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August 3, 2021

TRCP New Hires to Boost Communications and Water Resources Expertise

Liz Ogilvie of the American Sportfishing Association and Alex Funk from the Colorado Water Conservation Board will join the organization in August

Washington, D.C. — The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to announce two new hires, who will strengthen the organization’s communications and water resources conservation efforts.

Liz Ogilvie, most recently chief marketing officer at the American Sportfishing Association, will join TRCP as chief communications officer on August 16, 2021. Alex Funk, most recently an agricultural and rural resiliency policy specialist at the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will begin his new role as TRCP’s director of water resources and senior counsel on August 23, 2021.

“We’re thrilled to have Liz and Alex joining us at a critical time for both conservation and the TRCP—as our national leaders are making decisions that will affect hunting and fishing for decades to come and as the organization is about to celebrate 20 years of fulfilling its purpose as a convener, collaborator, and thought-leader in the conservation community,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO. “Their expertise and leadership will enhance our efforts and help us grow as we enter this new chapter.”

Ogilvie has worked in various segments of the recreational fishing industry–from retail to television to nonprofits–for more than 20 years. Most recently, she was the chief marketing officer for the American Sportfishing Association, where she oversaw the trade group’s communications strategy, the Keep America Fishing advocacy campaign, and the fundraising and distribution of conservation grants by the FishAmerica Foundation. Her focus as chief communications officer will be to shape the TRCP’s voice in grassroots advocacy and public relations, and she will also oversee the operations and finance arms of the organization. Learn more here.

Funk previously served as the Agricultural and Rural Resiliency Policy Specialist at the Colorado Water Conservation Board, where he acted as the agency’s liaison to agricultural stakeholders on federal and state water policy issues. In this role, he also assisted with the implementation of the Colorado Water Plan and represented CWCB in multiple venues, including Colorado’s Natural Working Lands Task Force and the Colorado River Basin Salinity Forum. Earlier in his career, Funk was the Western policy director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, focusing on Farm Bill policy, and a fellow with American Rivers. His focus at TRCP will be on water policy and strategy, particularly in the Colorado River Basin. Learn more here.

This month, the organization says farewell to Melinda Kassen, who will be retiring after a 40-year career working on Western water law and policy.

See the full TRCP staff roster here.

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Randall Williams

August 2, 2021

Bipartisan Senate Infrastructure Bill Contains Critical Investments in Conservation

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act shows lawmakers on Capitol Hill are listening to hunters and anglers

Today, a bipartisan cohort of 21 lawmakers introduced to the U.S. Senate the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes important investments in conservation and natural infrastructure that will benefit hunters, anglers, and rural communities for years to come. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s policy team has examined the bill text and identified several key policy and funding priorities that our community pushed for, including funding for wildlife crossings, national forest road repair and maintenance, drought resiliency, improved water quality, severe weather resilience, and habitat restoration.

“Now more than ever, we appreciate the diligent, bipartisan process undertaken by the Senate to develop a legislative package that both reauthorizes critical programs and takes additional steps to acknowledge the relationship between infrastructure and our natural environment,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP. “From the availability of funds for wildlife crossings to restoration programs that will benefit large ecosystems like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, the legislation represents our nation’s continued commitment and responsibility to our lands, waters, and wildlife. We look forward to working with the Senate and House to advance the critical provisions within this bill.”

The TRCP advocated for several critical provisions in the legislation that will improve habitat connectivity for wildlife, invest in public lands and access, and restore and conserve aquatic habitats while restoring water quality.

Among the biggest wins is a first-of-its-kind $350-million grant program to fund the construction of roadway crossings that reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and reconnect fragmented migration corridors.

The bipartisan bill included another top priority for TRCP and our partners with $250 million for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program, which will help address maintenance and repair needs on the Forest Service’s extensive network of roads and trails. This investment will not only improve public land access for hunters and anglers, but also safeguard fish habitats from harmful runoff and pollutants that can result when roads fall into disrepair.

Lawmakers also delivered for sportsmen and sportswomen by including the reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, providing states with funding for fisheries projects, boating access, and aquatic education from a portion of fishing license, gear, and boat fuel sales.

