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May 16, 2024

American Wetlands Month: Celebrating Progress and Addressing Challenges

TRCP is rallying support for policies to protect and restore wetlands and the role they play in sustaining fish and wildlife.

May is American Wetlands Month – a time to celebrate the vital role wetlands play in sustaining fish and wildlife and our hunting and fishing heritage. Wetlands are not just habitats for a wide range of fish and game species, ranging from cutthroat trout to white-tail deer, but they also provide a host of other benefits, including enhancing water quality and storing carbon, which are crucial for our environment’s health. Altogether, the conservation and restoration of wetlands plays a critical role in sustaining fish and wildlife habitat, and in-turn, hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.    

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

However, while the benefits of healthy wetlands may be clear to hunters and anglers, America’s wetlands are arguably more at risk than ever. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released their national 2009-2019 Wetlands Status and Trends report, the sixth in a series of congressionally mandated reports evaluating current wetland health. The report found that net wetland loss increased over the past decade, with vegetated wetlands, like marshes and swamps, being disproportionately impacted. These wetlands are disappearing so quickly that 670,000 acres were lost between 2009 and 2019, an area about equal to the state of Rhode Island. On top of the report, we’re also quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA, which dealt a significant blow to Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and smaller streams. 

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fortunately, the TRCP and our partners are working together to build support for federal and state policies designed to mitigate the impacts of the Sackett decision and reverse our nation’s decline in wetland habitat and the mounting risk to fish and wildlife, and our hunting and angling traditions. At the federal level, the TRCP, along with Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, joined the recent America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge as inaugural members. The new initiative sets new national goals to reconnect, restore, and protect the nation’s wetlands, rivers, and streams and challenges participants to work collaboratively to sustain these important natural resources. The TRCP is also working with the National Association of Wetland Managers and the National Wildlife Federation to build Congressional support for strengthening the Environmental Protection Agency’s Wetland Program Development Grant Program, which provides funding to states and Tribes to develop wetland protection programs and strategies, which is critical at this moment in time. We’re also working to expand the program’s focus to include implementing these wetland protection efforts, which have been identified as a significant need by the state and Tribal wetland community.  

Photo by Trout Unlimited

At the state level, the TRCP is working with a coalition of groups to pass bipartisan legislation in Colorado that would create a new wetland program to ensure the protection of important wetlands and streams no longer covered by the Clean Water Act. On May 6th, the Colorado General Assembly passed this bipartisan legislation with overwhelming support from the regulated and conservation communities. The bill now heads to Governor Polis’ desk for his signature. The bill, among other things, provides more certainty at the state level regarding protections and permitting for wetlands as the debate of the Clean Water Act’s scope will likely continue. Colorado is now one of the first states in the country to pass legislation to restore protections for wetlands and streams. It can hopefully serve as a model for other states considering similar legislative efforts.  

Overall, despite the challenges facing America’s wetlands, hunters and anglers can play a pivotal role in the conservation of these critical resources. As the TRCP and partners continue to work to address these challenges it will be important for hunters and anglers to share their stories with members of Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state agencies on the important roles wetland play in sustaining fish and wildlife and opportunities for hunting and fishing.  

Top photo by USFWS/Katrina Mueller

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to healthy habitat and clean water here.


The TRCP is your resource for all things conservation. In our weekly Roosevelt Report, you’ll receive the latest news on emerging habitat threats, legislation and proposals on the move, public land access solutions we’re spearheading, and opportunities for hunters and anglers to take action. Sign up now.

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American Wetlands Month: Celebrating Progress and Addressing Challenges

TRCP is rallying support for policies to protect and restore wetlands and the role they play in sustaining fish and wildlife.

May is American Wetlands Month – a time to celebrate the vital role wetlands play in sustaining fish and wildlife and our hunting and fishing heritage. Wetlands are not just habitats for a wide range of fish and game species, ranging from cutthroat trout to white-tail deer, but they also provide a host of other benefits, including enhancing water quality and storing carbon, which are crucial for our environment’s health. Altogether, the conservation and restoration of wetlands plays a critical role in sustaining fish and wildlife habitat, and in-turn, hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.    

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

However, while the benefits of healthy wetlands may be clear to hunters and anglers, America’s wetlands are arguably more at risk than ever. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released their national 2009-2019 Wetlands Status and Trends report, the sixth in a series of congressionally mandated reports evaluating current wetland health. The report found that net wetland loss increased over the past decade, with vegetated wetlands, like marshes and swamps, being disproportionately impacted. These wetlands are disappearing so quickly that 670,000 acres were lost between 2009 and 2019, an area about equal to the state of Rhode Island. On top of the report, we’re also quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA, which dealt a significant blow to Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and smaller streams. 

