Marnee Banks

February 24, 2021

Leading Nonprofits and Associations Call on Congress to Pass Legislation that Puts Americans Back to Work Through Conservation

Conservation Works for America campaign calls for policies that build resilient communities, combat climate change, and create jobs

Today a coalition of ten organizations collectively called on Congress to consider conservation priorities as policymakers draft economic recovery legislation.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, National Marine Manufacturers Association, American Sportfishing Association, Pheasants Forever, and others joined forces in identifying a list of shared legislative priorities with House and Senate leadership. The goals of the coalition include building resilient communities that can withstand the impacts of a changing climate, restoring and preserving outdoor spaces, investing in nature-based solutions, and sustainably managing water resources.

“The value of investing in our most common goods—our land and water—cannot be overstated,” wrote the coalition. “Beyond the clear ecological value, investment in the outdoors provides jobs, energizes local economies, improves the resilience of our communities, and holds a lasting public benefit for generations.”

The groups highlighted nine main areas of focus:

  • Invest in our nation’s private lands.
  • Improve the resilience of transportation infrastructure.
  • Invest in the value of clean water.
  • Support multi-benefit watershed management in the West.
  • Support effective watershed management.
  • Strengthen America’s coasts and restore iconic ecosystems.
  • Invest in pre-disaster mitigation.
  • Prioritize wetland restoration.
  • Invest in Army Corps ecosystem restoration projects.

 

“Following the economic downturn of the past year, we are calling for bold investments in conservation that put people back to work and strengthen the habitat, fish, and wildlife we value,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Hunters and anglers are joining this diverse coalition to ensure that Congress considers our land and water as part of the solution to the many challenges that we face. The policy proposals that we have put forward will create more resilient communities, combat climate change, and strengthen our outdoor industries.”

“From restoring the Colorado River watershed, to shoring up our beaches and wetlands on the coast, investing in conservation not only protects our communities from future droughts or floods, it also provides job opportunities as well as critical habitat for birds and other wildlife,” said Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president of conservation policy at the National Audubon Society.

“Our coastal communities are at greater risk than ever from more intense storms and sea level rise,” said Steve Cochran, associate vice president of Coastal Resilience at the Environmental Defense Fund. “By investing in shovel-worthy programs, Congress can restore and enhance the coastal ecosystems that help protect communities, while also creating jobs and reducing the costs of future disasters.”

“Investing in 21st century infrastructure that benefits every community is a critical step toward addressing the historic crises facing our nation — the pandemic, mass unemployment, racial injustice, and climate change,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “What better way to create millions of well-paying jobs than working together to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, restore our lands and water, deploy cleaner sources of energy, bolster community and natural resilience, and reduce pollution, especially in frontline communities? We look forward to working with Congress to pass an infrastructure package that meets this moment by investing in our communities and our natural resources.”

“The challenges facing the 117th Congress are as numerous as they are immense,” said Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited. “But these challenges also provide a tremendous opportunity to invest in our land and water like never before. Following a difficult year, there’s no question smart investments in conservation can help get our economy back on its feet and our people back to work. At the same time, America’s renewed interest in the outdoors calls for a greater investment in the spaces that connect kids to nature, create memories for families, support millions of jobs and pump billions of dollars into the communities that surround our parks, refuges and magnificent wild places.”

“As we look to rebuild our country and economy, investing in resilient outdoor recreation infrastructure and sound conservation programs will help achieve both objectives, while protecting our nation’s cherished pastimes for generations to come,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We call on all members of Congress to support and include these vital initiatives as they continue to develop their economic relief and infrastructure measures.”

“The significant increase in fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how much Americans deeply value the outdoors, and how important it is for our public lands and waters to be conserved and maintained,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “We must invest in the outdoors not only for the physical and mental health benefits, but also to further expand the job opportunities in this booming sector of the economy that is responsible for 2.1% of the GDP.”

“The year 2020 revealed some important lessons for Americans moving forward, including the value of outdoor recreation, the need for more public lands, and the endless benefits to ecosystems throughout the United States when we invest in private lands conservation,” stated Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Congressional leaders have the means to make significant impacts in the year ahead for America’s natural resources. Science-based conservation solutions to build resilient communities and combat climate change should be considered as policymakers draft economic recovery legislation, and ‘The Habitat Organization’ stands ready to assist with this important endeavor.”

The letter to Congressional leadership can be read HERE.

Sportsmen and women can take action in support of #ConservationWorksforAmerica priorities HERE.

