March 25, 2024

Wyoming Conservation Wins from the 2024 Legislative Session 

The Kelly Parcel, HB 60, and elk were in the spotlight

We’ve made it through the tumultuous 2024 Wyoming legislative session. Thanks to the efforts of Wyoming sportspeople, we can count several wins for wildlife and the future of our great state!

The Kelly Parcel PASSED!

One section of the Governor’s budget that gained special attention was the sale of the Kelly Parcel to Grand Teton National Park for $100 million – a windfall for public education and wildlife. This parcel of state trust land contains valuable big game habitat and migration routes, including the famous Path of the Pronghorn, which is why the TRCP and a coalition of nine sportsmen’s groups submitted a letter of support for conveyance.

Our voices were heard, and an amendment to retain hunting and grazing on the Kelly Parcel in perpetuity was also added. More work is needed to finalize the conservation of this important parcel, but we’ve passed a major hurdle!

The TRCP thanks the lawmakers who advocated for conserving the Kelly Parcel, our members for their public testimony and written comments, and our partner organizations for their work on this issue.

Invasive Grasses Funding PASSED!

The Governor’s budget also includes a $9 million allocation for battling the spread of invasive grasses, such as cheatgrass, which degrades habitat and threatens big game winter range.

Large Projects Funding PASSED!

This annual legislation authorizes the Wildlife Trust to allocate matching funds to leverage important conservation projects across the state. This year’s projects include a $2.9 million fish passage project in the Greybull River drainage and over $7.5 million for several habitat enhancement projects for mule deer, elk, moose, and antelope.

HB0067 Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund Administration-2. PASSED!

House Bill 67 sets up a board to allocate funds sitting in the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund established in 2023. This bill will help fund small outdoor recreation infrastructure projects such as shooting ranges, boat ramps, and trails in communities throughout Wyoming.

HB 60 – Excess Wildlife Damage Amendments DEAD

House Bill 60—Elk Population Damage Amendments—was a highly controversial bill that could have had major impacts to the sportspeople-funded budget of WGFD without solving the elk overpopulation issues it sought to address. It would have also disincentivized the partnerships we need between the department, landowners, and sportspeople to find durable solutions.

The TRCP recognizes that wildlife damage can be a significant issue for landowners, and we look forward to sitting down with all parties to find a Wyoming solution to this issue.

Thanks for Entering the Arena of Conservation!

While this session delivered wins for the outstanding wildlife values of the Kelly Parcel and funding for important conservation projects across the state, we were also faced with threats to publicly held wildlife. We thank our dedicated supporters for entering the arena of conservation and advocating for our issues. Wyoming is a small town with a very long street, and your voice makes a difference.

Photo Credit: Josh Metten

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March 21, 2024

Tracking Congress: The Impact of 2024 Budget Allocations on Hunters and Anglers 

Appropriators in Congress recently began passing fiscal year 2024 funding bills that contain both highlights and disappointments for conservation.

After arduous negotiations, Congress has finally started to pass funding bills for fiscal year 2024. These bills bring about significant changes to the funding levels of programs that hold a special place in the hearts of hunters and anglers. Listed below are some highlights and disappointments from the recently enacted federal spending bills. 

Robust Funding for Everglades Restoration  

Everglades restoration has come a long way since the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was authorized by Congress in 2000. Harmful discharges from estuaries have been reduced, wetlands have been restored, and greater amounts of water are flowing from north to south. However, there is still work to be done, including the continued construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. When completed, the reservoir will hold overflows from Lake Okeechobee and filter the water before sending it south. This $425 million investment will boost Everglades restoration efforts and improve hunting and fishing opportunities.  

Increased Funding for WaterSMART 

WaterSMART grants provide financial assistance to water managers for initiatives aimed at conserving and optimizing water usage, implementing renewable energy, exploring water marketing tactics, mitigating conflict risks in high-risk water areas, and achieving other sustainability objectives in the western United States. The increased funding for WaterSMART grants will help safeguard habitats that sustain fish and wildlife and are important to hunters and anglers. 

