Eight Conservation Priorities Congress Needs to Tackle by the End of the Year
Lawmakers have a lengthy to-do list before the end of the 117th Congress in December. Here’s what they should do for hunters and anglers.
Invest in Conservation Through Annual Appropriations Bills
Atop the to-do list for Congress is continuing to fund the government prior to the end of this fiscal year on September 30. While the House has passed a slate of appropriations measures, the Senate has not held hearings on any funding legislation for the year ahead. This, combined with election-year politics, means that Congress will likely negotiate a continuing resolution, a short-term extension of current funding levels into early December.
Earlier this spring, our major ask was Senate introduction of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, which had moved quickly through the House in fall 2021. Now that the bill has been introduced and championed in the Senate, lawmakers should move quickly to advance this legislation by year’s end. We’re headed into an exciting deer season that could be overshadowed by the threat of CWD in some parts of the country—particularly in states like Alabama, North Carolina, and Louisiana, where cases were confirmed for the first time earlier this year. If passed, the bill would provide $35 million annually to state agencies for CWD suppression and an additional $35 million for research into the disease and management techniques. It also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to carry out a public review of its Herd Certification Program, which is the federal standard by which states accredit captive cervid operations as “low-risk” for CWD spread. This step is critical to hold captive deer facilities accountable for CWD outbreaks.
Advance Grasslands Conservation Solutions
We’d also like to broad support in the Senate on the recently introduced North American Grasslands Conservation Act, which would help kickstart the voluntary protection and restoration of grasslands and sagebrush shrub-steppe ecosystems by private landowners. 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. And since the Grasslands Act is modeled off the very successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which is well-known among waterfowl hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen will be important voices in this debate. We’re continuing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to build momentum around the bill.
Modernize Forage Fish Management
To build off the success of the Magnuson-Stevens Act—which has been instrumental in addressing overfishing and maintaining fish stocks over the past 50 years—anglers need Congress to debate and advance the Forage Fish Conservation Act. The new legislation would ensure that federal fisheries managers account for the needs of forage fish and the predator species that depend on them. It would establish management plans for river herring and shad in the Atlantic and address the needs of sportfish and other predator species in existing forage fish management plans. It would also require that managers assess the possible impacts of newly proposed commercial fishing for forage fish, including the effects on other fisheries, anglers, and the marine ecosystem. Since its introduction in October 2021, there has been little action on the bill. Anglers can speak up for this solution right now by clicking here.
Fund Proactive Conservation of At-Risk Species and Habitat
The conservation community is still awaiting final passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would be a win for particularly at-risk habitat and species, including ruffed grouse, greater sage grouse, coho salmon, and sockeye salmon. After House passage this summer, we need the Senate to act next to carry this legislation, which would make generational investments in fish and wildlife restoration, over the finish line.
Expedite Natural Infrastructure Projects That Improve Habitat
As part of the month-long negotiations around the Democrat’s reconciliation package, passed earlier this summer, Senator Manchin secured a commitment from Majority Leader Schumer that the Senate would vote on a suite of permitting reforms. Senator Manchin released a list of his priorities in that discussion soon after.
A permitting reform package could be attached to a moving legislative vehicle—most likely a forthcoming short-term funding bill. Generally, Republicans are very supportive of measures to expedite permitting processes and would likely use the opportunity to advance reforms to increase the pace and scale of forest management in the West. Similarly, there are many Democrats that see permitting reform as an opportunity to advance the deployment of renewable energy. However, don’t count everyone to fall in line. Some members have pushed for any permitting legislation to go through regular order and vowed to oppose the proposal if it fails to achieve environmental justice goals. This could create a difficult intraparty headache that Democrats will be eager to avoid ahead of November’s midterm elections.
It’s possible that like an omnibus spending package, a vote on a full permitting reform proposal waits until the lame duck session. The TRCP and partners across the conservation community are closely tracking these negotiations for possible threats, and opportunities, for conservation.
