fbpx
Randall Williams

April 7, 2022

Interior Reaffirms Commitment to Big Game Seasonal Habitats

Secretary Haaland announces new actions to conserve and enhance wildlife migration corridors in partnership with states and Tribes

Today, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership celebrated a U.S. Department of the Interior event announcing a suite of developments and commitments centered on wildlife migration and connectivity.

Secretary Deb Haaland participated in a live-streamed panel discussion on wildlife movement corridors and habitat connectivity, highlighting steps that the Biden Administration is taking to continue implementation of Secretarial Order 3362—signed in 2018 by then-Secretary Ryan Zinke—as well as plans to expand this work to include additional species and geographies.

“Migration corridors and other seasonal habitats are critical to maintaining wildlife abundance and public hunting opportunities in the West,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We appreciate Secretary Haaland’s leadership on this issue, and today’s announcement further demonstrates that wildlife migration conservation is an issue that spans political boundaries and is something that all Americans can agree on.”

In addition to the panel discussion, several announcements from the event promise a continuing commitment and further progress on the issue of wildlife migration, including:

  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced a new round of grant funding for its Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game Migration Corridors and Habitat Connectivity program.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release the second volume of the ungulate migration atlas, an online and print publication that includes maps and detailed descriptions of numerous migration corridors across the West.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, a national organization that provides its more than 200 member Tribes with assistance and support in the conservation and management of their fish and wildlife resources.

Wildlife migration corridor conservation was highlighted in the May 2021 report, Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful. In August of that year, the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, and state of Wyoming announced new cooperative efforts to partner in the conservation and enhancement of wildlife migration corridors, which marked the Biden Administration’s first agency efforts to address the issue.

“As landscapes across the West green up with the arrival of spring weather, the seasonal movements of elk, mule deer, and pronghorns are on full display, which brings into focus the very significant challenges these animals face in reaching the habitats they need to survive,” continued Fosburgh. “Hunters and conservationists recognize both the importance of Interior’s leadership on this issue as well as the need for continued cooperation by the administration, states, Tribes, and private landowners, all of whom have critical roles to play in conservation.”

 

Photo: Bill Sincavage (@jakeysforkphoto)

Do you have any thoughts on this post?

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Comments must be under 1000 characters.

Why the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Would Benefit Hunters and Anglers

This bipartisan effort to create dedicated funding for proactive conservation is the next major victory-in-the-making for the sporting community

Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in a bipartisan vote of 15-5. This brings us one step closer to securing a solution that has been championed by the hunting and fishing community since 2016.

“Passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would be a defining victory for wildlife, habitat, outdoor recreation, and our economy,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We applaud members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for this step today and urge lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill to take up and pass this bill without delay.”

It may not be a household name quite yet, but the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the next victory-in-the-making for sportsmen and sportswomen, on the scale of 2020’s Great American Outdoors Act. And we think you’re going to be hearing about it from every corner of the hunting, fishing, and conservation space over the next few months.

Here are five reasons why.

RAWA Would Save Taxpayers Money

A lack of federal conservation dollars, a changing climate, and declining habitat have all contributed to putting thousands of species at risk of being listed as threatened or endangered. Once a species reaches this point, recovery becomes significantly more uncertain, difficult, and expensive. Proactive efforts made at the early signs of decline are better for wildlife, cost less money, and are less restrictive to hunters and anglers. Plus, many habitat projects funded by the bill could improve natural infrastructure systems that prevent costly damage from extreme weather and other emergencies, like catastrophic wildfire.

RAWA Helps Species You Care About (and More)

State fish and wildlife agencies have identified more than 12,000 species in need of conservation action that would benefit from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. These include popular sportfish and game like the ruffed grouse, sage grouse, coho salmon, and sockeye salmon. If these sportfish and game were to end up threatened or endangered, it could lead to stricter bag limits or hunting and fishing moratoriums to save these species.

RAWA Would Supplement Hunter- and Angler-Sourced Conservation Funding

Currently, 80 percent of the funding for state fish and wildlife agencies comes from state hunting and fishing licenses and permits as well as federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear. While this funding model has worked for decades, more investment is needed. This is why pushing for passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is one of the TRCP’s top ten legislative priorities this year. The bill would amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to provide an additional $1.4 billion per year—$1.3 billion for state agencies and $97.5 million for tribes—in dedicated funding to restore habitat, recover wildlife populations, and rebuild the infrastructure for both our natural systems and outdoor recreation opportunities.

RAWA Is Truly Bipartisan

The legislation has strong support on both sides of the aisle, with 32 co-sponsors in the Senate—evenly divided between parties—and hundreds of co-sponsors in the House.

