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February 28, 2024

What is the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program?

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February 26, 2024

Sporting Groups Support Final Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan

The BLM’s final plan secures safeguards for over 400,000 acres of backcountry

Today, the Bureau of Land Management officially announced the release of the Record of Decision for the Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan Amendment, marking a pivotal moment for conservation in Oregon. This final plan, set to guide land management across more than 4.6 million acres of an iconic Oregon landscape, strikes a thoughtful balance between habitat conservation, outdoor recreation, grazing, and development. 

This significant milestone represents the culmination of over 20 years of dedicated planning and collaborative stakeholder engagement. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership joins hunters and anglers in celebrating the 420,000 acres within the plan’s jurisdiction that will now be managed to maintain their wild, backcountry character.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the power of collaborative and persistent stakeholder engagement with a shared commitment to conserving our state’s wild and diverse landscapes,” said Tristan Henry, Oregon field representative for Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We are particularly proud of our role in shaping a management strategy that recognizes the importance of these lands for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.”

The finalized plan reflects the recommendations of the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council, a diverse group of stakeholders—including hunters, anglers, and ranchers—who have provided invaluable insights throughout the planning process.

“To help guide the development of this plan, a broad-based BLM resource advisory council, made up of 15 appointed individuals, rolled up their sleeves to create a well-rounded alternative within the Southeast Oregon RMP amendment,” said Michael O’Casey, deputy director of forest policy and northwest programs for the TRCP and a current Southeast Oregon RAC member. “We are thrilled to see the BLM utilize many of the recommendations provided by the RAC to conserve special places from development, while providing for public access, habitat restoration, and ranching to continue.”

The ROD emphasizes the significance of the Owyhee and Malheur River regions as vital habitats for wildlife and as premier destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. By prioritizing conservation and balanced land use, the BLM’s plan ensures that these areas will continue to support Oregon’s rich traditions of fish-and-wildlife-based economy, which is integral to the state’s $2.5 billion outdoor recreation industry.

The conservation community and outdoor recreation advocates have long championed a balanced approach to land management that safeguards wildlife habitat while allowing for sustainable use. The TRCP, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Oregon Hunters Association, Trout Unlimited, and members of the Owyhee Sportsmen’s Coalition have been instrumental in advocating for these principles throughout the planning process.

“We applaud the BLM’s foresight in preserving the vitality of the Owyhee and Malheur regions. This plan is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication of organizations and individuals who stand for balanced land use,” affirmed Chris Hagar, northwest coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “It’s a significant step forward in ensuring our public lands continue to flourish for future generations of Oregonians and wildlife alike.”

The TRCP and the Owyhee Sportsmen look forward to continued collaboration with the BLM, state officials, and all stakeholders to implement this plan and further the legacy of conservation, restoration, and stewardship for future generations.

Photo Credit: Brian Grossenbacher

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February 23, 2024

What is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program?

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a crucial Farm Bill program focused on helping farmers, ranchers and forest landowners integrate conservation into their working lands.  But what exactly is EQIP and how does it benefit hunters and anglers? 

In this short video, we demystify a crucial Farm Bill conservation program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and shed light on its benefits to hunters and anglers.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that allows farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to enhance water quality, strengthen wildlife habitat, and reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.  

The benefits of EQIP for fish, wildlife and agriculture are significant.

The Farm Bill is the largest piece of conservation legislation that will come before the 118th Congress.  You can help ensure that habitat and wildlife remain central to sensible farm policy in the United States here

Learn more about Farm Bill Conservation Programs here

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February 22, 2024

New Bipartisan Legislation Would Keep Public Lands in Public Hands

TRCP, partners, and hunters & anglers applaud bill introduction

Hunters and anglers have been working to prevent the sale of important public lands for years, and the recently introduced Public Lands in Public Hands Act would maintain valuable hunting and fishing access for sportsmen and women. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representatives Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) would require congressional approval for the sale and transfer of public lands to non-federal entities in most instances. The biggest impact of the bill would be to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from selling important access parcels as part of its land disposal process.   

What is the BLM Land Disposal Process?

The BLM is the nation’s largest landowner. The agency administers 245 million acres of federal public land primarily in 11 western states and Alaska. Currently, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act—federal law governing the management of BLM lands—directs the agency to identify lands for potential disposal, including sale, and the agency has been completing land use plans with land disposal lists for the past 45 years. While a comprehensive list of lands available for potential disposal does not appear to exist, estimates put the total at around 3.3 million acres.

When the BLM identifies lands for potential disposal, existing statute does not require the BLM to prioritize retention of parcels with public access. TRCP has analyzed several land use plans and identified numerous accessible and important public land parcels tagged by the BLM for potential sale across the West. The sale of such parcels could result in lost honey holes for hunters and anglers, and we agree that additional scrutiny is needed.