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Marnee Banks

February 11, 2021

Interior Will Ensure Land and Water Conservation Fund Is Used Where It’s Needed Most

Hunters and anglers call for prioritization of projects that increase public access to recreational opportunities

The Department of Interior announced today that it will be reducing restrictions on the availability of Land and Water Conservation Fund investments, ensuring that these dollars are used for the best possible opportunities to enhance public land access and habitat.

The LWCF was plussed up last August after the Great American Outdoors Act became law, marking one of the greatest bipartisan conservation achievements in decades. The bill guarantees full funding for the program at $900 million each year. Today’s announcement overturns Secretarial Order 3388, which deprioritized Bureau of Land Management lands for consideration for LWCF projects and gave county commissioners veto authority over private landowners’ decisions to sell their land.

“We are pleased the Department is doing away with rules that could have crippled getting these critical dollars to the ground,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Sportsmen and sportswomen want to ensure that the LWCF is working to increase public access to outdoor recreation opportunities and conserve important habitats. This is going to require investments in agency capacity, prioritization of areas with recreational value, and coordination between federal, state, and private partners. We appreciate that hunters and anglers are being heard in this process.”

In addition to prioritizing the conservation of habitat and access through federal lands, the Land and Water Conservation Fund provides matching grants to state and tribal governments for the development of fishing areas, hunting access, hiking and biking trails, city parks, and urban green spaces.

“Whether you live in New York City or Cody, Wyoming, the COVID pandemic has shown us that access to the outdoors is critical for our health and wellbeing,” said Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer of the TRCP. “The LWCF opens doors for people to experience our natural resources, while also investing in local economies and creating jobs.”

The Great American Outdoors Act requires the federal land management agencies to set aside a minimum of $27 million annually for recreational access projects. The TRCP has partnered with onX to release five reports detailing 16 million acres of inaccessible public land in 22 states.

“Proper implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund can make a lasting difference on these landscapes,” said Joel Webster, senior director of TRCP’s western programs. “Looking forward, if states can put these investments toward conserving fish and wildlife habitat and increasing public access, it will benefit generations of hunters and anglers to come.”

To read more about the administration’s announcement, click HERE.

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posted in: Press Releases

February 9, 2021

TRCP Welcomes Five New Board Members

James A. Baker IV takes the reins as Chairman

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is pleased to announce the onboarding of five new directors to its leadership team. Aileen Lee, Clarke Ohrstrom, Laura Orvidas, John Redpath, and Elizabeth Storer bring a diverse set of experience to the TRCP’s Board of Directors.

“We are thrilled to welcome these five incredible individuals to the TRCP family,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Our Board of Directors sets the direction of our organization and empowers us to achieve our mission of guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. With these leaders at the helm, TRCP is well positioned to continue its nonpartisan advocacy, coalition building, and thought leadership on national conservation issues.”

Additionally, James A. Baker IV is taking over as TRCP’s Board Chairman. Baker recently retired as a partner in the Washington office of Baker Botts, LLP, and co-chair of the firm’s global projects. Earlier in his career, Baker served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. He is a graduate of Cornell University, where he earned his B.S. in Economics, and then went on to graduate with his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Aileen Lee
Aileen Lee is the chief program officer of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Environmental Conservation Program. Prior to joining the foundation, Lee was an associate principal at McKinsey & Company, where she led client engagements in strategy, operations, and organizational effectiveness across a wide range of sectors. She currently serves on the boards of the Climate and Land Use Alliance, the Biodiversity Funders Group, and the Coral Reef Alliance. She attended Yale University, where she received a B.A. in political science and East Asian studies. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and is a member of the California bar.

Clarke Ohrstrom
Clarke Ohrstrom is the founder and CEO of Finest Butcher and Primalurge Foods and the CEO of Whitewood Stable Inc., a cattle and horse farm in The Plains, Virginia. Ohrstrom is also the founding partner of Whitewood Farm Mitigation Bank, Northern Virginia’s largest wetlands and riparian credit bank. He is the co-executive director of The Ohrstrom Foundation, and serves on the board of the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. He is a 1985 graduate of Wesleyan University.

Laura Orvidas
Laura Orvidas is the CEO of onX, the industry leader in digital mapping, where her team creates technology to help hunters and outdoor adventurers enjoy public land. Prior to her time at onX, Orvidas was Amazon’s vice president of consumer electronics— one of the largest product categories for the online retailer, bringing in billions of sales each year. She also served on a global leadership team focused on combining science, data, and technology to increase productivity and facilitate senior leadership training. Orvidas is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University.

