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Kristyn Brady

May 20, 2022

Video: Restoring Longleaf Pines with the Conservation Reserve Program

How one farmer uses the Farm Bill’s most popular conservation program to benefit deer, quail, turkeys, and other species across 104 acres in Georgia

Georgia farmer Hal Avery has had 104 acres of his land enrolled in the Farm Bill’s Conservation Reserve Program since 2015, when he began restoring longleaf pine forest and its native understory of warm-season grasses to benefit wildlife and soil and water quality.

Longleaf pine forests are some of the most diverse ecosystems in North America and serve as critical habitat for bobwhite quail, wild turkeys, whitetail deer, and hundreds of other species. They are also naturally resilient to drought, extreme weather, and wildfire, while capable of storing carbon to combat climate change.

Private landowners like Hal have an important role to play in restoration efforts that boost habitat connectivity and climate change defenses one acre at a time. Watch the video to hear his story.

Learn more about the Conservation Reserve Program and other Farm Bill conservation programs here.

 

Top photo by Justin Meissen via flickr

One Response to “Video: Restoring Longleaf Pines with the Conservation Reserve Program”

  1. Steven Inman

    This is an awesome transformation of the land through the CRP to benefit wildlife by improving their habitat. Hal Avery is a true conversationalist!

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Alexandra Kozak

May 17, 2022

28 Pennsylvania Trout Streams That Deserve a Conservation Status Update

Anglers are campaigning to update the designations of some Pennsylvania waterways to reflect the exceptional status of their wild trout populations and water quality

Four times each year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission proposes streams to be added to the Wild Trout and Class A lists. Right now, there are 28 wild trout streams proposed for designation19 Wild Trout streams and nine Class A wild trout streams that represent the best of our best waters. Those eligible for protection during this comment period include streams that are well-known to local anglers, such as Wolf Creek in Schuylkill County, Lime Hollow Run in Carbon County, and Stony Run and Spring Run in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania sportsmen and sportswomen have a chance to influence this process and seal the deal for our best trout streams—here’s why you should take action today.

The Economic Power of Trout Waters

With 86,000 miles of streams and about 4,000 inland lakes, Pennsylvania is home to some of the best publicly accessible fishing that the East Coast has to offer, including phenomenal trout and bass fishing. With opportunities like these, it’s no wonder that 1.2 million Pennsylvanians fished their local waterways in 2020, helping contribute to the state’s $58-billion outdoor recreation economy.

Since 2010, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has worked with sportsmen and local universities to distinguish our best waters through the Unassessed Waters Program. Based on the UWP’s evaluation, stream sections that meet a set of criteria are eligible for certain protections. For example, streams that have abundant populations of wild rainbow, brown, and brook trout can be eligible for Wild Trout Stream or Class A Stream designations. Protecting these streams ensures that the outdoor recreation industry continues to thrive and that future generations can enjoy the same (or better) fishing opportunities.

Tackle shops and fishing guides are among the businesses that make up an important part of the robust outdoor recreation industry in Pennsylvania. And giving special consideration to the best wild trout streams supports these small businesses. “When I worked in the local fly shop, the Class A list provided a great reference to point people in the right direction to find trout water,” says Matthew Marran, a flyfishing guide and former fly shop worker in the Delaware River Basin. “As a guide, I depend on Class A waters to put clients on wild trout with consistency and confidence. And I’m seeing more and more people ask when booking to fish exclusively for wild trout.”

Why Does a Designation Matter?

In these cases, what’s in a name really matters: Wild Trout and Class A streams qualify for additional protections from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, including the limitation of activities around these streams that would degrade water quality. The Wild Trout Stream title designates a water as a Coldwater Fishery and protects surrounding wetlands from development. Similarly, streams that qualify for the Class A designation get additional recognition as high-quality waters, which restricts in-stream discharges and guards against habitat degradation.

These designations from the PFBC are critical to helping the state manage and protect fish populations, especially as demands on Pennsylvania’s water resources continue to increase. When you consider that roughly 40 percent of streams across the state are NOT suitable for fishing, swimming, and/or drinking water, according to the DEP, it makes sense to safeguard the exceptional waterways that already meet top standards and support outdoor recreation that drives our economy.

Fortunately, sportsmen and sportswomen understand the importance of this process. A TRCP survey found that 92 percent of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women support designating streams when they meet the right criteria.

What You Can Do to Help

Pennsylvania’s hunters and anglers have an important opportunity to conserve more critical streams. If we don’t speak up, these exceptional waterways could easily be degraded and eventually lost to pollution.

Take action now and tell the PA Fish and Boat Commission that you value these protections for clean water and fish habitat.

This blog was originally posted in November 2019 and has been updated for each quarterly public comment period. The current comment period ends on June 13, 2022. Photos by Derek Eberly.

Ian Nakayama

May 12, 2022

Senate Committee Advances Important Water Resources Legislation

What the Water Resources Development Act can do for the Everglades, Gulf coast, and iconic watersheds of the West 

The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee recently voted unanimously to advance the Water Resources Development Act of 2022, important two-year legislation that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out flood control, improve waterways, and conduct ecosystem restoration work. Past WRDA bills have also addressed water infrastructure policy and financing.