RAWA Is the Win Some Lawmakers Need Right Now

This legislation has had momentum before, but the timing couldn’t be better for lawmakers who are up for re-election to bring a big win home for fish, wildlife, and habitat in a way that benefits not only sportsmen and sportswomen but Americans from all walks of life.

Take a few minutes to send your lawmakers a direct message urging them to support and pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act without delay.

 

Top photo by Roger Tabor/USFWS

Andrew Earl

March 24, 2022

The Key to Sage Grouse Recovery Is Partnership

One Farm Bill conservation program is a strong model for collaboration among federal, state, and local partners creating better habitat for sage grouse 

As most sportsmen and sportswomen know, a major conservation challenge that requires an even larger solution is the plight of the greater sage grouse. The sagebrush steppe ecosystem, which once spanned nearly 500,000 square miles across the Intermountain West, has shrunk by half, due to a variety of issues including invasive species, drought, land conversion, and development. These stressors have each contributed to population declines of over 95 percent and brought sage grouse to the brink of an endangered species listing in 2014.

The issue has been a political football in the years since, marked by court cases and management plan revisions, and all the while, Congress has included an annual rider in its spending bills to prohibit the use of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding for purposes of listing the bird as endangered. Ten Western states have developed sage grouse management plans across 65 million federal acres, but populations continue to struggle.

As any wildlife biologist or land manager can attest, the issues that threaten a species and its associated habitats do not exist in a vacuum—nor do effective solutions. That’s why the careful collaboration and negotiation of conservation measures for sage grouse on public land are not enough.

Fortunately, there are a handful of tools available to private landowners to boost sage grouse habitat. One, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, was created in the 2014 Farm Bill and has quickly grown into our nation’s premier public-private conservation program addressing resource challenges on a landscape scale. Based on its early popularity, the program was expanded in the 2018 Farm Bill and subsequently authorized at $300 million annually.

One of the success stories that brought Congress to invest in the RCPP in the 2018 bill was an effort underway in California and Nevada to ensure the future of the bi-state population of greater sage grouse. Led by the Eastern Sierra Land Trust, 11 national, state, and local partners have been working to conserve the bird since 2002. In 2017, those groups together leveraged $16 million in partner funds to secure an additional $8 million in RCPP dollars for habitat restoration on the California-Nevada border, an RCPP project known as “Livestock In Harmony.”

Map of the project area of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

 

In the five years since this RCPP investment was awarded, the locally led partnership has made significant funding and technical assistance available to farmers and ranchers to enroll in agricultural and wetland easements. It has also carried out ecosystem restoration, optimized water use, supported outreach and education, and more.

The project wraps up in June 2022, and we look forward to seeing the progress made on local sage grouse populations as well as the surrounding landscape generally. As improvement projects have done for many bellwether species, restoration of sage grouse habitat will have far-reaching benefits for all sagebrush species.

Of course, implementation of the expanded RCPP hasn’t been without hurdles. The TRCP and our partners—some of whom are involved in project implementation—hear concerns about application timelines and costly requirements for the share of funds not being contributed by the federal government. Especially as lawmakers begin to develop the 2023 Farm Bill, it’s critical that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is able to get authorized funding out the door and onto the landscape now, or risk Congress providing a much smaller sum to the program in the years ahead.

For more information on the RCPP and other Farm Bill conservation programs, visit trcp.org/farmbill.

 

Top photo courtesy of the USFWS / Tom Koerner via Flickr.

Kristyn Brady

March 23, 2022

Video: The Importance of Grasslands to Deer

Why hunters should support a historic effort to restore grasslands and sagebrush ecosystems 

A new video featuring Ryan “Cal” Callaghan of MeatEater highlights the importance of grasslands and sagebrush habitats for deer and other big game, as well as the threats to these rapidly disappearing landscapes.

Produced by the National Deer Association, with support from the TRCP and a coalition of leading conservation groups, the video points to the North American Grasslands Conservation Act as a much-needed tool for restoring healthy, intact grasslands that offer deer forage, cover from predators, and areas to raise their young.

The North American Grasslands Conservation Act is modeled after the highly effective North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which has been successfully restoring waterfowl habitat since 1989. The new legislation, expected to be introduced this spring, would direct $350 million in funding for private landowners to restore and conserve what remains of the most threatened ecosystem on the planet—our continent’s shrublands, sage steppe, savannahs, tallgrass prairies, and shortgrass prairies.

Learn more about the coalition effort at ActForGrasslands.org.

Click here to take action in support of the North American Grasslands Conservation Act.

 

Top photo courtesy of the USFWS / Tom Koerner via Flickr.

Chris Macaluso

March 17, 2022

Anglers Need Louisiana Lawmakers to Create Pogie Boat Buffer Zone

A commonsense measure with bipartisan support would keep disruptive industrial menhaden harvest activity farther away from Louisiana beaches

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.

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.

Learn More
Subscribe

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!