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When I see a native brook trout rising on a dry fly or a bugling elk on a crisp September morning, it strikes me how few Americans have the opportunity or means to be this close to nature. Hunters and anglers get to experience the outdoors in a way that is fully immersive, which is why our community is so engaged in continuing to maintain habitat and enhance our access to these valuable places.
TRCP donors Paul and Carol Rose have also realized the importance of hunters and anglers to the future of conservation. And they have chosen to secure their legacy as committed conservationists by naming the TRCP in their will.
Planning how to best protect the people you love as well as the causes you care about requires much forethought, paperwork, and some legal advice, too. But it allows you to leave your assets to family members and nonprofit organizations after you pass away.
Despite the importance of having a will, many Americans never get around to drafting one. One common misconception is that unless you’re wealthy, you do not need a will. But everyone, regardless of their wealth, should have a will, because of the peace of mind and ease that it can bring upon your passing. Check out this graphic from our friends at FreeWill that outlines common myths and facts about creating a will:
“We could think of no better way to support the ideals of Theodore Roosevelt and the long-term mission of TRCP than through a planned gift,” Paul and Carol Rose write. “We cannot, on one hand, talk about the conservation of our natural resources and the preservation of our outdoor heritage while at the same time ignoring those things that each of us may do to help sustain organizations such as TRCP, who lead in this effort.”
Join Paul and Carol and leave your lasting mark on conservation during National Make-a-Will Month by including a gift to TRCP in your will. Cash, stock, or real estate can be donated to the TRCP—learn more about planned giving here.
Already have the TRCP in your will? Please contact Joshua Walters, our director of program development, to make sure we have recognized you as a member of the T.R. Legacy Society.
Photo by Juliane Liebermann
Editor’s note: Since we published this story, the Inflation Reduction Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President Biden on August 16, 2022. Unfortunately, the final bill did not include the updates to federal oil and gas bonding rates outlined below. The Senate Parliamentarian ultimately ruled that the provision could not be included in budget reconciliation legislation. In addition to what is described here, the final bill also included an additional $4 billion to address drought by investing in water conservation and habitat restoration across the West, with a particular focus on the Colorado River Basin.
Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer shocked most of D.C. last week when they announced that they had struck a deal on a reconciliation bill—known as the Inflation Reduction Act—that includes $369 billion in energy and natural resource investments aimed at tackling climate change, in addition to other healthcare and tax related provisions.
The TRCP has been tracking budget reconciliation discussions over the past year and offered lawmakers a host of recommendations that would benefit fish, wildlife, and the hunt-fish community. Thousands of sportsmen and sportswomen also contacted their lawmakers in support of investing in conservation through the reconciliation process.
Here are specific elements of the agreement that will impact hunters and anglers and what we’ll continue to push for as Congress begins to debate the bill in the days ahead.
The agreement makes a major investment in conservation programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, providing $20 billion over the next four years. The current Farm Bill contributes around $6 billion annually to private land conservation programs, so this legislation would nearly double funding for popular and proven conservation efforts that boost resilience to natural hazards, such as drought, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat.
This investment could not come at a better time. Right now, roughly 40 percent of applicants for USDA conservation programs are denied each year, primarily due to a lack of funding, leaving tens of millions of acres of habitat conservation on the table. The new funding in this bill will begin to meet the outstanding demand for conservation from farmers, ranchers, and landowners.
What this means for hunters and anglers: More quality habitat and huntable acreage, cleaner water, and more abundant fish and wildlife populations, thanks to new funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and other initiatives.
The agreement includes several reforms to energy leasing that balance responsible development on our public lands with other values, like habitat and access, and align with both the Department of the Interior’s Leasing Report and many of the TRCP’s previous recommendations.
For example, the bill increases minimum bids and rental rates for oil and gas leases to ensure that the American public receives a fair return on the use of shared resources, while eliminating the practice of non-competitive leasing that often wastes valuable BLM staff time and resources. Perhaps most notably, the legislation would increase federal bonding rates, which haven’t been updated in decades, to ensure funds are available to restore fish and wildlife habitat if an operator abandons an oil and gas well site.
What this means for hunters and anglers: Together, these provisions ensure responsible energy development can move forward where it’s appropriate, while also recognizing other uses of our public lands like hunting, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
The agreement recognizes the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change and puts major resources behind efforts to protect coastal and marine habitats, maintain healthy forests, and restore watersheds. For example, the draft legislation provides $2.6 billion to support coastal resilience projects and nearly $5 billion for forest management across public and private land, including support for partnerships with downstream water users to improve forest and watershed health. It also includes $500 million for habitat conservation and ecosystem restoration projects on Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service Lands, and $100 million to rebuild and restore units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
What this means for hunters and anglers: More wetland and reef restoration projects along the coasts, riparian and wet meadow restoration in forested watersheds, active forest management near communities, and invasive species removal and access improvements across our public lands. These efforts would expand hunting and fishing opportunities, all while protecting communities from natural hazards like wildfire and sea-level rise.
