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June 15, 2021

Menhaden Boat 2 – Healthy Gulf

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June 11, 2021

TRCP Applauds USDA Tongass Announcement

First step toward restoring safeguards to roadless areas in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

Hunters and anglers commended an announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to “restore or replace” the previous administration’s decision to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule.

The Tongass exemption, which was finalized in October 2020, stripped conservation safeguards from more than 9 million acres of public lands in Southeast Alaska, despite overwhelming opposition from Alaskans as well as sportsmen and sportswomen across the nation. Today’s announcement confirms that the decision-making process used to justify the exemption was flawed and begins the process of restoring the management framework.

“Today’s announcement is welcomed by a majority of Alaskans and more than 250,000 Americans who vocally opposed last year’s extreme decision to fully exempt the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The TRCP thanks USDA Secretary Vilsack for taking the first step toward restoring conservation safeguards to some of Southeast Alaska’s best fish and wildlife habitat. We urge USDA and the Forest Service to swiftly reinstate the conservation measures that have served the Tongass well for 20 years.”

The Tongass National Forest encompasses nearly 90 percent of the southeastern panhandle of Alaska. Some of the nation’s most productive watersheds for salmon rearing and fishing are located within roadless areas of the forest. Eliminating the Roadless Rule in the Tongass made more than 9 million acres of undeveloped forests available to industrial logging and road construction, undermining some of Alaska’s largest salmon fisheries and potentially impacting vital habitat for Sitka black-tailed deer, black and brown bears, and moose.

Earlier this month, nearly 70 hunting- and fishing-related groups, national brands, and local businesses signed a joint letter calling on the USDA to move quickly to reinstate roadless area safeguards in the Tongass. From gear manufacturers and media companies to guides, outfitters, and retailers, the letter emphasized the importance of sustainable forest management on the outdoor recreation economy.

By the Forest Service’s own analysis, repealing the Roadless Rule was expected to have only a “minimal beneficial effect” on the region’s diminished forest products industry, and at a significant cost to taxpayers. Instead of focusing on cutting critically important mature forests, conservation groups have urged the decision makers to manage the Tongass with an emphasis on second-growth forest management, an approach that would support local jobs and forest health.

“The industries that contribute the most to Southeast Alaska’s economy—such as commercial fishing, recreation, and tourism—rely on the conservation of our remaining old-growth forests and pristine watersheds within the Tongass,” said Jen Leahy, Alaska field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It’s time we help the Forest Service manage the Tongass in a way that conserves vital fish and wildlife habitat, allows for sustainable second growth forest management, and boosts the resiliency of our communities.”

Photo: Ben Matthews (www.bentmatthews.com)


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June 10, 2021

House Committee Passes Highway Bill with Dedicated Funding for Wildlife Crossings

$100M annually for wildlife-friendly roadway crossing structures represents one of the bill’s biggest benefits for hunters and anglers

Early this morning in a 38-26 vote, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed its five-year highway bill with $547 billion in transportation infrastructure investments, including a new grant program to help states construct more wildlife crossings that knit together fragmented habitat and increase public safety.

The INVEST in America Act establishes the wildlife crossings program and funds it at $100 million annually. This investment would be the first of its kind in a national wildlife crossings initiative and satisfies what has been a top legislative priority for the TRCP since 2019. The organization has convened wildlife experts, department of transportation planners, engineers, and others to formulate its recommendations in this policy area.

“We are thrilled to see this momentum for a program and funding that would kickstart the construction of critical wildlife crossings,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The timing couldn’t be better, as our enhanced understanding of big game migration routes demands that we reconnect critical seasonal habitats that have been fragmented by roadways, potentially altering the movements of mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and other species.”

Of course, the highway system presents habitat connectivity issues to more than just Western big game. The program would also fund projects that benefit amphibians, fish, and reptiles. “We know that one of the best ways we can ensure fish and wildlife adapt to a changing climate is to enhance their ability to move, as needed, across the landscape,” says Fosburgh. “As Congress prepares to make some of the most impactful investments in our highway system, critical infrastructure, and American jobs, we look forward to working with lawmakers to support these efforts.”