Increased Funding for Atlantic and Pacific Salmon for National Marine Fisheries Services 

The populations of Atlantic and Pacific Salmon both feature endangered subpopulations.  In the Pacific, this funding has led to stabilization and recovery of several subpopulations, such as the chum, Snake River Chinook, Lower Columbia Steelhead, and Lower Columbia River Coho salmon. These increased funds will continue to bolster habitat restoration, improvements to upstream and downstream fish passage, and other conservation efforts aimed at contributing to higher functioning watersheds and better-quality fishing opportunities for future generations. 

Good Neighbor Authority Extended to National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Good Neighbor Authority allows federal agencies to authorize states, counties, and tribes to conduct land management and restoration projects on federal lands. GNA is a win-win-win as it enables federal agencies with limited capacity to partner with states, counties, and tribes to achieve large-scale forest, watershed, and rangeland health outcomes.  By extending the GNA to the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunters and anglers will continue benefiting from the collaboration it fosters to conduct land management and restoration projects on new swaths of federal land. 

Funding Cuts at The Bureau of Land Management  

Among the Bureau of Land Management programs receiving funding cuts are the Recreation Management program, Resource Management Planning program, Rangeland Management program, Wildlife Habitat Management program, and the Aquatic Habitat Management program. The funding cuts will impact the BLM’s ability to help manage and improve vast amounts of public land for hunting and fishing.  

Funding Cuts to the National Wildlife Refuge System 

For the past fifteen years, the National Wildlife Refuge System has functioned with a Fiscal Year 2010 budget. Not once in a decade and a half have their funds been adjusted for inflation, and this lack of investment is reflected in the number of full-time staff diminishing even as the system expands. Low staffing levels directly affect the system’s ability to conduct habitat restoration and management, provide visitor services, and support law enforcement. The National Wildlife Refuge System budget saw a 3% budget cut from 2023, which means more staff dedicated to managing these public lands, and the hunting and fishing opportunities they provide, will be lost.  

Funding Cuts at The U.S. Geological Service   

The U.S. Geological Service saw cuts of up to 5% for its scientific research programs focused on Chronic Wasting Disease, controlling invasive species, and adapting to climate change. Investment in CWD research is essential as the always-fatal disease has now been detected in 32 states. The cost to control and eradicate aquatic invasive species in the U.S. amounts to more than $100 billion each year.  

Funding Cuts at The U.S. Forest Service  

The Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management, and Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness initiatives of the USFS received cuts of up to 20%. These cuts will hamper the ability of USFS to manage habitat on their lands, and research best practices to manage forests and reduce wildfire risk. The Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management funding goes towards restoring fish and wildlife habitat, conserving threatened species, and maintaining wildlife habitat connectivity on USFS land. The Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness initiative provides funds for improving access to and recreation on USFS land, including planning resources, trail management, and the off-highway vehicle program.

Hunters and anglers have always been the unsung heroes of conservation in America, quietly paying it forward every time we buy a license, a box of ammo, or a tank of boat fuel. We know you’re not satisfied with simply going hunting or fishing and then going home—so go the extra distance. You can take action on the conservation issues that matter right now. Click here to get started.

March 20, 2024

How Congress Can Help Hunting and Fishing Adapt to The Impacts of Climate Change 

Four bills exemplify how Congress can safeguard natural resources and protect the future of hunting and fishing in 2024. 

The impacts of climate change on our hunting and fishing opportunities are undeniable. Across the United States and around the world, altered weather patterns, increased air and water temperatures, intensified natural disasters, and other climate effects are influencing wildlife habitats, migrations, and populations – with long-term consequences for hunters and anglers. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for the hunting and fishing community to recognize these impacts and to stand up for solutions that help secure the long-term resilience of our lands and waters. 

At the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, we’ve assembled a coalition of organizations to amplify the voices of hunters and anglers on climate change. In 2021, TRCP and its partners created the Climate Resilience Working Group to advocate for nature-based solutions that allow ecosystems, communities, and economies to adapt to a changing future. Together, the members of the working group develop and establish a unified policy platform, highlighting federal legislation that can make a meaningful difference for the continued legacy of hunting and fishing in America. 

