Marnee Banks

December 8, 2020

Sportsmen and Women Call for a Robust Conservation Reserve Program

Hunters and anglers thank Chairman Peterson for supporting private lands conservation

Hunters and anglers are reiterating their support for increasing the number of acres enrolled in a national conservation program.

This call to action comes on the heels of the effort by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) to increase the Conservation Reserve Program acreage to 50 million acres.

“On behalf of the millions of sportsmen and women who depend on the conservation reserve program to hunt and fish, we support the Chairman’s commitment to ensuring its future,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “CRP is essential to restoring wildlife habitat, preventing erosion, and improving water quality. That’s why we need a robust enrollment effort to ensure landowners can take advantage of this important program.”

Currently at a three-decade low of 20.7 million acres enrolled in CRP, the administration of the program is at a crossroads. Just two years ago, Congress increased the program’s acreage cap from 24 to 27 million acres in order to grow landowner interest. In the time since, significant changes to rental rate formulas and incentive reductions have diminished the interest of landowners to utilize the program.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is essential for supporting wildlife, healthy habitats, and the hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who count on both to sustain our wildlife heritage. With discussions around 2023 Farm Bill starting, it’s clear that a failure to fully enroll Conservation Reserve Program acreage would only compound the issues facing America’s wildlife,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We and our peer sporting and conservation organizations are committed to working with incoming House Agriculture Chairman David Scott, Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Senators Debbie Stabenow and John Boozman on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure this crucial program meets the needs of landowners and wildlife for decades to come.”

“Given the incoming Administration’s focus on climate change, the deep-rooted grasslands created through CRP is another example of the environmental stacking opportunity the program delivers,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “CRP, which is part of the working lands ecological and economic safety net, helps sequester carbon in soil, improve water quality and soil health, while strengthening rural economies and creating habitat for the wildlife we cherish.”

For more information about the benefits of the CRP, head to CRPWorks.org.

Read about four ways the Biden Administration can strengthen the program here.

The groups voicing their support for the Conservation Reserve Program are the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Delta Waterfowl, National Wildlife Federation, Pheasants Forever-Quail Forever, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and the Wildlife Management Institute.

Top photo by Anthony Hauck.

5 Responses to “Sportsmen and Women Call for a Robust Conservation Reserve Program”

  1. Avatar
    Tim Hartwell

    Do you guys have a clue as to what increased CRP does to the local economy in small communities??? You don’t. It puts many agricultural inputs businesses out of business. Doesn’t matter if we can’t make a living as long as you save a grouse. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

    • Avatar

      It does a lot. South Dakota’s rural community’s are dying. Sales tax alone collected during hunting season used to fund most small communities throughout the year. Agriculture is needed but let’s be realistic, we make fuel from our food? Why ? Only to keep crop prices up so crop insurance payments stay high to.

  2. Avatar
    Vince Reeder

    We are currently enrolled in this program and have been for about 14 years. Runs out next year. We were allowed 5 acres of a food plot in our acreage enrolled. (18 acres) I heard we can’t do that anymore. Is there truth to that? With a lack of a food plot and the pay grade, we would likely drop out.

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Cory Deal

December 3, 2020

Q&A: What’s the Latest on Everglades Restoration?

Much-celebrated funding began flowing to restoration projects in recent years, but has it made a difference? In this video, the co-founder and program director of Captains for Clean Water shares what progress has been made and how far we still have to go to rehab fish habitat in the Everglades

Derek Eberly

December 1, 2020

50 Pennsylvania Trout Streams That Deserve a Status Update with Conservation Benefits

Anglers are campaigning to update the designations of some Pennsylvania waterways to reflect the exceptional status of their wild trout populations and water quality

Four times each year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission proposes streams to be added to the Wild Trout and Class A lists. Right now, there are 50 wild trout streams proposed for designation—26 Wild Trout streams and 24 Class A wild trout streams that represent the best of our best waters. Those eligible for protection during this comment period include tributaries to top fishing areas, such as Pine Creek in Lycoming County, Little Mahanoy Creek in Schuykill County, and Little Juniata River in Huntingdon.

Local sportsmen and women have a chance to influence this process and seal the deal for our best trout streams—here’s why you should take action today.

The Economic Power of Trout Waters

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.

Tackle shops and fishing guides are among the businesses that make up an important part of the robust outdoor recreation industry in Pennsylvania. And giving special consideration to the best wild trout streams supports these small businesses. “When I worked in the local fly shop, the Class A list provided a great reference to point people in the right direction to find trout water,” says Matthew Marran, a flyfishing guide and former fly shop worker in the Delaware River Basin. “As a guide, I depend on Class A waters to put clients on wild trout with consistency and confidence. And I’m seeing more and more people ask when booking to fish exclusively for wild trout.”

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.

Fortunately, sportsmen and women understand the importance of this process. A recent TRCP survey found that 92 percent of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women support designating streams when they meet the right criteria.

What You Can Do to Help

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.

Take action now and tell the PA Fish and Boat Commission that you value these protections for clean water and fish habitat.

This blog was originally posted in November 2019, and has been updated for each new public comment period. The current comment period ends on December 30, 2020. Photos by Derek Eberly.