The law governing how the BLM completes land disposals was passed in 1976 and predates the advent of handheld GPS units that are now utilized by millions of outdoor recreationists to navigate property boundaries with confidence. It’s easy to see how small parcels in the past may have been viewed as low value for public access because they were difficult to locate and use. But in today’s world where private-land access is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, small, isolated parcels of BLM land have become some of the most important for recreational access.

Miles City Field Office RMP. More than 5,000 acres of BLM land with open access from a public road identified by the agency to be potentially available for “all disposal methods, including sale.” This area of Montana is very popular for deer, antelope, and upland bird hunting and public access is limited. The Public Lands in Public Hands Act would elevate congressional scrutiny of the sale of such accessible parcels.  

A Practical Safeguard

To keep these important parcels in public ownership, the Public Lands in Public Hands Act would require congressional approval for the sale of land-accessible parcels 300 acres or larger and water-accessible parcels five acres or larger. Presently, such parcels can be sold without consent from Congress. Some people believe that the BLM should lose their authority to sell any land, and while it is easy to reach that conclusion at first glance, there are several things to consider:

  • First, in 2018, Congress reauthorized a program called the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act that established an account to collect proceeds from the sale of small public land parcels and to use those funds to acquire new public lands, including for the purpose of expanding public access. There are many small BLM parcels scattered around the West that provide very little public benefit. Many of them are landlocked and inaccessible. Selling parcels with low recreation value and using the proceeds to acquire new public lands with higher recreation value is good policy, and it’s good for public access. The Public Lands in Public Hands Act would maintain the BLM’s ability to implement this important land consolidation program.
  • Second, with 16.43 million acres of landlocked public land in 22 western states, it is unrealistic to think that the federal government is going to buy its way out of the access problem. Yes, we need to find ways to acquire access to the largest and most important landlocked parcels, but land exchanges and utilization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act also need to be a part of the solution. The Public Lands in Public Hands Act would keep these tools in the box.
  • Finally, there are circumstances when small BLM land transfers to local communities make sense for the construction of a school or fire department. The bill’s acreage floor of 300 acres maintains existing opportunity for communities to work with the BLM on specific local development needs when other options do not exist.

TRCP is excited about the Public Lands in Public Hands Act because of the added certainty it would provide to ensure that your favorite hunting or fishing spot would not be sold and closed to public access. We appreciate the leadership of Representatives Zinke and Vasquez in introducing this legislation, and we look forward to working with them to see the bill passed into law.

Learn more about TRCP’s work to expand public hunting and fishing access HERE.

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February 16, 2024

TRCP’s Ian Nakayama Elected to National Fish Habitat Partnership Board

Nakayama will serve a 3-year term representing marine recreational anglers on a diverse board of stakeholders focused on conserving fish habitat across all 50 states.

(Washington, DC) – The National Fish Habitat Partnership held their inaugural Board meeting of 2024 on February 6, with the primary focus being to appoint new members to the Board, filling seats that had expired or were vacant. Ian Nakayama of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) was elected to a three-year term on Board, representing marine recreational anglers. Also newly elected were John O’Keefe of Yamaha Motor Corporation, representing corporate industry; Peter Micciche, mayor, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, representing local government involved in fish habitat restoration; and Chris Horton of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, also representing marine recreational anglers.  

Nakayama has served as the government relations manager at TRCP since June of 2021 and has focused on advancing the Forage Fish Conservation Act, increasing adoption of natural infrastructure, increasing funding for Everglades restoration, and increasing funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System. A native Virginian, Nakayama graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 and worked in legislative offices from 2019 until 2021.  

“In the face of declining fish populations and fish species diversity, protecting and restoring fish habitat is more important now than ever,” said Ian Nakayama, government relations manager at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “I’m honored to join the Board and I look forward to contributing to the advancement of these crucial fish habitat conservation projects.” 

“The National Fish Habitat Partnership appreciates the continued strong and enduring interest from the conservation community to want to serve on the Board,” said Robert Boyles, Chair of the National Fish Habitat Board. “We had a very strong group of candidates vying for membership on the Board, which I think will strengthen the Board with diverse expertise for the future. I would like to thank all the departing Board members for their contributions to the National Fish Habitat Partnership and for being an integral part of the team.” 

Since its inception in 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has been a driving force behind the successful implementation of 1,300 projects aimed at safeguarding, restoring, and enhancing fish habitat across all 50 states.  This collaborative effort is committed to the conservation of fish habitat on a national scale, effectively leveraging federal, state, tribal, and private funding resources.  By strategically focusing on priority conservation projects through 20 regionally based Fish Habitat Partnerships, the NFHP has been able to achieve remarkable results in bolstering fish populations.  The recognition of the NFHP by Congress in 2020 through its inclusion in the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act serves as a testament to the organization’s invaluable contributions.  

To find out more about the NFHP and its endeavors, please visit fishhabitat.org.   

TRCP works to maintain and strengthen the future of hunting and fishing by uniting and amplifying our partners’ voices in conserving and restoring wildlife populations and their habitat as challenges continue to evolve.  

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.

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