In 2023, the Climate Resilience Working Group updated its policy platform for the 118th Congress, outlining how policymakers could expand and mature the role of nature-based solutions in climate mitigation and adaptation. With just over nine months left before the end of the second session, the working group is making it clear to Senators and Representatives that there is still time to act on this platform and to pass effective resilience legislation. Below are four bills from the platform that exemplify how Congress can safeguard our natural resources and protect the future of hunting and fishing in 2024.    

Agriculture Innovation Act

Across the country, agriculture is not only a vital component of American economies and livelihoods, it’s also a major influence on America’s natural environment. For hunters and anglers, working lands can provide beneficial habitats and ecosystem services for wildlife. However, with inadequate management, agriculture can be harmful to these species, contributing to habitat destruction, climate-harming emissions, and air and water pollution.  

To ensure the best possible management of our working lands, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) have introduced S. 98, the Agriculture Innovation Act. This bill helps farmers nationwide to make better on-farm decisions that support wildlife while protecting productivity. If enacted, the Agriculture Innovation Act would require the USDA to collect and analyze data on conservation practices, establish a conservation and farm productivity data center, enable collaboration among USDA agencies, make data secure and available to researchers, and provide technical assistance to producers. 

Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems Act

America’s coastal areas are at risk. Over the next 30 years, sea levels are expected to rise by 10 to 12 inches, and coastal flooding is expected to occur more than 10 times as often as it does today. As these impacts worsen, they threaten roughly 40 percent of the population, as well as some of our nation’s most treasured hunting and fishing spots. 

To protect America’s nearly 100,000 miles of shoreline, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La), and Representative Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas-7), have introduced H.R.913 and S.373, the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act. The RISEE Act offers ongoing funding for damage mitigation, natural infrastructure, and ecosystem restoration along our coasts and Great Lakes. If enacted, the bill would create a new revenue sharing model for offshore wind development, investing proceeds in state-led adaptation and resilience projects. The bill would also remove state funding caps for both the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, allowing higher proceeds for state-led restoration programs. Both of these reforms give federal and state governments resources to conserve coastal habitats, bolstering fish and wildlife populations and the outdoor recreation economies that rely on them.  

Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act

Increased awareness of climate change has helped the public recognize some of its most noticeable effects, including temperature increases, sea level rise, drought, flooding, and extreme weather. But there’s another, lesser-known climate effect that is threatening America’s coastal communities. Earth’s oceans now absorb roughly thirty percent of carbon dioxide from the air, causing seawater to be more acidic. This phenomenon, known as ocean acidification, wreaks havoc on marine ecosystems, threatening shellfish and coral-based fish habitats that provide a foundation for the seafood industry and for recreational anglers alike. As greenhouse gas emissions rise, acidity and the connected habitat destruction will increase. 

To help coastal habitats and communities, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine-1) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), introduced H.R. 676 and S. 1808, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act. The bill spurs planning and action to combat acidification, bringing new resources, stakeholders, and ideas to the table. If enacted, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Ocean Acidification Advisory Board to collaborate with state, local and tribal entities to conduct and improve community, research, and climate action plans, related to acidification. The bill would also encourage information sharing between communities to expand the use of best practices and would increase cooperation with affected Tribal communities. As a result, the legislation would foster innovative and widespread strategies for protecting wildlife and their habitats from harmful climate impacts.  

National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security Act

When you hear the term “national security” people rarely think of conserving habitat, but they should. Across the federal government, several agencies are pursuing efforts to bolster adaptation and resilience in response to increased disasters and climate change hazards. In order to meet the scale of this challenge, federal agencies will have to work together, as well as with states, local governments, private businesses, and nonprofit partners. We know well that conserving habitats is supporting the adaptation and resilience of the communities and wildlife that depend on them. But it is going to require increased collaboration and proactive planning and coordination.  

