April 18, 2023

Manchin, Moore, Humphries, and Vincent Receive TRCP’s Conservation Awards

Gala event hosted by MeatEater’s Steven Rinella brings together D.C. luminaries, outdoor industry leaders, and TRCP supporters

At its 15th annual Capital Conservation Awards Dinner, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership proudly celebrated the conservation achievements of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Representative Blake Moore (R-Utah), and CEOs Becky Humphries of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Howard Vincent of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, who will both retire in 2023 after many years of outstanding leadership in our community.

The gala event was hosted by MeatEater’s Steven Rinella—a TRCP Board member—at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

“We proudly honor these leaders whose commitment to conservation has had real and lasting on-the-ground results for hunters, anglers, and all Americans,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. “Senator Manchin and Rep. Moore have been instrumental in clinching recent legislative victories for habitat, access, and conservation funding that will impact hunting and fishing opportunities for years to come. Our gala event is also a fitting way to celebrate two deeply appreciated colleagues in conservation, Becky Humphries and Howard Vincent, who have been part of the fabric of TRCP and this community for many years.”

As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Joe Manchin championed the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020 to provide full and permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and reduce the maintenance backlog at federal land management agencies. More recently, Manchin negotiated the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, securing major new resources for forest management, climate-smart agriculture, drought mitigation, and coastal resilience. He is a lifelong hunter and angler and continues to prioritize conservation and outdoor recreation legislation in Congress.

Since entering Congress in 2020, Rep. Blake Moore has quickly developed a reputation as a pragmatic lawmaker and champion for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. Moore worked closely with the TRCP and our community to secure passage of the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, to digitize access data for millions of acres of our public lands. He’s also led efforts to expand access to public shooting ranges, remove barriers to outdoor recreation, and address the management needs of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

Becky Humphries started her career in wildlife conservation as an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before joining the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in 1978. Her 32-year career with the agency saw her move from field biologist to Wildlife Division chief and, finally, director—she was the first woman to ever hold the position. In 2011, Humphries left public service and joined Ducks Unlimited as director of conservation programs before joining the National Wild Turkey Federation as chief conservation officer in 2013. She became chief operations officer in 2016 and CEO in 2017. Since its founding in 1973, NWTF has invested more than $500 million into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced more than 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. Humphries retires this year.

Howard Vincent started with Pheasants Forever in 1984, two years after the organization’s founding, and became CEO in 1990—he will step down this year. During Vincent’s tenure, Pheasants Forever has grown into one of the most respected wildlife conservation organizations in the country, dedicated to habitat conservation, education, and advocacy. The organization has more than 400 employees and 400,000 members, supporters, and partners. In its history, the organization has been responsible for delivering more than 22 million acres of habitat.

Vincent and Humphries have both served as TRCP Board members for many years. They will be introduced onstage by conservation giant Steve Williams, who is also retiring this year from the Wildlife Management Institute. Williams received TRCP’s conservation achievement award in 2015.

For more information about the CCAD, click here.


Photo by Jon Fleming

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posted in: Press Releases

April 11, 2023

New Film Uncovers the Complexity of Public Land Access

Paper Trails follows the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Eastman’s Hunting Journal through a confusing patchwork of public and private land

A new Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership film, to be released on Saturday, April 15, unpacks the complexity of public land access in collaboration with Eastmans’ Hunting Journal, onX, Savage Arms, SIG SAUER, and Kenetrek.

With an October 2022 Wyoming pronghorn antelope hunt as a backdrop, Paper Trails and its characters uncover the challenges hunters and other outdoor recreationists face when accessing and navigating their public lands and describe what’s being done to improve that access.

“Hunters know from firsthand experience that public access can be difficult, and even confusing to figure out, but many people don’t know why it is so complex or what to do about it,” said Joel Webster, TRCP vice president of Western conservation. “Recognizing this challenge, TRCP and several of our partners created Paper Trails to uncover several issues surrounding public access that have never before been explored on film—such as difficult to retrieve public easements and inaccurate or absent public signage—and offer solutions to the problem moving forward, such as the MAPLand Act.”

The film highlights the reality that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have 90,000 road and trail easements scattered across the nation, of which 50,000 remain on paper file and have not yet been digitized or made readily available. The film further explores the need for better information to be made available about the location of county roads, which are also open to the public. The status of BLM travel management plans are also discussed.

“For many of the lines that people see as roads on our maps, there isn’t a designation between public and private,” said Lisa Nichols, senior access advocacy manager at onX. “And the reason for that is there are very few road data sets that exist in the whole country that classify roads as public or private.”

