Whit Fosburgh

August 5, 2021

Remembering TRCP Supporter and Conservationist Rich Trumka

Above: Rich Trumka (center) with former TRCP president and CEO George Cooper (left) and former Union Sportsmen’s Alliance executive director Fred Myers in 2007.

It was with a heavy heart today that I learned about the death of Richard Trumka at the age of 72.

As president of the AFL-CIO, Rich will be remembered as a champion of labor and the working person—and for good reason. But his role in conservation cannot be overlooked.

Rich grew up hunting and fishing in his native Pennsylvania, and that remained a core part of who he was. In 2007, he joined with Jim Range, the founder of TRCP, to champion creating incentives for private landowners to open their lands for public hunting and fishing. This became the Voluntary Public Access program of the 2008 Farm Bill and what is now a $50-million Department of Agriculture program that has opened millions of acres of land and water for the public to enjoy.

Because Rich saw hunting, fishing, and conservation as important to the AFL-CIO’s rank-and-file membership, he then worked with Range to create the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance under the TRCP banner. In 2010, the USA spun off as a standalone organization, on the Board of which I proudly serve. Rich also served nine years on the TRCP board, where he became a friend and mentor.

Just two weeks ago, I had lunch with Rich, at his request, so that Nick Pinizzotto, CEO of the National Deer Association, and I could brief him on the spread of chronic wasting disease in his beloved Pennsylvania. The lunch lasted more than two hours as the conversation swerved from CWD to ballistics and reloading, to the new foods plots he was trying on his farm.

Rich Trumka loved life, his work, hunting and conservation, and his family. I have no doubt that his spirit will be stalking that 200-inch buck in the Pennsylvania woods this fall. For those of us still on Earth, we will miss him, but we certainly will not forget him.

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Kristyn Brady

May 6, 2021

Interior Moves to Strengthen Bedrock Conservation Law Protecting Migratory Birds

This announcement is a positive step forward for maintaining the integrity of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership applauds Interior Secretary Haaland and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for actions announced today to restore the integrity of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Since 1918, the MBTA has been the foundation to conserving the nation’s migratory birds, from warblers to waterfowl. It has provided clarity to industry, including the oil and gas and wind sectors, about allowable activities and provided reasonable exceptions for “incidental take”—the accidental death of birds.

Yet the previous administration severely weakened the law, eliminating any incentive for the regulated community to take prudent actions to avoid killing birds. Moving forward, sportsmen and sportswomen look forward to working with the administration and industry to continue America’s remarkable track record of migratory bird conservation.

“At a time when migratory birds are in serious decline, we see this as a positive step forward for not only maintaining the integrity of this bedrock conservation law, but also removing additional threats to species facing the impacts of climate change and other habitat stressors,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “To effectively halt and reverse declines of migratory birds and reduce the risk of future endangered species act listings, we believe it is critical that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act remain an effective tool for addressing foreseeable and avoidable threats to birds.”

Top photo by Dennis Buchner on Unsplash 

Whit Fosburgh

April 16, 2021

What Hunters and Anglers Need to Know About “30 by 30”

Sportsmen and sportswomen must play a role in the effort to conserve 30 percent of the world’s lands and waters by 2030—here’s what 30 by 30 is (and what it isn’t) 

Almost immediately after the inauguration, the Biden Administration announced its support for a global conservation initiative known as 30 by 30—the goal of conserving 30 percent of the planet’s lands and waters by 2030.

News about the initiative spread fast across several media outlets and has left many, including sportsmen and sportswomen, wondering what this effort is and where it is headed. Words like “protection” or “designation,” often strike fear among landowners, politicians, industry executives, and even some conservation groups. Especially when used with broad strokes that allow people’s imaginations to wander and reach sweeping conclusions. Predictably, many immediately criticized the 30 by 30 initiative and expressed fear of classic top-down federal restrictions.

