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June 27, 2023

TRCP Applauds U.S. Department of Agriculture Announcement for Habitat Funding  

Federal agency commits at least $500 million over five years for Working Lands for Wildlife

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its intention to direct at least $500 million over a five-year period to benefit fish and wildlife habitat on private lands across much of the nation.  

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will support America’s hardworking private landowners when they do good things for fish and wildlife,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “About 60 percent of the land base in the United States is privately owned, and these lands often represent the most productive fish and wildlife habitat—their conservation is critical.”   

The Working Lands for Wildlife model uses a landscape-level planning approach to restore and conserve wildlife habitat efficiently, over large areas. These USDA funds will be directed through this approach by utilizing the Farm Bill’s voluntary and incentive based Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to keep working lands working while conserving critical fish and wildlife habitat. At least $40 million will be dedicated to conserving migratory big game habitat through partnerships in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. 

“With today’s announcement, USDA has committed to additional funding, broader geographic scope, longer term planning, and better coordination between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency toward wildlife habitat goals,” continued Fosburgh. “All of this adds up to great news for hunters and anglers.”  

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One Response to “TRCP Applauds U.S. Department of Agriculture Announcement for Habitat Funding  ”

  1. CR Black

    Does this do anything to support land owners in the Southeast (SC in particular) to promote bobwhite quail and wild turkey repopulation and maintenance?

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June 20, 2023

BLM’s Proposed Final Plan for Southeast Oregon Reflects Stakeholder Recommendations

The BLM’s plan includes balanced management for conservation on important public lands

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management released the Proposed Final Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan Amendment that—when finalized—will guide land management decisions for more than 4.6 million acres of Oregon’s most scenic and recreationally important public lands overseen by the BLM’s Vale District office within the Owyhee and Malheur River country.

This significant step forward in the planning process will help determine how habitat conservation, outdoor recreation opportunities, grazing, and development will be balanced on BLM land. In the proposed final plan, the BLM has offered a management approach that incorporates recommendations made by the agency’s Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council, a group of 15 individuals selected by the BLM to represent diverse backgrounds who worked together for more than five years to develop recommendations. Under the plan, about 420,000 acres in the 4.6-million-acre district will be managed for their wild, backcountry characteristics and the wildlife habitat value they provide.

“A broad-based BLM advisory group rolled up their sleeves to create a well-rounded alternative within the Southeast Oregon RMP amendment, and we applaud the BLM for incorporating many of their recommendations in this proposed final plan,” said Michael O’Casey, deputy director for the Pacific Northwest with the TRCP. “We appreciate the BLM making changes to adopt a balanced alternative in the final plan that conserves special places from development, while ensuring continued access for hunting and fishing, habitat restoration, and ranching.”

Popular public lands in eastern Oregon help fuel the state’s $2.5 billion fish-and-wildlife-based economy, provide important wildlife habitat, and support other multiple uses. The Vale District manages most of the public lands within the Beulah (65), Malheur River (66), Owyhee (67), and Whitehorse (68) hunting units.

“Oregon’s Owyhee region is a critically important hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation area,” said Karl Findling, owner of Oregon Pack Works who grew up in Malheur County. “I appreciate that the BLM made changes that do right by sportsmen and businesses who depend on the management of these lands to safeguard some of the best wildlife habitat and hunting areas in the state.”

“The BLM has an opportunity to safeguard some of Oregon’s best hunting areas and wildlife habitat through these land-use plans, and do it in a balanced way,” said Chris Hager, Northwest Chapter coordinator for the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “We’re supportive of the proposed final plan and see it as a win-win for the varied wildlife we love to pursue. Proper management that includes conservation measures such as what’s proposed helps ensure that our valued hunting heritage, outdoor traditions, and way of life can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Now that the proposed final is published, the agency has opened a 30-day protest period. Governor Kotek has 60 days to review the plan for consistency with state policy, after which the plan will be finalized.

“Sportsmen and sportswomen will continue to weigh-in as these planning processes move forward,” continued O’Casey. “We are encouraged with the direction the BLM is going, and we support this plan as it moves toward the finish line.”

