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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Senate has passed the Modernizing Access to our Public Land Act, which would enhance recreational opportunities on public land by investing in modern mapping systems that allow outdoor enthusiasts to access the information they need using handheld GPS technology commonly found in smartphones.
The MAPLand Act has been a top priority for sportsmen and sportswomen across the country. It is sponsored by Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and co-sponsored by Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.Mex.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-N.H.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.).
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the MAPLand Act on November 18, 2021, with unanimous support. A companion bill (H.R. 3113) cleared the House earlier this month in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. That version, following last night’s passage in the Senate, now only awaits a signature from President Biden before becoming law.
“Hunters and anglers as well as our partners in the outdoor industry have been vocal champions of the MAPLand Act since it was first introduced, because we know that this common-sense investment will empower more people to get outside and discover new recreational opportunities,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Last night’s vote is a huge win in ensuring that our public lands system is accessible to all Americans, and we are grateful to both Democratic and Republican leadership for their support of this legislation.”
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:
“We appreciate the leadership shown by members of the Senate in seeing the MAPLand Act through to the finish line,” continued Fosburgh. “Hunters and anglers across the country have good reason to celebrate this moment, which again demonstrates that conservation and our uniquely American public lands system transcend partisanship.”
The White House has released the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which contains some important line items for conservation. The document is meant to guide Congress as lawmakers begin to negotiate funding levels for the next fiscal year.
According to the proposal, the Biden Administration is focusing conservation investments in several key areas and agencies, in part to tackle climate change and drive implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed late last year.
Here are seven highlights that could affect hunters and anglers.
Notably, the president has prioritized a $57-million increase—and over $400 million total—to support restoration in the Everglades, one of our most unique and ecologically significant ecosystems. This is in addition to the $1.1 billion committed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hunters and anglers have been calling for full funding of Everglades projects since last fall. Take action here to add your voice.
Under the president’s request, the popular Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program would receive an increase from $28 million to $80 million, which is the full amount authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The CFLRP is one of our most successful programs for restoring the condition of forest habitats on private lands that benefit deer, wild turkeys, and so many of the species we care about. The budget also includes substantial increases to USDA Forest Health Management accounts.
The White House is recommending that $581 million, or $62 million over FY22 enacted levels, go to the National Wildlife Refuge System. This would be the largest budget ever for management of these public lands, where access to hunting and fishing has grown substantially in recent years.
The administration also wants to sustain funding of $46.5 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, our nation’s most successful public-private partnership conservation program. Strong support for NAWCA restoration could also be good news for grasslands, if lawmakers embrace the idea of a North American Grasslands Conservation Act this year.
The administration would direct an additional $10 million dollars for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, which supports state efforts to manage fish and wildlife species. This would bring total annual funding for this program up to $82 million.
The budget also includes a $54-million increase—from $32 million up to $86 million—for climate resilience programs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a $46-million increase—for a total of $140 million—for Environmental Justice grants at the EPA.
Finally, the president’s budget boasts nearly $45 billion in governmentwide climate spending, a near 50-percent increase from FY22 enacted levels. This proposed funding would run the gamut from climate-smart education programs to drought mitigation and carbon market development, and it is intended to move the United States closer to achieving the climate goals outlined when Biden first came into office. The TRCP and our partner groups continue share the perspective of sportsmen and sportswomen experiencing climate impacts and proposing solutions to the administration and Congress.
Ultimately, Appropriators in Congress will have the final say on spending levels for Fiscal Year 2023, a process now underway on Capitol Hill. The sporting and conservation communities are continually providing feedback on funding priorities and demand for programs on the landscape and look forward to building on these efforts in the year to come.
Top photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region via Flickr.
Venturing into hunting as a young adult can be intimidating at best—and frustrating at worst. If you were lucky enough to have a hunting mentor, picture being on your own to figure out where to go, what gear is worth the investment, how to follow all the local rules and regulations, and what to do once you successfully connect on a shot. Still, the hunting community is fortunate to have a fresh wave of interest from young people who want to hunt to eat.
