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TRCP’s newest organizational partner brings a commitment to fair chase ethics and putting sportsmen and women at the forefront of conservation
Orion: The Hunter’s Institute—an organization founded in 1993 by the late Jim Posewitz to improve the image of hunting and engage in conservation advocacy—has joined the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership as its newest organizational partner, building on the strength of a diverse coalition.
“We’re proud to welcome Orion and the thought leadership of their staff, who have made a noticeable impact through their education of hunters, fish and wildlife professionals, journalists, and the non-hunting public,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “Their spirit of collaboration will be an asset to the Partnership and our mission of guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.”
Orion’s team will send one representative to TRCP’s expert Policy Council, which meets at least twice a year to find alignment and consensus on conservation priorities.
“This is a perfect fit for Orion, considering our organizational commitment to the pursuit and evolution of open and honest discussion, debate, and consensus-building for the benefit of hunting,” says Jan Dizard, secretary of the Hunter’s Institute Board of Directors. “We look forward to collaborating with the TRCP partners, particularly on issues involving hunting ethics and related environmental issues affecting hunting and the public acceptance of hunting.”
The TRCP is the largest collaborative of hunting, fishing, and conservation groups in the U.S. With the addition of Orion and the merger of the National Deer Alliance and Quality Deer Management Association this week, the coalition stands at 60 organizational partners.
The merger of the Quality Deer Management Association and National Deer Alliance brings the commitment of two teams to science-driven conservation for all deer species
Today we celebrate the launch of the National Deer Association, a new organization that is the product of a merger between two of the nation’s most important deer organizations – the Quality Deer Management Association and the National Deer Alliance.
Since 1988, the QDMA has fundamentally changed how people think about deer hunting. By advocating for healthy deer populations and habitat, the organization has ensured that all hunters have benefitted from better age-class diversity and smarter management.
Among the QDMA’s many accomplishments is the creation of the National Deer Alliance in 2014. This step brought the deer conservation community together in the advocacy arena, where major decisions are made at the state and federal levels on subjects as diverse as disease prevention and management, habitat on private and public lands, and funding and access.
The TRCP has worked closely with both organizations and has valued these partnerships. But the new National Deer Association is a case where less is more. The merged organization will maintain the best of both organizations – strong grassroots connections and tenacious advocacy – while streamlining operations and fundraising to reduce competition. The new strategic plan, which is still in development, will focus on conservation, and whereas the QDMA was a whitetail conservation organization, the new combined entity will focus on all species of deer, as NDA did.
I served on the National Deer Alliance board prior to the merger, and I am honored to serve on the board of the new National Deer Association. Given the threats facing deer, deer hunting, and conservation funding—including CWD, loss of hunter access, development, and a changing climate–we need to come together and ensure that what we love is still here for our kids and grandkids.
The establishment of the National Deer Association is an important step toward that goal. Learn more about their work here.
(Washington D.C.)—The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released a report on the wide-ranging recreational opportunities that are available on private land thanks to the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.
The report features projects in 15 states across the United States, highlighting success stories of how VPA-HIP has improved hunting, fishing, bird watching, camping, and other outdoor recreation activities. REI Co-op provided funding for the report.
“This report showcases the best of the best when it comes to expanding opportunity for all Americans to access our outdoors,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This report looks at the innovative ways in which the Program is being used to boost access across the country, particularly in states where a shortage of public access to wildlife-dependent recreation is reaching crisis proportions.”
“This report helps to highlight the creative ways landowners and agencies are working together to increase access to the outdoors across America,” said Taldi Harrison, Government Affairs Manager, REI Co-op. “Increased access to outdoor recreation on private lands also helps boost the outdoor recreation economy that supports rural jobs across America.”
Championed by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s founder, Jim Range, VPA- HIP helps states to create innovative ways of incentivizing private landowners to open their lands to the public for wildlife-dependent recreation.
Established and funded through the 2008, 2014, and 2018 Farm Bills, VPA-HIP makes grants to states and tribes to increase public access to private lands for hunting, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation. VPA-HIP funding is also utilized to provide technical resources and assistance to landowners for wildlife habitat improvement and enhancement projects. The program also allows states to assume liability, alleviating a roadblock for many landowners to open their lands to the public.
