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Kristyn Brady

March 21, 2022

Dr. Jamelle Ellis Joins TRCP as Senior Scientist

The environmental sustainability entrepreneur and thought leader brings 20 years of experience with habitat mitigation, federal regulations, and the impacts of pollution on people and communities

Washington, D.C. — The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is proud to announce the hire of Dr. Jamelle Ellis, a long-tenured researcher and environmental health planner, as the organization’s new senior scientist. Starting today, she will help to advance science-based conservation in every aspect of the organization’s work.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Jamelle, who has demonstrated in her previous roles that involving, educating, and engaging diverse groups of stakeholders in environmental and land-use planning can remove barriers to collaboration, build essential relationships, and create lasting and effective outcomes for fish and wildlife and local communities,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Her expertise will benefit all facets of our work to guarantee Americans quality places to hunt and fish and ensure that we are pushing for meaningful federal policy changes that are rooted in sound science.”

Ellis previously founded and ran Empowerment Strategies, an environmental sustainability consulting firm, where she developed mitigation strategies and environmental science research models for public and private organizations. She has more than 20 years of research experience focused on environmental contaminant delineation, exposures, and human health impacts and has held engineering and science roles in academia and the public and private sectors. She formerly served as the technical liaison for remediation of hazardous waste at Department of Defense sites and has extensive knowledge of federal environmental regulations.

Ellis earned her M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Clemson University and her Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of South Carolina, where she studied exposures to methylmercury through fishing and fish consumption. She will work remotely from her home in Columbia, S.C., where she enjoys bicycling, water sports, gardening, and going on new adventures with her family.

Learn more about Dr. Jamelle Ellis here.

See the full TRCP staff roster here.

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Randall Williams

March 17, 2022

New Report Highlights Big Game Movement in Western Montana

Offers conservation solutions to guide forthcoming land-use planning efforts for the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released a report on big game migrations and the challenges they face on the Bitterroot and Lolo National Forests in western Montana.

The report focuses on the habitat needs of several populations of elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep across more than 3.5 million acres of national forests, including lands in and around the Blackfoot-Clearwater, East and West Fork of the Bitterroot, and lower Clark Fork watersheds. The Forest Service is expected to initiate the process of revising the land-use plan for the Lolo National Forest in 2022, and the Bitterroot National Forest is identified as a Tier 1 priority by the agency for revision. The TRCP’s report, along with a companion webpage, showcases the need for the USFS to prioritize important wildlife habitats as it considers how it will manage these public lands for the future.

“Public lands and the habitats they support in western Montana provide outstanding opportunities to hunters and contribute to the state’s $7.1-billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Scott Laird, Montana field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Healthy herds of elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep on the Bitterroot and Lolo National Forests are absolutely critical to sportsmen and sportswomen, local businesses, and rural communities alike. Our hope is that the Forest Service takes full advantage of the land-use planning process to ensure that modern migration science informs the management of these public lands, helping to conserve big game species that rely on their ability to move between winter and summer ranges.”

Land-use plans guide on-the-ground actions of land management agencies, setting goals, outlining strategies, and determining appropriate uses for public lands. Decisions, such as where to maintain roads and trails, how to balance wildlife habitat with development and recreation, and where to prioritize active habitat restoration, take their shape from these critical plans. The report includes six key recommendations to the Forest Service and urges the agency to incorporate the latest science, utilize the best-available conservation tools, and prioritize coordination with stakeholders, the state, and Tribes. The existing plans were drafted more than 30 years ago, and preplanning efforts for the Lolo NF plan revision are expected to begin in 2022.

“The past decade has brought clear advancements in our understanding of both big game migration as well as what can be done to ensure our herds remain healthy in the long term on a changing landscape,” added Laird. “The land-use planning process is where the rubber meets the road in terms of incorporating new science into the management of our public lands. Sportsmen and sportswomen see the upcoming plan revision for the Lolo National Forest as a critical opportunity to maintain and improve some of the best hunting and wildlife habitat in western Montana.”

To read the full report, click here.

To visit the companion webpage, click here.

Randall Williams

March 15, 2022

Hunters and Anglers Applaud House MAPLand Act Passage

Groundbreaking public land access legislation awaits a vote in the Senate 

The House of Representatives has passed the Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act (H.R. 3113), which would enhance outdoor recreation opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that provide Americans with the public access information they need while using handheld GPS technology commonly found in smartphones.

Introduced by U.S. Representatives Blake Moore (R-Utah), Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) in May 2021, the MAPLand Act has been a top priority for hunters and anglers across the country. It was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee this past July with unanimous support.

“We thank House lawmakers for listening to the voices of public land users and for making a commonsense investment in the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation access,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The MAPLand Act will help more Americans to get outside and enjoy the unparalleled recreational opportunities found within our public land system. It is encouraging to see broad support for this legislation from both sides of the aisle, a welcome reminder that conservation and our outdoor heritage transcend party lines.”

The MAPLand Act will direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as geospatial 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

Companion legislation in the Senate (S.904) passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November 2021, with unanimous support. The bill now needs to clear the full Senate before it can be delivered to the president’s desk and signed into law.

“Hunters want more information on where to gain access to public lands but often don’t know where to start and the information can be incomplete. The MAPLand Act will make it easier for sportsmen and women to enjoy our outdoor heritage with modernized information on how to access our public lands,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Thank you to the House of Representatives for coming together in an overwhelming display of support that will benefit all Americans. Now on to the Senate!”

