Three TRCP Core Beliefs About How to Communicate With Our Members
Here is what we pledge to you as we keep you informed on all the ways to be a conservation advocate
As you get to know us, we hope you’ll find that the TRCP is a go-to resource on the complex world of conservation. Yes, we’re nerdy for policy, habitat, and wildlife management, but we also have three simple beliefs when it comes to communicating with you about it:
Hunters and anglers can be counted on to understand all the complicated issues we face as a community—those that boil down to a few words (keep it public!) and those that require a few hundred words of a blog post or report to explain.
But you shouldn’t have to wade through a sea of acronyms to keep up—we translate the jargon for you. In fact, at our in-person events, anyone who doesn’t say the full name of a bill, organization, or program the first time it’s mentioned makes a “donation” to the TRCP, kind of like a swear jar!
If it’s not a credible threat, we won’t raise the alarm. Some groups will fundraise or create a lot of hoopla over bad bills (or even bad ideas) that will never go anywhere. Basically, we don’t B.S. or waste your time.
Take up our rallying cry for sportsmen and women who step up and speak out about the things that matter most
If you’ve ever set up on a turkey roost in pitch darkness or stalked into a remote treestand before daylight, you’ve felt it: The woods coming alive with the first hopeful rays of sun and your own awareness starting to prickle.
It happens on the water, too—all is calm as your lure drifts, and suddenly there’s the faintest nudge, a slight tension, and you’re compelled to react. Or you’re scanning the open ocean, bobbing along peacefully, until you spot dozens of gulls diving at fish and you kick your engine into high gear.
The time we spend in the outdoors is split between contemplative, watchful moments and decisive periods of action—and it’s this second part that is the spirit of the TRCP’s #WakeTheWoods movement. Because there are times when it pays to be silent and stealthy, but when it comes to conservation, there are some things worth making noise about. We have to act, as sure as we do when we set the hook or squeeze the trigger.
Today, being an advocate for habitat, clean water, sportsmen’s access, and the outdoor recreation economy means doing more, digging in further, and speaking our minds. No one is going to come find you on the sidelines and ask for your perspective on conservation funding or how to combat chronic wasting disease and mismanagement of public lands.
Having seen what you’ve seen in the outdoors—closer to our lands, waters, and wildlife than many Americans ever hope to be—who could say it better than you?
Sure, we all have busy lives. That’s why we choose to slow down and seek out the natural world the same way that hunters and anglers have been doing for generations. If you can take the time to watch the forest wake up, to wait for a long-legged critter to step into shooting range, or perhaps to attempt that drift for the 25th time… you can take the time to make sure the future of these traditions is secure.
That’s why TRCP makes communicating with key decision-makers far easier than calling in a gobbler or trading bugles with a ghost of a bull elk. On our website, sending a meaningful targeted message about a legislative priority that could affect habitat, access, or funding probably takes less time and fewer steps than renewing your hunting or fishing license.
We hope you’ll trust that you can get the facts from us, but we are asking sportsmen and women to band together, whether you are a TRCP member or not. Because we know you’re not content to sit idly by. We know you have something to say. We know that, united, we can spark change and an awakening in the dimmest corners of our policymaking system. After all, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will.” Let’s get loud about the things that matter most.
Looking ahead at the most pressing policy needs for habitat, access, and the outdoor recreation economy
Push Congress to Put Americans Back to Work Through Conservation
Secure conservation priorities that also support jobs in future COVID-19 economic recovery bills. This includes programs that fund and facilitate improvements to habitat, access, and outdoor recreation infrastructure.
Coordinate with Partners on Climate Change Legislation
Build a coalition and lead the sportsmen’s community on a comprehensive climate change strategy. Influence policy to help build resiliency in coastal and forest habitats, agricultural practices, and water systems.
Advance the MAPLand Act
The data at our fingertips on smartphones and GPS units means nothing if it’s incomplete. This legislation promises to modernize public land records so you don’t miss out on hunting or fishing opportunities that are only marked on a paper map in the back of some dusty filing cabinet.