This doesn’t have to be the case. The administration’s directives specifically call for “conserving” 30 percent of our lands and water, not “protecting” them. What’s the difference? As Theodore Roosevelt and others have noted for more than a century, humans are a part of the land and can wisely use that land, conserving it and nature for future generations. Moreover, the Biden order calls for a deliberative stakeholder process to determine what will be considered “conserved.” This is good news for our community as it provides us with an opportunity to help shape 30 by 30.

Based on the administration’s messaging and direction thus far, it appears that more than just wilderness, national monuments, and national parks would be part of what we consider conserved habitats. It will also include working lands that are managed for long-term ecological sustainability. Because sportsmen and women depend on functional habitats for our pastimes, we have an historic opportunity to turn this initiative into a real win-win for fish and wildlife, landowners, our changing climate, outdoor recreation, and our economy.

 

 

30 by 30 is a laudable goal that could benefit our community greatly if implemented successfully. Here’s what you as hunters and anglers need to know to push for conservation goals as part of this initiative.

30 by 30 is supported by scientists.

The Biden Administration didn’t come up with 30 by 30. Scientists have championed the initiative for years to conserve biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The hunting and fishing community has been on the front lines of conservation for more than a century and we know that science-based conservation for game species also benefits ecosystem health, biodiversity, and local communities. Efforts to mitigate climate change through proven natural solutions will also benefit biodiversity, habitat, and the hunting and fishing community while contributing to 30 by 30 goals.

Conservation must be clearly defined.

This is critical to understanding what, where, and how lands managed specifically for conservation—under public and private ownership and beyond just permanently protected areas—are contributing to the broader goals of 30 by 30. Our community believes that contributions from long-term or permanent easements on private lands, Conservation Reserve Program enrollments, and other conservation measures can and should be rolled into the initiative.

If conserving biodiversity is also a goal, I would argue that well-managed national forests should be considered “conserved.” Prudent timber harvest can help reduce wildfire and provide critical habitat diversity.

We need to know where we stand in relation to the goal.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 12 percent of the country’s lands are already permanently protected, and studies show about 26 percent of U.S. ocean waters, mostly in the Pacific, are currently protected. How to achieve the remaining 18 percent of land needs to be defined. While we don’t have an acreage total for lands that would be considered “conserved,” meeting the 30 by 30 target will require an additional area twice the size of Texas—that’s more than 440 million acres—within the next 10 years.

Hunters and anglers need a seat at the table.

As always, science-based conservation measures should be developed through a stakeholder-driven process that includes sportsmen and women, private landowners, states, tribes, industry, and others. If it is to succeed, this will be critical in defining the goals and definitions for habitats to include for 30 by 30.

Moreover, access, including hunting, fishing and general recreation, should be encouraged as long as it is well managed. Conservation requires public support, and we help achieve that by letting people enjoy conserved areas. The TRCP has joined with other hunting and fishing organizations to ensure our community has a seat at the table and that the initiative recognizes the important role of sportsmen and sportswomen in powering conservation in the U.S.

Community-driven conservation is key.

We will need our local communities, both urban and rural, to be fully invested in the broad conservation outcomes envisioned by the 30 by 30 initiative. With the challenges of a changing climate, fire, invasive species, and other stressors affecting our fish and wildlife habitat and natural systems in the U.S., conservation approaches are most durable and lasting when they are well-grounded in local communities and in building trust and common ground with local decision-makers. This is also an opportunity to ensure we are building toward conservation outcomes that create equitable access to nature, clean water, and recreation.

Freshwater needs to be included.

Connectivity is fundamental to improving biodiversity and should be of paramount importance when considering which lands, waters, and conservation actions will contribute to 30 by 30 goals. Freshwater connectivity, and the critical role freshwater plays within our landscape, is an important factor for the administration to consider as it develops next steps for 30 by 30.

30 by 30 should not ignore degraded habitats that need restoration.