Pass a Water Resources Development Act with Habitat Benefits
WRDA is a biennial piece of legislation that authorizes water infrastructure and management projects that ensure flood control, maintain navigable waterways, and promote ecosystem restoration.
The TRCP worked with partner groups to shape the House and Senate 2022 WRDA bills to ensure they account for the needs of aquatic ecosystems and continue to improve the state of our natural infrastructure. Our team worked closely with Western lawmakers to include a provision in both bills for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the benefits of utilizing natural infrastructure approaches for headwater restoration to achieve drought and fire resilience downstream. Beyond that, TRPC has been actively reminding decision-makers of the importance of investing in the health of the Everglades—one of the largest wetlands systems in the world, which is vital to South Florida’s water supply.
The House and Senate passed their respective 2022 WRDA reauthorization bills earlier this year. Staff from committees in the House and Senate are in the process of reconciling differences between the two versions of the legislation and could send a final bill to the president’s desk in September. .
Conserve Public Lands in the National Defense Authorization Act
The NDAA is our nation’s annual military spending bill, but it has often been a vehicle for conservation policy. The House of Representatives passed their version of the legislation in mid-July, which includes a handful of conservation victories like the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act and Grand Canyon Protection Act. The Senate has yet to consider their own measure before the full chamber.
TRCP and the broader conservation community are closely tracking the NDAA and working with lawmakers toward inclusion of the bills into a final negotiated package. Like WRDA, the NDAA follows a similar conference process to align the House and Senate-passed bills.
The conservation community has a lot to celebrate from the 117th Congress, but we’re far from done. Sign up for our weekly Roosevelt Report to stay on top of these conservation issues as Congress closes out the year.
Southwest Montana’s High Divide region and the Big Hole and Beaverhead Valleys provide excellent fish and wildlife habitat and a wealth of dispersed recreation opportunities. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to fly over this spectacular landscape with EcoFlight, a Colorado-based non-profit that utilizes small aircraft to help educate and advocate for the conservation of wild lands and wildlife habitat. Accompanied by TRCP’s Western communications manager, Randall Williams, and two of our colleagues from Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy, we flew along the Montana-Idaho border and across the southern end of these important watersheds.
Although the weather forecast looked ominous, we had ideal conditions for our morning flight over some of Montana’s most storied landscapes. The world-class hunting for elk, mule deer, antelope, and upland birds found in this area is no secret, and neither is the outstanding fishing. Hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing are also popular activities. These opportunities not only enrich the quality of life enjoyed by Montanans and allow for memorable days afield with friends and family, but they are also critical to businesses in local communities: A recent report found that hunting and fishing in Beaverhead County generates over $167 million each year and creates more than 1,400 jobs.
But Southwest Montana’s public lands are facing challenges, many of which were evident from the air. We could see, for example, the changes on the landscape from wildfire, development, and drought. We also took in the huge expanse of wild country that provides critical winter and summer ranges and migration corridors for elk, mule deer, antelope, and world-class cold-water fisheries—these areas could come under threat, as well, if sportsmen and sportswomen don’t speak up.
Many of the public lands in this area are managed by the Dillon Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, which is conducting a 15-year re-evaluation of its 2006 Resource Management Plan. These plans guide management priorities for agency decisionmakers and can shape how our public lands are managed for decades at a time. Required by BLM planning regulations, periodic evaluations offer a chance to review the current plan and determine if there is any new data or updated science that would be of significance, or if there have been impactful changes in the relevant management plans of other federal agencies, Tribes, or state or local governments.
Since the Dillon plan was written in 2006, significant changes in federal and state policies have occurred, and there is a vast amount of new information related to wildlife migration and winter range. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has also identified multiple big game migrations that connect important seasonal habitats in this region and the agency considers these habitats a priority.
As our birds-eye view made clear, there have also been significant changes to the landscape and its habitats in the past 15 years. We can’t wait another decade and a half to update public land planning and implement solutions.