Ensure Proper Implementation of the Farm Bill
In 2018, we celebrated passage of the five-year bill with increased funding for conservation. Now we must push the administration to deliver on all of the bill’s promises for better habitat, access, and soil health.
Increase Investments in the Fight Against Chronic Wasting Disease
State wildlife agencies that have been scrambling to combat this fatal disease in wild deer, elk, and moose herds need meaningful federal support. The TRCP will continue to push for these resources.
Address Maintenance Backlog on Federal Public Lands
Advance legislation—some that’s already in play—with dedicated funding for deferred maintenance projects that undermine Americans’ experiences on public lands. Keep advocating for robust funding of public land agencies so this backlog does not grow.
Spur Policies That Conserve Migration Corridors and Fund Wildlife Crossings
Build on recent successes to codify conservation policies for previously overlooked seasonal habitats, like big game migration routes and summer and winter ranges. Secure new funding streams for wildlife-friendly highway overpasses and underpasses, which connect fragmented habitats and keep animals off roads.
Mobilize Sportsmen and Women to Take Action for Conservation
Continue the TRCP’s grassroots work to engage hunters and anglers in advocacy and the public process of managing public lands. Educate our audience on what’s at stake, offer meaningful opportunities for them to communicate with decision-makers, and amplify their voices to effect policy change.
Top photo by Tim Donovan at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
How Far Fish Habitat Has Come in the Ten Years Since the Gulf Oil Spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was ten years ago, and Louisiana’s coastal habitat is being rebuilt to flourish even better than before. In fact, lands that experts predicted would have vanished by now are supporting fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreation spending.
A decade ago, bulldozers, excavators, and hard-hat-donning work crews were removing millions of pounds of sand and vegetation coated in thick, tarry oil from Louisiana’s beaches and barrier islands after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
The heavy equipment and hard hats have returned to our coast, but now it’s in an effort to restore damaged fish and wildlife habitat using fines paid by BP and others responsible for the spill. This year alone, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority—in conjunction with federal partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service—will begin, continue, or conclude restoration projects representing an investment of more than $250 million in Deepwater Horizon penalties.
Thirteen barrier islands and headland beaches line the Louisiana coast from Venice to the Barataria, Timbalier, and Terrebonne Basins. All of them have either been restored in the 10 years since the oil stopped spewing or will be restored in the next 10 years. In addition, some smaller islands beyond these areas—which are also critical habitat for fish, brown pelicans, and other coastal birds—have been restored.
Louisiana’s barrier islands and beaches are all remnant headlands of the ever-shifting Mississippi River Delta and the first line of defense against hurricanes and violent winter storms that batter the northern Gulf. Without barrier islands to break up the waves and dampen storm surges, the vulnerable wetlands and nursery grounds north of the islands would crumble and coastal communities would become even more exposed to the full fury of the Gulf of Mexico.
Of course, this is also extremely important habitat for the Gulf’s most popular sportfish, like speckled trout, redfish, and Spanish mackerel. If the surf is light, these beaches and islands are lined with boats and surf anglers tossing topwaters, live shrimp, and a variety of plastic plugs and swimbaits. On most summer days, the line of boats along popular Elmer’s Island and Timbalier Island stretches from horizon to horizon.
The dynamic nature of Louisiana’s coastline and the lack of sediment input from the Mississippi River has shortened the lifespan of many of these critical islands, especially since the river was extensively levied in the late 19th and early 20th century. Without investments of oil spill penalties and funds from state-federal partnership programs, some islands would be little more than subsurface sandbars today.
“In the early 80s, the islands in Terrebonne Parish were losing land at a tremendous rate and the prediction then was that all of those islands would be gone by 2015,” says Bren Haase, executive director of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. “However, there have been a host of restoration efforts made throughout the area that have kept those islands largely intact and the land area has stayed roughly constant over the last 30 years.”
Three of the beach and island projects currently underway are designed to keep the Terrebonne Basin intact for the next 20 years or more and provide protection for infrastructure and the fishing camps, marinas, and bait shops in small but important towns like Port Fourchon, Leeville, Cocodrie, and Dulac.
