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November 17, 2023

Nitz with Snook 1-500 pix-Credit Ryan Nitz

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November 16, 2023

Fishery Managers Eye Changing 2024 Striped Bass Management Measures

After recent stock projections were worse than expected, the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board is seeking angler input as it gauges the adjustments necessary to meet the rebuilding timeline for the striped bass stock.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering adjusting management measures for the recreational and commercial Atlantic striped bass fishery, in order to rebuild the stock to its biomass target by 2029. As part of the process, recreational anglers will continue to have a chance to let managers know they care about the future of striped bass. 

In May 2023, the ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board initiated the development of a Draft Addendum II to Amendment 7 – a 2022 overhaul to the Atlantic striped bass management plan – after revised stock rebuilding projections showed that the chance of rebuilding the striper stock by 2029 has dropped from 97% to 15%, due to increased fishing mortality rates during the 2022 season. The draft addendum additionally proposes options for the Board to respond to stock assessment updates more quickly, if future projections indicate that the stock is not expected to be rebuilt by 2029. 

Unfortunately, catch reductions in recent years have proven insufficient to rebuild the striped bass stock, and the fishery remains in decline. The Board already took emergency action this season to implement a 31” maximum fish size restriction to protect spawning-size adults. Based on the revised stock projections, the potential management options laid out in the draft addendum are aimed to build upon that action.  

Current stock projections indicate that a 14.5% reduction in total striped bass removals in 2024 is necessary to prevent further decline. This reduction could be accomplished through a variety of management actions, including via different combinations of bag and size limit options for the ocean and Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries, and various commercial quota reduction options. The TRCP and its partners have been collaborating and closely monitoring the situation to keep anglers informed on the various management options that remain on the table. Click here to read an informational document which details our partnership’s preferred options and gives additional context to each section of the draft addendum.

What Anglers Can Do

As the 2029 deadline to rebuild the coastwide stock approaches, it’s critical to remember that every one of us can do our part for striped bass. Throughout this process, it is imperative to let your voice be heard, to let managers know that you and the entire recreational community care about the future of striped bass – as well as menhaden and other forage fish species they depend on – and recognize that near-term sacrifice is necessary to ensure a robust striped bass fishery, for the coming years and our next generation.  

We strongly encourage recreational anglers to provide input on striped bass management by attending state public hearings, either in-person or virtually, or by providing emailed or written comments. The ASMFC Draft Addendum II to Amendment 7 document can be found here, and the public hearing schedule can be found here.  Each management action taken now, informed by angler input, lays the groundwork for the recovery of this important species. 

Just as important as making your voice heard are the actions you take on the water, to support the conservation of striped bass. Know the rules, and minimize your handling of fish – especially those above the slot limit – to get them back in the water as safely and quickly as possible.

What’s Next  

The next striped bass stock assessment is scheduled to be published in fall 2024, and will include fishing data through the 2023 season. This information will tell anglers and managers whether striped bass have been responding positively to past management actions, and whether any new measures are needed to reduce fishing mortality.

Click here for an informational document that details our partnership’s preferred management options

Photo Credit: Nils Rinaldi

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What is the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program?

If you’ve used a state walk-in access program to hunt or fish on private land, you’ve experienced what the Voluntary Public Access program can do. But what is VPA-HIP and how does it benefit hunters and anglers?

We know it can be challenging to break through the acronyms to understand why the reauthorization and improvement of Farm Bill conservation programs is a top priority.

In this short video, we demystify a crucial Farm Bill conservation program, the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) and shed light on its benefits to hunters and anglers.

Championed by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s founder, Jim Range, VPA-HIP is the only federal tool aimed at increasing hunting and fishing access on private lands, yet it is probably the least well-known of Farm Bill conservation programs. Watch the short video below to learn more about VPA-HIP and how this crucial program benefits hunters and anglers.

The next few months will be critical for the Farm Bill and the conservation programs we cherish as hunters and anglers. In the face of gridlock, conservation is, and should be, a shared priority regardless of party affiliation or ideology. Click here to learn what’s next for the Farm Bill.

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November 15, 2023

Proposed State Land Auction Threatens Habitat & Hunting Opportunities Near Grand Teton National Park   

TRCP asks for a better solution to raise money for public education while conserving big game habitat

Nestled between Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger Teton National Forest lies a single section of state-owned land. Besides the incredible views and proximity to the National Park, the “Kelly Parcel” is a gateway to the scenic Gros Ventre River drainage and along the path migrating elk take to the National Elk Refuge. A mix of aspens, conifers, and sage intertwine with native grasses, providing habitat for numerous native species of wildlife.  

However, the future of this land is at risk. To meet its fiduciary duty to generate revenue for education, the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments has proposed to dispose of the Kelly Parcel via public auction, which could lead to development and permanent loss of invaluable habitat if it ends up in the wrong hands. 