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fortunately, the TRCP and our partners are working together to build support for federal and state policies designed to mitigate the impacts of the Sackett decision and reverse our nation’s decline in wetland habitat and the mounting risk to fish and wildlife, and our hunting and angling traditions. At the federal level, the TRCP, along with Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, joined the recent America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge as inaugural members. The new initiative sets new national goals to reconnect, restore, and protect the nation’s wetlands, rivers, and streams and challenges participants to work collaboratively to sustain these important natural resources. The TRCP is also working with the National Association of Wetland Managers and the National Wildlife Federation to build Congressional support for strengthening the Environmental Protection Agency’s Wetland Program Development Grant Program, which provides funding to states and Tribes to develop wetland protection programs and strategies, which is critical at this moment in time. We’re also working to expand the program’s focus to include implementing these wetland protection efforts, which have been identified as a significant need by the state and Tribal wetland community.  

Photo by Trout Unlimited

At the state level, the TRCP is working with a coalition of groups to pass bipartisan legislation in Colorado that would create a new wetland program to ensure the protection of important wetlands and streams no longer covered by the Clean Water Act. On May 6th, the Colorado General Assembly passed this bipartisan legislation with overwhelming support from the regulated and conservation communities. The bill now heads to Governor Polis’ desk for his signature. The bill, among other things, provides more certainty at the state level regarding protections and permitting for wetlands as the debate of the Clean Water Act’s scope will likely continue. Colorado is now one of the first states in the country to pass legislation to restore protections for wetlands and streams. It can hopefully serve as a model for other states considering similar legislative efforts.  

Overall, despite the challenges facing America’s wetlands, hunters and anglers can play a pivotal role in the conservation of these critical resources. As the TRCP and partners continue to work to address these challenges it will be important for hunters and anglers to share their stories with members of Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state agencies on the important roles wetland play in sustaining fish and wildlife and opportunities for hunting and fishing.  

Top photo by USFWS/Katrina Mueller

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to healthy habitat and clean water here.


The TRCP is your resource for all things conservation. In our weekly Roosevelt Report, you’ll receive the latest news on emerging habitat threats, legislation and proposals on the move, public land access solutions we’re spearheading, and opportunities for hunters and anglers to take action. Sign up now.

May 13, 2024

Hunters and Anglers Applaud Senate Passage of the Bipartisan ACE Reauthorization Act  

The ACE Reauthorization Act aims to boost funding and provide vital enhancements to conservation programs benefiting fish and wildlife. 

The America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Reauthorization Act of 2024 passed the Senate on Wednesday May 8, 2024, by unanimous consent. The ACE Reauthorization Act was sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and would reauthorize multiple programs that benefit hunting and angling including, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It also helps address threats like chronic wasting disease. This reauthorization provides technical improvements, administrative streamlining, and increased authorized funds to improve these programs. 

“The America’s Conservation Enhancement Reauthorization Act will benefit fish and wildlife while enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities for millions of hunters and anglers,” said Becky Humphries, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “TRCP applauds the Senate’s passage of this important bipartisan legislation and looks forwards to building on the success of these crucial programs.” 

The original ACE Act was passed in 2020 and sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Many of its authorizations expire next year, necessitating the passage of the ACE Reauthorization act to ensure these programs can continue to operate in good legal standing.  

The ACE Act is co-sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Angus King (I-ME) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). 

The legislation is endorsed by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Ducks Unlimited, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, American Sportfishing Association, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the National Audubon Society. 

The TRCP looks forward to working with the House of Representatives to ensure this essential legislation for hunters and anglers becomes law.  

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.   

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to healthy habitat and clean water here. 

Photo: Josh Metten

For the Future of Striped Bass

Keep Fish Wet’s executive director explains why Atlantic striper numbers are down, and offers anglers science-based best practices to make the fishery more resilient

It’s early May in New England and like many anglers that love to target striped bass, I am gearing up and itching to get out on the water. A friend of mine on Cape Cod has been catching stripers for the last week and while I enviously hit the like button on his social media posts, I also worry about what this season will bring for the most popular recreationally targeted saltwater species on the East Coast. If you are also a striped bass angler, you probably know that the stock is in trouble, and the fish need our help. 

A gorgeous Cape Cod striper.  Photo credit: Bri Dostie

Currently, striped bass are overfished and the spawning stock biomass – an important indicator of the health of the stock and equal to the combined weight of all females capable of reproducing – is much lower than where it needs to be to have a thriving fishery. While the commercial harvest of striped bass has been slowly decreasing, the recreational harvest took a big jump in 2022, which is partially why the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the governing body for striped bass, took emergency action in 2023 to narrow the slot limit for harvest to 28 to 31 inches. 