Other important provisions in the INVEST Act include:

  • $555 million per year for the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which helps federal agencies maintain passenger roads through public lands. Of this total, the $50 million set aside for the Forest Service is just one-fifth of the total that the TRCP and others recommended to avoid contributing to the maintenance backlog at the agency. Congress must invest more in the Forest Service’s aging roads, which Americans rely on not just for outdoor recreation but to connect communities that are adjacent to or separated by Forest Services lands.
  • $345 million annually for the Federal Lands Access Program to repair, maintain, and reconstruct roads on public lands, which are essential for outdoor recreation.
  • Establishment of a pre-disaster mitigation program to help communities prepare for future catastrophic weather events that often affect habitat. The TRCP has prioritized this as one of the ways Congress can put Americans back to work through conservation, especially when communities are encouraged to invest in nature-based infrastructure.

The Senate surface transportation bill includes $350 million over five years for wildlife crossings, plus support for climate resilience and better access to public lands. It has passed out of committee and needs a floor vote before both chambers can hammer out a deal to reconcile the two bills.

Also of interest to sportsmen and sportswomen is a bill to increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, which was passed in the same House committee markup today.

Since February, the TRCP has called on Congress to authorize $40 billion over five years for this bedrock program used by states and territories to fund water quality protection, including wastewater control, water treatment, and activities such as land conservation and habitat restoration projects. The TRCP also supported setting aside 15 percent of these funds for the Green Project Reserve Program within the Clean Water SRF to encourage states to invest in natural systems and nature-based approaches to addressing local water quality challenges.

Both of these provisions were included in the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 when it passed out of committee today with a bipartisan vote of 42-25.

To learn more about the natural infrastructure and water quality solutions championed by hunters and anglers, click here.


Top photo courtesy of Wyoming Game and Fish Dept.


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June 8, 2021

House Committee Considers the MAPLand Act

Sportsmen and sportswomen call for swift passage of important public land access legislation

Hunters and anglers around the nation voiced support for the bipartisan Modernizing Access to our Public Land (MAPLand) Act as the bill received its first hearing in the 117th Congress.

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Tuesday for the MAPLand Act (H.R. 3113), introduced by Representative Blake Moore (R-Utah) and co-sponsored by Representatives Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).

The bill will enhance recreational opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that allow outdoor enthusiasts to access the information they need using computer applications and the handheld GPS technology commonly found in smartphones.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to public lands, incomplete and inconsistent mapping data prevents outdoor recreationists as well as land management agencies—including the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Army Corps of Engineers—from utilizing the full benefit of these technologies,” noted the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in its formal testimony.

The MAPLand Act will direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as GIS files. Such records include information about:

• legal easements and rights-of-way across private land;
• year-round or seasonal closures on roads and trails;
• road-specific restrictions by 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.

Last year, a coalition of 150+ hunting- and fishing-related businesses called on Congress to support the bill, highlighting the importance of public land access to the $778-billion outdoor recreation economy.

A companion bill in the Senate was introduced in March of this year by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) alongside Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).

“The events of the past year have helped to put in perspective the importance of outdoor access, and this bill would make it easier for Americans from all walks of life and varying experience levels to take advantage of the opportunities we all share,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Hunters, anglers, and the countless other Americans who enjoy recreating on our public lands extend their appreciation to the members of the subcommittee for their attention to this issue and ask lawmakers in both the House and Senate to support the MAPLand Act.”

TRCP’s full testimony in support of the MAPLand Act can be read HERE.


Photo: Craig Okraska/Maven


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June 7, 2021

New Report: Federal Agencies Should Update Plans, Conserve Big Game Migrations

Sportsmen and sportswomen urge BLM and Forest Service to manage for this conservation priority

Click here to view the full report.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released a report on the need for federal land management agencies to amend and revise land-use plans to incorporate the latest science in public land management and take active steps to conserve the West’s big game migrations.