The OSLI exists to manage state-owned land for the primary purpose of generating funds for the Wyoming public school system. To do so, state land is leased for uses like grazing, mineral extraction, or recreation.  Leases on the Kelly Parcel currently exist, but due to its appraised value at $62 million, disposing of the land would increase annual profits for the state through interest dividends.  

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Kelly Parcel is valuable habitat for 87 “Species of Great Conservation Need” including moose, bald eagles, and bighorn sheep. In addition, it is a key piece in multiple species’ migration corridors including elk, deer, and the world-famous “Path of the Pronghorn.” During spring and fall migrations, more than 1,000 elk pass through the parcel at one time. 

The Kelly Parcel also provides valuable hunting opportunities for elk and bison, along with river access to the Gros Ventre River. This piece likely offers the most recreational opportunity out of all state land parcels in Teton County. Keeping this parcel accessible to the public and conserved for its irreplaceable habitat values should be at the forefront of anybody’s mind who enjoys wildlife, recreation, and the outdoors in Teton County. 

We understand the critical importance of raising funds for public education via state lands and believe the state can meet its fiduciary duty while also conserving the Kelly Parcel. The privatization and development of the parcel would benefit a few with extraordinary wealth at the detriment to Wyomingites who come to the area to visit, hunt, view wildlife, and experience this iconic landscape. Instead, we ask the Office of State Lands and Investments to work with a diverse coalition of Wyoming citizens to find a solution that benefits our school children while ensuring they have a future to experience the wildlife who depend on this parcel.

If you care about open spaces, wildlife, and the future of the Kelly Parcel, please consider attending one of three public hearings listed below, or submit written comments using our easy tool here. 

Thursday, November 16, 5:30pm

Thyra Thomson State Office Building

Round House Room

444 W. Collins Drive

Casper, WY 82601

Tuesday, November 21, 5:00pm

Laramie County Library, Cottonwood Room

1st floor

2200 Pioneer Avenue

Cheyenne, WY 82001

Tuesday, November 28, 5:30pm

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Cody Field Office

Cody Field Office Public Meeting Room

2 Tilden Trail

Cody, WY 82414

Photo credit: Josh Metten

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November 14, 2023

West’s Senate Testimony Requests Long-Term Commitment for Big Game Migrations 

Appearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, TRCP public lands director Madeleine West encouraged lawmakers to make strategic investments in migration research and conservation

Today, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership was honored by the opportunity to participate in a hearing focused on wildlife corridor conservation held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife.

For many years, TRCP has worked with elected officials and state, Tribal, and federal agencies to support partnerships, policies, and funding that advance the research and conservation of big game migration corridors and crucial seasonal habitats. West’s testimony focused on the long-time bipartisan support for this work and the need for dedicated funding to maintain and grow several existing Department of the Interior-led programs created in 2018 through Secretarial Order 3362: Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.

“All across the Western U.S., big game herds make seasonal movements year after year from their summer ranges to their winter ranges and back again—passing down migratory knowledge from one generation to the next,” said Madeleine West, director of the center for public lands for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “By making sure those seasonal habitats are connected by healthy, intact migration routes, we allow a multitude of species a greater ability to adapt and bolster their resilience to habitat changes now and into the future.”

West also highlighted how support for wildlife corridor conservation has persisted across three presidential administrations and continues to earn support from a bipartisan collection of governors in the West. She further articulated how this work was elevated in 2018 with the signing of Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3362. Secretarial Order 3362 instituted a suite of programs and financial incentives to support local efforts to improve data collection, conduct research, and complete on-the-ground conservation projects. The Biden administration furthered this work and has expanded their efforts to more directly include Tribal governments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which now incentivizes big game corridor conservation on private lands.

Despite these successes, West cautioned that the discretionary nature of existing federal programs and funding sources creates uncertainty about the future of wildlife corridor conservation work, and she requested help from Congress.

“The federal programs established through SO 3362 have had an enormous impact in furthering the conservation and enhancement of big game migration corridors, but the discretionary nature of the programs and their funding raises concern for their longevity,” continued West. “With a dedicated and consistent approach, this bipartisan work could have greater predictability and durability and could benefit more wildlife species and additional state and Tribal jurisdictions.”

West specifically requested help from Congress to provide:

• Clear Congressional direction for federal agency programs that support the research, mapping, and conservation of wildlife corridors.

• Dedicated and consistent funding for research, mapping, and conservation programs.

• Increased coordination between federal, state, and Tribal agencies, as well as private landowners and hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations.

Learn more about TRCP’s work to conserve big game migration corridors here.

Watch West’s testimony below.

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.

Learn More

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