TRCP Applauds Passage of the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act
The bipartisan legislation that passed Congress this week would help more Americans build confidence in the great outdoors and safeguard hunting and angling traditions.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act (HR 5110) in a 424-1 vote on Tuesday September 26, 2023. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent the next day. The bill has now gone to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to clarify that the prohibition of use of federal education funds for certain weapons training does not apply to extracurricular programs such as archery, hunting, and other shooting sports.
This summer the U.S. Department of Education indicated that as a result of changes made in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which passed in 2022, schools with hunting, archery, and other outdoor education programs may not be eligible to receive certain federal funds. This would negatively impact millions of students who participate in archery programs, hunter education classes, wilderness and outdoor classes, and school sponsored target shooting teams. The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act seeks to restore funding and clarify that students may have access to educational programs and activities such as archery and hunting safety education.
“We applaud Representatives Green and Peltola, and Senators Tester and Murkowski for developing and passing a bipartisan solution to this issue. Restoring federal funding for hunter education, archery in the schools, and other outdoor programs will help more Americans build confidence to venture into the great outdoors,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “With overwhelming bipartisan support, we urge President Biden to sign this important bill into law without delay.”
President Biden’s signature would ensure that these programs remain available in schools across the nation and help safeguard the future of our hunting and angling traditions.
Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to the future of hunting and fishing here
New York Mets First Baseman Pete Alonso has a passion for hunting, fishing, and giving back.
You may know Pete Alonso as the two-time Home Run Derby Champion, three-time Major League Baseball All-Star, and the first basemen for the New York Mets, but did you know he was named the July 2023 Most Valuable Philanthropist by MLB’s Players Trust and has been a staunch supporter of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership since his rookie season in 2019?
MLB’s Players Trust recognizes players whose efforts have made a positive impact on the causes and communities personal to them. Over the course of the regular season, the Players Trust bestows three Most Valuable Philanthropist (MVP) awards to celebrate those who have demonstrated a giving spirit and positive social impact beyond the baseball field. Pete Alonso was recognized in July 2023 with the MVP award for his tireless work with the Alonso Foundation and for supporting causes he cares about – such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Off the field, Alonso is a lifelong hunter and angler. Fishing in his home waters of Tampa Bay and hunting throughout the country have clearly made a mark on Alonso. This is evident through his charitable work and his advocacy for conservation issues important to the sporting community. Alonso has long supported the conservation work of the TRCP by hosting a fishing trip in Tampa that has been auctioned off at the annual TRCP Capital Conservation Award Dinner, and his zeal for the outdoors has been frequently highlighted in the press, through an appearance on a special episode of MeatEater, hunting mule deer in Colorado with host, and TRCP Board member, Steve Rinella, and his work with TRCP partner, Captains for Clean Water.
Given his altruistic spirit and passion for conservation, it is no surprise that Alonso has partnered with TRCP for the 2023 Fall Sweepstakes, offering everyone the chance to win an expense-paid trip for 2 to Tampa, FL to fish with Pete.
Volunteers Make an Impact on New Mexico Private Lands Conservation
The Impact Outdoors NM projects will benefit wildlife, habitat, hunters, and a ranching operation.
In early August,I joined a group of volunteers with Impact Outdoors New Mexico on behalf of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership to help complete three projects on a local landowner’s property near Santa Rosa, New Mexico.The projects benefited wildlife, hunters, and theranching operation.
Impact Outdoors is a nonprofit organization dedicated to impacting communities through education, conservation, and meaningful outdoor opportunities like hunting and fishing. By fostering strong relationships and community, for both veterans and youth, Impact Outdoors builds a cadre of strong volunteers who possess a deep passion for the outdoors. Through Impact Outdoors, many of the youth and veterans volunteer their time to assist with habitat restoration on public and private lands.
Private landowners play instrumental roles for conservation, ensuring that public and private working lands are conserved and managed correctlybenefits us all. Thanks to a great working relationship with a landowner near Santa Rose, NM, volunteers with Impact Outdoors had already been able to help restore wetlands, fence off riparian zones to protect cattle from over grazing and restore native grasses, and install water valves to ensure water gets to the appropriate locations on the property. Due to these past efforts, the leopard frog, which is listed as a species of conservation concern in New Mexico, has returned to the property.