Photo Credit:  Tyler Roemer

June 15, 2023

Bill to protect Oregon’s Owyhee Canyons Reintroduced

S. 1890 would provide needed funding for local economic development, and help protect and restore the sage brush steppe

S. 1890 was reintroduced on June 8th by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Senator Wyden spearheaded the bill in 2019 through a series of stakeholder meetings, which resulted in a bill that promotes the long-term ecological health of the region while providing support for economic development and continued traditional and recreational uses of public lands.

If passed, this bill would permanently protect fish and wildlife habitat on over a million acres in southeast Oregon. This region includes the Owyhee River, the Trout Creek Mountains, and key winter range and habitat for big game, chukar, and other species that offer prime hunting and outdoor related activities which sustain thousands of jobs.

The Owyhee Sportsmen Coalition members know this region well and understand the value it holds for sportsmen and women across Oregon. The coalition supports any approach that ensures the region’s open spaces and incredible fish and wildlife resources are managed in a balanced way.

“We want to thank Senator Wyden for introducing this legislation that has been vetted with input from local sportsmen, ranchers, conservationists, and decision-makers,” said Jim Akenson, state board member for the Oregon Hunters Association. “We look forward to working with Congressman Bentz and others to further build upon this bill and find the best way forward for this unique corner of Oregon.”

“For generations, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and mule deer hunts in places along the Owyhee River have been a favorite for sportsmen and sportswomen,” said Kevin Martin, state board member for the Oregon Wild Sheep Foundation. “This bill provides a key opportunity to do right by sportsmen and the fish and wildlife we depend on by safeguarding this iconic winter range and wild, backcountry landscape long into the future.”

“Our organizations support the multiple uses of public land in this region and recognize that good stewardship means sustainable ranching, wildlife habitat management, public access, and meaningful resource conservation,” said Michael O’Casey, deputy director of the Pacific Northwest region for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Our goal is passage of legislation that supports rural economies, respects local interests, protects and restores the ecological health of the Owyhee landscape, and ensures that our hunting and angling traditions continue for generations.”

“I was born and raised in Malheur County and continue to visit the Owyhee Canyonlands to recreate in many forms,” said Karl Findling, regional director for the Oregon Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “This is an incredible landscape in need of restoration, protection, and additional financial resources within one of Oregon’s last best places and we’re excited to see this bill move forward in Congress.”

“This legislation shows what can happen when stakeholders sit down together and find common ground,” said Michael Gibson, field coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “The real winner in all of this is the land and the fish and wildlife that live there. If passed, future generations of hunters and anglers will get to enjoy robust populations of Redband rainbow trout, chukar, pronghorn, mule deer and California bighorn sheep, while ranchers get the flexibility their operations need to be viable into the future.”

Photo Credit: Sage Brown

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June 9, 2023

Conservation Groups Applaud Bipartisan Bill to Invest in America’s Forests and Watersheds 

The Headwaters Protection Act would enhance partnerships that provide clean water, benefit fish and wildlife habitat. 

On Wednesday, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced the Headwaters Protection Act in an effort to invest in America’s forests and watersheds by expanding support for two U.S. Forest Service Programs created in the 2018 Farm Bill: The Water Source Protection Program (WSPP) and the Watershed Condition Framework (WCF).  

If passed, the bill would support critical public-private partnerships working to ensure our National Forests provide clean water to downstream communities, benefit agricultural water users, and protect fish and wildlife habitat important to hunters and anglers. 

“Source watersheds – the forests, meadows, and streams that supply water to cities and farms – is an integral part of the nation’s water system infrastructure,” said Alex Funk, director of water resources and senior counsel of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Headwaters Protection Act will support critical public-private partnerships that will increase the pace and scale of restoration and conservation efforts that maximize the water reliability and quality benefits of healthy source watersheds, which in turn helps support adaptation to drought and wildfire, while benefiting fish and wildlife habitat.” 

Other Senators supporting the bill include Senators Feinstein (D-Calif.), Risch (R-Idaho), Lujan (D-N.M.), Kelly (D-Ariz.), Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Heinrich (D-N.M.). 

Conservation organizations across the country, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership,  American Fly Fishing Trade Association, American Sportfishing Association, American Water Works Association, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Conservation Northwest, Family Farm Alliance, National American Grouse Partners, National Deer Association, National Wildlife Federation, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Watershed Research and Training Center, and Western Landowners Alliance have all been advocating for this effort. 

