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May 7, 2020

Senate Committee Advances Water Infrastructure Legislation

Bipartisan bill would create jobs, benefit aquatic ecosystems

(Washington D.C.)—The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed legislation to invest in water infrastructure, remove barriers to the use of natural infrastructure, and combat invasive species.

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 passed the committee by a vote of 21 to 0.

“Investing in water infrastructure creates jobs, benefits aquatic ecosystems, and spurs healthier habitat, fisheries, and wildlife,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We want to thank the committee for helping reduce barriers to the use of natural infrastructure, combat invasive species, and incentivize innovation.”

The bill contained several conservation components, including:

  • Investing in natural infrastructure
  • Addressing toxic algal blooms in the Everglades and Great Lakes
  • Remedy issues caused by invasive species
  • Funding watercraft inspection and decontamination stations
  • Modernizing aging irrigation delivery systems to reduce pressure on river systems that face drought

Founded in 2002, the TRCP is the largest coalition of conservation organizations in the country, uniting and amplifying the voices of sportsmen and women by convening hunting and fishing groups, conservation organizations, and outdoor businesses to a common purpose.

Top photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife

7 Responses to “Senate Committee Advances Water Infrastructure Legislation”

  1. Robert Palmer

    Why isn’t the lawn fertilizer industry ever accused? People add tons of this to their lawns every year! Just so they can compete with neighbors for who has the greenest weed free grass??? All that stuff also has to wash into our Great Lakes … let’s stop this!!
    Or is there too much money involved 😡😡

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Randall Williams

May 5, 2020

New Report on Big Game Migration Demonstrates Colorado’s Commitment to Key Conservation Priority

Sportsmen and women applaud the state’s assessment of threats to winter range and migration corridors and recommended conservation actions

Today Colorado Parks & Wildlife released its 2020 Status Report on Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors, a significant milestone in its work to conserve critical seasonal habitat and a direct result of Governor Jared Polis’ 2019 executive order on this issue. Sportsmen and women welcome the publication as a valuable resource to improve the conservation of big game winter range and migration corridors, as well as the agency’s commitment to this opportunity.

The report provides the public with a foundational understanding of the best-available science regarding Colorado’s migratory big game populations, including mule deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and moose. It also provides a snapshot of ongoing research on big game and areas requiring further study. Furthermore, Colorado Parks & Wildlife includes in the report a series of recommended actions to address the various threats to big game migration in the state.These recommendations set the stage for the next of the directives in Governor Polis’ order: a report to be completed by July 1 that includes policy actions necessary to conserve big game and their habitat.

“One of the biggest issues facing the conservation of big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats is ensuring policy is grounded in the most current science,” said Dr. Ed Arnett, Chief Scientist for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This report provides a good foundation to tackle that challenge and offers a blueprint to guide the work of state and federal agencies as well as their partners. Colorado Parks & Wildlife should be commended for their work and vision for big game conservation.”

In addition to outlining how the state manages and studies these big game animals, as well as summarizing the most up-to-date science regarding their populations, seasonal habitats and migration routes, and the threats they face, the report provides a forward-looking assessment of what is needed to ensure Colorado’s big game migrations continue well into the future. For each general category of conservation threat, such as transportation, the agency identifies specific problems and actions it will take to mitigate potential harm to big game populations. Along similar lines, Colorado Parks & Wildlife has produced a multifaceted list of short- (1-3 years) and long-term needs for additional data and better management.

“Colorado’s wildlife resources and hunting opportunities are second-to-none across the West, and the leadership shown by decision-makers and agency staff to conserve big game migration corridors will ensure that legacy continues well into the future,” said Madeleine West, Director of the Center for Western Lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and a Colorado resident. “This report has established a strong model that we hope other states will emulate.”

This report builds on a recent announcement from the Bureau of Land Management, included in a press release regarding its revision of the Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan, that the Colorado BLM has committed to updating its land use plans in the state to ensure management allocations are in accordance with the best-available habitat and migration science. Existing federal agency plans generally do not account for recent advances in science and technology demonstrating increased precision on how and where big game species move across the landscape.