Sportsmen and sportswomen know the incredible fish and wildlife values found across Southwest Montana. My opportunity to view this region from the air helped to reinforce just how vast this country is. We all need to speak up by encouraging the BLM Dillon Field Office to update the current RMP. A modernized plan should incorporate new big game migration science and identify the threats to wildlife movement and habitat connectivity in the area, as well as opportunities for meaningful habitat restoration that could benefit both wildlife and public land grazers. Only then can the plan adequately safeguard our hunting and fishing opportunities.
In honor of TRCP’s 20th anniversary, here are some of our proudest moments as an organization and the biggest victories our team has helped to advance on behalf of hunters and anglers
The TRCP Is Founded to Fill a Serious Need 2002
After starting the modern conservation movement more than 100 years earlier, hunters and anglers had lost much of our relevance in federal policy by the early 2000s. Our community had so successfully committed to bringing back individual species—like ducks, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, elk, pronghorn antelope, native trout, and more—that we became fractured and lost sight of the broader issues of conservation.
This became apparent to James D. Range, a lifelong sportsman and longtime senior Republican staff member in the Senate, who had played a critical role in advancing some of the nation’s most important natural resources legislation, including the Clean Water Act. He knew that our community—if we banded together—could again be a powerful voice for conservation. And in 2002, he created the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to present a united front to decision-makers on the issues that matter to all hunters and anglers.
Roadless Rules Help Conserve Backcountry Habitat
Since the TRCP’s inception, we have advanced policies that conserve large blocks of intact habitat, including roadless areas on our national forests, to maximize hunting and fishing opportunities. Roadless area conservation was one of TRCP’s founding issues, and between 2002 and 2012, the TRCP helped to successfully conserve 58.5 million acres of habitat on public lands in 38 states.
Led by TRCP staff on the ground, sportsmen and sportswomen were a consistent, engaged, and reasonable presence throughout multi-year rulemaking processes in Idaho and Colorado. In 2008, we successfully advocated for strong conservation of backcountry habitat in a final rule for Idaho’s 9.3 million acres of roadless areas. Then, in 2012, recommendations from our community were incorporated into a final Colorado roadless rule that safeguarded 4.2 million acres of backcountry for future generations.
Finally, in October 2012, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the nationwide 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, resolving the issue nationally in a way that conserved these valued habitats and sporting destinations, while providing commonsense flexibility for habitat restoration. These efforts have helped fish and wildlife managers to maximize public hunting and fishing opportunities and safeguard vital habitat for the foreseeable future.
TRCP Defends Wetlands and the Clean Water Act
On Earth Day in 2004, President George W. Bush laid out a strategy to move beyond the “no net loss” policy for wetlands that his father established in 1989. This commitment to increasing wetlands acreage annually was one of TRCP’s signature issues at the time, but this early victory did not mean we could rest on our laurels.
In fact, just two years later, there was talk of the George W. Bush Administration weakening Clean Water Act protections for wetlands. Given his role in helping to write the nation’s bedrock law on clean water, TRCP’s co-founder Jim Range was understandably moved to act. He led a delegation to Texas and drove around Bush’s ranch with the president, ultimately convincing him to abandon plans to weaken the Clean Water Act.
In the 2010s, the TRCP was a key voice in advocating for Clean Water Act protections for both wetlands and headwater streams, after a series of Supreme Court cases and subsequent federal agency actions made it unclear which bodies of water the Act protects. In 2015, after an extensive public process and based on a massive study of hundreds of scientific articles about water quality, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adopted a rule to clarify federal jurisdiction over the “waters of the United States.” Though it was ultimately reversed, the rule was a major victory for hunters and anglers: It would have helped conserve the roughly 60 percent of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands that were at risk of being polluted or destroyed because of jurisdictional confusion.
TRCP Today: Our water resources team has expanded to support conservation solutions in the Delaware, Colorado, and Rio Grande river basins, and we continue to advocate for headwaters, wetlands, and prairie potholes. In June 2021, the EPA and Corps announced that they would reconsider which waters and wetlands should be protected under the Clean Water Act—again. Sportsmen and sportswomen are important stakeholders in this public process that could secure protections for critical fish and waterfowl habitat.
