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Last month, the EPA agreed to a lawsuit filed in 2020 by Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia that stated Pennsylvania must reduce its disproportionate impact in polluting the Chesapeake Bay. The litigation asserts that the EPA has failed to hold the state accountable for meeting pollution reduction goals, and the settlement now allows a means to hold EPA officials responsible if the state’s pollution requirements are not enforced.
Reducing nutrient runoff would mean cleaner waters in the state and a healthier Chesapeake Bay farther downstream.
Although great strides have been made in reducing pollution in recent years, one-quarter of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams still suffer from contamination. The Susquehanna River, which is the largest source of fresh water to the Chesapeake Bay, is also the largest source of nitrogen pollution to the Bay. Agricultural runoff, acid mine drainage, and suburban stormwater remain the leading sources of Pennsylvania pollution to the Bay. The negative impacts are not just felt in Bay waters, but also in the surrounding states.
A 2010 settlement required Pennsylvania and other states in the watershed to each implement a pollution reduction plan by 2025, known as the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint. But Pennsylvania hasn’t made enough progress on its piece of the plan.
Last month’s agreement established by the EPA, which must now go through a mandatory 30-day public comment period prior to implementation, lays out specific oversight actions such as necessitating an annual public report on Pennsylvania’s progress. EPA officials can be held accountable if the state again fails to enforce pollution requirements. The agreement also highlights the need for further grant funding opportunities to make the necessary changes to meet reduction goals in the state.
Pennsylvania contains more farmland than the other Bay watershed states. Farms can be a significant source of pollution due to the runoff of sediment and excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous found in fertilizers, that the state has thus far been unable to address. The Commonwealth’s most recent state budget created a new funding source known as the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program to help farmers implement conservation practices that keep valuable topsoil in place and reduce potentially harmful material from reaching local waterways. This funding stream could prove to be crucial to ensuring Pennsylvania reaches its goals in the agreement set forth by the EPA.
Pennsylvanians, show your support for stronger Chesapeake Bay habitat and cleaner water throughout our state. This lawsuit aside, we’re all working toward a better future for the rivers and streams that support our hunting and fishing opportunities. Take action here to get involved.
The Ruby Mountains Protection Act, reintroduced by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in March of this year, passed out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Wednesday morning with bi-partisan support. If passed into law, the act (S.706) would permanently withdraw over 450,000 acres in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Ruby Mountain Ranger District and the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration.
The Ruby Mountains Protection Act has been introduced twice before by Senator Cortez Masto in response to interest to lease 54,000 acres for oil and gas exploration in the heart of the iconic Ruby Mountains. This area is home to one of Nevada’s largest mule deer herds, endangered Lahontan cutthroat trout, and a host of other wildlife including elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.
“Growing up at the base of the Ruby Mountains, I took for granted the invaluable habitat in my backyard,” said Bryce Pollock, policy co-chair for the Nevada Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “This legislation will ensure the Rubies remain free of roads and development, which is a major win for the sportsmen and women in our state.”
The Rubies are recognized around the world as a premier big game hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation destination. They are also the source of one of the most important mule deer migration corridors in the state. The 40,000 acre Ruby Lake Refuge, added to the legislation in 2021, is a major stopover for migrating waterfowl on the Pacific flyway, breeding grounds for waterfowl and shorebirds, and the lake itself is the setting for an untold number of recreation days spent fishing for trout and bass.
“We are thankful this legislation is again moving through Congress and thank Senator Cortez Masto for continuing to fight for the wishes of the people of Nevada,” said Jay Lingenfelter, chairman of the Fallon Chapter of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited. “The Rubies are a very special place and should be permanently safeguarded.”
The bill will now move to the Senate floor for consideration. In the House, the Ruby Mountain Protection Act is a part of Congressman Mark Amodei’s (R-NV) larger conservation and land management legislation (H.R. 3173).
Yesterday, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership was honored by the invitation to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure on water management issues including drought and water conservation.
The TRCP is dedicated to ensuring the places Americans love to hunt and fish are conserved and the species upon which we depend as hunters and anglers are managed at sustainable levels. Therefore, water conservation and federal and state authorities related to water quantity and quality are core to our mission.
Chief Conservation Officer, Christy Plumer, touched on the growing water management challenges, particularly in the West, and the opportunity for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance nature-based solutions. As Congress heads toward consideration of the Water Resources Development Act of 2024, we are encouraging the Committee to invest in existing drought resilience programs including the Sustainable Rivers Program, Continuing Authority Program, and drought-specific WRDA 2022 provisions; strengthen technical assistance through the Silver Jackets Program and other community-based efforts; enhance cross-boundary partnerships; update the Corps’ benefit cost analysis to advance natural and nature-based infrastructure; and invest in recreational infrastructure through the LAKES Act (S. 1358). Click here to read Plumer’s written testimony.
We stand ready to work with the Subcommittee and full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Congress, and the Corps to advance these fish and wildlife focused solutions.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized two vital mitigation policies to conserve critical fish and wildlife resources, while still allowing for necessary development projects to occur in sensitive habitats. The two policies, a Service-wide Mitigation Policy and an Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy, provide guidance to agency staff for how to best mitigate losses to species and their habitats from proposed development projects.
The USFWS’ new policies recommend application of the mitigation hierarchy to ensure “no net loss” of resources. The ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy provides additional guidance on how to replace loss of species and their habitats under the Endangered Species Act. These principles, referred to as the mitigation hierarchy, are fundamental to conservation and set expectations that proposed projects should first avoid impacts to species and their habitat within practical means.
If impacts are unavoidable, projects must then minimize remaining effects through project modifications. As a final step if the project ultimately impacts the species or sensitive habitat, the project proponent should compensate for that loss by replacing similar resource values elsewhere.
“When applied appropriately, these policies allow development projects to succeed by reducing conflicts with fish and wildlife resources in a clear and consistent way,” says Madeleine West, director of the center for public lands at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The TRCP welcomes these policies and encourages the Service to appropriately apply the mitigation hierarchy to ensure that development projects in sensitive habitats do so without causing an overall loss to fish and wildlife resources.”
Photo credit: Edgar Figueiredo
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