Hunters and anglers stand to benefit further from a substantial increase in funding bringing the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, which supports estuary restoration and stormwater management projects to improve aquatic habitat and water quality, up to a grand total of $14.65 billion. Complementing this program is the bill’s $400-million allocation for WaterSMART. With $100 million set aside for natural infrastructure solutions, this boost will help mitigate the impacts of drought, create new habitat, and improve water quality.

Another key investment in resiliency and natural infrastructure is the $1.4 billion allocated by the bill to the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant Program, intended to reduce the risks posed to vulnerable communities by significant weather events.

The TRCP is also encouraged to see $2.2 billion allocated for the Federal Land Transportation Program, of which the Forest Service will see the largest percentage increase in funding among all federal agencies. Our national forests will likewise benefit from bill’s inclusion of the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act, which will renew tree cover and address the growing backlog of nearly two million acres in need of replanting.

Other wins for conservation include:

  • $300 million for Drought Contingency Planning to improve Colorado River Basin management
  • $492 million for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund to improve coastal resiliency
  • $800 million for the National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program, which will improve habitat connectivity and improve survival of anadromous fish
  • $1.9 billion for the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Fund
  • $300 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program
  • $1.7 billion for EPA Geographic Programs, essential collaborative initiatives to restore unique landscapes across the nation
  • $11.2 billion for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund to restore habitat affected by resource extraction
  • $4.67 billion for orphaned well site plugging, remediation, and reclamation

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represents a significant opportunity to make critical investments in fish and wildlife habitat, sporting access, and the future of our hunting and fishing traditions,” said Fosburgh. “Sportsmen and sportswomen appreciate the leadership that produced this legislation and for the attention that lawmakers have shown to our community’s priorities. We hope this bill will enjoy quick passage in the full Senate and look forward to working with lawmakers in the House to ensure that it can be sent to the president’s desk without delay.”

 

Photo: Paulo O via Flickr

Kristyn Brady

July 29, 2021

House Votes to Increase Key Conservation Funds that Benefit Waterfowl, Deer, and Sportfish

The chamber passed a “minibus” package of appropriations bills outlining funding for the federal agriculture, energy, water, environment, and public land agencies, including investments in conservation that will affect hunting and fishing in America

In a 219 – 208 floor vote this afternoon, the House passed a “minibus” package of appropriations bills for fiscal year 2022, including those that fund conservation at the federal agencies overseeing agriculture, energy, water, the environment, and public lands.

Experts at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership have scrutinized these funding levels and identified important increases in several areas, including drought resiliency, wetlands conservation, private land conservation, big game herd health, and habitat restoration in the Everglades, Chesapeake Bay, and Upper Mississippi River watershed.

“We’re pleased to see the House supporting robust and increased investment in conservation at a time when public land visitation is up, participation in hunting and fishing is growing, and our natural resources face many challenges, including climate change, drought, development, invasive species, wildfire, and disease,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP. “We have to create certainty for the federal workers who keep hunters and anglers safe on our public lands and waters and give them the resources to improve habitat and stave off risk—rather than scramble to recover after losses or watch maintenance backlogs grow. This requires investment. We look forward to working with the Senate to secure these funding levels and seize additional opportunities to commit to conservation in fiscal year 2022.”

Some highlights of the appropriations package include:

  • $25 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Drought Response Program, which is $10 million more than FY21
  • $350 million for Army Corps construction projects within the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program—an increase of $100 million over FY21, although less than half of what the TRCP and conservation partners had pushed for to expedite completion of authorized Everglades restoration projects
  • $50 million for North American Wetlands Conservation Act programs, up by $3.5 million
  • A $65-million bump in funding for conservation technical assistance available to private landowners who enhance habitat, bringing total program funding to $894 million
  • A $44-million increase for Bureau of Land Management habitat programs, bringing the total to $233 million
  • $33.5 million for Upper Mississippi River restoration
  • $15 million for Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • $10 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to assist state agencies in CWD containment

While the funding measure takes an important step in growing federal investment in several areas important to wildlife, conservation needs continue to outpace funding. Challenges ranging from chronic wasting disease to drought are affecting hunters, anglers, landowners, and fish and wildlife. The TRCP looks forward to working with lawmakers in the Senate to support these critical funding needs for FY22 and years to come.

 

Photo by RimLight Media

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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

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