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Kristyn Brady

September 6, 2022

Whit Fosburgh Given Minority Outdoor Alliance’s Inclusion and Unity Award

At 2nd annual outdoor festival, MOA celebrates and honors five leaders who are bold in making cultural change a personal and organizational priority

The Minority Outdoor Alliance is proud to announce the recipients of its Inclusion and Unity Awards, recently presented at its 2nd Annual MOA Fest: Rue Mapp, CEO and founder of Outdoor Afro (Trailblazer Honoree); Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Howard Vincent, CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever; Becky Humphries, CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation; and Kris Rockwell, trustee of the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation.

Fosburgh’s award was accepted on his behalf at the event by TRCP’s director of strategic partnerships, Jared Romero.

MOA co-founders Durrell and Ashley Smith created the Inclusion and Unity Awards to recognize and honor leaders who are bold in making culture change a personal and organizational priority.

“As a society, we are navigating uncharted waters as we create a more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive world,” says Ashley Smith, an attorney and the Minority Outdoor Alliance’s CEO. “This massive culture change will only work if it is modeled and implemented by emotionally intelligent leaders who champion the cause as not only a moral imperative but also as an essential skill set to solve the challenges of our times. It is fantastic that there is so much conversation regarding culture change, but we must begin to steer the ship from vision to action, and the leaders that we honored with these awards take up the responsibility to drive change through action and encourage their organizations to do the same.”

In the annual one-of-a-kind celebration, the Minority Outdoor Alliance welcomed all sportsmen and women to expose the joys of the sporting life to those unfamiliar with its activities. With over 3,200 acres of rolling hills, oak forests, and native grasses, ORVIS® Pursell Farms served as an incomparable venue for the weekend-long August event. Activities included a sporting clays competition, archery lessons presented by the Alabama Department of Natural Resources, wild game cooking demonstrations, fly fishing and casting clinics presented by Orvis instructors, law enforcement presentations by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resource, a scholarship presentation of $10,000 in partnership with the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, and much more.

The Minority Outdoor Alliance’s goal is to expand the narrative of the outdoors through education, engagement, and media. The organization also strives to form a multicultural community of lifelong outdoor enthusiasts, professionals, and conservationists. By engaging in policy work, facilitating signature DEI workshops across the nation, telling stories with authentic voices, and creating pipelines for minority advancement, the Minority Outdoor Alliance intends to expand representation in the outdoors.

Smith believes that the two most important issues of our zeitgeist are DEI and conservation. “We are living in one of the most momentous times in history,” she says. “It is no coincidence that conversations regarding DEI and conserving natural resources are at the forefront of collective conversation. At this point, we must release the energy of our past and step into a future where there is an appreciation of the worth of all living beings and an appreciation of the worth of our natural world. The Minority Outdoor Alliance is a service to the world that my husband and I love to provide, because it is a solution that enables us to unite members of different communities for the cause of conservation. It is imperative that every single human being understands the urgency of caring for our natural resources and that we all learn to work together to conserve as much of the natural world as we can so that it is here for our posterity.”

The Title Sponsor for MOA Fest 2022 was Eukanuba. The festival was also supported by Georgia Power, the Orvis Company, the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Pheasants Forever, REI, Beretta, the National Wildlife Turkey Federation, YETI, Georgia River Network, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. The Minority Outdoor Alliance is grateful to all of its sponsors who share the vision of creating a more inclusive outdoor community.

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Randall Williams

September 1, 2022

MeatEater and TRCP Thank Montana Landowners Who Provide Hunter Access

Selected enrollees in FWP’s Block Management Access program received gifts and thank-you notes hand-delivered on behalf of Montana hunters

Forty-six Montana landowners who provide public access to hunters through the state’s Block Management Access program are receiving new Stihl chainsaws and $200 Visa Check Cards as well as handwritten thank-you notes in an effort organized by MeatEater and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The recipients of these thank-you packages were randomly selected from across all seven of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ regions. Funding to support the effort was raised last year by TRCP and MeatEater through the Montana Farm and Ranch Access Appreciation Sweepstakes.

