federal government to ramp up their efforts and effectively respond to both new and ongoing outbreaks in wild deer populations. That’s why I introduced a bipartisan amendment to dedicate new resources in the fight to contain and eventually eradicate the disease. My amendment designates an additional $12 million to be sent to state fish and wildlife agencies, bringing the total to $15 million, and I was glad to see the it adopted by the House of Representatives.” 

Reps. Gosar and Abraham successfully introduced a second amendment that will direct $1.72 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to research chronic wasting disease and improve the effectiveness of testing methods. 

“Research into chronic wasting disease and enhanced testing methods will help give hunters the confidence they need to continue to harvest wild deer, elk, and moose,” said Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) “I look forward to continuing to address threats posed by CWD in order to conserve resources for sportsmen and protect America’s hunting traditions.” 

Together, these amendments allocate a total of $16.72 million to fighting CWD in wild deer. It’s the first time that some portion of funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which maintains a certification program for captive deer operations that take precautions against CWD, could be used to benefit wild deer herds.   

 “This is a major milestone in our effort to combat CWD and preserve our hunting traditions,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of TRCP. This new funding will support states in their efforts to keep deer herds healthy. We want to thank House appropriators for taking this first step, and we urge the Senate to prioritize these investments, as well, so Congress can pass legislation that tackles this epidemic headon. 

The Senate has yet to release its version of the appropriations bill.  

This news comes on the heels of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s advocacy  
push to include increased resources for responding to CWD in the Agriculture Appropriations bill. The TRCP has rallied more than 1,500 sportsmen and women to contact their lawmakers and ask for these investments.  

Take action and urge senators to include these investments in their appropriations bills.

Randall Williams

June 21, 2019

Sportsmen Ask BLM to Support Outdoor Priorities in Eastern Colorado

Draft public lands management plan shows some promising provisions in the preferred alternative, some areas in need of improvement

Canon City, Colo. – On Monday the Bureau of Land Management made public its Royal Gorge Field Office (RGFO) draft Resource Management Plan, which when finalized will guide management decisions over the next few decades on 600,000 surface and 6.8 million subsurface acres of public lands.

A coalition of ten hunting- and fishing-related groups and 23 local businesses have been working alongside a wide range of stakeholders over the past several years to ensure that high-value backcountry hunting and fishing areas are accessible and big game populations conserved in the Royal Gorge Field Office. While sportsmen would like to see some changes to the final plan, the response to the draft plan was generally positive.

“South Park-area BLM public lands offer some truly amazing and wide-ranging opportunities for sportsmen and women,” said Nick Payne, Colorado field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This is particularly true in the Upper Arkansas River area, which supports a great deal of recreation. By making a few adjustments to secure sportsmen’s priorities in the final plan – especially for key backcountry hunting areas – the BLM could make this land use plan a success.”

Safeguards for key hunting and fishing lands have been one focus of a years-long community-driven planning process for the South Park area. While some changes have been made to management provisions in the South Park Area, hunting and fishing groups believe this part of the plan remains largely true to the desired outcomes expressed by the community and various stakeholders.

“Although there have been some changes in presentation of the South Park management in the draft RMP, we feel good about where this planning process is headed and believe the community’s priorities can be represented in the final plan,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, who has been on the forefront of these efforts since the first discussions in 2011. “Sportsmen, women, and wildlife enthusiasts will remain involved in this process as constructive partners to ensure that the final plan benefits the iconic South Park landscape and community.”

Terry Meyers, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, pointed out the importance of this plan to Colorado’s bighorn sheep hunters, “Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunting units in the RGFO offer hunters the chance to pursue this iconic Western species in Colorado every year. We encourage the BLM to conserve valuable intact habitat and hunting areas in the final plan”

“This process isn’t over yet and there are some things we’d like to see improved,” continued Payne. “But we also appreciate the work put into this plan by the BLM and we will remain at the table to see this process through to completion. We believe it can be a success.”

 

Photo: Scrubhiker (USCdyer) via Flickr

Randall Williams

June 20, 2019

New Study: Significant Opportunities to Open Recreation Access in Colo.

Outdoor Retailer audiences get a sneak preview of a new report from TRCP and onX identifying landlocked state lands across the West

Denver, Colo. — Today, onX and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership revealed a snapshot of new data uncovered in their latest collaborative study to calculate the acreage of landlocked state lands across 11 Western states.

