Kristyn Brady

April 1, 2021

Explore TRCP’s Interactive Annual Report of Conservation Achievements

Our digital tool highlights the biggest organizational and policy successes of 2020

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to announce the launch of its 2020 Annual Report in an interactive digital format that has a distinctly 2020 twist: It highlights the team’s remarkable organizational and conservation policy achievements in a platform that mimics a video conference call, a medium that has been essential to the work of the TRCP staff during the pandemic.

“As challenging as 2020 was for the country and our staff, I’m humbled to be able to share our successes and how quickly we were able to adapt as connection with the outdoors became increasingly important to Americans facing COVID restrictions,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “Conservation was a unifying force, and the TRCP and its partners are proud to have played a role in advancing solutions-oriented policy.”

Achievements highlighted in the report include securing long-awaited investments in public lands and essential habitat programs through the Great American Outdoors Act and America’s Conservation Enhancement Act; continuing to identify inaccessible public lands and support solutions for unlocking these resources; reforming menhaden management in the Atlantic; and forming a diverse coalition of hunting and fishing groups to tackle the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife habitat.

“Even as our country seemed so deeply divided in 2020, we saw firsthand the continued ability of decision-makers to find common ground and pass legislation to improve fish and wildlife habitat, hunting and fishing access, and the outdoor recreation economy,” says Jamie Baker, TRCP’s board chair. “Buoyed by the support of our partners, sponsors, and donors, the efforts of the TRCP staff in 2020 will leave a lasting impact on the places that matter to hunters and anglers, and we look forward to building on this momentum in 2021.”

Explore the TRCP’s 2020 Annual Report here.

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Randall Williams

March 30, 2021

New Report Highlights Even Steeper Decline of Greater Sage Grouse Populations

Conservationists call for renewed commitment to habitat restoration and other key priorities

Today, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that raises serious questions about the future of the greater sage grouse and its ecosystem.

Report findings showed an overall 80-percent decline in sage grouse populations in the western United States since 1965, with an average annual rate of loss estimated at 3 percent, a full percentage point higher than in previously available data prepared for the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

“The fact that sage grouse populations are trending even further in the wrong direction should be taken very seriously by hunters, conservationists, wildlife managers, and all citizens of the American West,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “There is no question that this deeper range-wide loss of birds is indicative of the continued loss and degradation of habitat, and stakeholders at every level need to regroup fast to determine a path forward that creates lasting conservation impacts for these iconic game birds.”

In a separate report released on March 9, the USGS found that sagebrush habitat is being lost at an alarming rate due to mining and energy development, conversion to cropland, invasive grasses, and altered wildfire cycles. Since 2000, more than 20 percent of priority sage grouse habitat within the Great Basin alone has burned.

“Sagebrush ecosystems are experiencing declines that were unimaginable just 20 years ago due to cheatgrass invasion, fire, and other human disturbances,” said Ted Koch, executive director of the North American Grouse Partnership. “We know what it takes to stem the loss, now all we need is to regain the partnerships and the collective will to do it.”

Conservation efforts also will undoubtedly need to go beyond the current management plans to address rapidly changing and degrading habitats in the West.

“Restoring degraded habitat is now more important than ever for reversing trends in habitat loss in the sagebrush ecosystem,” said Joel Pedersen, president and CEO for the Mule Deer Foundation. “The Mule Deer Foundation will continue to ensure that funding for habitat restoration and enhancement is a top priority across the West and that projects get implemented on the ground to benefit sage grouse, mule deer, and other species.”

Conservation on private lands has played a vital role in sagebrush recovery since the inception of the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Sage Grouse Initiative in 2010. Continuing to engage landowners and incentivize conservation in sagebrush country will be critical into the future.

“Private landowner conservation efforts were critical to the success of getting the 2015 not-warranted decision for sage grouse,” said Howard Vincent, President and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “We need continued investments in the Sage Grouse Initiative and other private land incentive programs to ensure the long-term health of the sagebrush ecosystem and its occupants, including people that live and work there.”

