Do you have any thoughts on this post?
Our president and CEO looks to 2021 as a fresh start for partnership and dedication to science-based conservation
For nearly 20 years, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has brought people together, built coalitions, and advanced conservation. We pride ourselves in working with policymakers of all political backgrounds. No matter who controls the White House or Congress, we roll up our sleeves and focus on what unites us—not what tears us apart.
That is why the violent events at the Capitol last week shook us to our core. We not only believe in the strength of our democracy and democratic institutions, but our staff members regularly walk those hallowed halls to carry the collective voice of sportsmen and women to decision makers. On a personal level, I worked in those halls for years and still marvel at America’s citadel of democracy that has endured for more than two centuries.
To do what we do, you have to believe in public service and the rule of law. Yet, the siege at the Capitol was the culmination of years of fact-free rhetoric aimed at inflaming passions and securing political advantage, not providing solutions.
In short, it was a disgrace and those who carried out and incited this terror should be held accountable.
At the end of the day, however, we will see the peaceful transition of power. And my hope is that we also see a return to partnership, where Americans can disagree about ideas, but not about the foundations of democracy, and where telling the truth is again seen as a virtue.
Even in the divisive atmosphere of the last few years, conservation has been an area where Democrats and Republicans worked together on behalf of the people. The successful passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, the Dingell Act, the ACE Act, and many more are prime examples.
This year brings with it many opportunities to enact conservation policy that further strengthens habitat and access. Whether by putting Americans back to work through conservation or advancing land and water-based solutions to climate change, we have our eyes on the issues that affect sportsmen and women.
Every time a new administration or new Congress is sworn in, we build relationships so we can tackle these pressing issues. Those relationships are built on trust and the understanding that we share a common goal: to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.
The moderate middle is often a lonely place, where both sides turn up the heat and pressure you to be someone you are not. While it can be uncomfortable, it is where we find success. Our mission is based on science and facts and does not change with the political winds or fall pressure to the blue and red waves in an election. It stays true and focused, and it stays loyal to the institutions upon which this great nation was built.
TRCP has always sought to be a voice of partnership and cooperation in our efforts to advance conservation policy across the nation, because we believe that conservation unifies all Americans. In that same spirit, we look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers—Republican, Democrat, and Independent—who share these values.
Image courtesy of National Parks.
Listen now for our CEO’s take on the wins and losses for habitat and access last year
Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP, joined Steven Rinella, Clay Newcomb, Brody Henderson, and Janis Putelis on the MeatEater Podcast in late December to discuss the state of conservation leading into 2021. If, as the podcast’s title suggests, we gave 2020 a sideways thumb, the TRCP is making every effort to give conservation a thumbs up this year. Take a listen and arm yourself with the knowledge to continue our conservation fight!
Year-end bill includes wide ranging provisions for fish and wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation access
A sweeping legislative package to keep the government running and invest in COVID relief has become law. Tucked throughout the bill are numerous conservation provisions that invest in climate solutions, sustainably manage water resources, restore habitat, combat chronic wasting disease, and strengthen access for hunters and anglers.
“In a year that has been incredibly difficult for families and communities across America, conservation provides a place where we can find glimmers of hope and common ground,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This sweeping legislation addresses many issues that are top of mind for hunters and anglers, including investments in habitat and access. We can close out this year knowing we accomplished a lot for conservation and turn our eyes toward 2021 and the goals of investing in climate solutions and putting Americans back to work through conservation.”
The more than 5,500-page bill contains the following provisions:
Additionally, the legislation conveys approximately 93 acres in North Dakota to construct the Roosevelt Presidential Library.
Top photo by Gregg Flores @wheretheriverruns
Saltwater anglers applaud lawmakers for promoting better catch-and-release of red snapper
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 5126, Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2020 (DESCEND Act). The bipartisan bill requires recreational and commercial fishing boats to have on board a venting tool or descending device that is rigged and ready for use while fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico federal waters.
Sportsmen and women strongly supported the DESCEND Act, which was coauthored in the Senate by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.). The bill passed the House on October 1, and was led by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).
“The TRCP thanks the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives and staffers who worked to pass this important bill. The DESCEND Act affirms that recreational anglers and the groups that support them are truly leading the way in conservation of our marine resources,” said Chris Macaluso, director of marine fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill will work with other important reforms passed in the Modern Fish Act two years ago and other measures to ensure the reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico are well-managed and that conservation is given the highest priority.”
Reef fish, like snapper and grouper, caught from depths of 50 feet or more are vulnerable to barotrauma, a phenomenon which causes the swim bladder and eye sockets to expand after a rapid rise to the surface. When this happens, the fish’s stomach can protrude from its mouth and acts as a balloon, making the fish float. The result is a high mortality rate for fish that are released.
Unless that pressure is relieved, the fish cannot return to the reef. Anglers can prevent this by using a venting tool to puncture the air bladder or a descending device—a weighted hook, lip clamp, or box that will hold the fish while it is lowered to a sufficient depth to recover from the effects of barotrauma. This device can be anything as simple as a weighted milk crate on a rope to something more sophisticated, like the SeaQualizer, which has pressure-release clips that allow fish to swim away upon reaching the desired depth.
“We thank Senators Bill Cassidy, Doug Jones and John Cornyn for their leadership and commitment to passing the DESCEND Act before the end of this Congress,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Congressman Garret Graves got the ball rolling in the House, and these Senators got it across the finish line in the nick of time. What a great Christmas present to America’s anglers!”
There are 2.6 million saltwater anglers who fish the Gulf of Mexico every year and contribute $13.5 billion to the economy while supporting 138,817 jobs. These anglers and the businesses they support understand the value of healthy marine resources and are committed to doing their part in conservation.
“Senate passage of the DESCEND Act caps off a remarkably productive Congress for the recreational fishing community,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs for the American Sportfishing Association. “We are grateful to have champions in Congress that are willing to put in the time and energy to support fisheries conservation. The DESCEND Act will improve fishing opportunities and support Gulf of Mexico reef fish conservation for many years to come.”
“Anglers have long recognized their responsibility to practice successful catch-and-release to ensure our fisheries are healthy and sustainable for future generations,” said Pat Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Descending devices are an available, effective tool for properly conserving our marine resources and we look forward to the positive impacts of this legislation on recreational fisheries going forward.”
“With the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval of the DESCEND Act, the 116th Congress has proved once again that critical conservation measures like expanding the use of descending devices enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support in an era of political gridlock,” said Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of prized reef fish like snapper and grouper has and always will be a top priority of the recreational boating and fishing community and we applaud Congress for approving this commonsense policy.”
“Using descending devices is the right thing to do to ensure the health and abundance of our reef fish fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Chris Horton, fisheries policy director for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “We thank Senator Cassidy and Senator Jones for shepherding this angler-supported bill through the Senate and once again demonstrating that recreational anglers are leaders and champions for the conservation of our fisheries resources.”
Photo: Florida Sea Grant 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