There are millions of acres of degraded habitats across the country warranting restoration. Restored habitats will ultimately contribute to the goals of 30 by 30 over time and investments need to be made to combat invasive plants and restore ecological function to damaged ecosystems. Programs supported by sportsmen and women that have provided millions of dollars of investment into habitat restoration will need to be included in the solution set for this initiative. This includes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program.

It is incumbent on our community to work with Congress, states, local governments, and all stakeholders on defining conservation that works to achieve long-term goals. Any legislation must also tie together 30 by 30 goals with ecosystem health, robust fish and wildlife populations, climate benefits, and economic stimulus—particularly through investments in job-creating conservation projects and better access to outdoor recreation.

And, importantly, implementation of the 30 by 30 initiative must not divert funding from ongoing conservation, restoration, or natural resource management activities.

 

Learn More

The TRCP, along with 50 other groups, has signed onto this statement from the hunting and fishing community, which outlines the 30 by 30 policies that support existing habitat management approaches and recognize hunting and fishing as important and sustainable activities. Learn more at huntfish3030.com.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

Whit Fosburgh

January 13, 2021

Moving Forward With a Belief That Conservation Unifies All Americans

Our president and CEO looks to 2021 as a fresh start for partnership and dedication to science-based conservation

For nearly 20 years, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has brought people together, built coalitions, and advanced conservation. We pride ourselves in working with policymakers of all political backgrounds. No matter who controls the White House or Congress, we roll up our sleeves and focus on what unites us—not what tears us apart.

That is why the violent events at the Capitol last week shook us to our core. We not only believe in the strength of our democracy and democratic institutions, but our staff members regularly walk those hallowed halls to carry the collective voice of sportsmen and women to decision makers. On a personal level, I worked in those halls for years and still marvel at America’s citadel of democracy that has endured for more than two centuries.

To do what we do, you have to believe in public service and the rule of law. Yet, the siege at the Capitol was the culmination of years of fact-free rhetoric aimed at inflaming passions and securing political advantage, not providing solutions.

In short, it was a disgrace and those who carried out and incited this terror should be held accountable.

At the end of the day, however, we will see the peaceful transition of power. And my hope is that we also see a return to partnership, where Americans can disagree about ideas, but not about the foundations of democracy, and where telling the truth is again seen as a virtue.

Even in the divisive atmosphere of the last few years, conservation has been an area where Democrats and Republicans worked together on behalf of the people. The successful passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, the Dingell Act, the ACE Act, and many more are prime examples.

This year brings with it many opportunities to enact conservation policy that further strengthens habitat and access. Whether by putting Americans back to work through conservation or advancing land and water-based solutions to climate change, we have our eyes on the issues that affect sportsmen and women.

Every time a new administration or new Congress is sworn in, we build relationships so we can tackle these pressing issues. Those relationships are built on trust and the understanding that we share a common goal: to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.

The moderate middle is often a lonely place, where both sides turn up the heat and pressure you to be someone you are not. While it can be uncomfortable, it is where we find success. Our mission is based on science and facts and does not change with the political winds or fall pressure to the blue and red waves in an election. It stays true and focused, and it stays loyal to the institutions upon which this great nation was built.

TRCP has always sought to be a voice of partnership and cooperation in our efforts to advance conservation policy across the nation, because we believe that conservation unifies all Americans. In that same spirit, we look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers—Republican, Democrat, and Independent—who share these values.

 

Image courtesy of National Parks.

 

January 11, 2021

MeatEater Podcast ft. TRCP: The State of Conservation Moving Into 2021

Listen now for our CEO’s take on the wins and losses for habitat and access last year

Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the TRCP, joined Steven Rinella, Clay Newcomb, Brody Henderson, and Janis Putelis on the MeatEater Podcast in late December to discuss the state of conservation leading into 2021. If, as the podcast’s title suggests, we gave 2020 a sideways thumb, the TRCP is making every effort to give conservation a thumbs up this year. Take a listen and arm yourself with the knowledge to continue our conservation fight!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

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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