The Hermit Peak and Calf Canyon Fire in 2022 burned northwest in the headwaters of the Pecos River and was the largest fire in New Mexico State history. This property is irrigated with water from the Pecos River. After the fire the region received large amounts of rain causing a carbon kill off in the river. Due to the quick actions of the landowner and Impact Outdoors NM they were able to keep the carbon out of the restored wetlands and maintain an intact macroinvertebrate source to reestablish in the Pecos River.
In a continuation of this important conservation work, I joined about 30 volunteers from Impact Outdoors NM as they set about tackling three new projects in coordination with the landowner. We installed a catwalk over a ditch headgate to ensure the landowners safety when changing water allocations for irrigation and providing water to the wetlands. We built a fully accessible duck blind that will accommodate a track chair and allow it to fully turn around. Lastly, we built a ramp and pully system that allows a layout boat to be launched into the wetlands allowing a hunter using a wheelchair to hunt waterfowl from the water with a volunteer from Impact Outdoors beside them in the water in waders.
The event was a great success and the completion of the three projects helped prepare the way for youth and veterans to have a quality location to hunt turkeys and waterfowl as well as fish this fall.
The conservation community needs to lean into mentorship.
Recently, I had the opportunity to engage with the mentorship cohort of Next 100 Colorado while on a conservation tour in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Inspired by the 100thanniversary of the National Park Service, the Next 100 Colorado focuses on workforce diversity across conservation and outdoor recreation, ensuring equitable access for all people, and using the outdoors to tellaccurate, complex, uplifting and healing stories about Colorado lands. The mentorship cohorts are intended to provide community for underrepresented individuals in conservation as well as guidance for mentees who are within the first five years of their conservation career.The conservation trip took place on July 18-19 and consisted of five mentees and four mentors (or members) of Next 100 Colorado.
On this trip both mentors and mentees were able to learn about the complexity and history of Spanish and Mexican land grants as well as private land conservation in Southern Colorado. On a ranch tour we were able to see conservation at a landscape level as the ranch was taking significant efforts to reduce fuel loads across the semi-desert shrubland to the montane forest ecosystems. This would help ensure that the next fire on the landscape isn’t catastrophic but rather beneficial. Fire has evolved with these ecosystems and during our tourwe learned how indigenous tribes utilized fire to maintain healthy forests and create quality hunting areas for themselves. We ended the trip by visiting and camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which was a first for many of the participants.
The experience was tremendous. It fostered camaraderie and community amongst the group as we broke bread together, learned about new people, and shared new experiences as a team. Together, we learned that a key to making any camping trip successful is being familiar with the tent you are bringing, and if you are setting it up for the first time, try to do it in the daylight hours. We overcame this obstacle together and left with the valuable lesson that there is nothing worse than setting up a tent for the first time in the dark.
While reflecting on this trip, I have spent time thinking of all the mentors and influential individuals who chose to share their time and talents to help shape me and my journey. Those who guided me range from family members to teachers and coaches to coworkers. I can personally attest that conservation needs to lean into mentorship as it is a powerful tool for passing on knowledge, skills, and experience.As demographics shift in the U.S. it is important that our conservation community engage and provide mentorship to underserved communities so that future generations know the importance of protecting our natural resources now and for future generations to come. Currently Hispanic and Latino children make up 50% of the U.S. population 18 years old and younger andwe need to be intentional in how we connect with them.
Hunting and angling mentorship is important for introducing new people to the sport and our conservation ethos.It teaches the necessary safety and ethical practices while helping develop a lifelong passion for the outdoors. National R3 programs (Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation) exist to increase participation in hunting, shooting sports, and fishing and have a strong focus on mentorship. To date, many states and organizations have implemented similar mentoring programs to help grow the hunting community as well.
Two additional organizations that have leaned into mentorship are the Minority Outdoor Alliance and Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. Together, they are engaging new and diverse audiences to build a multicultural upland hunting community. The Learn to Hunt experience is designed to provide opportunities for novice minority hunters to form strong authentic bonds in the field and around the campfire. Theseevents provide knowledge, skills, and an introduction to hunting through education and interaction with instructors in a controlled setting. The desired outcome is that participants gain the confidence and support they need to further pursue their outdoor interests and stay connected well after the event.
As conservationists, let’s keep leaning into the mentorship challenge and extend the olive branch to our kids, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and greater community just as our mentors did for us. I encourage you all to participate in your state wildlife agency’s mentorship programs or take a mentorship pledge like I did this year with Pheasants Forever.
Pennsylvania Must Help Reduce Chesapeake Bay Pollution
Following settlement, the state and EPA both can be held accountable if pollution reduction goals are not met and enforced
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.
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.
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.