Farm Bill Conservation Expands 2008-present
Since his time on Capitol Hill, Jim Range had envisioned a brighter future for habitat and hunting and fishing access in rural America, where public land opportunities are scarce. Under his leadership, the TRCP championed “open fields,” a farm bill initiative that would incentivize private landowners to offer access to the public for hunting and fishing, ideally in concert with habitat improvements. What became the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program was established in the 2008 Farm Bill and built up in the two farm bills since. It is the only federal program dedicated to creating public access on private lands and a major victory for the TRCP. Unfortunately, Range never got to see “open fields” benefit sportsmen and sportswomen or expand to $49 million in projects across 26 states—he lost his battle with kidney cancer in early 2009 at the age of 63.
Though this loss was heartbreaking, TRCP’s focus on private land conservation never wavered. We pushed for a Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands initiative to help conserve working grasslands and prevent conversion and habitat fragmentation. We championed the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, another CRP initiative, that has provided habitat for sharptail grouse, sage grouse, woodcock, bobwhite quail, pheasants, a wide variety of waterfowl, black bears, mule deer, elk, salmon, steelhead trout, and many other species across 36 states.
Hunters and Anglers Stop Public Land Grab
Despite the importance of America’s 640 million acres of public land to our hunting and fishing opportunities and our country’s unique outdoor legacy, special interests intensified their efforts to sell off or transfer them to the states in 2015. In response, the TRCP launched sportsmensaccess.org—the home base for hunters and anglers opposed to public land transfer with the latest news on threats to public access. More than 150 sporting groups and businesses joined the coalition and more than 50,000 individual hunters and anglers sent messages to their lawmakers to oppose public land sale and seizure. At the state level, TRCP field representatives across the West helped to beat back all but six of 37 bills advocating for the disposal of federal public lands, driving thousands of hunters and anglers to rally at state capitols and town hall meetings under the slogans #KeepItPublic and #PublicLandsProud.
One congressman, however, was a little slow to get the message. In February 2017, sportsmen and sportswomen flooded the inbox of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) with letters, tweets, and Facebook messages about his unpopular and dangerous public land sale bill, H.R. 621. In a matter of weeks, more than 10,000 TRCP members contacted their own lawmakers, as well. Shortly after, Chaffetz dropped the legislation, which would have enabled the sale of 3.3 million acres of public lands to pay down the national debt, and he made his mea culpa to hunters and anglers on Instagram under a photo of him wearing a camo coat and holding his dog. Chaffetz retired from Congress that June.
TRCP Today: Presidents Trump and Biden made it clear that this idea would not gain traction on their watch, but the push to sell off public lands hasn’t gone away completely. The tug-of-war between Americans who are proud to have public lands as their birthright and those who seek to undermine these lands for short-term profits has never been tied to one individual bill, state, or lawmaker—it’s a longstanding ideological battle that puts conservation, access, and our hunting and fishing opportunities on the line.
Anglers Demand Better Federal Fisheries Management
After watching federal fisheries management focus almost exclusively on the commercial sector for years, the TRCP embarked on a new effort to improve fish stocks and seasons and urge decision-makers to recognize the value of anglers in this conversation. In 2013, we convened a coalition of groups and industry leaders to lay out a vision for better management of recreational fishing in federal waters. The result was a report outlining six recommendations for conserving marine recreational fisheries, championed by Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and Scott Deal of Maverick Boats.
What became commonly referred to as the Morris-Deal Report—as well as TRCP-led workshops with fisheries managers, biologists, economists, and conservation groups—laid the groundwork for federal legislation that would bring marine fisheries management into the 21st century. In 2015, NOAA released its first-ever policy recognizing the value of recreational fishing, based on our recommendations, and TRCP staff was invited to testify in support of the Modern Fish Act in 2017. A year later, the bill was signed into law.
First Migration Corridor Conservation Policies Are Created 2015-present
The TRCP field team has worked diligently over the years to raise awareness with local decision-makers about the lack of conservation policies for big game migration corridors and seasonal habitats that, thanks to advances in GPS collars and wildlife research, we can now use to help direct habitat restoration and improvement and prevent incompatible development. These efforts made a big leap forward in February 2018, when then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3362, which directed agencies to give more attention to habitats where mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and other species migrate, rest, and spend the winter months.
