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July 29, 2021

New Report Identifies Opportunities to Advance Natural Infrastructure

The TRCP and National Wildlife Federation release a report outlining opportunities for two key federal agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to improve and promote programs that use natural infrastructure

A new white paper issued by the National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, highlights the importance of nature-based solutions for improved disaster preparedness and more climate resilient communities. The paper identifies opportunities for two key federal agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to improve and promote programs that use natural infrastructure as win-win solutions for vulnerable communities, fish and wildlife habitat, and the outdoor recreation economy that relies on healthy lands and waters.

“Nature-based resilience and hazard mitigation projects have demonstrated time and again that they are an effective and essential solutions that save lives, homes, and livelihoods. Natural solutions harness the power of nature — including wetlands, forests, and floodplains — to act as an effective defense system against the growing threats of flooding, wildfires, and drought,” said Jessie Ritter, director of water resources and coastal policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “Increasing federal resources for nature-based projects is critical, but only part of the puzzle. Federal agencies must address current policy and capacity barriers to the use of nature-based projects, enabling more communities, including the most socially vulnerable, to benefit from the protection and other services these features provide.”

“Federal agencies need to embrace innovation and nature-based approaches that stretch taxpayer dollars to provide many layers of benefits¬ — from stability and personal safety for residents of flood- and wildfire-prone communities to healthier wetlands, grasslands, and forests that provide outdoor recreation opportunities to all Americans,” said Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It will require a shift, not only in mindset but also in policy, and this report will help the agencies identify opportunities for investment that already have support from the conservation community.”

Download the white paper, “Building Resilience through Natural Infrastructure: Barriers and Opportunities within FEMA Hazard Mitigation and HUD Community Development Block Grant Programs.”

More information on the TRCP’s natural infrastructure priorities can be found here.

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s work on nature-based solutions and natural infrastructure here.

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by:

posted in: Press Releases

New Report Identifies Opportunities to Advance Natural Infrastructure

The TRCP and National Wildlife Federation release a report outlining opportunities for two key federal agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to improve and promote programs that use natural infrastructure

A new white paper issued by the National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, highlights the importance of nature-based solutions for improved disaster preparedness and more climate resilient communities. The paper identifies opportunities for two key federal agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to improve and promote programs that use natural infrastructure as win-win solutions for vulnerable communities, fish and wildlife habitat, and the outdoor recreation economy that relies on healthy lands and waters.

“Nature-based resilience and hazard mitigation projects have demonstrated time and again that they are an effective and essential solutions that save lives, homes, and livelihoods. Natural solutions harness the power of nature — including wetlands, forests, and floodplains — to act as an effective defense system against the growing threats of flooding, wildfires, and drought,” said Jessie Ritter, director of water resources and coastal policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “Increasing federal resources for nature-based projects is critical, but only part of the puzzle. Federal agencies must address current policy and capacity barriers to the use of nature-based projects, enabling more communities, including the most socially vulnerable, to benefit from the protection and other services these features provide.”

“Federal agencies need to embrace innovation and nature-based approaches that stretch taxpayer dollars to provide many layers of benefits¬ — from stability and personal safety for residents of flood- and wildfire-prone communities to healthier wetlands, grasslands, and forests that provide outdoor recreation opportunities to all Americans,” said Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It will require a shift, not only in mindset but also in policy, and this report will help the agencies identify opportunities for investment that already have support from the conservation community.”

Download the white paper, “Building Resilience through Natural Infrastructure: Barriers and Opportunities within FEMA Hazard Mitigation and HUD Community Development Block Grant Programs.”

More information on the TRCP’s natural infrastructure priorities can be found here.

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s work on nature-based solutions and natural infrastructure here.

Randall Williams

July 15, 2021

TRCP Applauds New Path Forward for the Tongass

USDA to restore conservation safeguards and invest in sustainable economic development in Southeast Alaska

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership celebrated today’s news that the Forest Service will pursue a new management approach for 9.2 million acres of public land in Southeast Alaska that will prioritize the region’s biggest economic engines, local values, and overwhelming public opinion.

Pairing the restoration of conservation safeguards with new, robust investments in the region’s economic development, the decision was welcomed by local communities and various stakeholders as a balanced solution that promises a sustainable future for a region widely regarded as some of the richest fish and wildlife habitat in Alaska. Among other things, USDA’s new strategy will reverse of one of last year’s biggest conservation setbacks and ensure that the Tongass National Forest will remain an iconic hunting and fishing destination.

“Today’s development marks a major step toward restoring conservation safeguards and shifting to more sustainable forest management practices on the Tongass National Forest,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We appreciate this leadership by USDA, and look forward to the timely reinstatement of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass, which will conserve some of Alaska’s most productive fish and wildlife habitat while also allowing for community development projects and cultural uses.”

Roadless Rule protections were rolled back in 2020 despite overwhelming public opposition to the exemption.

The USDA is anticipated to outline several key steps it will take moving forward:

  • The FS will start the process to repeal the Roadless Rule exemption and reinstate full protections under the 2001 Roadless Rule.
  • The Tongass NF will end large-scale old-growth timber sales, but will allow Alaska Natives and small-scale operators to continue limited old-growth harvest.
  • $25 million in new funding will be dedicated to community development projects that enhance recreation, restoration and resilience, including climate, wildlife habitat, and watershed improvements.

