Sportsmen Applaud Senate Committee For Advancing The Ruby Mountains Protection Act
Bill to conserve iconic public lands in Nevada now moves to full Senate for consideration
The Sportsmen for the Rubies — a coalition of 14 hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation organizations — is excited to report the Ruby Mountains Protection Act was advanced on a bipartisan vote by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.
S258 is sponsored by Nevada Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen. The bill would prohibit the Department of the Interior from issuing oil and gas leases in in portions of the Ruby Mountains Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Elko and White Pine Counties in Nevada.
“We applaud our Nevada senators for putting forth a protection plan for the Ruby Mountains. This incredible landscape is unrivaled for its richness in wildlife and opportunities for human enjoyment,” said Pam Harrington, Nevada field coordinator with Trout Unlimited. “We want to see the Rubies remain the way they are for future Nevadans and all Americans. We hope for swift passage in the Senate as the bills moves toward becoming law.”
“The Rubies are recognized around the world as a premier hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation destination,” said Carl Erquiaga, Nevada field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “They are also the origin of one of the most important big-game migration corridors in the state, utilized by its largest mule deer herd, and home to many other fish and wildlife species, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout.”
The organizations behind Sportsmen for the Rubies include: Elko Bighorns Unlimited; Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; Ruby Mountain Fly Fishers; Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife; Nevada Chukar Chasers; Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn; Nevada Waterfowl Association; Nevada Sporting Dog Alliance; Nevada Bighorns Unlimited; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; and Trout Unlimited.
A successful regional partnership program and fisheries research effort get the green light in broad package of conservation bills
In a 262-151 floor vote, House lawmakers have passed H.R. 729, a suite of legislation that includes specific benefits for fish habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Among the 10 bills in the package, sportsmen and women can especially celebrate bipartisan passage of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, which would authorize funding for the National Fish Habitat Program and its 20 regional partnerships working across the country to conserve priority fish habitats and fish populations. Further, the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act of 2019 would authorize funding for monitoring, assessment, and research in support of the fisheries within the Great Lakes Basin.
“The best partners in fish habitat conservation are the ones who know their local waters, so we’re thrilled to see House lawmakers advance a bill to authorize the successful National Fish Habitat Partnership program—designed to empower regional coalitions to improve habitat and fish populations, leading to better outcomes for anglers and America’s outdoor recreation businesses,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Predictable, robust investment into fisheries research in the Great Lakes region would also be a major win for sportsmen and women, who have seen these accounts zeroed out in past budget proposals from the White House, despite the importance of the Great Lakes watershed and the outdoor recreation access it provides. It’s great to see this bipartisan package to advance on-the-ground conservation initiatives move forward today.”
TRCP Raises Alarms About Weakening of Conservation Reserve Program
Sportsmen and women call on administration to boost enrollment efforts as General signup kicks off
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is calling on the Trump Administration to step up and implement the Conservation Reserve Program to conserve soil, water, and wildlife habitat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced it will begin allowing landowners to sign up for the nation’s most successful private lands conservation program. However, they also announced cuts to incentive payments and changes to the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative, which has not been open for enrollment since 2017.
“The Conservation Reserve Program is a highly successful tool for providing prime wildlife habitat, unfortunately the Administration has been undermining this Program to the detriment of farmers as well as sportsmen and women,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Not only were there lengthy delays in announcing a signup period, these changes will result in higher costs for landowners who want to protect soil and water health. It’s time for U.S.D.A. to implement the 2018 Farm Bill with an eye toward conservation success.”
The 2018 Farm Bill allowed the agency to offer Practice Incentive Payments (PIPs) “up to 50 percent” of a project’s cost for “continuous” projects. The Administration reduced these payments to a scant 5 percent.
The last time the administration held a General CRP signup was in 2016, when only 400,000 acres of the 1.8 million acres offered were approved for enrollment.
Fosburgh’s Senate Testimony Urges Congressional Action on Chronic Wasting Disease
In his third appearance before Congress this year, the TRCP’s president and CEO again presses lawmakers to invest in surveillance and testing for the deer disease that has sent state wildlife agencies scrambling to respond
In a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership President and CEO Whit Fosburgh continued to push lawmakers on the need for more meaningful federal action in the fight against chronic wasting disease. The always-fatal disease has spread rapidly among wild deer, elk, and moose populations in recent years and creates increasing uncertainty for hunters who represent a critical source of conservation funding in America.
The committee convened to discuss creating a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chronic wasting disease task force, but Fosburgh argued that this does not go far enough.
“Coordinating and expediting the federal response to CWD is important—and the task force proposed by this committee could help do this—but the single most important thing Congress can do to stop the spread of CWD is to give the states the resources they need to track and fight the disease in the wild,” Fosburgh testified. “Congress provided strong and consistent federal funding to assist the state wildlife agencies in responding to CWD through 2011, but when this funding ran out, states were forced to cut back on other programs to respond to the disease. Some simply stopped looking for it.”
Fosburgh pointed to the 2020 House Agriculture Appropriations bill, which would reestablish federal funding for CWD by providing $15 million to state wildlife agencies for surveillance and testing. That bill is currently in conference with the Senate, which provides just $2.5 million for wild deer in its bill.
“If members of this committee care about stopping CWD, I urge you to reach out to your colleagues on the Appropriations Committee and ask them to support the House level of $15 million in the Agriculture Appropriations bill,” he said. “Chronic wasting disease is a symptom of a systematic failure to invest in conservation. That is why America’s hunters and anglers so fervently hope that this Committee will help address the CWD crisis.”
Five Ways to Do More than #OptOutside This Black Friday
This year, REI challenges everyone who loves the outdoors to opt to act in service of public lands and habitat
In 2015, our friends at REI laid down the original challenge: They would pay their workforce to stay home on Black Friday, and meanwhile they urged ALL Americans to spend time outdoors instead of shopping. Since then, #OptOutside has become a movement embraced by hikers and hunters alike.
But this year, the company admits that it isn’t enough.
It’s easy to choose to spend our time on America’s public lands and waters instead of in malls this holiday weekend. But—as REI’s president and CEO Eric Artz writes in the most recent Co-op Journal—outdoorsmen and women of all stripes must opt to act as well. Our natural resources face new and enduring challenges, and it will take all of our voices in harmony to push back on bad conservation policies and habitat setbacks that could take decades to undo.
Fortunately, this is pretty much the business that we’re in here at the TRCP—giving you opportunities to take action on the issues that are most critical RIGHT NOW.
And, not to brag, but we never waste your time with misdirection or scare tactics. If you’re hearing from us, it’s because critical or damaging legislation is on the move and you have a chance to make a difference. We translate the wonky policy language that some decision-makers are hoping will confuse you, and we provide hunters and anglers with the tools to make your voices heard in a few clicks or less.
If you’re willing to do more than simply enjoy the outdoors this Black Friday, here are five things you can do to safeguard all the ways we #OptOutside.
Enhance the Power of One of Our Best Public Lands Programs
Make the Trip “Over the River and Through the Woods” a Little Safer
In many parts of the country, you’re highly likely to encounter deer or other critters crossing the road on your way to grandma’s house this week. This risk of collision is no good for drivers or wildlife, and Congress has a chance to make a dedicated effort to keep animals off busy roadways—something that Western states say they’d prioritize if they had dedicated funding. Take action to ask lawmakers for a Highway Bill that sets aside funding for wildlife-friendly overpasses, underpasses, culverts, and other crossing structures that benefit wildlife and motorists.