These beginners are fortunate to have role models in Wade Truong and Rachel Owen. Together, Wade and Rachel founded Elevated Wild, where they share original wild game recipes, stories, tips, and inspiration for hunters who are just starting out. In person and on social media, they take pride in being conservation-minded ambassadors for hunting and field-to-table cooking.
Here is their story.
WADE: I fished as a kid with my family but didn’t start hunting until I taught myself in my mid-twenties. Food was the driving force for me—working in a restaurant kitchen made me intensely curious about pursuing food that you can’t buy. Now, I never feel more connected and purposeful than I do when I’m outside, pursuing the animals that I love. It brings me a sense of rootedness and contentment that I’ve never felt elsewhere.
RACHEL: I didn’t form a real connection with the outdoors until I was an adult—although I did a lot of camping and some fishing growing up, the rest of it was foreign to me. Wade had started hunting just a few years before we met, and it was talking about hunting and fishing that drew me to him. The rest is history: We started dating, I shot my first buck that fall, and we bought a boat together before we’d ever shared an apartment.
That boat has played a role in all our most outrageous outdoor adventures. Her comically small size makes everything we do a little more reckless and a lot more fun. It’s hard to narrow it down, but the most memorable might be one time we took her out almost two miles into the bay on a flat calm day to chase bluefish. We couldn’t keep up—we had fish flying over the gunwales almost faster than we could count them. Then the wind turned, and we had to hightail it back, our tiny outboard not quite pushing us quickly enough through the whitecaps. I remember briefly being relieved at seeing a dolphin, a good omen, until I realized it was longer than our boat.
WADE: My most memorable adventure was probably watching from 60 yards away as Rachel had a sika stag creep along the marsh edge minutes before end of light. The stag never left the thick cover until it was directly under Rachel’s treestand. She arrowed it at less than seven yards. It was the culmination of several unsuccessful trips out there and weeks of hard hunting over the years. Watching it all come together was something I’ll never forget.
RACHEL: What made that moment even more special was that it took place in our favorite part of the world—the Chesapeake Bay. I’d love to be able to go back in time to see this region right before European contact. To be able to see the Bay and coastlines teeming with the abundance of fish and game they once held, I’d almost be okay with leaving my rod or gun behind.
There’s no doubt that the Bay presents the biggest conservation challenge where we live. It’s one of the world’s largest, most productive estuarine systems. But we’re balancing the needs of one of the greatest treasures on earth with the demands and water quality issues of a rapidly growing population and an increasingly extractive commercial fishing fleet.
WADE: And the health of the Bay is a direct reflection of everything that happens upstream of it. Being so close to so many major metropolitan areas in several states, and having so many natural resources, it is uniquely vulnerable to pollution, overfishing, and development issues. The Bay is critical habitat for thousands of species of fish, birds, and other animals that rely on it for survival. Preserving wetlands, restoring water quality, and protecting forage fish from overfishing are incredibly important.
RACHEL: Conservation is important to me because every opportunity I have had to pursue wild game and fish, to actually participate in the natural world, only came around because someone had the forethought to make sure it was there for future generations to experience.
WADE: Everything I care about most has been shaped by conservation. The natural resources I pursue are all there because of conservation efforts. The places I find most special are all, in some form or another, there because of public and private conservation.
As an example, the idea of elk hunting seemed unattainable for me up until a few years ago. The travel, logistics, and expense just didn’t seem like something I would be able to pull off. Then I learned there was an effort to reintroduce elk into Virginia. I’d be thrilled with any elk, but now a dream elk hunt right at home is an achievable reality.
RACHEL: Conservation is about protecting one of our most precious national birthrights, the things that make us unique in all the world: the land, water, and wildlife that belong to all of us as Americans. These gifts, once taken from us, can never be returned whole. I believe it would dim the national consciousness to lose this wildness, because it is intrinsic to the American dream.
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