“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 watersheds within the Tongass,” said Jen Leahy, Alaska field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It’s exciting to see the Forest Service invest in new strategies that align with the values and priorities of rural Alaskans. The TRCP is committed to helping 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 Credit: Ben Matthews

Randall Williams

July 14, 2021

MAPLand Act Moves Closer to Finish Line in the House

Bipartisan public land access bill gets unanimous approval in House committee

The House Natural Resources Committee has passed important legislation to create comprehensive digital mapping records for recreational access opportunities on public land.

The Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act received a markup in the House Natural Resources Committee and passed with unanimous support. With only a few minor technical modifications, the bill will now be referred to the floor for consideration by the full chamber.

“We thank the members of the committee for supporting this legislation, which has become a top-line priority for hunters and anglers across the country,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Sportsmen and sportswomen are counting on the House to bring this bill to an expeditious vote so that this important work can begin as soon as possible.”
Introduced in the House and Senate earlier this year with bipartisan support, the MAPLand Act would direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available all recreational access information in a format that can be used with computer mapping programs and GPS applications.

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.

“Without a doubt, the loss of access is one of the most pressing issues facing today’s hunters and anglers,” said Fosburgh. “Our community appreciates the leadership shown by lawmakers from both parties to help move the MAPLand Act. We are encouraged by the bill’s progress, and we will continue to speak in support of this commonsense investment in public land recreational opportunities.”

 

Photo: Craig Okraska/Maven

Randall Williams

July 13, 2021

Hunters and Anglers Unveil Vision for National Wildlife Refuges

Leading conservation groups and industry brands release report with recommendations for the future of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-managed public lands

A new report from 32 hunting- and fishing-related conservation organizations and businesses celebrates the successes of the National Wildlife Refuge System in supporting species conservation and outdoor recreation, and outlines twelve key principles that should guide its management and future proposals for its expansion. This comes as hunters and anglers are enjoying new opportunities on national wildlife refuges, and as the administration continues to define its conservation priorities.

“President Theodore Roosevelt, who more than anyone recognized the inextricable connection between conservation and hunting, established the first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903 at Pelican Island,” said Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute. “Continuing in that proud tradition, I was privileged to serve as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the 100th anniversary of the refuge system and throughout my tenure worked to encourage hunting and fishing programs on these lands, for which Roosevelt cared so deeply. In opening our refuges to more Americans and planning for expanded opportunities throughout the system, the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to carry out an important mission that is essential to the future of hunting and fishing—as well as that of conservation—in this country.”

According to the report, “strategic and locally supported expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System would help to provide all Americans with increased access to nature regardless of their income or background, to conserve biodiversity, and to sustain fish and wildlife habitat connectivity.”

“Sportsmen and sportswomen have been the National Wildlife Refuge System’s earliest advocates, most outspoken supporters, and most generous contributors, which helps explain why our community has such a strong investment in building on the system’s proven framework,” said Christy Plumer, chief policy officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines the future of the refuge system—including the potential expansion of refuges—we see an opportunity to ensure that the system continues to benefit numerous species as well as public fishing and hunting.”

Recent events make the report’s release particularly timely. In 2019 and 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service increased hunting and fishing opportunities on a combined 4 million acres within the refuge system, and the agency recently proposed expanded opportunities on an additional 2.1 million acres. Then, in March 2021, several federal agencies released “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” which outlines a ten-year roadmap for conserving at least 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030. Specifically mentioned is a recommendation to work “with States, local communities, and others to explore where there is support to enhance the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

“Not only does the National Wildlife Refuge System conserve irreplaceable habitat for trout and salmon, these public lands also offer world class angling opportunities. Strengthening the refuge system is crucial to help make fish and wildlife populations more resilient to the effects of climate change,” said Corey Fisher, public lands policy director with Trout Unlimited. “This report provides constructive guideposts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance the refuge system for future generations, and this needs to be coupled with a commitment from Congress to ensure that the agency has the resources and funding necessary to steward wildlife refuges across the nation.”

At the report’s core are recommendations in the form of twelve tenets that, if followed, would help generate broad support from the hunting and fishing community for proposed new or expanded refuges. These principles address concerns ranging from public access and sporting opportunities to state fish and wildlife management authority, as well as funding and administrative priorities.

“Durable land conservation requires open dialogue, strong partnerships, and an interest in finding common ground,” said John Gale, conservation director for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Hunters and anglers are proven collaborators, and there is a need for our community to remain at the table to help shape a future for the National Wildlife Refuge System that we and others can call a success.”

The report includes feature profiles of four refuges within the system that offer diverse opportunities for hunters and anglers and explains some of the history and characteristics that make these landscapes unique. The voices of local sportsmen and sportswomen help to explain the value of each refuge to nearby communities in places ranging from rural southwest Wyoming to the urban spaces of greater Detroit, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio.

“Among all of our public lands, national wildlife refuges play an important role in providing Americans access to the outdoors, and include outstanding deer habitats throughout the country,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Association. “Sportsmen and sportswomen have a profound appreciation for the opportunities provided by the refuge system and there can be no doubt that the hunting community will speak up to ensure this legacy lives on for future generations.”

See the full list of policy recommendations and read the report at TRCP.org/refuges.

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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 conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations.

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