“Block Management Access is one of the most important programs for hunters in our state—both resident and non-resident alike—and we wanted enrollees to know how much the everyday Montana sportsman and sportswoman appreciates their generosity,” said Ryan Callaghan, director of conservation for MeatEater. “Delivering these gift packages and thank-you notes in person allowed us to shake hands, share stories, and learn more about the experiences of ranchers and other landowners who offer access to the public. Those types of face-to-face conversations have historically been a key part of the relationship between the hunting and landowner communities in our state.”

The entire statewide Block Management program provides approximately 600,000 hunter days each year on around 7 million acres of private land. Whether these properties are enrolled in Type 1 (reservations required) or Type 2 (self-administered access) Block Management, they provide outstanding opportunities for the general public to pursue a variety of species, particularly in areas where public land access may be limited.

Participation in the program by private landowners is entirely voluntary and determined on an annual basis. While landowners are compensated by the state primarily through per-hunter-day impact payments, those amounts are capped and far less than the rates that could be charged if a property owner decided to instead lease access to an individual or outfitter.

“The success of Montana’s Block Management Program relies on landowners across the state who provide excellent opportunities for hunters. We know access improves when landowners feel respected and appreciated for the access they provide. I’m grateful to the many hunters who stepped up through this campaign to show their appreciation to the block management cooperators,” said FWP Director Hank Worsech.

“Access is foremost among the challenges that face hunters across the country, and voluntary programs that open private property to sportsmen and sportswomen are critically important,” said Joel Webster, vice president of Western conservation for the TRCP. “Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Block Management Access provides high quality opportunities all across our state, and we thought this would be a meaningful way to show how much the program means to the public and how much we appreciate the willingness of landowners to participate in it.”

Interviews with select landowners who received thank-you packages can be heard on Episode 171 of the “Cal’s Week in Review” podcast.

Kristyn Brady

August 11, 2022

Poll: Majority of Hunters and Anglers Support Nature-Based Climate Solutions

Across party lines, sportsmen and sportswomen believe climate change is happening and that habitat-driven solutions can help

A majority of American hunters and anglers polled earlier this year said they embrace habitat conservation strategies as a way to address the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife. The poll, conducted by New Bridge Strategy on behalf of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, also showed that more hunters and anglers—across party lines—say that climate change is happening than not.

“These findings are significant, because they paint a clearer picture of support for climate change solutions among conservative sportsmen and sportswomen, who some might assume are agnostic or even aggressively opposed to climate legislation,” says Tiffany Turner, the TRCP’s director of climate solutions. “This is particularly meaningful for Republican lawmakers who have maybe hedged on supporting legislation, when they actually have the constituent support in the hunting and fishing community to become wholehearted champions of habitat restoration and protection that improves carbon storage and sequestration.”

Here are some key findings from the poll:

  • 72 percent of sportsmen and sportswomen said that climate change is happening
  • 86 percent said they’d support restoring wetlands and coastal areas which help store carbon, while also acting as natural defenses to absorb rain during storms, provide wildlife habitat, and help filter pollutants from rivers and streams
  • 84 percent said they’d support restoring forests, prairies, and grasslands, which help store carbon, while also providing wildlife habitat and helping to filter pollutants from rivers and streams
  • 76 percent would support setting a national goal of conserving and restoring 30 percent of land and inland waters in America and 30 percent of its ocean areas by the year 2030
  • 76 percent support providing financial incentives for farmers to adopt regenerative practices and verifying that they are taking those actions, such as no-till farming or planting cover crops
  • Nearly half of those polled reported seeing an increase in certain climate change impacts, including “weird” weather and declining populations of fish or wildlife
  • More than half believe that climate change will affect their ability to hunt or fish in the next 20 years

The results show that climate change is still a much more partisan issue than other threats to fish and wildlife. The sportsmen and sportswomen polled were more concerned about habitat being broken up by development, pollution, disease, and roads and highways across habitat and migration routes.

There is also more work to do to convince sportsmen and sportswomen that climate change is affecting their hunting and fishing right now. The TRCP has launched a new campaign to educate and drive hunters and anglers to action in support of nature-based solutions—those that hinge on maintaining, managing, restoring, and improving our lands and waters to reverse climate change.