Why WRDA Matters

The TRCP has long advocated for conservation priorities in the biennial WRDA process because it presents several opportunities to support federal investments in ecosystem restoration and natural infrastructure approaches that benefit fish and wildlife habitat.

Hunters and anglers may not know that the Corps is the primary federal manager of the nation’s water resources and plays a critical role in planning, designing, and implementing water resource projects, while protecting communities from floods and other natural hazards. The Corps’ mission area also includes ecosystem restoration, and it is a driving force behind the implementation of many largescale projects that benefit sportsmen and sportswomen, particularly in the Everglades and Mississippi River Delta.

More recent WRDAs have expanded the Corps’ focus to include implementing natural infrastructure approaches—where healthy habitat can help solve infrastructure challenges, such as restoring floodplains and coastal wetlands to reduce the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and communities to natural disasters. Wetland and riparian restoration projects provide numerous public benefits while boosting the habitat that supports sportfish, waterfowl, and other species.

So, hunters and anglers should take note as WRDA moves through Congress this year. A strong WRDA ensures that the Corps has the authorization to carry out restoration and prioritize natural infrastructure across the country.

What to Watch for in WRDA ‘22

Thanks in large part to the TRCP and our partners’ advocacy efforts, the Senate version of the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 includes several important victories for hunters and anglers as it heads for a floor vote. The bill clarifies the federal cost-share for ecosystem restoration in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, lowers the local cost burdens for the Mississippi River Interbasin Project and the Lower Mississippi River Comprehensive Study, and would expedite a western Everglades ecosystem restoration study.

Importantly, the legislation also calls for the Corps to conduct a study evaluating the benefits of utilizing natural infrastructure approaches, such as restoring source watersheds to enhance the resilience of Western water supplies, critical water storage, and delivery infrastructure to drought and wildfire. Across the West, drought and fire are reducing the quantity of water available to fish, wildlife, agricultural producers, and residents, and degrading the quality of water as post-fire debris flows downstream.

Emerging evidence indicates that nature-based solutions, such as restoring wetland systems upstream of critical water infrastructure, can help to mitigate these impacts, but additional research and demonstration will be helpful in encouraging greater utilization of nature-based approaches. If WRDA passes with this provision, the Corps would utilize information gained from the study to further integrate nature-based approaches into Western water management in ways that benefit people and the environment.

This year’s WRDA is still only partway through the legislative process, and the TRCP will continue to look for additional opportunities to expand the use of natural infrastructure in the USACE’s work. For example, there could be a reduced cost-share on natural infrastructure projects to ensure that disadvantaged communities can access them. A holistic accounting of the benefits of natural infrastructure would enable these projects to be more competitive with (and ultimately considered over) traditional gray infrastructure.

Learn more about natural infrastructure and what TRCP is doing to advance these solutions.

 

Top photo by Bob Wick / BLM Colorado via Flickr.

Jaclyn Higgins

May 10, 2022

Join the Businesses Urging Louisiana Lawmakers to Pass Bipartisan Pogie Bill

Local, national, and global fishing companies and manufacturers are showing their support for Louisiana HB 1033 

More than 50 recreational fishing businesses are standing up for Louisiana’s coastal habitats and outdoor recreation economy by supporting House Bill 1033. Introduced by Representatives Joe Orgeron, Bryan Fontenot, Scott McKnight, and Vincent Pierre, the legislation would create an annual catch limit on menhaden reduction fishing in Louisiana state waters and implement reporting requirements for the first time.

The Louisiana House of Representatives voted to advance the bill (75-22) on April 27—it moves to the Senate in the coming days and weeks.

The TRCP and its partners are leading an effort to harness the voices of local, national, and even global interests that weigh out the two foreign-owned companies that object to careful monitoring and regulation of their industrial menhaden fishing operations. To date, more than 50 companies have signed on to a letter urging the Louisiana Legislature and Governor John Bel Edwards to enact HB 1033.

These businesses understand that commonsense regulations will help to keep enough menhaden in the water to serve as forage for important game fish like speckled trout, redfish, and mackerel. It will also support Louisiana’s $1.15-billion recreational fishing economy and 17,000 jobs.

These companies are dedicated to the conservation of Louisiana’s world-renowned fish and wildlife habitats, as well as the protection of our coastal economy and culture. To join them, email Chris Macaluso, TRCP’s director of marine fisheries. 

Individual anglers can take action right here. HB 1033 will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee within the next few weeks—don’t delay! Let your senator know that you support this commonsense pogie legislation.

 

Click here to learn more about the importance of menhaden in the Gulf and Atlantic and take action in support of conservation.

Top photo by Louisiana Sea Grant via Flickr.

Randall Williams

May 3, 2022

TRCP Applauds Advancement of America’s Outdoor Recreation Act

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee moves legislation important to public land recreation 

Hunters and anglers lauded today’s passage in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022, a legislative package related to public land access and outdoor recreation. In addition to this important legislation, introduced by committee chairman Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and ranking member Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the committee considered other bills pertaining to public land conservation, including the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act.

“America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will make our public lands more accessible to all Americans by modernizing agency rules and processes and enhancing recreation infrastructure across the country,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bipartisan bill reflects the importance of these shared spaces to outdoor recreation. Hunters and anglers thank leadership and members of both parties in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee for moving this legislation forward.”

 

Top photo courtesy of BLM Colorado via Flickr.

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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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