“As Congress eyes the next Farm Bill, it’s imperative that they increase investment in Farm Bill conservation programs,” said Andrew Earl, Director of Private Lands Conservation at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “VPA-HIP is the single best federal tool for increasing recreational access on private lands, and this report shows its proven track record across the U.S.”
The Beaver State is testing an innovative new funding idea that would benefit all species, including game
Hunters and anglers have long been champions of a proven conservation funding model based on a user pay-to-play system, which has been incredibly effective at restoring and sustaining fish and wildlife populations across the country.
Unfortunately, participation in hunting is declining. A 2016 report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed that participation in hunting dropped in the previous five years by more than 2 million people to a total of 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters also declined by 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 to $25.6 billion.
This has significant ripple effects on not only the key federal funding models that support conservation of fish and wildlife, but also the base of support for our public lands and natural resources policies.
Though license sales seem to be on the rise in this season of social distancing, declining participation in hunting is expected to speed up within the next ten years and widen already existing funding shortfalls. There is a growing need for the wildlife conservation community to broaden this funding base through alternative measures and opportunities to bring the greater outdoor recreation community into a stronger and more diversified funding model.
In my home state of Oregon, a broad group of stakeholders, including the TRCP, have been working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and state legislators to find innovative ways to bring in more funding and resources for fish and wildlife conservation. Here’s what that could look like and what needs to be done to ensure its success.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) receives less than 10 percent of its budget from the state general fund and instead relies on revenue from fees paid by hunters and anglers. As is the case in many states, this funding model cannot keep up with the many challenges facing Oregon’s fish and wildlife, such as human population growth, development, drought, climate change, and ocean acidification.
Additionally, most of the funds received by state agencies like ODFW must be focused on game species. As a result, some of Oregon’s fish and wildlife in greatest need of conservation efforts are without a dedicated funding source because they are not pursued by sportsmen and women.
Oregon has been working for several years to diversify its conservation funding to best address the 21st century challenges facing the state’s more than 700 species of fish and wildlife. In 2019, the state legislature passed HB 2829 to create the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund. The law will put $1 million from the general fund aside to be matched by $1 million in private funds raised by ODFW and other partners, and this will serve as seed money toward an alternative, sustainable source of conservation funding in our state.
The legislation also created an advisory committee that approves the use of this funding for projects that focus on the goals of the Oregon Conservation Strategy and the Nearshore Strategy, two plans developed by ODFW that identify top conservation priorities. Significantly, the new Conservation and Recreation Fund would provide funding for non-game species and for improving outdoor recreational opportunities for all Oregonians. It would also serve as matching funds for federal investments made through the proposed Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, national legislation that would distribute conservation funding across the country, including $20 million annually here in Oregon.
The advisory committee has recently chosen the first set of projects that will be funded through OCRF. Among other things, these efforts will help to conserve wildlife by improving beaver habitat in the high desert, installing a new wildlife underpass and fencing along Highway 97 in central Oregon, and researching the feasibility of reintroducing sea otters along Oregon’s coastline.
But there is a catch: The legislature will only provide the $1 million in general funds if the match is provided by private sources. To date, thousands of Oregonians have already stepped up to raise more than $200,000 as of November 1, but time is running out. The legislature asked for the full amount of funding to be matched by private donations by December 31, 2020.
For this idea to work, we must show legislators that all Oregonians who enjoy the outdoors are willing to pitch in for the conservation of fish and wildlife, not just hunters and anglers. Support for OCRF is not just about raising a million dollars, it’s about working together to shift how state government prioritizes general fund dollars and invests in meaningful conservation work.
If the current fundraising campaign is successful, coalition partners like the TRCP will confidently go back to the state capital and make sure a bill is submitted that dedicates $13 million to $15 million a year from the general fund toward fish and wildlife management.
As hunters and anglers, we already pay to play. We shoulder the burden of conservation for everything the outdoors gives us. But we should strive to work with all Oregonians who enjoy the outdoors to give conservation funding a successful future. This new fund will improve critical conservation goals, expand opportunities for responsible outdoor recreation, and reduce barriers for underserved communities to better access the outdoors.
Will we see 100,000 Oregonians support these efforts with a gift of $10 for conservation? Please join us in support of modernizing funding for wildlife conservation and improving outdoor opportunities for all.
Learn more at oregonisalive.org.
Top photo by Rick Swart/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via flickr.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More