“The Colorado BLM deserves a pat on the back for its commitment to updating management plans for the special consideration and management of habitats that allow big game animals to migrate,” continued West. “The hunting and fishing community looks forward to engaging productively in the BLM’s planning process to ensure the success of these efforts.”

What others are saying:

“We commend the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife for their continued focus on big game migration corridor conservation, in keeping with Colorado’s executive order and the Interior Department’s secretarial order. This report is a testament to the tireless work of Colorado’s wildlife managers and professionals in documenting the behavior of Colorado’s big game species over the last several decades. With one of the largest elk herds in the country, and a deer population that is struggling to maintain its numbers, the report provides a great foundation to move forward with collaborative planning efforts that safeguard Colorado’s big game herds, migratory corridors and important wildlife habitats, as well as Colorado’s outdoor legacy.”

Robin Knox

President, Colorado Wildlife Federation

“Mule deer populations in some parts of Colorado have been in decline for several years, and sporting groups like ours have been working with Colorado Parks & Wildlife and other partners throughout the state to improve the health of our herds. As research shows, winter ranges and migratory habitat are vital for mule deer survival and recruitment. This report brings home the connection between scientific data and boots-on-the-ground conservation, and hunters appreciate the seriousness with which wildlife managers in Colorado are approaching the issue of big game migration.”

Steve Belinda

Conservation Director, Mule Deer Foundation

 

Photo: Larry Lamsa via Flickr

Kristyn Brady

April 29, 2020

TRCP Launches Interactive Map of Organizational Accomplishments

2019, by all accounts, was an outstanding year for conservation and TRCP’s efforts to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released its annual report showcasing organizational accomplishments from 2019 in an interactive digital graphic.

Highlighted achievements include working with partners to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, passing legislation to support hunter recruitment, and securing investments in chronic wasting disease research and wildlife-friendly highway crossings. Overall, TRCP points to 2019 as being an amazing year for conservation and its organizational efforts.

“Hunting, fishing, and conservation have never been partisan issues,” says Rod Nelson, TRCP board chair, in an opening letter to supporters. “But today, a profound appreciation for the outdoors provides common ground for policymakers across the political spectrum to tackle some of our top priorities.”

“There are still many challenges, such as efforts to legitimize the overfishing of menhaden, roll back the Clean Water Act, or mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “But our united front, and that of sportsmen and women across the country, is proving to be a formidable force for good.”

Explore TRCP’s interactive report here.

 

Top photo by Dusan Smetana.

April 21, 2020

Looking Back on a Successful Season

In 2019, conservation provided fertile common ground for smart policymaking

Today, Washington is known more for acrimony and partisanship over policy than for achievement. Yet amidst all this noise and dysfunction, conservation—and the TRCP—had an amazing year in 2019.

Early in the year, Congress passed S. 47, a massive public lands bill that, among other things, protected key lands and waters and permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a critical conservation tool. It also clarified that all federal lands are open to hunting and fishing unless they are specifically closed through a public and transparent process.

Soon after, Congress passed legislation to manage water scarcity in the Colorado River and ramp up research on chronic wasting disease. Migrating animals got a helping hand in the Senate Highway Bill, thanks to a $250-million pilot program to build wildlife-friendly roadway crossings and aquatic connectivity projects. Lawmakers also invested in the next generation of hunters by modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Act.

On the administrative front, the Department of Interior made it harder to dispose of federal lands that are important for public access and outdoor recreation. And the Department of Commerce shut down the Atlantic menhaden fishery after Omega Protein—the only company that still practices industrial reduction fishing of this key forage species—decided to ignore federal catch limits.

The TRCP and its 60 formal partners played a key role in these victories and many others, proving once again that the voice of sportsmen and women transcends politics. Our annual report explores these accomplishments.

Hunting, fishing, and conservation have never been partisan issues. But today, a profound appreciation for the outdoors provides common ground for policymakers across the political spectrum to tackle some of our top priorities.

