President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Whit Fosburgh issued the following statement on the spread of COVID-19:
“As communities across the world are impacted by COVID-19, we want to reiterate our commitment to our staff, our partners, our donors, and the sportsmen and women who are all ‘in the arena’ working together on behalf of conservation. Your health is our top priority.
During this time, we are adjusting our operations to keep our community safe, so we can continue the important work of guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. All TRCP staff are being encouraged to work from home. Travel has been suspended and in person meetings are being replaced with virtual meetings. Our Capital Conservation Awards Dinner has been moved from April to September. Through this time, we will continue to engage in policy that matters to all sportsmen and women.
As President Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.’ ”
Podcast: Whit Fosburgh Discusses Conservation on Bass Pro’s Outdoor World
TRCP’s president and CEO Whit Fosburgh appeared on Sirius XM’s Rural Radio channel 147 this weekend to talk about conservation with Bass Pro’s podcast with host Rob Keck. The Outdoor World show airs every Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. across the nation.
TRCP’s President Calls for Collaboration to Solve Public Lands Challenges
Fosburgh highlights climate change as a major threat to public lands at the annual Society of Environmental Journalists convention
Today, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s president and CEO Whit Fosburgh called on the Trump Administration to bring diverse stakeholders together and solve public lands challenges.
Fosburgh joined Acting Chief of the Bureau of Land Management William Perry Pendley, Dina Gilio-Whitaker from California State University San Marcos, John Freemuth from Boise State University, and Shea Loper from Encana Corporation to discuss issues facing America’s public lands at the annual Society of Environmental Journalists convention in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The panel, moderated by Washington Post Senior National Affairs Correspondent Juliet Eilperin, focused on how to balance conservation, recreation, and development on public lands.
Fosburgh encouraged the Administration to listen to the hunting, fishing, and conservation communities about how to manage the 640 million acres of federal public land in the U.S. “You have the authority to be creative in how you develop and how you balance [multiple uses],” he said. “Think creatively. Bring stakeholders together and don’t pit one side against the other.”
Fosburgh also discussed the importance of the outdoor recreation economy and the jobs supported by America’s hunting and fishing traditions—from guides and outfitters to main street businesses that thrive because of related tourism.
Eilperin closed the discussion by asking each panelist what they viewed as the biggest challenge to public lands. Fosburgh pointed to climate change:
“Climate change overall impacts every single acre of public land whether in Alaska, Maine, or Florida,” said Fosburgh. “Until we can get our hands around that, it impacts everything else we are dealing with from invasive species to public access—you name it. It’s all impacted.”
What Exactly Is USDA’s Stance on the Boundary Waters?
Once determined to proceed with a thorough environmental review of an unpopular proposed mine, the agency now only seems willing to pass the buck to the state
It is a truism that politicians try to have it both ways, telling constituents and donors just what they want to hear while their actions tell a different story. We are seeing this play out in Minnesota, where Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters have been fighting to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from a proposed copper nickel mine.
In this case, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made and broken commitments concerning an important environmental review of the proposed mine, which has limited the use of science, the public’s input, and the ability of federal land management agencies to affect the outcome of the project.
In 2017, Secretary Perdue committed to a two-year environmental review of copper nickel mining upstream of the Boundary Waters during his congressional testimony, saying, “We are determined to proceed in that effort and let it run its course. No decision will be made prior to the conclusion of that [review].” But 20 months into the 24-month study, Secretary Perdue cancelled the study, calling it “a roadblock to mining exploration.” The BLM and USDA then renewed the contested leases in 2019, which cleared the way for mining company Twin Metals to submit a formal mine plan of operation to state and federal officials.
This is not the case: The Forest Service is required to lead on all environmental reviews and NEPA analyses of projects on federal land, in this case the Superior National Forest. The former chief of the Forest Service understood this well when he withheld consent for the renewal of these leases in 2016. Secretary Perdue seems to understand the risk the project poses to the Boundary Waters, and he originally expressed real concern for making sure no harm came to the habitat.
Sportsmen and women want more from federal decision-makers than acts of good faith toward conservation goals. Instead, we’re seeing a disturbing trend of leaving the states with total responsibility for any real decisions concerning environmental review, permitting, and the protection of important fish and wildlife resources.
Twin Metals is due to submit a mine plan of operation in the coming months without public input or the level of study that would have been conducted in the cancelled mineral withdrawal study. Their proposed project on the South Kawishiwi River has the potential to pollute the Boundary Waters, Voyageur’s National Park, and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park. The remote nature of these public lands and waters makes remediation or cleanup of any pollution essentially impossible.
And the fundamental question the cancelled study was meant to answer has never been answered: Is this the right place for a copper mine?
Secretary Perdue followed up his statements in Minnesota with an op-ed in a local paper, writing, “I’m confident any plan approved to move forward would preserve the high-quality fishing, wildlife viewing, recreational opportunities and wilderness character that Minnesotans and visitors from around the world enjoy in the Boundary Waters.” Hunters, anglers, and paddlers who use the Boundary Waters do not share Secretary Perdue’s confidence.
More than 180,000 people weighed in during the Forest Service’s environmental review—the one that was halted before it could be finished—and thousands of Minnesotans turned out to public listening sessions across the state. The USDA could restore the public’s confidence by committing to completing the cancelled study and halting all mining approvals, including any federal permitting related to a mine plan of operation, until the study is released publicly.
To uphold Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation legacy, we must urge our elected officials to defend our public land and water, or future generations will pay the price for our inaction.
Whit Fosburgh is the president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a national nonprofit working to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.
Spencer Shaver is the conservation director for Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, which works to protect the integrity of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and its watersheds for huntable and fishable populations of fish and wildlife, now and forever through advocacy and education. You can take action to protect the Boundary Waters by contacting your elected officials here.
This story also ran on the Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters website.
Remaining Nonpartisan Does Not Mean Sitting Out the Tough Fights
When it comes to safeguarding the future of America’s hunting and fishing traditions, we can’t afford to be silent
You might think that to be nonpartisan in today’s deeply polarized political climate you’d have to avoid taking sides altogether. But hunters and anglers have no hope of creating conservation solutions if we sit out the tough fights.
Even as many groups slide into one camp or the other, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has stayed true to its principles, regardless of political pressures. This is outlined in our latest Annual Report, where we detail the bad conservation policy we criticized, the positive steps forward for habitat that we praised, and the major TRCP priorities we were able to see through in 2018.
For example, we worked across the aisle to achieve huge successes for wildlife, water quality, and hunting and fishing access in the Farm Bill. Our staff and partners secured long-overdue recognition for the value of recreational fishing and the need for critical updates to fisheries management in the Modern Fish Act. We exposed challenges with public land access, but we also offered meaningful solutions.
And, of course, we continued to do the hard, inglorious work of defending conservation, as plans to restore greater sage grouse habitat got a second look and Clean Water Act protections for headwaters and wetlands were put at risk.
The TRCP doesn’t toe a party line or take positions based on red or blue. And, no matter how daunting, we’ll never back away from an issue that threatens fish and wildlife—from our best big game down to the tiniest forage fish.
We remain true to the notion that conservation should never be partisan. That’s why we will continue to provide the forum to bring disparate sides together for the benefit of future generations of American outdoorsmen and women.
As our nation rebounds from the COVID pandemic, policymakers are considering significant investments in infrastructure. Hunters and anglers see this as an opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations.