Derek Eberly

May 13, 2020

PA Sportsmen and Women Urge Lawmakers Not to Abandon Job-Creating Conservation Projects

State budgets may be stretched thin, but now is not the time to borrow from successful conservation funding initiatives

You only need to walk into a tackle shop on a typical Saturday morning to understand that Pennsylvania’s enviable natural resources are directly tied to outdoor recreation spending and jobs. Both the beauty of our lands and waters and strength of our outdoor recreation industry are particularly meaningful in the midst of a health and unemployment crisis.

But we wouldn’t have these benefits without investments in conservation.

Right now, we’re pushing back on legislation that would disrupt the flow of funds to critical job-creating conservation projects. Across the country, state budgets are being stretched by the COVID-19 response, but this is not the time to balance the budget with cuts to conservation. Here’s why we’re fighting this in PA.

 

Known as “The Many Turns River” by the Unami-Lenape native people, who originally inhabited this valley, the Conococheague Creek is a tributary to the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The many parks, trails, and public lands along its banks have been improved or created by Keystone Fund dollars. Photo by Derek Eberly.
A Track Record of Success

Twenty years ago, the Growing Greener Program was signed into law, securing the investment of $650 million in the state’s natural resources over five years. Today, the state’s Keystone Fund and Environmental Stewardship Fund help to restore and conserve lands and waters that power Pennsylvania’s $26.9-billion outdoor recreation industry.

The diverse businesses in PA’s outdoor recreation sector support more than 390,000 jobs and almost $17 billion in salaries and wages, and their employees generate over $300 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue. Plus, the demand for outdoor recreation opportunities has only increased during the COVID crisis.

Conservation projects keep Pennsylvanians working, too. More than 6,000 projects in 25 years have helped to conserve 190,000 acres of land, and to complete them, county conservation districts and nonprofits sustain a laundry list of well-paying jobs for workers across the state.

Cacoosing Creek in Berks County, PA, is a Class A wild trout fishery and tributary to the Tulpehocken Creek, which flows into the Schuylkill. This top-quality spring creek has benefited from projects paid for by the Keystone Fund. Photo by Derek Eberly.

“These projects employ public works staff, conservation district staff, local surveyors, general contractors, excavators, farm operators, equipment rental and sales companies, and agriculture consultants, such as crop advisers, nutrition specialists, and farm plan writers,” says Sarah Xenophon, a watershed technician for Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. She often works with sportsmen’s groups, landowners, and nonprofits to use Keystone Fund and Environmental Stewardship Fund dollars to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

These partnerships are key to getting more bang for state bucks. The ESF and Keystone Fund leverage public/private partnerships to amplify the impact of public conservation dollars. Continuing to allow them to fund shovel-ready projects ensures that we keep this critical part of Pennsylvania’s economy open. It allows us to put small businesses to work on our natural infrastructure and environmental services that build our resilience to natural events, like flash floods.

Here are just a few examples of projects made possible by the Keystone Fund and Environmental Stewardship Fund with benefits for hunters and anglers.

Projects like this one in Southern Lancaster County have turned once barren meadow streams into Class A wild trout streams. Despite their size, these small creeks are now home to impressive wild trout, thanks to state conservation dollars. Habitat restoration projects employ the services of local contractors and suppliers creating good-paying jobs and better fishing opportunities for all. Photo by Derek Eberly.
Critical Waters

In March 2015, the Wildlands Conservancy received $1.3 million from the Keystone Fund to help purchase land adjacent to state game lands in Wayne and Lackawanna County and transfer them to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for public use. This purchase permanently protects approximately 500 acres of wetlands, including the headwaters of the Lehigh River, and provides drinking water for 180,000 residents.

Trees for Trout

In 2018, the Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited received $50,000 from the Environmental Stewardship Fund to construct 15 acres of riparian forest buffers on wild trout streams in southern Lancaster county. The grant, administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, requires a one to one match that the chapter provided through in-kind volunteer hours and trees from its nursery.

The Little J

In 2008, the Little Juniata River Association used $102,000 from the Keystone Fund to preserve public access to five miles of class A wild trout waters along the Little Juniata River, which is known for its healthy wild brown trout and excellent dry fly fishing. The area draws anglers from across the mid-Atlantic and beyond—in fact, President Eisenhower and President Carter both visited the area while in office to sample some of the best fishing that central Pennsylvania has to offer.

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Aug 29, 1910

Prevent Cuts to Conservation

As in years past, attempts are being made to disrupt 30 years of stabilized funding for conservation projects provided by these funds. Specifically, amended language to House Bill 1822 would freeze funding for any new conservation contracts coming from the Keystone Fund, ESF, and county conservation district funds. Meanwhile, other proposals have been made to alter the way these funds are appropriated.

As sportsmen and women, we need to send a strong message that now is not the time to stop funding conservation. Continued investments mean more opportunities to find solace in the outdoors during a very uncertain time, but this funding supports job creation, as well.

If you are from Pennsylvania, your state lawmakers need to hear from you today. Click here to take action. Supportive out-of-state hunters and anglers, please consider asking friends or family to sign our action alert. In-state voices will have the most impact, but our fish and wildlife are here for you, too.

 

Top photo of Pennsylvania’s state fish, the brook trout, by Derek Eberly.

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VA Cuts Menhaden Quota, But Omega Retains Dubious “Sustainable” Label

All the strikes against the industrial fishing operation’s claim of sustainability

In more good news for Atlantic menhaden, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission announced last week that it would set a lower quota for Omega Protein’s industrial harvest operation in the 2020 season. The company brazenly defied the established catch limits on menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay last year, and fisheries managers rejected their request to scale back for the overage more gradually over the course of the next two seasons.

Omega’s rapacious appetite for harvesting as many menhaden as it possibly can is hardly breaking news. For decades, the foreign-owned company has had a monopoly on a public marine resource, threatening the ecology and economy of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastal communities.

Anglers know firsthand why menhaden are called the most important fish in the sea: Because they are extremely valuable food for many popular and valuable game fish, including striped bass, red drum, bluefish, cobia, tuna, and flounder. Leaving more of these crucial forage in the water is one of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s key conservation initiatives.

Image courtesy of J.B.Pribanic.

Which is why it is so hard to fathom how Omega Protein can be called “sustainable” in the first place, let alone keep its certification from the Marine Stewardship Council—an international organization that helps determine which fisheries qualify for a seal of approval. Given the fact that Omega willfully blasted past the legitimate Bay cap by more than 30 percent in 2019, one would think the company would be sheepish about continuing to flout this specious sustainability claim.

If legitimately earned, these labels allow consumers to make informed seafood choices. And companies can typically charge a premium to recoup costs associated with being more environmentally responsible. To earn the MSC “blue checkmark” label, for example, seafood companies are required to follow internationally recognized best practices for operating healthy, sustainable fisheries while causing minor impacts on the marine food chain. But the MSC is a for-profit venture, and despite the blowback from anglers, Omega seemed able to buy their way to “sustainability” in 2019.

This was before the company violated the Bay cap last fall, but after it was cited for Clean Water Act violations and paid a $400,000 fine to the Security and Exchange Commission for misleading investors.

Fisheries managers, however, are holding Omega accountable. In October, the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission–the coastal board of professionals that manages shared marine resources–unanimously voted Virginia out of compliance with its menhaden management plan.

Then, in December 2019, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross upheld the ASMFC’s ruling and imposed a moratorium on all menhaden fishing in Virginia waters, effective June 17, 2020, until the state—and, really, just Omega—comes into compliance. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and its partners, along with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and eight other East Coast governors, helped persuade Secretary Ross to hold Omega accountable.

Full compliance with the ASMFC’s management plan is important, because if the moratorium takes effect, it could have severe economic consequences—not only for Omega’s workers, but also for Bay watermen, charter captains, tackle shop owners, and recreational fishermen.

This isn’t what sportfishing groups want to see happen.

Photo by David Blinken.

Thankfully, the Virginia General Assembly recently passed historic legislation that transfers authority for managing menhaden from the state legislature, where it has been highly politicized for decades, to the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, which was already effectively managing all other marine fisheries in the state—including striped bass, crabs, and oysters. The TRCP and its sportfishing partners played a pivotal role in getting this landmark legislation across the finish line.

Both the new law transferring management authority and the VMRC’s swift action to limit Omega’s harvest this year are historic wins for marine conservation. Later this year, the ASMFC is expected to vote on a new plan for managing menhaden according to their broader ecological value, which offers another opportunity to advance the sound conservation of such a vital resource.

With so many groups invested in securing the future of this forage fish, could it be time for MSC to rethink their tacit endorsement of Omega Protein and yank the “sustainable” label? If you ask me, sucking up thousands of tons of critical food for our most important game fish and disrupting the marine food chain, is about as far from being a responsible steward of a public resource as you can get.

Incredibly, SAI Global, an independent auditor for the MSC that supported Omega’s accreditation, claimed “there is no firm evidence” that the operation affects the species’ sustainability. Recreational anglers and conservationists know better. That’s why we have objected at every stage of the certification process.

Recreational fishing on Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Alicia Pimental/Chesapeake Bay Program.

Without a doubt, there is much at stake to keep the pressure on Omega Protein to be accountable for their actions. Sportfishing is both culturally and economically important to the Chesapeake and mid-Atlantic region. According to a 2016 study by Southwick Associates, striped bass generated almost $8 billion to our country’s GDP. Thousands of jobs tied to a healthy striper population—charter captains, marinas, bait and tackle shops, hotels, and restaurants, to list several—are at risk if menhaden populations are overfished. Moreover, 32 percent of recreational and 69 percent of commercial harvest of stripers comes from the Chesapeake, resulting in a combined economic impact of approximately $2.5 billion.

In Virginia alone, striped bass drove more than $240 million in economic activity just a decade ago. Sadly, those numbers have plummeted to just over $100 million annually. The recent decline in the population of this marquee game fish has already resulted in reduced seasons and creel limits, putting the livelihoods of many coastal residents in jeopardy. In fact, striped bass charters in 2019 were down between 50 and 100 percent in some areas. The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has already added to the stress.

Reminder: Omega’s industrialized fleet is the last of its kind on the entire East Coast. All other states have banned reduction fishing using such highly mechanized boats, nets, and gear. And yet Omega—and Daybrooke in the Gulf of Mexico—continues to pulverize these protein-packed fish into oils and powders used in health supplements and, increasingly, as feed for overseas aquaculture operations.

Omega’s operation is particularly nettlesome on the Chesapeake, where concerns over localized depletion have persisted for decades and conflicts with anglers are on the upswing. When Omega Protein flouts its industrial operation as “sustainable,” it’s a step too far. Especially given that state and coastal fishery leaders have taken encouraging steps to better manage menhaden, the label simply doesn’t fit.

 

Captain Chris Dollar is a professional fishing guide, tackle shop owner, all-around Chesapeake outdoorsman, and writer.

Top photo by the Bywaters via flickr.

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posted in: Outdoor Economy

April 24, 2020

Congress Could Put Americans Back to Work Through Conservation

Why post-COVID economic recovery efforts should include investments in our public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation infrastructure

While the coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the health of Americans and stressed entire segments of the economy, the efforts of our lawmakers to negotiate and pass multiple emergency supplemental funding bills deserves recognition. These steps have improved COVID-19 response and helped to protect America’s small businesses and workers.

This effort has focused on providing support for those who are struggling—and rightly so. The legislation even incentivizes those with the means to contribute to first-response efforts, care groups, and nonprofits like the TRCP.

But when the time comes to turn our attention to economic recovery and putting Americans back to work, we believe that Congress should make key investments in conservation. Here is what we’d prioritize and why.

Salmon migrating upstream in the Bonneville Dam fish ladder. Photo by Tony Grover.
Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure

Think: Improvements to access roads, boat ramps, campgrounds, visitor facilities, and other deferred maintenance projects that have been sorely underfunded on our public lands.

The benefits of investing in this recreation infrastructure are clear and compelling. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation’s annual economic impact is $778 billion each year. While 40 million Americans hunt and fish each year, it is likely that millions more have enjoyed the benefits of the outdoors over the past several weeks and will continue to do so in the months ahead. It has become evident that American wellbeing is inextricably linked to our commitment to conserving and improving our great outdoors. Investing in the restoration of our nation’s natural resources helps get people back to work.

These investments attract new businesses, recruit and retain employees, and improve quality of life by supporting rural economies, connecting urban populations with our natural treasures, and helping people build healthy lives. In the bargain, we get cleaner air and water, improved fish and wildlife habitat, and better experiences afield.

Congressional leaders should keep this in mind.

Photo by Michael Campbell/BLM.
A Five-Year Highway Bill

Given that the current highway bill expires in September 2020, the conservation community sees this as an opportunity to improve federal road systems, greenways, campgrounds, trails, marinas, and bike paths that connect our communities, improve safety, enhance quality of life, and drive forward recreation economies for rural and urban areas alike. The TRCP is especially supportive of language in the existing Senate bill that funds wildlife-friendly highway crossings at $250 million over five years.

Along with this influx of cash, however, it is critical that design and construction of our roads, highways, bridges, ports, and airports is better integrated into our communities and natural systems—beginning from the project inception phase. As the country recovers and gets back to work, we’ll need to look for every opportunity to reduce costs, address costly safety concerns, expedite project timelines, reduce environmental impacts, and respond to societal needs. Congress has a chance to lead on improved implementation of nature-based and natural infrastructure solutions—including fish and wildlife crossings and connectivity, stormwater reduction, and wetlands restoration—that are smart from the start.

Photo by Paul Bakke/USFWS.
Water Resources

Congress also needs to address the biennial authorization of the Water Resources Development Act, which traditionally garners widespread bipartisan support. Conservationists strongly encourage lawmakers to specifically include robust funding for studies and restoration projects in the Mississippi River watershed and programs that build drought resiliency, increase water efficiency, and infuse critical resources for our nation’s Western water delivery systems and agricultural sector.

Specific Line Items That Advance Conservation on a Landscape Scale

Across the federal government, there are a suite of habitat restoration programs designed to benefit fish and wildlife and enhance the resiliency of our natural systems, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, and the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Program. These on-the-ground restoration programs infuse important resources into local communities, generate construction jobs, leverage state, local, and private sector resources at ratios of 3:1 or greater, and provide countless environmental benefits for our local communities.

There are also high-priority projects across the country to reverse wildfire damage, remove invasive species, restore habitat and water quality, and empower outdoor recreation users to get involved in conservation and wildlife research.

These efforts could productively and rapidly utilize an influx of funding to achieve meaningful on-the-ground conservation work, and we strongly encourage funding for these programs to be included in the stimulus. But legislative language should ensure that funding for projects should be contingent on the completion of an appropriate level of environmental review, with a strong preference for projects that have already been subject to environmental analysis.

Photo by FolsomNatural via flickr.
Lessons from the Past

It’s important to note that lawmakers have taken these steps before. In what became a successful effort to get the economy moving again after the financial crisis of 2008, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Among a host of other provisions, ARRA wisely included substantial investments in public lands, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, and water quality, sending critical funding to projects that had the dual benefit of getting people back to work and providing a multitude of clear public benefits.

Certainly, COVID-19 is the most serious threat our nation and our world has faced in many years, and Congress must continue to combat the virus and its impact on our healthcare system and vulnerable populations. But in the midst of this crisis, addressing our natural resources and outdoor recreation infrastructure is also of particular relevance, as so many Americans seek renewal and reconnection on public lands and waters. The current economic situation seems well-suited for committing to America’s outdoor resources and the jobs they can create.

Support these priorities by taking action HERE.

 

This post was updated on July 22, 2020, when the House passed the Great American Outdoors Act, securing a top priority for creating shovel-ready jobs that we listed here previously.

Top photo of a fish-friendly culvert project by Washington State Department of Transportation via flickr.

Reading Recommendations for Stuck-at-Home Sportsmen and Women

A handful of page-turners to keep hunters and anglers entertained and educated

Perhaps not surprisingly, given his well-known curiosity and his own accomplishments as a writer, Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader. He often juggled several books at once, covering wide-ranging subjects, and commonly recommended or sent books to friends and acquaintances.

With more time at home than usual, many Americans are finding time to catch up on the reading that can seem difficult to fit into everyday life. So we reached out to staff, board members, and friends of TRCP for suggestions on what books sportsmen and women might enjoy during these strange times.

Here are their recommendations:

I am reading Walter Stahr’s Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, a detailed biography of the disheveled man from Auburn, New York, who would be President Lincoln’s right hand throughout the depths of the Civil War, and would go on to serve as Secretary of State for another three years after Lincoln’s death. Of course, we have Seward to thank for the acquisition of Alaska from Russia, often referred to as ‘Seward’s Folly.”

Steve Kline, chief policy officer, TRCP

To be fair, it was the film adaptation of A River Runs Through It that inspired so many people, including me, to pick up a fly rod for the first time. But Maclean’s prose deserves all of the credit. The writing is, at times, impossibly beautiful and feels effortless—much like a perfect fly cast. And the final sentence will stay with you, always.

Colin Kearns, editor-in-chief, Field & Stream

Butcher’s Crossing: A Novel by John Williams tells the story of a buffalo hunt in the 1870s. The conservation movement was driven in part by the slaughter of animals in the second half of the 19th century enabled by improved firearms, improved transportation, and a growing population. This realistic novel of a late buffalo hunt curled my hair.

John Griffin, TRCP Board of Directors

I would recommend Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, about the failed attempt to cross Antarctica in 1914. It is a really good read about leading through challenge – and a cool historical story.

Becky Humphries, chief executive officer, National Wild Turkey Federation

I’m currently reading the novel A Gentleman in Moscow, which was a wedding gift last year from a mentor in the outdoor industry. It’s entirely different from what I’m usually reading, but now is the perfect time to dive into some fiction that takes place in a world far away. It’s a charming story that really takes me out of the day-to-day and I appreciate how little it relates to what I spend most of my time thinking and worrying about. Now is definitely the time for all my non-fiction lovers to pick up a good novel!

Jessica Wahl, executive director, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

Fishing Through the Apocalypse by Matthew Miller: Writer and conservationist Matthew Miller manages to write a series of stories about the dire situation for fish in this country, while also making the reader feel hopeful. Each one is full of valuable insight and information packaged together as entertaining fishing stories. If you need a watery escape, pick this one up.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald: This novel is part a story about overcoming grief and largely a story about hawks, hunting and a human’s connection to the wild. It’s also a pure joy to read. Her sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters read like music, even as that music describes a hawk eviscerating a rabbit.

Christine Peterson, journalist and vice president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America

The one I’m reading now is The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan, a fascinating account of how we have abused the Great Lakes. It is a good read and also provides hope if we chose to undo, or at least not repeat, some of the mistakes of the past.

Whit Fosburgh, president and chief executive officer, TRCP

 

 

While we were at it, we asked our TRCP membership what books should be on the shelf of every conservationist. The top choices were, as follows:

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1939)

“If you want to read a single book that speaks to the foundations of wildlife ecology and management in the United States, this is the one.”–Dave Hays, Boise, ID

Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley (2010)

“One of the best books I’ve read on Teddy Roosevelt’s fight to establish the public lands that we hold dear and his uncompromising values regarding the great outdoors and his passion for fair chase hunting.”–Gary Payeur, Florissant, MO

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella (2008)

“The book does a fantastic job describing the history of the buffalo in North America. The story is all told in parallel to the author pursuing this wonderful game animal. Once the history is told and a buffalo is in the meat is packed out, the author describes the future of the animal and how we can continue to help preserve it going forward.”–Zachary Denton, Peawaukee, WI

The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark (1957)

“This is a book on raising a child to appreciate the outdoors, hunting, and becoming a sportsman, told in an incredibly poignant and humorous way.”–Glen Carlson, Silverdale, WA

That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America’s Public Lands by Mark Kenyon (2019)

“Best book I’ve ever read about public lands. Kenyon does an extraordinary job weaving his personal storytelling with the history, current status, and future of public lands. It is motivating and awe-inspiring.”–Garrett Miller, Butler, PA

 

And the Honorable Mentions:

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West by Wallace Stegner (1954)

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan (2009)

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey (1968)

Goodbye to a River by John Graves (1960)

The Invention of Nature: Alexander Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf (2015)

The Overstory: A Novel by Richard Powers (2018)

The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1947)

Salmon Without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis by Jim Lichatowich (1999)

The Tenth Legion by Col. Tom Kelly (1973)

Add your favorite to our list here.

 

If you’re looking to pick up one of these titles, be sure to click through to our AmazonSmile page so that a percentage of your purchase is donated to the TRCP. Happy reading!

Cory Deal

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posted in: Outdoor Economy

April 10, 2020

Conservation Partners Jump “In The Arena” To Help Those in Need

Industry leaders spearhead efforts to combat COVID-19

We’ve said it before, but it’s always worth repeating: the TRCP is proud to have the support of some true leaders in the business world, who time and time again step up on behalf of fish, wildlife, and outdoor opportunities for all Americans. And in recent weeks, as COVID-19 has upended everyday life around this country, we’re prouder than ever of our corporate partners for their generosity and commitment to the greater good.

With many retail stores barred to entry and factory production rates slowing or halted, members of our corporate community are lending their resources to the fight. From retrofitting factories to restocking food bank shelves, these companies are committing their time, money, and production equipment to help us get through this difficult time.

As Theodore Roosevelt famously 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.” By taking action when it is needed most, here’s how the companies below* are taking care of those in need and setting an example for the rest of us.

Coca-Cola

The beverage company’s Atlanta-based factory has teamed up with Georgia Tech University to produce more than 50,000 plastic surgical shields that will be distributed to local hospitals and health care workers.

L.L. Bean

Founded in 1912 by its namesake, outdoorsman Leon Leonwood Bean, this New England institution is using experience gained over the last 100+ years of producing outdoors gear to create protective masks. The company is working with MaineHealth and Intermed and has plans to use its existing supply chain team to create and distribute 1 million masks. The company is also working with local food banks and using its distribution center to restock shelves for families in need.

Mystery Ranch

In an effort to help local medical facilities, Bozeman-based Mystery Ranch is using the antimicrobial and breathable fabric used in their backpacks to produce much-needed personal protective equipment for frontline workers. Along with the time of its expert employees and the use of its sewing facilities, the industry-leading pack manufacturer has also contributed additional materials from its stock to others in the community with the capacity to manufacture extra masks.

NEMO Equipment

This outdoor equipment company is encouraging individuals to recreate responsibly while enjoying the open air through a series of posts on outdoor activities that you can enjoy near your home and a photo challenge. This Instagram-based competition is calling on those who love the outdoors to highlight the creative ways they’re enjoying outdoor spaces while practicing safe social distancing through photos. In addition, NEMO is publishing a series of blogs with ideas for close-to-home adventures to help outdoor enthusiasts alleviate their cabin fever responsibly.

Orvis

Known for its high-quality fishing gear, this company has partnered with organizations near its Roanoke, VA fulfillment center to produce 2,000 cloth face coverings per week. These non-medical-grade masks will be distributed to those experiencing homelessness in the are and will help protect this particularly vulnerable population.

Outdoor Research

Drawing on almost its nearly 40-year history of forward-thinking innovation, Outdoor Research’s Seattle factory will be converted to produce N95 surgical masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment to help address the increased need for these essential medical supplies.

Patagonia

Despite closing operations early in the outbreak to protect workers, Patagonia has committed to providing employees with regular pay throughout the crisis in an effort to protect the communities it serves. The company also has staff reaching out to nonprofits and offering volunteer services to support their operations.

Peak Design

This environmentally-focused design company is utilizing the launch of its latest product to provide coronavirus relief and help fight climate change with a commitment to donate 100% of profits earned from the first four days (4/7-4/11) that their Travel Tripod is on sale to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation.

REI

Despite closing the doors of its 162 retail stores, this outdoor retailer has committed to pay all store employees through April 14th in a letter from the company president and CEO. The company has also made the decision to keep online stores open and is offering free shipping to support those looking for outdoor recreation opportunities while social distancing.

Simms Fishing Products

This pillar of the fishing community is “wading” into the fight against COVID-19 and partnering with Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. The fishing products company is using Gore-Tex—a material traditionally employed in the production of their popular waterproof waders—to produce more than 1,500 medical-grade gowns per week.

Vista Outdoors

Despite uncertainty, Vista Outdoors has committed to expand its support for non-profit organizations through partnerships and brand-level support. Federal Ammunition–a company under the umbrella of Vista–has also donated multiple cases of N-95 face masks to health care facilities.

*Editor’s Note: We tried to find as many of these stories as we could, but the above list is not comprehensive. Similar efforts we might have overlooked will be added to the list as time allows. Let us know in the comments below of any other hunting and fishing brands stepping up in the fight against COVID-19.

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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