The Headwaters Protection Act would:  

  • Reauthorize the Water Source Protection Program (WSPP) and increase the authorization of appropriations for the program from $10 million per year to $30 million per year.  
  • Broaden the range of water users, including historically disadvantaged communities, who could participate in and benefit from the WSPP. 
  • Reduce financial barriers for water users to participate in the WSPP. 
  • Prioritize WSPP projects that benefit drinking water quality and improve resilience to wildfire and climate change. 
  • Make a technical change to the Watershed Condition Framework (WCF) that ensures healthy watersheds do not become degraded and authorizes $30 million in new appropriations per year.  

WSPP and WCF projects would: 

  • Conserve freshwater resources within National Forest System Lands, which supply drinking water to one in five Americans and contain much of our country’s best remaining cold-water habitat for salmon, steelhead, and trout. 
  • Complement and strengthen the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy by encouraging partnerships with water users to reduce threats to water supplies and infrastructure from wildfire and climate change. 

Additional Statements of Support 

“The Nature Conservancy in Colorado strongly supports Senators Bennet, Crapo, Feinstein, Risch, Heinrich, Lujan, Kelly, and Hickenlooper’s Headwaters Protection Act. Healthy forested watersheds provide the natural infrastructure that supplies clean water for people and communities, agriculture, hydropower, and fish and wildlife.  Many of these forested watersheds are on both public and private lands, and many are in unhealthy condition, at risk of high-severity wildfire, and in need of ecologically based restoration.  The Headwaters Protection Act reauthorizes and improves the Water Source Protection Program, a tool that can bring investments from non-federal partners to support forest health, restoration, and watershed protection projects.  This bill is a smart investment in our future,” said Carlos Fernandez, Colorado state director for The Nature Conservancy. 

“A healthy river system performs three basic functions. It catches, stores, and slowly releases water over time. Floods, fire, and drought can wreak havoc to healthy river systems. The Headwaters Protection Act would provide a pathway for collaborative stewardship so we can restore healthy rivers that provide cold, clean water for both downstream communities and trout and salmon alike. We thank Senator Bennet for his leadership and look forward to working with our partners to make this program a success on the ground,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. 

June 5, 2023

Proposed Nevada Wildlife Crossings Account Heads to the Governor’s Desk

AB112 a bright spot for bi-partisan cooperation

As the 2023 Nevada state legislative session reaches its statutory end date of June 5th, AB112 continues its meteoric ascension with unanimous votes in both the State Assembly and Senate. The bill has advanced through four committees without a single dissenting vote or comment.

The bill, supported by a broad coalition of conservation and sporting organizations, was introduced by the Joint Interim Standing Committee on Natural Resources and championed by Assemblyman Howard Watts of the 15th district. The law creates a Wildlife Crossings Account within the State’s General Fund, replete with a $5 million appropriation to be used as match money to leverage federal funding for construction of wildlife friendly infrastructure, specifically safe highway crossings for migrating big game and other wildlife. The fund will be administered collaboratively by the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“I would like to thank Assemblyman Watts for leading on this bill,” said Carl Erquiaga, TRCP Nevada field representative. “It has been gratifying to witness the bi-partisan cooperation throughout the process.”

Federal funding is now available as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by Congress in 2021. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to implement a five year pilot program to distribute a total of $350 million through a competitive grant process to projects that reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve wildlife connectivity for daily and seasonal movements.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for unanimously supporting the creation of a Wildlife Crossings Account for Nevada,” said Assemblyman Howard Watts. “This policy, combined with a $5 million appropriation, will help secure tens of millions of dollars in federal funding that improves roadway safety, reconnects wildlife habitat, and puts people to work.”

Nevada has long been a leader in the construction of highway crossings in areas where migrating mule deer face major highways, such as I-80 and Highway 93 in northeast Nevada. In the time since these crossings have been built, vehicle-wildlife collisions have decreased dramatically. The new Wildlife Crossings Account would ensure safe crossings in other high-priority migration corridors around Nevada and can also be leveraged by the state to compete for federal funds.

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Lombardo for his signature.

Photo credit: Kent Miller

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.

$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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