Healthy habitats absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere, where it would otherwise contribute to global warming. Specific examples of natural climate solutions can be found on the TRCP’s new interactive map. Many of the projects also lessen the impacts of climate change by reducing erosion, preventing wildfires, enhancing soil health, protecting against drought and flooding, cooling stream temperatures, strengthening coastlines, or improving the quality and availability of clean water.

Learn more about the TRCP’s climate work here.
See the full poll results here.

by:

posted in: Press Releases

July 27, 2022

Senators Introduce North American Grasslands Conservation Act

The legislative solution is modeled after the successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act and would empower private landowners to restore disappearing grasslands and sagebrush

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.

Learn more at actforgrasslands.org.

Sportsmen and sportswomen can encourage their senators to support the legislation using TRCP’s simple advocacy tool.

Top photo by Matthew Smith

Randall Williams

July 18, 2022

Sportspersons Commend Colo. BLM for Prioritizing Big Game Seasonal Habitats

Updating land management plans will result in better-informed decisions and conservation of high-priority big game habitats on Colorado public lands

Sportspersons applauded today’s announcement that the Colorado Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will formally and consistently incorporate big game seasonal habitat and migration corridor conservation into its land management plans. To do so, the agency has initiated an important land management plan amendment process. The BLM states that the primary purpose of the effort is to evaluate “alternative management approaches for the BLM planning decisions to maintain, conserve, and protect big game corridors and other important big game habitat areas on BLM-managed public lands and minerals in Colorado.”

“Robust elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep populations are important not only because they provide Colorado’s sportspersons with world-class hunting opportunities, they are core to our state’s identity and absolutely critical for our tourism industry,” said Liz Rose, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Colorado field representative. “We appreciate the leadership demonstrated by the Colorado BLM, and we hope this planning effort takes a habitat-centric view that focuses on the conservation and enhancement of these habitats, including habitat restoration and improvement and managing development pressures like high-density recreation and renewable and conventional energy development.”

The continued health of migratory big game populations depends upon their ability to move between suitable habitats seasonally, year after year. Of the 8.3 million acres of BLM-managed public land in Colorado, millions of acres constitute high-priority seasonal and migratory habitats for big game animals such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. These herds help support Colorado’s $5 billion-dollar hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching economy, and conserving the habitats on which they depend also directly supports a broad range of other wildlife species that benefit from intact landscapes.

The majority of Colorado BLM’s existing Resource Management Plans are outdated, some of them decades old. These Resource Management Plans do not adequately reflect recent science demonstrating the dependence of migratory big game animals on various landscapes and habitats throughout the year and the need to be able to move freely between those seasonal habitats. By amending those land-use plans that overlap with high-priority big game habitats, the agency will increase consistency in management and decision-making in areas where it matters most for ensuring that elk, deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep herds continue to thrive in Colorado.

Conservationists are optimistic that this process will create valuable opportunities for investments in habitat restoration on BLM-managed public land, in turn bolstering private-land conservation efforts across Colorado.

“Conserving and connecting big game animals’ high-priority seasonal and migratory habitats helps build more climate-resilient ecosystems that wildlife will utilize as conditions on the ground continue to change,” said Rose. “By updating its plans and ensuring that management decisions are based on the best and latest science, the BLM will ensure a brighter future for Colorado’s wildlife, residents, and visitors.”

The BLM “seeks information related to all high-density activities and public land uses that may cause disturbance to important big game habitat and will consider that information as appropriate in determining if additional land use planning decisions are appropriate to incorporate into the scope of the alternatives for this planning effort.”

The deadline for comments from the public is September 2, 2022. The TRCP will be working closely with other partners representing hunters, anglers, and other wildlife conservationists as well as local officials, private landowners, and agency staff to provide the BLM with science-based guidance that will benefit Colorado’s big game animals, sportspersons, and those who reside in and around high-priority big game habitats.

 

Photo: Bill Sincavage (@jakeysforkphoto)

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CONSERVATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.

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