Paper Trails also features the MAPLand Act, which was passed into law in April 2022 and requires federal agencies to digitize and make information publicly available about recreational access to public lands. This process is presently being implemented and will provide greater transparency to all Americans about the location of public land access easements—unlocking more public land.

“Every state is a little different. Every access issue is a little different. I think the MAPLand Act is going to be a huge benefit to sportsmen,” said Brandon Mason of Eastmans’ Hunting Journal.

“Accessing public land is one of the biggest challenges hunters face,” said Beth Shimanski, Savage Arm’s marketing director. “Public roads, access points, and easements are not always clearly marked or known to the public. This film shines a light on the problem and highlights what needs to be done today to protect public land access for future generations of hunters,”

“SIG SAUER is extremely proud to help support this amazing project in partnership with Eastman’s and the TRCP,” said Jason Wright, SIG SAUER’s vice president of marketing. “The challenge of maintaining the rights of landowners combined with providing access to America’s public lands is immense, and this film demonstrates the incredible work the men and women of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service are doing to ensure the interests of both parties are met and the tradition of hunting the vast expanse of the western U.S. is maintained.”

“Hunting access to public lands is one of the most challenging problems facing our industry today, and Kenetrek is happy to provide support for this important documentary,” said Jim Winjum, president of Kenetrek LLC.

Watch Paper Trails here. Full film to be released April 15.


Photo Credit: Eastmans’ Hunting Journal

April 5, 2023

Report Highlights Aquatic Invasive Species Solutions

Recommendations focus on modernizing marine fisheries laws, making strategic investments, and improving collaboration among federal, state, local, and tribal agencies

The Aquatic Invasive Species Commission, which includes the TRCP and key partners, has released a new report titled, “Improving the Prevention, Eradication, Control and Mitigation of Aquatic Invasive Species.” In the report, the commission calls on Congress to modernize laws, increase spending, and improve coordination at federal, state, local, and tribal levels to combat harmful aquatic invasive species.

Founded in 2022 by scientists, conservationists, anglers, boaters, business leaders, and policy experts, the AIS Commission has worked to assess existing mitigation efforts and identify more effective eradication solutions for invasive species in our nation’s waters, culminating in this detailed report.

“Aquatic invasive species are a tremendous threat to our nation’s waters, causing billions of dollars in economic harm and unquantifiable—often irreversible—damage to ecosystems,” said Dr. Marc Gaden, communications director at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and associate professor at Michigan State University. “I commend the outdoor industry for taking the threat of aquatic invasive species seriously and for presenting a roadmap for effective policy. I am particularly pleased to see that many of the recommendations focus on the importance of leveraging science to affect policy. I urge Congress to act on these recommendations so that our nation can take immediate action on invasive species prevention and control.”

Many stakeholders consulted by the commission urged Congress to direct agencies to identify regulatory gaps and weak links across all levels of government. Information sharing and the development of data-driven solutions would enable the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, an intergovernmental organization, to spread costs and eradicate invasive species in an increasingly interconnected natural environment, the report states.

Empowering this task force with autonomy, staff, and resources was another focus of the report. AIS eradication efforts can cost up to $100 billion per year, and these changes would reduce the burden on individual agencies.

The report also says that laws should maintain access for boaters and anglers, balancing safe usage with the long-term health of natural resources.

“Access to healthy waters, safe usage, and the long-term health of our natural resources is always on the minds of anglers and boaters while on the water,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez. “Ensuring the long-term health of our waterways is crucial in lessening the economic burden that aquatic invasive species unfortunately present to communities impacted by these harmful species. Control, eradication, and beneficial burgeoning industries will play a key part in collaborating to reduce many harmful species from our aquatic systems.”

The American public has a role to play in this effort, as well. The report calls on natural resource managers to maintain and strengthen public engagement over AIS issues. Coordinated, science-based education on AIS prevention is key to effectively stopping the spread of AIS in our waters. The commission recommends securing additional funding for the appropriate agencies to expand signage and work to address language barriers at boat launches and fishing access points to promote angler-led AIS prevention activities, including “Clean, Drain, Dry” decontamination actions.

The TRCP played a key role in a similar process to engage marine fisheries stakeholders in planning for the future. The organization convened and helped to lead the Morris-Deal Commission—name for its two industry champions, Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops and Scott Deal of Maverick Boats—whose 2014 report laid the groundwork for many of the solutions secured by the Modern Fish Act in 2018.

We’re excited to advocate for the many recommendations in this latest report that will help improve recreational fishing in America.