Much of the funding in the Inflation Reduction Act is intended to build on existing work and expand partnerships, whether that’s with farmers and ranchers, water users, or other local stakeholders. To do so, federal agencies will need the staff and resources to review and approve projects and make local connections. Fortunately, the draft bill provides millions of dollars to supercharge environmental reviews, authorizations, planning, and permitting across the various federal agencies. The agreement also provides $1 billion for conservation technical assistance to ensure that well-trained staff are available locally to meet with producers and process applications for private lands conservation programs.
What this means for hunters and anglers: In the end, these under-the-radar—but very important—funding streams will get more money out the door faster. That should mean more habitat conservation, restoration, and recreational access across the board.
Admittedly, the budget reconciliation process can leave a lot to be desired. To begin with, reconciliation legislation only requires the support of a majority, or 50 votes, to pass the Senate, which means it is not often a bipartisan process or bill. Further, while the process has been used by both parties to advance priorities, by rule, the final bill is limited to spending and revenue measures, with little room for extraneous policy. As a result, federal agencies often have wide leeway to determine how and where the reconciliation funding they receive is distributed.
If the Inflation Reduction Act is passed, hunters and anglers have a lot riding on these decisions, and the TRCP will be working alongside decision-makers to drive outcomes that increase hunting and fishing opportunities and sustain fish and wildlife habitat for decades to come.
Last week, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and its sportfishing partners and sponsors hosted two days of in-depth discussions on improving fisheries management and conservation during the organization’s 8th annual Saltwater Media Summit at ICAST in Orlando. TRCP’s Chris Macaluso moderated the discussions, which were attended by more than 60 media members and representatives from several state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and fishing tackle manufacturers.
This event is an important opportunity to raise awareness around the most pressing conservation issues facing our marine fisheries. Here are some of the highlights.
The first panel focused on improving data collection on recreational fishing effort, fish harvested, and stock assessments and incorporating this information into federal saltwater fisheries management. Speakers included Jessica McCawley, Florida’s marine fisheries director; Kevin Anson, chief marine biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; and Dr. Greg Stunz, chair of the Harte Research Institute for Sportfish Science and Conservation.
Anglers, fishing conservation and advocacy groups, and state and federal fisheries managers all agree that improving data collection on fish stock sizes, migration patterns, and fishing effort and harvest is critical to preserving the long-term health of fisheries and making access more consistent. Over the last decade, several efforts have been undertaken by fishing advocacy groups and state agencies to use smartphones and other electronic devices to shorten data collection times and provide more accurate in-season accounts of the number of fishing trips taken, as well as how many fish are being harvested by anglers.
In the case of Mississippi and Alabama, red snapper anglers are required to register electronically and submit information regarding the date of and how many fish were caught on each trip. Louisiana requires offshore anglers to obtain a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit and submit a phone number and email address, so they can be contacted during the season to determine effort and harvest. Florida, too, requires anglers to obtain a State Reef Fish Angler designation.
Requiring anglers to register and incorporating mandatory reporting and increased surveying has, by and large, improved the accuracy of in-season quota monitoring over the federal Marine Recreational Information Program and has led to more stability in Gulf of Mexico red snapper seasons.
At the same time, efforts have been made to improve stock surveys, most notably with the Great Red Snapper Count, a $10-million three-year effort in which several universities and 80 scientists used innovative techniques, like advanced sonar and remotely operated vehicles, to determine snapper populations over a variety of natural and artificial structures. They found an estimated 118 million red snapper Gulf-wide—more than three times the latest NOAA stock assessment estimate.
However, that abundance estimate has not yet resulted in longer red snapper seasons. In fact, Mississippi and Alabama anglers face the prospect of having their red snapper seasons cut by as much as 60 percent in coming years because of difficulties “calibrating” their mandatory reporting programs with existing federal MRIP data.
This is not simply a Gulf of Mexico red snapper problem. The hope was that improved data collection programs and the Great Red Snapper Count could serve as a model for management improvements in other contentious fisheries. Similar efforts to better determine stock abundance are underway for Amberjack in the Gulf and red snapper in the South Atlantic.