Marnee Banks

November 25, 2020

Hunters and Anglers Celebrate After Army Corps Denies Permit for Pebble Mine

The Army Corps of Engineers today officially denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska, handing sportsmen and women a big win in the region.

The Army Corps said in a statement the mine’s plan “does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines” and said the “project is contrary to the public interest.”

“We thank the Corps for doing the right thing: blocking a mine that would cause irreversible damage to the Bristol Bay watershed and one of the world’s greatest salmon fisheries,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now we need to look for permanent solutions that protect this area and the outdoor recreation economy in perpetuity.”

TRCP and the American Sportfishing Association launched a TV ad on Fox News in August urging the president to oppose the Pebble Mine and protect the thousands of jobs that rely on this world-renowned salmon fishery. This follows up on more than two decades of work trying to stop the mine by a diverse coalition of conservationists, anglers, hunters, local businesses, and Alaska-Native tribes.

 

Photo Credit Jonny Armstrong

Kristyn Brady

November 20, 2020

Four Lame Duck Deals That Hunters and Anglers Need

And why we’re pushing lawmakers to wrap up these conservation priorities by the end of the 116th Congress

The stakes always feel high when you get close to the end of the hunting season and you haven’t filled the freezer yet. But here at the TRCP, there’s no nail-biter quite like watching the congressional calendar run out, especially during a lame duck session.

Between the election and the end of the current congress, before some new members arrive on Capitol Hill—and some leave for good—we have just a handful of weeks to get conservation priorities over the finish line. This includes bills that have made it through almost every step of the legislative process, from introduction and sponsorship to negotiation, committee votes, and perhaps even floor action.

We’re hard at work pushing lawmakers to finalize legislation with major benefits for hunters and anglers, because we’ll be back at square one again on these priorities and others come January. Here’s what we need Congress to get done.

Strike a Spending Deal with Investments in Wildlife Health and Public Lands

The two chambers with the power of the pursestrings have until December 11 to hammer out a deal for appropriating fiscal year 2021 funding. Reminder: Ideally lawmakers pass spending bills one by one for each section of the government, but with the deadline looming, this is likely to be done in one big legislative package. That omnibus must direct the $900 million that the Great American Outdoors Act made available for habitat and public access through the Land and Water Conservation Fund—even though the current administration has failed to supply a list of priority projects.

We also want to see a spending deal contain the Senate’s proposed investments in state-side chronic wasting disease recovery. The Senate agriculture appropriations bill leaves out problematic language in the House version of the bill that would allow agencies to spend these funds on other diseases affecting mostly captive deer, watering down the possible impact for wild herds.

Finally, the TRCP would love to see language detrimental to sage grouse conservation efforts removed from this spending bill. It has become seemingly uncontroversial as previous bills have been passed carrying the provision, which prevents any funding in the bill from being spent to list the greater sage grouse as an endangered species. It’s time to lose this idea—not necessarily because sage grouse should be listed, but because it sets a precedent of legislating wildlife management instead of listening to the science.

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
OK Water Projects with Habitat Benefits

Congress needs to pass a Water Resources Development Act, a two-year bill that authorizes water conservation and enhancement projects, many with benefits for fish and wildlife. We believe the biggest benefits to habitat, and therefore sportsmen and women, would be facilitated by the House version of the bill, which has several provisions that could significantly help communities implement nature-based solutions for infrastructure challenges. Two great examples of this would be restoring wetlands to better filter floodwaters or reversing coastal erosion by diverting river sediment so it builds up land.

Pass the MAPLand Act to Improve Public Land Access

Including the Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act in an end-of-year legislative package would help busy Americans discover new outdoor recreation opportunities and give everyone the confidence to enjoy the outdoors. The need for better information is what the MAPLand Act is designed to address, by providing funding and guidance to our land management agencies so they can digitize their paper maps and access information records.

If successful, MAPLand would ensure that you can easily find online, among other things, the seasonal allowances and restrictions for vehicle use on public roads and trails, boundaries of areas where hunting or recreational shooting is regulated or closed, and portions of rivers and lakes on federal land that are closed to entry or limited to certain kinds of watercraft. The MAPLand Act would also require that our public land agencies digitize records of easements or rights-of-way across private lands, making it possible for the public to understand where public access has been formally secured.

Bonus: MAPLand would make the LWCF an even more powerful tool. Read about that here.

Whiskey Island. Photo by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Use Offshore Energy Revenue to Strengthen Coasts

Finally, the TRCP is supporting final passage of the COASTAL Act, which would amend legislation from 2006 to dedicate more offshore energy production revenue from the Gulf to support coastal restoration and resiliency. Specifically, we want to see the $500-million cap lifted for shared revenues and ensure that Gulf states receive 50 percent of these funds. This would make the offshore revenue sharing program consistent with the onshore revenue sharing program, and the additional funding would facilitate critical investments in resilient infrastructure projects and habitat improvements in vulnerable communities threatened by sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and flooding.

 

You can support our work at every level of the organization by making a donation to the TRCP. From now until December 31, your dollar goes further for conservation thanks to a generous match by our friends at SITKA Gear. There’s no better time to give!

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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