There are still many challenges, such as efforts to legitimize the overfishing of menhaden, roll back the Clean Water Act, or mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. But our united front, and that of sportsmen and women across the country, is proving to be a formidable force for good.

Thank you for your enduring support.

Sincerely,
Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO
Rod Nelson, Board Chair

 

Explore the 2019 Annual Report here.

 

Top photo by Dusan Smetana.

Randall Williams

March 10, 2020

MAPLand Act Simplifies Access to Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

Legislation invests in digitized, integrated mapping resources for outdoor recreation

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is hailing landmark legislation that will enhance outdoor recreation on public lands by investing in modern technology that allows sportsmen and women to know exactly which lands and waters they can access.

U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-Ariz) and Angus King (I-Maine) and U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Wash) and Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) today introduced the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act to digitize recreational access information and make those resources available to the public.

Currently, many of the easement records that identify legal means of access onto national forests or BLM-managed lands are stored at the local level in paper files, which makes it difficult for hunters, anglers, and even the agencies to identify public access opportunities. Of 37,000 existing easements held by the U.S. Forest Service, only 5,000 have been converted into digital files.

The MAPLand Act would direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as GIS files. These records would include information about legal easements and rights-of-way across private land; year-round or seasonal closures on roads and trails, as well as restrictions on vehicle-type; boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting; and areas of public waters that are closed to watercraft or have horsepower restrictions.

“GPS technology has become an essential part of the public-land user’s toolkit,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill will allow sportsmen and women to take full advantage of the world-class opportunities on our public lands, make it easier to follow the rules while recreating outside, and reduce access conflicts. Quite simply, this is a common-sense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. We want to thank Senators McSally and King and Representatives Fulcher and Kilmer for taking the lead on this important legislation.”

In addition to improving the public’s ability to access public lands, the bill would help land management agencies — in cooperation with private landowners — prioritize projects to acquire new public land access or improve existing access. According to a 2018 report by the TRCP and onX, a digital-mapping company, more than 9.52 million acres of federally managed public lands in the West lack permanent legal public access because they are surrounded entirely by private lands. Digitizing easement records would be the first step towards addressing this challenge systematically.

 

What Others Are Saying:

“Public land recreation has been revolutionized by handheld GPS technology in smartphones and other devices, allowing users of all types and experience levels to know where they stand in the outdoors. After spending over a decade gathering recreation information for our customers and making it easily discoverable, we continue to find valuable recreation information that exists only on paper. The data need to be complete, easy to find, and easy to use for the public to fully understand the recreation opportunities available to them. The MAPLand Act is a much-needed investment in the outdoor recreation industry and in the future of empowering the public to get outside and experience our public lands.”
— Eric Siegfried, Founder, onX

“The Mule Deer Foundation commends Senators McSally and King and Representatives Fulcher and Kirby on the introduction of the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act. This important legislation will do a great deal to assist sportsmen and women in identifying places where they can hunt and fish on the public lands that they as taxpayers own. All told, this is a common-sense and long-overdue idea that will benefit sportsmen and women, as well as the communities all across our country with economies driven by outdoor-recreation spending.”
— Miles Moretti, President/CEO, The Mule Deer Foundation

“Quality hunting and fishing opportunities have two requirements: healthy habitat and access. This bill makes sure that information about public land access and areas open for hunting and fishing is kept current and readily available for sportsmen and women. We want to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the world-class sporting opportunities found on public lands and this legislation will help to ensure just that.”
— Steve Kandell, Director, Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project

“Access is one of the most important aspects for a thriving outdoor recreation economy. Yet, it isn’t just access to land and water, it’s also access to information about the very lands we recreate on, where they are, when and how they are accessible and oftentimes this data is antiquated or even inaccurate. In order for us to continue to grow this important sector that makes up 2.2% of the national GDP and employs 5.2 million Americans, we need to know where we can get outside on public and private lands and when and how to best protect them. Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act will help us do just that and improve the information we have to safely enjoy all that outdoor recreation has to offer. ORR is proud to support this legislation.”
— Jessica Wahl, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

 

Image courtesy of National Parks.

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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