While deeply concerned, the hunting and fishing community believes that with adequate funding, cooperation, and conservation plan implementation – coupled with massive investments in restoration – that a future listing of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act can be avoided. But time is running out.

“These new study findings are sounding an alarm that cannot be ignored,” said Dr. Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Clearly the threats to sage grouse and their habitat are not being adequately addressed in a manner that sustains the species over the long-term. There’s still time to assess the situation and reverse these trends, but it is getting more difficult for the Fish and Wildlife Service to defend and maintain their 2015 not-warranted finding for sage grouse.”

 

Image courtesy of Jennifer Hall/USFWS.

Randall Williams

March 23, 2021

Hunters and Anglers Celebrate Reintroduction of the MAPLand Act

Legislation invests in digitized, integrated mapping resources for outdoor recreation 

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership applauds the reintroduction of landmark legislation that will enhance outdoor recreation on public lands by investing in modern technology that allows sportsmen and sportswomen to know exactly which lands and waters they can access.

U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) introduced the bipartisan Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act alongside Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Steve Daines (R-Mont), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz).

The MAPLand Act would digitize recreational access information and make those resources available to the public. The legislation would also provide federal land management agencies with funding and guidance to create comprehensive databases of available map-based agency records related to recreational access and use.

These records include information about:

  • legal easements and rights-of-way across private land;
  • year-round or seasonal closures of roads and trails, as well as restrictions on vehicle-type;
  • boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting;
  • and areas of public waters that are closed to watercraft or have horsepower restrictions.

Currently, many of the easement records that identify legal means of access into lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are stored at the local or regional level in paper files. This makes it difficult for hunters, anglers, and even the agencies themselves to identify public access opportunities. For example, of the 37,000 existing easements held by the U.S. Forest Service, the agency estimated in 2020 that only 5,000 had been converted into digital files.

“Quite simply, the MAPLand Act is a common-sense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now more than ever, Americans from all walks of life are embracing the world-class opportunities available on our public lands. This bill will allow sportsmen and sportswomen to take full advantage of access opportunities, make it easier to follow the rules while recreating outside, and reduce access conflicts with private landowners. We want to thank these lawmakers for taking the lead on this important legislation.”

In addition to improving the public’s ability to access public lands, the bill would help land management agencies — in cooperation with private landowners — prioritize projects to acquire new public land access or improve existing access. According to a report by the TRCP and onX, a digital-mapping company, more than 9.52 million acres of federally managed public lands in the West lack permanent legal public access because they are surrounded entirely by private lands. Digitizing easement records would be the first step towards addressing this challenge systematically.

“The popularity of outdoor recreation in 2020 increased by the largest margin seen in years, with many millions trying outdoor activities for the first time,” said Lisa Nichols, onX’s access advocacy manager. “As more people visit our public lands and waters, it’s increasingly critical to have access and regulation information readily available. The MAPLand Act will expedite the pace that records can go from paper to digital formats. The easier this information can be discovered with GPS applications, the more people will be able to plan ahead to have their best days outdoors.”

Last year, more than 150 hunting- and fishing- related businesses signed a joint letter calling on congressional leadership to pass the MAPLand Act. From gear manufacturers and media companies to guides, outfitters, and retailers, the letter signers emphasized that their livelihoods depend on sportsmen and women having access to outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands.

“The MAPLand Act helps bring federal land management into the 21st century while simultaneously making information on recreational access more available to all Americans,” said Ford Van Fossan, conservation manager for First Lite, a technical hunting apparel company headquartered in Ketchum, Idaho. “It would certainly be a big win for folks who enjoy our public lands as well as the outdoor industry that depends on them.”

In addition, conservation groups across the country applauded the leadership shown by lawmakers to invest in the future of America’s public lands system.

“Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation and 27 of our member organizations support the MAPLand Act, which would expand recreational access to federal public lands, including 28 million acres in Arizona alone,” said Jim Unmacht, AZSFWC’s executive director. “Access to public land is critical for hunting, angling and a variety of outdoor recreation pursuits enjoyed by many Arizonans.”