To bring America’s adaptation and resilience efforts together, Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), introduced H.R. 6311 and S. 3261, the National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security Act (NCARS). If enacted, the bill would create a “National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy” and implementation plan with federal, state, local, private sector, and nonprofit partners; install a Chief Resilience Officer in the White House to lead the implementation of resilience planning; establish interagency working groups to align joint efforts; and form an information hub to improve access to vital resilience resources. NCARS would both streamline and expand America’s adaptation and resilience efforts, utilizing the power of numbers and eliminating duplication and under-communication. Doing so would ensure a whole-of-government approach toward activities like habitat conservation, expanding innovation and implementation across agency boundaries, and improving the viability of hunting and fishing across the United States.  

Click here to learn more about TRCP’s climate work.

Change is possible—we see it every day. Hunters and anglers have pushed for and secured meaningful solutions to habitat challenges of every size and scope, from the days of the Lacey Act to the widely celebrated legislative victories and conservation investments of recent years. You can make a difference for habitat and our climate by standing with us when it comes to nature-based solutions. Take action here to make lawmakers aware of the climate benefits of restoring fish and wildlife habitat.  

March 14, 2024

BLM Announces Greater Sage Grouse Draft Plan Amendments to Guide Management of 67 million Acres in the West

TRCP encourages the agency to plan for durable conservation strategies

Today, the Bureau of Land Management announced the release of its draft Greater Sage Grouse Environmental Impact Statement and associated Resource Management Plan Amendments that—when completed—will guide management decisions across approximately 67 million acres of sage grouse habitat on public lands overseen by the BLM.

Driven by legal challenges, these draft amendments are intended to update plans previously finalized by the BLM in 2015 and 2020, and they will direct management across 10 Western states that cover the current range of the greater sage grouse.

“The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, along with hunters and anglers across the West, understand the importance of well-managed BLM lands for the longevity of greater sage grouse and other sagebrush obligate species,” said Madeleine West, TRCP’s director of the center for public lands. “And while there’s a clear need to complete these latest plan amendments, the focus of federal and state agencies, along with external partners, must quickly shift to implementing conservation strategies on the ground.”

These plan amendments offer the opportunity for the BLM to incorporate new science to inform land management decisions. A 2022 U.S. Geological Survey report revealed that half of the original sagebrush ecosystem has been lost at a rate of approximately 1.3 million acres each year over the last two decades. 

The sagebrush ecosystem is the largest terrestrial biome in the Lower 48 at over 165 million acres spanning 13 Western states. It is home to the iconic greater sage grouse as well as numerous other fish and game species. Greater sage grouse conservation efforts have driven unprecedented collaboration between state and federal managers, private landowners, and NGOs for multiple decades. This continued collaboration is critical to reverse the trend of significant habitat loss, which impacts individual species like the greater sage grouse, as well as communities across the West.  

Today’s announcement kicks off a 90-day formal comment period where the public can submit scoping comments that will be used to inform revision of the draft plan amendments, which are expected to be finalized by the end of 2024.

“TRCP will be digging into the details of the draft plan amendments to provide constructive comments that ensure successful and durable conservation measures can be implemented on BLM-managed lands that support the greater sage grouse, the myriad other species that benefit from healthy sagebrush habitat, as well as the diverse communities that rely on these public lands,” added West.

Read more about TRCP’s work on greater sage grouse conservation HERE.

March 13, 2024

In the Arena: Bill Cooksey, National Wildlife Federation

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation.

Bill Cooksey

Hometown: Jackson, TN
Occupation: Senior Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator for the Vanishing Paradise Program of the National Wildlife Federation, and NWF Director of Conservation Partnerships for Tennessee.
Conservation credentials: Outreach and partnership coordination expert who has ties across the conservation spectrum for his ability to drive cooperative efforts, a direct but amicable personality, and prowess as a waterfowl hunter.

Inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2022, Bill Cooksey is a well-known and well-respected Tennessee duck and turkey hunter and freshwater angler who is involved in conservation issues throughout the Southeast. Like his father, who was a trustee emeritus for Ducks Unlimited, Cooksey is highly regarded by the sporting community. As NWF’s Senior Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator for the Vanishing Paradise program, Cooksey currently works with TRCP and other partners to address coastal restoration and water flow/quality issues from Texas to the Mississippi River Delta to the Florida Everglades, and is now also setting his sights on conservation efforts farther up the Mighty Mississippi.