Since that time, the states and federal government have partnered to research big game movements and improve habitat for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope. In addition, the Department and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided more than $15 million to implement the order, funds that were matched by about $30 million in state and private funds. This resulted in on-the-ground projects that range from restoring habitat to improving fencing. The order has inspired Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho to adopt their own migration corridor conservation programs, with additional states working to join them.
The TRCP continued to differentiate itself in the next great quest for public lands and outdoor recreation access. In 2018, as authorization for the iconic Land and Water Conservation Fund was nearing expiration, other groups created countdown clocks and posted increasingly urgent messages about the need for permanent authorization of this critical resource. While standing with our community to secure the future of the LWCF, we also went to work to quantify a widespread access problem that was tailor-made for LWCF to fix—inaccessible public lands. The TRCP partnered with the digital mapping company onX to identify 9.52 million acres of federal public lands in the West that are “landlocked” by private land with no permanent legal access.
Our first Unlocking Public Lands Report made national headlines just as the conversation around LWCF was heating up, and we were able to offer sound reasoning, based on data, for full funding at $900 million annually, with a minimum of three percent held aside to improve existing public land access, and a plan to take short-term approvals of this critical tool off the congressional to-do list by making authorization permanent. This was accomplished in 2020 through the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act and the Great American Outdoors Act (see below.)
Between 2018 and 2020, we expanded our work with onX to identify a total of 16.43 million acres of inaccessible public lands across 22 states. The company helped us provide land trusts and federal decision-makers with data about the scale and scope of public land access barriers in their area. We also began collaborating with the BLM and Forest Service to modernize their data to reflect existing road easements that provide the public with permanent, legal access across private lands.
It was at this point we discovered that many of the easement records were only kept in paper files at the back of dusty filing cabinets—at the time, the Forest Service and BLM had an estimated 50,000 recorded easements that were not available to the public in geospatial form. The average hunter or angler wouldn’t have known about these public access areas unless they’d walked into a field office to ask, and the agencies would have had trouble prioritizing future easements and land acquisition if this data was not all in one place.
TRCP Today: This year, at the urging of thousands of TRCP members, Congress passed the MAPLand Act—with unanimous support in the Senate—and President Joe Biden signed it into law on April 29. TRCP is presently working with members of Congress to fully fund MAPLand implementation, which includes digitizing and making publicly available information about public access, within a four-year period.
These bipartisan victories reflect the efforts of the entire hunting, fishing, and conservation community—no one group can take the credit. Where TRCP played an important role was in convening partners at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to forecast how hunters and anglers could advocate for conservation and outdoor recreation jobs, while improving habitat and public lands that were seeing an uptick in visitation during lockdowns. The result was our Conservation Works for America campaign, which outlined recommendations that were taken up in the IIJA and other major funding vehicles. It’s just the kind of victory Jim Range knew was possible if our community could work together.
Thank you for being here and supporting the TRCP, whether you discovered us this year or 20 years ago! We cannot do what we do for fish, wildlife, and hunting and fishing opportunities without the efforts of individual sportsmen and sportswomen who are committed to healthy habitats and safeguarding outdoor recreation access for the next generation. YOU are our inspiration.
Make your mark on the future of fish and wildlife during National Make-a-Will Month
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.
The information stated here is not intended as financial or legal advice. Always consider seeking the advice of your financial or legal advisor.
Five Things Hunters and Anglers Should Know About the Inflation Reduction Act
How would the most recent reconciliation agreement benefit hunters and anglers?
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.
A Boost for Private Lands Conservation
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.
Improvements to Energy Leasing and Development
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.
Investments in Forests, Coasts, and Public Lands
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.
Capacity to Get More Work Done Faster
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.
But Isn’t This a Partisan Bill?
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.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
CHEERS TO CONSERVATION
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.