The bill was previously introduced in both chambers of Congress last year and received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining last September.

 

Photo: Rick Hutton

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posted in: Press Releases

March 15, 2021

Senate Confirms Congresswoman Haaland as Interior Secretary

Hunters and anglers commit to working with Haaland to advance habitat and access solutions

The United States Senate gave the nod to Congresswoman Debra Haaland in a bipartisan vote confirming her as the next Interior Secretary.

“The hunting and fishing community has met with Secretary Haaland many times, and in our interactions, she has committed to strengthening habitat and improving recreational access,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “There are many pressing issues coming before the Interior Department, and sportsmen and sportswomen stand ready to partner with the Secretary to advance conservation and support the outdoor recreation economy.”

During Haaland’s Senate confirmation hearing, she reiterated her commitment to hunting and fishing by saying, “I am a Pueblo woman, we’ve been hunting wild game for centuries, and in fact that’s the reason I am sitting here today, because my ancestors sustained themselves through those practices. My dad, my grandparents, my brother—they all hunt. In fact, I was fortunate to harvest an oryx from the White Sands Missile Range several years back and fed my family for about a year. I understand that, and I absolutely respect the sportsmen and the anglers whose traditions those are.”

To listen to more excerpts from the confirmation hearing, click HERE.

Randall Williams

March 4, 2021

Local Coalition Cheers the Reintroduction of the Ruby Mountains Protection Act

Citing the outstanding hunting and fishing opportunities, a coalition of influential hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation groups calls for Congress to safeguard public land recreational opportunities in Nevada

A coalition of 15 hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation organizations today applauded the reintroduction of the Ruby Mountains Protection Act in the U.S. Senate.

Introduced by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), the proposed legislation would permanently withdraw 450,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service-managed public lands in northern Nevada’s Ruby and East Humboldt Mountains, as well as 40,000 acres in the adjacent Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, from future oil and gas leasing.

The Sportsmen for the Rubies coalition hopes to raise awareness, both around the state and in Washington, D.C., of the potential threats posed by speculative leasing and energy development in the area. The coalition is part of a growing movement seeking permanent protections for the Ruby Mountains, while advocating for responsible energy development in the right places. The coalition has worked alongside Tribal governments and numerous other local interests to advance these protections.

“Hunters and anglers thank Senator Cortez Masto for her continued leadership to protect the outstanding recreational opportunities found in the Ruby Mountains,” said Carl Erquiaga, Nevada field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These public lands are critical to one of Nevada’s most important big-game migration corridors, utilized by the state’s largest mule deer herd, and home to many other iconic fish and wildlife species, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout.”

Known as the “Swiss Alps of Nevada,” the Rubies stretch for nearly 100 miles in Elko County, with ten peaks towering over 10,000 feet. These rugged, glacier-carved mountains and their cold, clear streams serve as a stronghold of native cutthroat trout and wildlife habitat, while also providing an abundance of world-class opportunities for hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreators.

“We are glad to see the Rubies once again on a path that will secure this landscape for future generations of Nevadans and all Americans,” said Pam Harrington, Nevada field coordinator with Trout Unlimited. “The fishing opportunities that abound around the Rubies and the Ruby Marshes are unrivaled. Senator Cortez Masto deserves the appreciation of sportsmen and sportswomen for her work on this issue and we hope for swift passage in the Senate as the bill moves forward toward becoming law.”

Despite the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service determinations that the Ruby Mountains have low energy resource values, speculators have in recent years expressed interest in opening the area to drilling. Additionally, in 2019 and 2020, hundreds of acres were nominated for oil and gas leasing around the Ruby Marshes. Habitat fragmentation and degradation could occur as a result of such development, having consequences for fish and wildlife. Hunters and anglers have pointed to this sustained threat as cause for urgent action by lawmakers to safeguard the Rubies.

The Ruby Mountains Protection Act was originally introduced last Congress by Senator Cortez Masto and co-sponsored by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev).

Learn more and take action at SportsmenfortheRubies.com.

 

Photo: Beau Rogers via Flickr

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