Do you have any thoughts on this post?
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.”
Top photo by Lindsey Rieck/Washington DNR
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.
Lawmakers tee up floor vote for legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Act and to head off habitat challenges for at-risk species
In a House Natural Resources Committee hearing today, decision-makers voted to advance two critical funding priorities with long-term impacts for American sportsmen and women.
The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act would allow a portion of hunting license sales and excise taxes on gear, guns, and ammunition to be used not only for conservation but also to recruit, retain, and reactivate more hunters.
“State wildlife agencies have the most to lose if hunting participation continues to decline, because many of them depend entirely on Pittman-Robertson dollars, but that’s why it’s so critical that these agencies market to and educate prospective sportsmen and women,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This critical update to the original law—which was written at a time when more than half the country hunted or had access to someone who could likely show them how—would help ensure the future of our traditions and turn the tide on a looming conservation funding crisis in America.”
The committee also debated and passed the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would invest roughly $1.4 billion in proactive, voluntary conservation efforts led by states, territories, and tribal nations to prevent vulnerable wildlife from becoming endangered. This new fund could benefit up to 12,000 species, including 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater fish, that need conservation action.
“We’re thrilled to see momentum behind a new investment in conservation that recognizes the real need to get ahead of habitat challenges—rather than scramble to revive a species on the brink,” says Fosburgh. “Together, these two pieces of legislation represent a forward-thinking approach to conservation that should be applauded, and we hope to see bipartisan support on the House floor very soon.”
Photo: Ken Mattison via Flickr
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.”
The TRCP has asked sportsmen and women to call on lawmakers for these investments in the nationwide CWD response. Learn more here.
This hearing marks the fifth time this year that the TRCP has represented the interests of American sportsmen and women by delivering official testimony before Congress. View details on our previous testimony related to improving access to public lands, the five priority pieces of legislation that would invest in fish and wildlife habitat, how to create drought solutions while enhancing conditions for fish in the Colorado River Basin, and how House lawmakers can step up in the fight against CWD.
Top photo by Kansas Tourism via flickr
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More