John Redpath
John Redpath is the CEO of TrailStone LLC, a global energy merchant focused on trading and providing risk management services to wind and solar asset owners. Prior to founding TrailStone, he had a 20-year career on Wall Street as a commodity trader and trading manager. He lives and works in Austin, Texas and has a farm in Vermont. He received his B.A. in International Relations from the University of Minnesota and completed two years of graduate study at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Elizabeth Storer
Elizabeth Storer is president and CEO of the George B. Storer Foundation, a 66-year-old family foundation that funds large-landscape conservation work in Wyoming and is a national funder for advancing nature-based pre-school education, public lands protection and rural electric cooperative reform. Storer previously ran her own communications and marketing consulting business and has served on the boards of numerous conservation organizations. She received TRCP’s Conservation Leadership Award in 2019. She holds B.A. and M.F.A. degrees from the University of Southern California, and lives with her partner, Luther Propst, in Jackson, WY.

To see the full  Board of Directors roster, click HERE.

 

Photo by  Miguel Salas, National Park Service.

Andrew Earl

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posted in: Press Releases

February 5, 2021

U.S. Department of Agriculture Moves to Boost Private Lands Conservation

Farmers and ranchers have more time to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program

Heeding calls from the hunting and fishing community, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced it’s extending enrollment for the Conservation Reserve Program—the nation’s most successful private lands conservation initiative.

Since 1985, the Conservation Reserve Program has offered incentives for American farmers, ranchers, and landowners to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and create wildlife habitat. The current enrollment period for general signup was set to expire on February 12, but the USDA has announced it will be extending that deadline to “evaluate and implement changes.”

“Getting more landowners signed up for the Conservation Reserve Program will improve soil, water, and habitat health,” said Andrew Earl, director of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s private lands program. “Increased enrollment also benefits sportsmen and sportswomen who hunt and fish on private land, while providing economic support for farmers and ranchers. Further, the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool in our toolbox of land- and water-based solutions to climate change.”

CRP has helped restore more than 2.3 million acres of wetlands and set aside land that has sequestered more than 12 million metric tons of carbon. Despite these notable successes, enrollment in the program has been dwindling.

The program is currently at a three-decade low of 20.7 million acres enrolled. Just two years ago, Congress increased the program’s acreage cap from 24 to 27 million acres in response to rampant landowner interest. However, in the time since, significant changes to rental rate formulas and incentive reductions have diminished the attractiveness of the program.

The TRCP has been raising alarms about the weakening of the CRP over the past few years and has laid out a plan to strengthen the program moving forward.

Visit the TRCP’s interactive model farm to see how the CRP and other Farm Bill conservation programs make an impact for wildlife habitat, soil and water quality, and sportsmen’s access.

 

Photo by Lance Cheung, USDA

Madeleine West

February 2, 2021

Hunters and Anglers Cheer Reintroduction of Colorado Public Lands Legislation

Widely popular CORE Act would open miles of public fishing access and protect big game habitat

Several of the nation’s leading sporting conservation groups are proclaiming their support for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act aimed at preserving more than 400,000 acres of public lands and waters in Colorado, including significant protection for the fish and wildlife habitat most valued by the sporting community.

Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Representatives Joe Neguse, Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jason Crow introduced the legislation in both chambers with support from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, National Wildlife Federation, and Artemis.

“The CORE Act preserves prime hunting and fishing destinations across Colorado,” said Madeleine West, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Public Lands. “This legislation is built with support from local communities, businesses, and recreation and sporting groups—a model for the way on the ground conservation should happen. We want to thank the Colorado delegation for listening to hunters and anglers and working to strengthen habitat for fish and wildlife for future generations.”

The bill merges four previously independent bills into a single public lands package covering portions of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, the Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison, the Thompson Divide southwest of Glenwood Springs and the Continental Divide surrounding the WWII alpine training grounds at Camp Hale. The proposed legislation would conserve critical cold-water streams, enhance high-value habitat for several species of wildlife, and increase public access for anglers in some of Colorado’s premier fisheries.

“Hunters and anglers in Colorado and throughout the nation recognize the importance of protecting the unique landscapes the CORE Act represents and the fish and wildlife that depend upon them,” said Scott Willoughby, Colorado public lands coordinator for Trout Unlimited’s Angler Conservation Program. “As we continue to see habitat deteriorate and public access to quality fishing and hunting areas decline, it has become painfully obvious that passing the provisions found in the CORE Act is long overdue. ‘Hunters and Anglers for CORE’ remain as committed to seeing this legislation across the finish line as we are to upholding our sporting traditions for future generations in Colorado.”

