Kristyn Brady

December 9, 2020

House Passes Water Legislation with Far Reaching Habitat Benefits

The two-year bill will help agencies and communities use more natural solutions to infrastructure challenges like erosion and flooding

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed its Water Resources Development Act—a two-year bill that authorizes water conservation and enhancement projects—with provisions to help address dangerous algal blooms, combat invasive species, fund Everglades restoration, and smooth the way for more natural infrastructure projects across the country.

“Beyond authorizing important conservation initiatives and renewing investments made in recent years, this water resources package helps us prepare for a future where the answers to some of our biggest challenges—like sea-level rise, coastal land loss, and extreme weather fueled by climate change—also pull double duty to improve fish and wildlife habitat,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “House lawmakers have proven that they not only value fish and wildlife resources, but they also see the clear economic advantages of investing in nature-based solutions that provide multiple benefits.”

Unlike traditional “gray” infrastructure, natural or nature-based infrastructure solutions mitigate threats—including floods, erosion, sea-level rise, and land loss—but also benefit fish and wildlife. For example, wetland restoration projects reduce the risk of dangerous flooding in our communities but also boost waterfowl habitat, improve water quality for fish, and provide sportsmen and women with places to hunt and fish.

The Act passed last night contains at least nine provisions to help the Army Corps of Engineers and local partners prioritize these kinds of nature-based solutions. For more detail, read our letter signed by 12 groups and sent to House leadership ahead of this week’s vote.

The Act also includes essential authorities, approvals, and clarifications necessary to continue the restoration of habitat and water quality in the Everglades through the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and other restoration programs. Continued progress in these efforts will be essential to restoring clean, healthy water flows into the Everglades, which would revitalize fish and wildlife resources and the outdoor recreation economy in one of the world’s top fishing and hunting destinations.

Click here to watch a video Q&A about the latest on Everglades restoration.

 

Top photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission via flickr.

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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.

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 designation22 Wild Trout streams and 28 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 the Allegheny River, Swatara Creek, and Little Pine Creek..

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 March 8, 2021. 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

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

As our nation rebounds from the COVID pandemic, policymakers are considering significant investments in infrastructure.  Hunters and anglers see this as an opportunity to create jobs, restore habitat, and preserve fish and wildlife.

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