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A new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that climate change is already affecting every inhabited region across the globe. This leaves no question that fish and wildlife habitat in the U.S. is experiencing impacts.
This should come as no surprise to the hunting and fishing community that has long been on the front lines of climate change and working to adapt to the effects. Extreme drought, sea-level rise, flooding, and catastrophic fire are climate-driven events that have increasingly become a part of our daily lives and threaten our hunting and fishing heritage.
Warming temperatures and drought in the Prairie Pothole Region and other waterfowl habitats have dried up wetlands and shortened wet seasons. Sea levels continue to rise, displacing critical marshlands along with fish spawning grounds. Largescale flooding and record-high king tides have caused saltwater to move into lakes and rivers, increasing salinity and decreasing freshwater trout and salmon populations. Meanwhile, big game like deer and elk are experiencing concurrent heatwaves, drought, and fire conditions, further challenging migration and altering seasonal habitat.
The IPCC’s reports provide governments with the objective scientific information needed to develop climate policies. The data in this assessment—the sixth overall and the first since 2014—made it clear that quick and dramatic actions are required at national, state, and local levels to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Truly comprehensive climate legislation must address this and include expanded roles for our nation’s water- and land-based systems that could mitigate at least 20 percent of our carbon emissions. The Senate recently passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which represents a significant investment in infrastructure. The TRCP advocated for several critical provisions in the legislation that will improve habitat through nature-based solutions.
The IPCC will release two more reports in 2022 to further expand on the data and offer adaptation and mitigation recommendations, but we can’t afford to hesitate. The TRCP is already leading a coalition of 40 other hunting, fishing, and conservation nonprofits to advance land- and water-based climate solutions that mitigate the impacts of climate change and in improve habitat along the way. In July 2020, the coalition released the Sportsmen & Sportswomen Climate Statement centered around seven focus areas: adaptation; agriculture; coastal resilience; forests, rangeland, and grassland; rivers, lakes, and streams; oceans; and wetlands. Many of the solutions we’ve identified for climate are conservation projects that also provide better hunting and fishing opportunities.
Stay up to date with the TRCP as we track legislation that would help improve habitat, limit harmful emissions, and capture or sequester carbon to combat climate change. And if your hunting or fishing has been affected by climate change, tell us how.
Encourages members to speak up for hunting and angling opportunities in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests
Today the U.S. Forest Service released a Draft Forest Plan that—when finalized—will guide future land-use management decisions on more than 3.2 million acres of public lands in central Colorado for the next 15 to 20 years. Hunters and anglers have been anticipating the release of the draft plan because of the significant potential impact it could have on the state’s fish and wildlife resources, and hunting and fishing opportunities.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests provide habitat for nearly 20 percent of Colorado’s iconic mule deer and elk populations, as well as large populations of bighorn sheep, moose, wild turkeys, and multiple trout species. More than 50,000 big game hunting permits are issued each year for the game management units within the planning area.
“The GMUG forest planning process should be viewed as critically important to hunters and anglers in Colorado, and it will no doubt shape outdoor recreational opportunities for decades to come,” said Jon Holst, Colorado field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Sportsmen and sportswomen from all across our state know how important these public lands are to our hunting and fishing traditions, as well as the tremendous economic benefits they provide to local communities.”
The GMUG planning area is a vast and diverse landscape, covering more than 3.2 million acres of lands that range in elevation from 5,000 to over 14,000 feet, with mountain streams cascading through dense forests of spruce-fir, meadows interspersed in aspen groves, and riparian oases throughout sagebrush and oak shrublands. These lands contain large, unfragmented backcountry habitats that are essential for keeping seasonal big game migrations intact.
The release of the Draft Forest Plan is a key step in determining how fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and resource development are balanced in this area. The agency’s Preferred Alternative in the Draft Forest Plan contains key provisions supported by hunters and anglers, such as conserving important habitats as Wildlife Management Areas to prevent incompatible development in these places.
A 90-day public comment period on the draft plan begins August 13 and is slated to close November 10.
“The TRCP is taking steps to ensure that hunters and anglers weigh in on the draft plan, and we’re continuing to work with local stakeholders and agency partners to ensure that the final plan reflects our shared conservation priorities,” continued Holst. “It’s important that members of our community speak up on behalf of the provisions of the plan that benefit wildlife, while also encouraging the agency to revise elements that remain in need of improvement.”
Photo: Jerry and Pat Donaho via Flickr
Departments of Interior and Agriculture take steps to conserve and enhance wildlife migration corridors in partnership with states and tribes
Today, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership celebrated a joint announcement by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the state of Wyoming regarding cooperative efforts to partner in the conservation and enhancement of wildlife migration corridors.
“Functional migration corridors and other seasonal habitats are essential to healthy populations of elk, mule deer, and antelope and help to ensure that all Americans have opportunities to enjoy our storied big game herds,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We greatly appreciate the leadership shown today by Secretaries Haaland and Vilsack, in partnership with state and tribal governments, to invest in the conservation and restoration of migratory wildlife habitats.”
Today’s statement included a commitment by the federal agencies to support the implementation of Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s 2020 executive order prioritizing the conservation of mule deer and pronghorn migrations. In addition, the agencies announced the availability of $2 million in new grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Migration Corridors and Habitat Connectivity program, as well as a commitment from USDA to leverage programs such as Working Lands for Wildlife, the Sage Grouse Initiative, and the Conservation Reserve Programs.
Wildlife migration corridor conservation was highlighted in the May 2021 Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful report, and today’s announcement marks the first agency actions under the Biden Administration to address the issue. These steps signal that the new administration is genuinely interested in building upon the migration-focused DOI Secretarial Order 3362, signed in 2018 by then-Secretary Ryan Zinke. That order, and the federal funding associated with it, catalyzed significant investment from state agencies and non-governmental organizations.
“Given recent advancements in migration research and mapping, there is enormous opportunity for state and federal agencies to make more precisely informed land management decisions and to invest strategically in conservation and restoration projects,” continued Fosburgh. “The TRCP looks forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the administration, states, tribes, and private landowners to advance and further expand this exciting work, which is fundamental to the future of hunting in America as we know it.”
Washington, D.C. — After working through the weekend, Senators passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in a 69-30 vote today, advancing numerous conservation investments and priorities.
“Making this commitment to habitat restoration, water quality, climate resilience, wildlife crossings, and road access on our public lands signals that Senate lawmakers understand the job-creating power of conservation and the foundational importance of outdoor recreation and natural resources in America,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These efforts are not only worth the investment as we think about the future of the nation’s infrastructure—many are long overdue. We look forward to working with House lawmakers to advance these priorities and make robust investments in conservation as the infrastructure package moves forward.”
Among the conservation provisions in the $1.2-trillion bipartisan deal are top TRCP priorities, including:
Top photo courtesy of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers via Flickr.
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.Learn More