In a press briefing at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, onX founder Eric Siegfried and TRCP’s director of Western lands Joel Webster announced their preliminary findings on access barriers to trust lands in the state of Colorado, including:

  • More than 435,000 acres are landlocked by private land and cannot be reached at all by public roads or through adjacent federally managed public lands.
  • Meanwhile, 1.78 million acres of accessible lands are closed to public access by state policy.
  • A total of 558,000 acres of accessible trust lands are currently open to hunting and fishing because of collaborative agreements between the State Land Board and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

There are 2.78 million acres of state trust lands in total across Colorado. All Western states were granted lands by the federal government at statehood, and Colorado is the only state in the Mountain West that does not allow public access to the majority of its trust lands. Webster noted that Colorado’s restrictive access rules are actually a greater hindrance to outdoor recreation on state trust lands than the landlocked land issue, which makes it an outlier among other Western states.

Governor Jared Polis is taking proactive steps to address this challenge. “Colorado is arguably the most beautiful state in America, and I’m committed to expanding the public’s access to our treasured federal and state-owned land,” said Governor Polis. “I’m delighted that Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Public Access Program for sportsmen and women will be growing by more than 100,000 acres in time for the upcoming 2019 hunting season. We will continue looking at more opportunities to increase access in the near future.”

“We appreciate the collaborative work that has already gone into opening state trust lands to public access in Colorado and believe the state currently has perhaps the single greatest opportunity to expand public access in the West,” said TRCP’s Joel Webster. “Without a doubt, Governor Polis’s commitment to expanding public access should be encouraging to everyone who recreates in the outdoors. Other states have come up with innovative ideas for opening access to trust lands, and they offer a model for how Colorado could continue to tackle this issue.”

The project is building on a 2018 report by onX and the TRCP that found more than 9.52 million acres of federally managed public lands in the West are landlocked and lack legal public access. Those findings are available in a new report, “Off Limits, But Within Reach: Unlocking the West’s Inaccessible Public Lands,” which unpacks the issue in unprecedented detail.

“Our company’s mission is to help people find places they can explore to create a memorable outdoor experience,” says onX founder Eric Siegfried. “State lands can be easily overlooked by the recreating public, and more can be done to make these lands accessible to all. We are looking forward to calculating the full extent of access challenges and highlighting constructive opportunities to open lands to the public.”

The full report will delve deeper into the issue of recreational access across 11 Western states by focusing on landlocked lands at the state level. It will be formally presented to the press and public at the TRCP Western Media Summit on August 19, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.

“We’re excited to partner once again with onX on a collaborative project that wouldn’t be possible without their world-class product and commitment to public access,” concluded Webster.

Learn more about the forthcoming report and sign up to be the first to receive it at unlockingpubliclands.org.

Marnee Banks

June 17, 2019

Sportfishing Groups Call for Science-Based Management of Gulf Menhaden

Marine Stewardship Council takes an irresponsible approach to fishery certification

The recreational fishing community is expressing concern about the process being used to certify the menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.

Omega Protein and Daybrook Fisheries recently announced that SAI Global is recommending that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certify the menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico as sustainable, despite ongoing concerns surrounding the industrial harvest of the small oily baitfish.

“There is a host of unknowns surrounding this industrial fishery, and yet the MSC continues to rapidly move forward,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Sustainability obviously means different things to different people, and we continue to have significant concerns about this certification.”

Conservation groups and tens of thousands of anglers have all expressed concerns that menhaden management fails to account for the critical ecological role that menhaden play in the coastal ecosystem and their impacts to sportfish like snook, redfish, sharks, and other marine predators.

“No one yet knows how much Gulf menhaden is needed to fulfill its role as a primary prey species in the ecosystem,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association. “There is work being done to determine that, but obviously the MSC didn’t consider that critical factor as a prerequisite for making its sustainability decision.”

“Every summer, anglers and charter captains see menhaden boats fishing right on top of Louisiana’s beaches and passes, in the same areas where important sportfish like redfish and speckled trout are feeding and spawning,” said Chris Macaluso, director of marine fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and an avid Louisiana angler. “For years, I’ve heard about and seen countless dead redfish floating in the same areas where menhaden boats recently fished. Recreational fishermen are right to be concerned, especially since there is so little information about what species are being affected the most from bycatch and how many non-targeted fish are being killed.”

“Menhaden provide the foundation of the entire Gulf recreational fishery, from redfish to tarpon,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “Instead of a rushed process aimed at benefiting a few foreign companies, we should have a full science-based review of the fishery. There is too much at stake.”

SAI Global’s recommendation to certify Gulf menhaden as sustainable is a follow-up to the same recommendation for Atlantic menhaden made earlier this year. The Coastal Conservation Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American Sportfishing Association, The Nature Conservancy, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation are all opposing the Atlantic menhaden certification.

In January of this year, the state of Virginia also formally notified the MSC of its opposition to certifying the Atlantic menhaden purse-seine fishery. In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to protect menhaden in New York’s waters by prohibiting harvest by purse seine, essentially rejecting the industrial harvest of Atlantic menhaden altogether.

Learn more about menhaden and their role in the marine food web here.

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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.

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