According to the report, “our understanding of the threats to the continued functionality of [migration corridors] has advanced to the point that it can suggest actionable, pragmatic solutions to ensure their conservation. In the meantime, outdated land-use plans are being used every day for on-the-ground management decisions about what can and cannot happen on our public lands.” Citing missed opportunities to complete habitat improvement projects, responsibly site energy development, and manage recreation, the report calls on the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to revise and amend land-use plans to incorporate the latest migration science into their decision making.

“Because so many land-use plans are decades-old and long overdue for an update, we have a real opportunity all across the West to take actions to ensure some of the region’s most iconic wildlife will be enjoyed by future generations,” said Madeleine West, director of the Center for Public Lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The science clearly demonstrates that this is an important conservation challenge and also shows what we can do to address it.”

During their seasonal journeys, big game herds move across a patchwork of land ownership and administrative boundaries. The report showcases landscapes in the six Western states of Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado where agency attention to address this issue would make a big difference for big game herds. It also describes how cutting-edge migration science and mapping can inform public land management to conserve elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and other big game species that rely on their ability to move between winter and summer ranges.

“Modern GPS migration data can pin-point within 15 feet where collared animals travel, documenting how wildlife use the landscape and how specific human activity in these habitats affects, for instance, mule deer populations,” said Joel Webster, vice president of Western Conservation at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This migration science can then be used by public land managers to inform and guide their decision making to balance multiple uses of our public lands, be better partners with state and tribal wildlife managers, and cooperate with private landowners.”

But agency-created land-use plans must consider this science in order for it to be incorporated into public land management decisions. Regrettably, most land-use policy and planning tools for federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management haven’t been updated to reflect this growing body of knowledge, even when the agencies themselves have adopted migration corridor conservation as a management priority. Existing federal agency land-use plans—many of which were written decades ago—frequently do not acknowledge wildlife migrations or do so with minimal emphasis. This includes BLM lands in the states of Colorado and Nevada.

“GPS technology, and the knowledge it provides on where and how animals migrate, has vastly improved in the time since land management plans in Nevada were developed,” said Tony Wasley, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “Without updates to those plans, in some ways it is as if, despite having a programmable calculator, we are forced to use an abacus. The Department stands ready and willing to bring any and all available resources to assist our valued land management agency partners in this worthy endeavor.”

“Use of the best available science is critical to guide the modernization of land management plans here in Colorado, including the initiation of a statewide plan amendment in partnership with the BLM in the coming year to protect big game movement and habitat on our public lands,” said Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.  “Colorado’s big game herds are a critical component of our state’s identity and economy and we can better protect them with additional research that maps their movements across the landscape.”

Here is what TRCP partner organizations have to say about this work:

“The Mule Deer Foundation works with agencies to advance habitat restoration projects across the West that support mule deer and other species. It is critical that we put this new information to use now, to guide the future uses of our federal lands while protecting key migration corridors and seasonal habitats. By including priorities for migratory habitat restoration and enhancement in land-use plans, the agencies would make it easier for states and NGOs like ours to target restoration work that could provide the greatest benefit for wildlife.”

– Joel Pedersen, President/CEO, Mule Deer Foundation

“Healthy big game herds and intact habitat are essential to sustaining quality hunting opportunities and special outdoor experiences on our public lands. But unless federal agencies incorporate the latest wildlife migration science into the plans that govern how these lands and waters are managed, the seasonal ranges that elk, mule deer, and pronghorn rely on for their survival remain at risk from a variety of threats that could marginalize wildlife populations and compromise future opportunities for outdoor recreation.”

– John Gale, Conservation Director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

“Ensuring a positive future for the West’s deer herds starts with conserving their habitat, and the science clearly demonstrates that mule deer need to be able to move unimpeded as they migrate from winter to summer ranges and back again. Without adequate safeguards to secure connectivity between these habitats, as well as funding and priorities for habitat restoration and enhancement, it will become more and more difficult for our deer populations to undertake their seasonal journeys.”

– Nick Pinizzotto, President/CEO, National Deer Association

Click here to view the full report.


Photo: Josh Metten



Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

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