“This is a big win for hunters and anglers, and we appreciate House leadership for bringing this bill to the floor,” continued Fosburgh. “We hope to see a Senate vote on the MAPLand Act in the very near future. The TRCP will continue to voice its support for this important legislation until it becomes law.”

Hunters and anglers can take action in support of the MAPLand Act using the TRCP’s simple advocacy tool.

Andrew Earl

by:

posted in: Press Releases

March 14, 2022

More Funding Will Go to CWD Containment as Congress Agrees on Spending

Chronic wasting disease containment at the state level got a necessary increase as Congress passed legislation to fund the government through the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year

With last week’s passage of omnibus legislation to fund the government, Congress has opted to make $10 million available to state wildlife agencies for CWD management through September 30, the end of the 2022 fiscal year. This is an increase of $3 million from the previous year and double the funding made available in FY 2020.

Dollars are administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, even with the increase, they won’t go as far as is needed.

In October 2021, the agency awarded 28 cooperative agreements totaling $5.7 million to state and Tribal agencies for CWD suppression. Unfortunately, 36 other proposals were left unmet, due to limited funding. Since then, CWD has been detected for the first time in Alabama, Louisiana, and Idaho. There have also been major outbreaks in wild and farmed deer in Iowa, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Texas.

“The unchecked spread of chronic wasting disease across the United States poses an existential threat to deer hunting, which generates $40 billion in annual spending, and as the status quo on the landscape continues to worsen, the inevitable costs of managing CWD continue to balloon,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This increase in federal funding is a positive step forward, but more work remains to be done, including securing investments in research that will make disease management more effective in the long-term.”

One state relying on the APHIS funding to support management efforts is Iowa, which received $200,000 in October 2021. The state has been aggressively testing for the disease since 2002, when CWD was first detected in nearby Wisconsin. It wasn’t until 10 years later that CWD was detected in Iowa. Since that time, the Iowa departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture have continued statewide testing and targeted harvests to manage the spread. Still, the disease has been detected in wild herds across a total of 10 counties—breaking new ground particularly in the past two years.

Many states have come to realize that the most effective strategies for addressing the spread of CWD rely on hunter and landowner participation. The Iowa DNR is using the funds to develop access agreements for hunters on private acreage within endemic zones and authorizing the harvest of an additional buck in specified management zones. Importantly, the agency will also study public perception and understanding of CWD and related management techniques to grow public support and encourage participation among the hunting and non-hunting public moving forward.

Other states are using funds to increase the availability of carcass disposal and testing sites or develop educational materials. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is researching the potential use of dogs to detect the disease in live cervids. Here’s how South Dakota used its funding in 2020.

The TRCP and its partners pushed for this additional FY22 funding to be made available through APHIS, but the hunting community is also urging decision-makers to do more.

For starters, the Senate should take up and pass the CWD Research and Management Act, which passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin in late 2021. That bill would immediately authorize $35 million annually for cooperative agreements with states and Tribes, as well as an additional $35 million to support critical research into the disease. Hunters can take action in support of the bill here.

Learn more about chronic wasting disease and what’s at stake for hunters here.

 

Top photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries via Flickr.

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posted in: Press Releases

March 2, 2022

51 Outdoor Groups Push for Strategic Use of Infrastructure Funding

Broad coalition offers six recommendations for successful implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Today, 51 hunting, fishing, conservation, landowner, and business organizations representing the $689-billion outdoor recreation economy and millions of Americans wrote to the Biden-Harris Administration with several key recommendations for implementation of the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Enacted into law on November 15, 2021, the $1.2-trillion IIJA provides a critical infusion of resources to advance infrastructure solutions that recognize the value of natural systems and enhance climate resilience, while connecting Americans to their public lands and waters. Our community worked with Congress to secure critical funding in the IIJA package to advance wildlife crossings, ensure aquatic connectivity and fish passage, implement natural infrastructure solutions, prioritize clean water, and restore habitat across the country.

As the administration moves forward with IIJA implementation, our community is making recommendations to the Biden-Harris Administration in several key areas:

  • Building on existing partnerships
  • Prioritizing durable conservation and outdoor recreation at the landscape- and watershed-scale
  • Addressing capacity needs and other barriers
  • Waiving match requirements
  • Improving the NEPA process to get projects on the ground quickly
  • Developing a national IIJA project dashboard and geospatial tool to track and monitor implementation

We believe these recommendations will help to ensure this critical federal funding advances conservation and recreation at scale and results in lasting, durable solutions to address the most pressing infrastructure challenges facing our nation.

“The commitment that Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration made to our nation’s land, water, and wildlife through enactment of the bipartisan infrastructure package was a major victory, but how we put these critical investments on the ground matters just as much,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Our coalition includes organizations that do significant work to implement projects on-the-ground, and our partnerships can provide a lot of value to agencies that are rolling out these infrastructure dollars.”

“The states welcome the opportunity to collaborate with our federal partners on implementing the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” says Tony Wasley, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “This infusion of federal funding will help us to strategically build upon existing fish and wildlife conservation efforts and expand outdoor recreational opportunities for all to enjoy.”

The letter is cosigned by the American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Boone and Crockett Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, The Nature Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, Wild Salmon Center, Wildlife Mississippi, and 36 other partner organizations. Read the full letter here.

Letter recipients include the Secretaries of Interior, Transportation, Agriculture, and Commerce; Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; and senior leadership at federal natural resource management agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Federal Highway Administration, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

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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