A recent Trout Unlimited analysis of fish and wildlife habitat protected in the bill’s framework found that the CORE Act safeguards some 2,416 miles of streams, 100 miles of native cutthroat trout stream habitat, 12 cutthroat trout lakes spanning 804 acres, nearly 7 miles of Gold Medal fishing water and an additional 88 miles of Gold Medal waters downstream of protected headwater landscapes. The bill would also open about 12 miles of public fishing access in the Gunnison River basin, protect hundreds of thousands of acres of critical elk and mule deer range and nearly 100,000 acres of important migration corridors at a time when both the State and Federal government have prioritized protecting animal migration routes.

“The CORE Act protects important wildlife habitat, including headwaters and migration corridors critical to the health of Colorado River cutthroat trout, elk, mule deer, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep and many other species,” said Brien Webster, program manager for Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “This bill has been years in the making through local stakeholder collaboration. Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers remains committed to helping pass the CORE Act, securing needed protections for wildlife and habitat and expanded recreational access for sportsmen and women.”

The bill designates 73,000 acres of wilderness, nearly 80,000 acres of new recreation and conservation management areas, and withdraws mineral rights on 200,000-acres in the water- and wildlife-rich Thompson Divide area southwest of Glenwood Springs.

Highlights of CORE Act habitat protection benefiting hunters and anglers:

Curecanti Boundary Establishment Act

In addition to formally establishing the boundary of Curecanti National Recreation Area and improving coordination among land management agencies, the bill ensures the Bureau of Reclamation upholds its commitment to expand public fishing access in the basin, which was lost when the Aspinall Unit was created. The Bureau originally agreed to provide 26 miles of public fishing access in the Gunnison Basin, but has only accounted for about 14 miles to date.

Within Curecanti, 9,180-acre Blue Mesa Reservoir is the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the U.S. and, along with neighboring Morrow Point Reservoir, has accounted for multiple state records for rainbow trout, mackinaw and kokanee, along with trophy brown trout. The Gunnison River, from 200 yards downstream of Crystal Dam and through Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to its confluence with the North Fork, is designated Gold Medal and Wild Trout Water, including 2.4 miles within Curecanti NRA. Formal boundary designation will also add a layer of protection for 2.2 miles of cutthroat trout stream and 775 acres of cutthroat lake habitat, 5,926 acres of mule deer migration corridor and 7,123 acres of elk migration corridor along with 50,323 acres of elk winter range.

Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act

With its bounty of fish and wildlife habitat, the Thompson Divide area remains critically important to sportsmen and women in Colorado and across the nation. The three main game management units that lie within its boundary are among the most desirable to elk and mule deer hunters in the state, and the largely roadless area serves as year-round habitat for those and other species. More than 34,000 acres within Thompson Divide double as elk migration corridors.

The area also contains several conservation populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout, considered critical to the recovery and maintenance of the species to its native range. Among the 1,550 miles of stream radiating in all directions off Thompson Divide, about 83 miles qualify as native cutthroat stream habitat along with nearly 12 acres of cutthroat lake habitat. The northern boundary of the withdrawal and protection area includes 4.4 miles of Gold Medal fishing water along the Roaring Fork River, and Thompson Divide’s headwater tributaries extend to additional high-quality fisheries in the North Fork of the Gunnison River, the Crystal River and the Colorado River, which sustain surrounding retailers, fishing guides and outfitters that help drive the local recreation economy.

Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act

The nearly 100,000 acres along the Continental Divide surrounding Camp Hale served as the genesis of Colorado’s robust outdoor recreation economy, not only through the legacy of skiers that that passed through the WWII alpine training grounds and returned to the region post-war, but also through word of the hunting and fishing opportunities the soldiers enjoyed. The landscape is rife with elk and mule deer habitat and migration corridors, including more than 10,000 acres of severe winter elk range that the animals depend upon for survival.

The 474 miles of stream within the bill’s boundaries serve as headwaters to Gore Creek and the Eagle, Blue and Colorado rivers, feeding clean, cold water into multiple Gold Medal fishing sections and supplying more than 11 miles of native cutthroat trout stream habitat along with half a dozen cutthroat trout lakes.

San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act

Wilderness and special management area proposals in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado would protect headwater tributaries of the Animas River among more than 325 stream miles that contain nearly 5 miles of cutthroat stream habitat. Four lakes spanning 6.6 acres within the proposed Sheep Mountain Special Management Area also hold the rare native trout. Roughly 50,000 terrestrial acres serve as summer range and calving areas that support mule deer and elk populations on public lands in the region, and a large elk winter concentration area is found in the Uncompahgre National Forest along the proposed 6,500-acre Naturita Canyon Mineral Withdrawal Area that includes cutthroat trout habitat within a tributary to the San Miguel River near Norwood.

 

Photo Credit: Trout Unlimited

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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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