Read the Aquatic Invasive Species Commission report here.
View the executive summary here.


Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

April 3, 2023

New Legislation Would Help Increase Walk-In Access Program Acres

Lawmakers have introduced the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act to boost an important Farm Bill program that creates public hunting and fishing opportunities on private land

The Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act of 2023 has been introduced by Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) to strengthen one of the most critical Farm Bill programs for America’s sportsmen and sportswomen: the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. It is the only federal initiative that helps to create public hunting and fishing opportunities on private land, and this new legislation calls for tripling the program’s impact.

“Lack of access is the largest barrier to hunter and angler participation, and the USDA’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program is the single best federal tool to increase recreational access on private lands,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We applaud Senators Daines, Bennet, and Marshall for their leadership on the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act and look forward to working with Congress to expand hunting and fishing opportunities for all Americans.”

The legislation would invest $150 million over the next five years in the VPA-HIP, which provides grants to states and Tribes to be implemented at the local level. This increased investment was among the recommendations made by TRCP’s Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group in its “Hunter and Angler Priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill” released earlier this year.

The Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act is supported by more than 30 hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations.

“VPA-HIP is an incredibly important program for hunters, opening nearly one million private acres to public hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation over its lifetime,” says Torin Miller, senior director of policy for the National Deer Association. “Not surprisingly, interest and enrollment in the program is growing. The Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act of 2023 recognizes the growing interest in the program and the importance of maintaining quality hunting access across the country. The bill’s $150-million authorization will ensure expanded and continued enrollment in VPA-HIP, benefiting hunters, landowners, and local communities. The National Deer Association is proud to endorse this legislation.”

“The introduction of the Voluntary Access Improvement Act is very welcome news for duck hunters as VPA-HIP has accomplished significant increases in access for waterfowl hunters,” says John Devney, chief policy officer at Delta Waterfowl. “From the WRICE program in Arkansas to the PLOTS program in North Dakota and WIA and COOP in South Dakota, VPA-HIP is providing important access for hunters across the country. We sincerely appreciate Senators Daines, Bennett and Marshall for advancing this key priority in the 2023 Farm Bill.”

“Since 2008, the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program has opened millions of acres of private lands and waters to America’s anglers,” says Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “We thank Senators Daines, Bennet, and Marshall for their support of this program, which will expand sportfishing opportunities for generations to come.”

The VPA-HIP, once commonly known as “open fields,” has a very special place in the hearts of TRCP’s staff and supporters, as it was championed by our inspirational co-founder, Jim Range, before his untimely death. The program was established and funded through the 2008, 2014, and 2018 Farm Bills—most recently at $50 million over five years—with its impacts felt across the country.

Apart from creating more outdoor recreation access, VPA-HIP funding is also utilized to provide technical and financial assistance to landowners for wildlife habitat improvement and enhancement projects. It is often layered with other Farm Bill programs that have habitat benefits, such as Conservation Reserve Program and Wetland Reserve Easements. And the program allows states to address liability, alleviating a roadblock for many landowners to open their lands to the public.

Recent studies have shown that the VPA-HIP has a more than eight-to-one return on investment in the form of outdoor recreation spending in rural communities.

Click here to watch a video about some of the many benefits of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.


Photo by USDA

March 30, 2023

TRCP Welcomes Restoration and Habitat Focus in Proposed BLM Rule

Group encourages public engagement to ensure a successful outcome

Today, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership responded to the Bureau of Land Management’s announcement of a proposed Conservation and Landscape Health Rule. The rule intends to clarify and support the agency’s multiple use and sustained yield authority provided through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, with a focus on restoration, protection, and balanced development.

“The TRCP supports the restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife habitat on BLM lands as part of the agency’s multiple use and sustained yield mission, and we appreciate the opportunity to engage in this process,” said Joel Webster, VP of western conservation at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “BLM public lands and habitat are under increased pressure from drought, severe wildfires, and invasive species, and the Conservation and Landscape Health Rule has the potential to improve the BLM’s ability to address those challenges.”

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres, primarily in the American West, and the agency is tasked with balancing a multitude of uses, including conservation, recreation, and resource development. The proposed rule is open for a 75-day public comment period.

“We plan to roll up our sleeves to ensure that the BLM’s Conservation and Landscape Health Rule improves management of our public lands to benefit sportsmen and sportswomen,” continued Webster. “TRCP encourages the BLM to engage with a range of stakeholder groups when refining the rule to make sure it is workable, durable, and successfully implemented.”



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.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

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