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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.
As the Louisiana legislature convenes this week, there is already momentum behind a measure meant to safeguard the state’s beaches, barrier islands, fisheries, and coastal economy. Anglers have been pushing for it since last summer: Decision-makers need to create a regulated buffer zone along Louisiana’s beaches that would restrict the industrial harvest of menhaden—an important forage fish locally known as pogies—to deeper waters.
To recap, restricting purse-seine operations in the surf zone would reduce habitat impacts and conflicts between pogie boats and anglers. The two foreign-owned companies behind industrial menhaden fishing in the Gulf have said they don’t and can’t operate their boats in shallow waters, where they are at risk of running aground, but anglers and charter boat captains regularly witness pogie boats within a half-mile of shore—often leaving dead redfish, sharks, jacks, and other fish behind. And every other coastal state has safeguards in place to protect their shorelines against the abuse of commercial pogie fishing.
A bill in the legislature ultimately died last year after it had strong support in committee. Since then, fisheries managers not only failed to extend a proposed half-mile buffer zone to a full mile, but they actually weakened the proposal, setting into motion a public comment period on a quarter-mile restricted area. Meanwhile, the concerns about damage being caused to Louisiana’s surf zones by these foreign-owned companies have only increased.
This is our time to secure a durable solution for habitat and sportfish that rely on pogies for food. We aren’t asking the reduction fishing industry to catch any fewer fish. We are asking for some simple, reasonable protection of our beaches—many of which have been recently restored to support coastal tourism and spending on activities like recreational fishing.
Take just a few minutes out of your day to reach out to your elected officials using TRCP’s simple advocacy tool and help us move pogie boats out of the surf zone and into deeper water, where there is less chance of damaging our shores and less impact on sportfish.
Top photo courtesy of Healthy Gulf via Flickr.
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.
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:
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.”
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