Approximately 9.2 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged from a massive ancient Mississippi River delta in about 30 feet of water off Terrebonne Parish. The sand will be barged to the beaches and then shaped with earth-moving equipment before being planted with native grasses to help hold it in place.
In all, approximately $167 million in fines from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund is being spent to revive and extend the life of the West Belle Pass headland, Timbalier Island, and Trinity Island. The GEBF was the first fund established with oil spill penalties and dedicated $2.4 billion Gulf-wide to projects that restore fish and wildlife habitat damaged by Deepwater Horizon.
Haase, who has worked on coastal habitat restoration and hurricane protection efforts in Louisiana for more than 20 years, says the oil spill fines have allowed the CPRA and federal partners to expedite project construction, while dramatically increasing the size and scope of island and beach restoration projects.
Restoration efforts that once consisted of projects costing $15-million to $30-million and taken on piecemeal have grown into massive $100-million projects that can rebuild hundreds of miles of beach, dune, and tidal marsh all at once.
“Over the last decade we’ve taken a more system-wide approach to barrier island restoration,” says Haase. “Rather than build one project here and there, in our analysis, we saw that there were weaknesses in certain areas of islands and headlands that we could address that would prevent breaches and help provide more protection to the habitats inside the barrier islands.”
The challenge was always to use the unprecedented fines and penalties paid by those responsible for the economic and environmental destruction and loss of life to make sure the mistakes of the past weren’t repeated—to make the Gulf a better place post-spill. Louisiana’s investment and the innovation developed in restoring its critical barrier islands, beaches, and marshes shows that our state has wholeheartedly embraced that responsibility.
When It Comes to Protecting Streams, Sometimes What’s in a Name Matters
Anglers are campaigning to update the designations of some Pennsylvania waterways to reflect the exceptional status of their wild trout populations and water quality
With 86,000 miles of streams and about 4,000 inland lakes, Pennsylvania is home to some of the best publicly accessible fishing that the East Coast has to offer, including phenomenal trout and bass fishing. With opportunities like these, it’s no wonder that 1.3 million Pennsylvanians fished their local waterways in 2016, helping contribute to the state’s $26.9-billion outdoor recreation economy.
Since 2010, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has worked with sportsmen and local universities to distinguish our best waters through the Unassessed Waters Initiative. Based on the UWI’s evaluation, stream sections that meet a set of criteria are eligible for certain protections. For example, streams that have abundant populations of wild rainbow, brown, and brook trout can be eligible for Wild Trout Stream or Class A Stream designations. Protecting these streams ensures that the outdoor recreation industry continues to thrive and that future generations can enjoy the same (or better) fishing opportunities.
Four times each year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission staff propose streams to be added to the Wild Trout and Class A lists. Right now, there are 78 wild trout streams proposed for designation – 73 wild trout streams and 5 Class A wild trout streams that represent the best of our best waters. Those eligible for protection during this comment period include tributaries to famous trout streams such as Letort Spring Run in Cumberland County, the Lehigh River in Carbon County, and Penns Creek in Snyder County.
Starting right now, local sportsmen and women have a chance to influence this process and seal the deal for our best trout streams.
Why Does a Designation Matter?
In these cases, what’s in a name really matters: Wild Trout and Class A streams qualify for additional protections from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, including the limitation of activities around these streams that would degrade water quality. The Wild Trout Stream title designates a water as a Coldwater Fishery and protects surrounding wetlands from development. Similarly, streams that qualify for the Class A designation get additional recognition as high-quality waters, which restricts in-stream discharges and guards against habitat degradation.
These designations from the PFBC are critical to helping the state manage and protect fish populations, especially as demands on Pennsylvania’s water resources continue to increase. When you consider that roughly 40 percent of streams across the state are NOT suitable for fishing, swimming, and/or drinking water, according to the DEP, it makes sense to safeguard the exceptional waterways that already meet top standards and support outdoor recreation that drives our economy.
Pennsylvania’s hunters and anglers have an important opportunity to conserve more critical streams. If we don’t speak up, these exceptional waterways could easily be degraded and eventually lost to pollution.