Marnee Banks

December 17, 2019

Senate Committee Passes Legislation to Conserve Wetlands and Fish Habitat

North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act Clear Key Hurdle

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today passed comprehensive wildlife conservation legislation that includes, among other major wins, authorization of two key initiatives that lay the groundwork for stronger management of wetlands, water, and fish habitat.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act both received unanimous bipartisan support as they made their way to the Senate floor.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act was originally enacted in 1989 in an effort to restore wetland habitat for ducks, geese, and upland birds, provide flood control, reduce coastal erosion, and improve water quality. The Act is one of the great success stories of the modern conservation era and has funded nearly 3,000 projects through $1.73 billion in grants. More than 6,200 partners have contributed another $3.57 billion in matching funds to conserve 30 million acres of habitat.

“Among a multitude of benefits, wetlands provide excellent waterfowl habitat, contribute to carbon sequestration, and improve coastal resilience,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The North American Wetlands Conservation Act underpins many ongoing efforts to restore and safeguard these landscapes, which are critical to the future of hunting and fishing in America. For thirty years, this law has proven itself the model of conservation investment done right.”

The National Fish Habitat Partnership, a collective of 20 diverse groups across every landscape in America, has already succeeded in boosting fish populations through on-the-ground fish habitat conservation projects. Since 2007, more than 840 projects have been completed across all 50 states. But the future success of these partnerships is perennially threatened because the initiative has no permanent authorization and funding has been cut year after year. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act invests in the Program for the first time and formally establishes the National Fish Habitat Board to guarantee all stakeholders—tribes, nonprofits, local and state governments, private sector entities, and the federal government—have a seat at the table.

“Anglers are committed to advancing the conservation efforts of the Partnership,” added Fosburgh. “The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act tackles some of the biggest challenges to fish habitat conservation head on. The TRCP is proud to be part of this effort moving forward.”

Earlier this year in a bipartisan vote, the U.S. House passed companion legislation for both bills, paving the way for support by Senate Democrats and Republicans.

The legislation passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee today also includes language to reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, create a coordinating task force between federal and state agencies on Chronic Wasting Disease, and reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program, a funding stream that helps Bay watershed states meet water quality goals.

“Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper and committee staff, we move one critical step closer to getting these bipartisan provisions on the President’s desk,” said Fosburgh.

More information about the National Fish Habitat Partnership is available HERE.

 

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Marnee Banks

December 16, 2019

Congress Announces Legislation to Invest in the Future of Hunting and Conservation

Bipartisan bill to keep the government open includes Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act

In one of the biggest conservation victories of the year, bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate released legislation to invest in the future of hunting and secure new investments in wildlife and habitat.

The bipartisan compromise to fund the government through September 2020 includes historic legislation that for the first time allows excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to be used to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters.

As the number of hunters decline nationally, the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act will ensure that millions of more active and engaged outdoorspeople are paying into conservation and supporting some of America’s greatest traditions. This legislation has been a top priority for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which has actively worked to include it in the year-end government funding deal.

“Every time hunters purchase guns and ammo they invest in habitat and wildlife, and this legislation will help avert a major conservation funding crisis,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We cannot underscore the importance of this bill for sportsmen and women, conservation, and the next generation of hunters. We hope everyone in the House and Senate will stand with hunters across the nation and send this to the President’s desk for swift signature.”

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of hunters declined by 16 percent contributing to a decline in funding from hunters.

“This is truly a landmark day for hunting and conservation,” said Fosburgh.

Read more about how the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act supports conservation HERE.

To take action and tell Congress to get this bill across the finish line sign our petition today.

Randall Williams

December 12, 2019

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.”

More than 14,000 people commented in favor of a “no leasing” decision on a recent proposal to consider selling oil and gas leases in the Ruby Mountains. The Rubies are an important outdoor tourism magnet in Nevada and home to numerous species of wildlife.

“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.

 

Top photo: Chris M Morris via Flickr

Kristyn Brady

December 10, 2019

House Votes to Invest in Fish Habitat and Science

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.”

Learn more about the National Fish Habitat Partnership program here.

The TRCP has called on sportsmen and women to contact lawmakers in support of NFHP here.

 

Top photo by Lindsey Rieck/Washington DNR

Marnee Banks

December 5, 2019

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.

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.

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