Fishing advocacy groups and anglers have been supportive of efforts to improve data collection and even urged Congress to provide funding to improve stock assessments for a host of fisheries. Anglers have also stepped up to help pay for improved data collection by supporting license fee increases and participating in mandatory reporting programs.
That support is in danger of waning in the future, however, if anglers and supportive legislators do not see their efforts resulting in management improvements—or if they believe the increased scrutiny will result in more constraints on access. The goal of our discussion was to identify ways to more efficiently incorporate new technologies and improved data collection programs into federal and state fisheries management, while building confidence among anglers and lawmakers that these new approaches are worth their time and money.
The following day, our second panel discussion focused on the negative effects of aquatic invasive species on state fisheries management, boating and fishing access, and efforts to recover and improve striped bass stocks in the Chesapeake Basin. Our speakers were Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton, National Marine Manufacturers Association Director of Federal Government Affairs Clay Crabtree, and CCA Maryland Executive Director David Sikorski.
The recommendations of the panel ranged from identifying ways to reduce bureaucratic impediments and ultimately better manage and control aquatic invasives to encouraging anglers to fish for and harvest invasive fish and eat them. We also covered ways to work with commercial fisheries to expand the selective harvest of some invasive fish—like Asian carp in the Mississippi and Tennessee river basins and blue catfish in the Chesapeake—and improving outreach with the boating public about how to limit the spread of invasive plants and mussels through proper boat cleaning.
Controlling invasive species is a growing issue across the country, with an estimated $140 billion in economic damages each year. The added costs of trying to contain the spread of invasive plants, fish, and animals has strained the budgets and personnel of state and federal fish and wildlife agencies and has cut into funds that could be used for improving native fish stocks and enhancing access to waterways.
The discussion highlighted the ongoing work of the TRCP, American Sportfishing Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and corporate partners Yamaha, Bass Pro Shops, YETI, BoatU.S., and others on a campaign to identify ways to limit the spread of invasive plants and animals and encourage the harvest of invasive fish and crustaceans. Policy change would be needed at the state and federal level.
The advocacy organizations and corporate partners supporting this campaign have organized an expert commission of scientists, economists, state and federal fisheries managers, professional anglers, and others who have spent their careers trying to manage and adjust their approach to fishing because of the spread of aquatic invasive animals and plants. In early 2023, this commission will release a report that identifies ways to reduce bureaucratic and legal impediments to controlling aquatic invasive species and what recreational anglers and boaters can do to help manage and limit the spread of invasive fish and plants.
Photo by Clay LeConey.
Today, Senators Ron Wyden, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bennet introduced the North American Grasslands Conservation Act in an effort to conserve and expand iconic grassland landscapes for wildlife, ranchers, and rural communities. If passed, the bill will widely be considered one of the most significant steps for grassland conservation efforts in the 21st century.
“The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership applauds today’s introduction of the North American Grasslands Conservation Act—it’s an idea that is already popular with hunters and anglers, who understand what is at stake for grassland and sagebrush species and have seen what success looks like where private land investments have improved waterfowl habitat across the country,” says Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “This legislation would create willing partners in habitat restoration where they are needed most, boosting big game and upland bird species. It would also fund conservation jobs, invest in the health of the outdoor recreation economy, and support the future of working landscapes. We thank senators Wyden, Klobuchar, and Bennet for their leadership and look forward to working with decision-makers on both sides of the aisle to advance this smart, proven conservation solution.”
The North American Grasslands Conservation Act would help kickstart the voluntary protection and restoration of grasslands and sagebrush shrub-steppe ecosystems by creating a landowner-driven, incentive-based program to conserve these imperiled landscapes. There’s urgency right now to maintain these systems for agriculture, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and future generations of hunters and anglers, while supporting ranchers, farmers, Tribal Nations, and rural communities.
Grasslands and sagebrush habitats are considered some of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. More than 70 percent of America’s tallgrass, mixed grass, and shortgrass prairies have vanished, followed by the precipitous decline of grassland bird populations, which have plummeted more than 40 percent since 1966. Additionally, the grazing lands that have sustained generations of ranchers are dwindling, and species from pronghorn antelope and elk to bobwhite quail and pheasants are struggling to navigate the places they used to call home.
Conservation organizations across the country, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, National Wildlife Federation, North American Grouse Partnership, World Wildlife Fund, Izaak Walton League of America, Wildlife Mississippi, National Deer Association, Land Trust Alliance, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, American Bird Conservancy, and the Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance have all been advocating for this effort since fall 2020.
Sportsmen and sportswomen can encourage their senators to support the legislation using TRCP’s simple advocacy tool.
Top photo by Matthew Smith
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