Here is his story.

Photo Credit: Bill Buckley

I don’t really recall my introduction to hunting and fishing because my father began taking me when I was very young. I know I caught my first fish at age three and began dove and duck hunting with him when I was four. I can only recall snippets from those experiences, but they obviously inspired me in the direction my adult life would take.

According to both parents, I’d cry if my father said he was going hunting or fishing without me, and I’d cry when he said it was time to go home. Some would call it child abuse, but Dad would tie a hookless Christmas Tree Bomber on my Zebco rod and reel and let me throw that sucker all day long. My wife says I’m not much smarter today.

My first real “outdoor” memory was of a Ducks Unlimited Rally (precursor to the banquet) in Jackson, Tenn., in 1971. It was in the Civic Center, and I can recall a man on stage holding a shotgun and blowing a duck call. Suddenly, a mallard was flying through the air, and it fell when he shot. Three-year-old me had no idea it was a shackled duck and blanks. To me it was just the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Conservation was always part of my dad’s life, culminating in Trustee Emeritus at Ducks Unlimited, with many accolades along the way. Thus, conservation was always just part of the experience for me. I suppose you could say I just don’t really know another way.

Photo Credit: Bill Buckley

I’ve been blessed to hunt with so many incredible people and in so many wonderful places it’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s impossible to say which adventures are my favorites, because as one memory rises to the top another comes to mind. But I’d say the various “firsts” for my sons, and their first turkeys especially, might just take the cake. They were killed 17 years and 100 yards apart. When my youngest killed his, I recall crying on the drive home. Our oldest had passed away ten years prior, and my father died just a month before turkey season. The two people I most wanted to call and share Bill’s accomplishment with were gone.

I live where I do for a reason. I love duck hunting the southern half of the Mississippi Flyway. I mean, I love everything about it. Sadly, the trend here appears to be going the wrong way, and I’m very concerned about the future. Changes in weather patterns, habitat and even production in the Prairie Pothole Region are taking a toll on waterfowl hunting in my home range. 

Photo Credit: Ron Wong

Here in western Tennessee, I can step out my door and hit Kentucky Lake with a rock, so the biggest conservation challenge in my backyard is invasive Asian carp, but that’s just the most obvious. More frequent, and sustained, flooding is wreaking havoc in all of our reservoirs and bottomlands. Late spring and early summer floods scour our reservoirs and kill the grass that our native fish – and waterfowl in the winter – need, and sustained spring flooding is killing huge tracts of bottomland hardwoods.   

These are challenges we face. But because of my dad, I don’t really know how not to be involved in conservation and efforts to address these sorts of threats. If nothing else, being involved helps me understand what’s happening with our wildlife, and, surprisingly to some, it makes me a better hunter and fisherman. Keeping it light, being involved also helps fill the time between hunting seasons with something related to them. It’s really not so very different from hunters shooting clays or running retriever hunt tests. Being involved in conservation means being involved in my favorite sports.

Being involved in conservation has allowed me to connect with incredible sportsmen and conservation leaders around the country, while learning far more about places I care about. When the national news features an environmental catastrophe in south Florida, it’s likely to be about red tide. Rarely will they explain the common link between red tide, algal blooms, and fish kills with needed Everglades restoration. How many times have you seen coverage of a hurricane or tropical storm approaching Louisiana and heard mention of the fact the marshes are disappearing at the rate of a football field every 100 minutes, and that sediment diversions are the best way to restore the coast? When was the last time you heard about the rapid loss of bottomland hardwoods in the southern Mississippi flyway?

Photo Credit: Bill Cooksey

Without sportsmen and conservation organizations pushing out important information at every opportunity, nothing happens. And successful conservation is the only way the next generation of hunters and anglers will have anything approaching the experiences I’ve enjoyed.  

Click here to help protect and restore Everglades habitat.

Read more about Mississippi River Delta restoration efforts here.

Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email us at info@trcp.org



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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