But here’s the rub — since 1990, approximately 90 percent of striped bass that have been caught have been released either voluntarily or due to regulations, so it’s not just direct harvest that is causing declines. Currently, ASMFC estimates that 9 percent of stripers that are released alive don’t make it and eventually die. Just to put this into perspective, of the 29.6 million stripers caught and released by recreational anglers in 2022, an estimated 2.7 million died. This estimate is very rough, and while we still need more science to obtain a more accurate assessment, it’s in line with the estimations used by many other fisheries agencies, which are often in the 10 to 15 percent range. 

Striped Bass Are in Our Hands

It’s not all doom and gloom for our beloved stripers, however, and as you head out on the water you have an opportunity to make an immediate difference to help striped bass each time you catch one. There is ample science that shows that the fate of fish after release is primarily determined by how we as anglers chose to catch, handle, and release each fish. The science also shows that subtle changes in angler actions when catching, handling, and releasing fish can reduce mortality. It would take little effort to increase the chance of survival and health for stripers after release, and a reduction in that 9 percent mortality estimate by just 1 percent would save an additional 300,000 stripers to be caught again another day and support recovering stocks.

A fish-friendly angler properly releasing a striper.  Photo credit: Kyle Schaefer

Keep Fish Wet, the organization I run, provides science-based best practices so that you can help create a more resilient striped bass stock. Several years ago, we collaborated with two striper guides (one of whom is also an artist) to create Stripers In Our Hands, an open-source campaign and infographic with step-by-step instructions on how to create the better outcomes for each striped bass that you release. The campaign is centered around our three science-based Principles that are best practices for releasing fish: minimize air exposure, eliminate contact with dry surfaces, and reduce handling time. These three Principles constitute the actions that are most within an angler’s control and that make the most amount of difference to the health and survival of fish after release. They can be used with any type of fishing, so whether you’re fishing from a center console, kayak, or the shore, and throwing bait, plugs, or flies, learning and adopting our three Principles is the swiftest way to put conservation into action. 

As more science emerges on how striped bass respond to capture, handling, and release, Stripers In Our Hands will evolve so that anglers trust that a systematic, objective process was used to derive the best practices. We encourage anglers to sign up for our Advocate program – it’s free! – to stay in the pipeline about our science-based Principles and Tips, including information on taking fish-friendly photos.

Another example of proper striped bass release etiquette.  Photo credit: Kyle Schaefer

If we want vibrant striped bass stocks for years to come, we all need to do our part and advocate for the fish on and off the water. That means using science-based best practices to take better care of each striped bass intended for release. This will help build resiliency in the striped bass stocks as we continue to work through solutions for other challenges that striped bass are facing, from antiquated policy and management to habitat loss and climate change.

Sascha Clark Danylchuk is the executive director of Keep Fish Wet.  She uses her background as a fisheries scientist and passion as a fisher to build a community around helping anglers create better outcomes for each fish they release.  

Stripers In Our Hands is a collaboration between Keep Fish Wet, Soul Fly Outfitters, and Confluence Collective.

Support TRCP’s forage fish conservation efforts to help protect striped bass.

The TRCP is your no-B.S. resource for all things conservation. In our weekly Roosevelt Report, you’ll receive the latest news on emerging habitat threats, legislation and proposals on the move, public land access solutions we’re spearheading, and opportunities for hunters and anglers to take action. Sign up now.

May 9, 2024

Freshwater Fishing Benefits from Mississippi River Restoration

South Louisiana’s Maurepas Swamp offers good opportunities for panfish, bass, and catfish that will get even better once its waters are reconnected to the river

If you’re targeting good-eating panfish – or for that matter, a whole host of fresh and saltwater fish or waterfowl – there are few places in America better than south Louisiana. The incredibly productive marshes, lakes, swamps, and coastal bays and islands of the Mississippi River Delta, the result of thousands of years of nutrients and sediments delivered to the region by the immense river, are what earned it the nickname “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

The dynamic fishing duo of Marsh Man Masson and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Chris Macaluso recently ventured to the Delta’s Maurepas Swamp, popping corks for bluegill, goggle-eye and chinquapin while offering great advice on the best lures and locations to target these tasty panfish. The swamp offered them classic Louisiana bayou scenery and decent fishing, but the fishing and waterfowl hunting there stand to get a real boost in the next few years as the swamp will soon be reconnected to the Mississippi River for the first time in more than a century.

“This is another one of those swamps, similar to the Des Allemands, that at one time had a connection to the Mississippi River, and that connection has been cut off,” said Chris Macaluso, TRCP director of the Center for Marine Fisheries. “In the process over the last century, since levies were put up, you’ve seen a slow decline in not only the water quality but also the overall health of this swamp.”

Construction of a small-scale diversion to reconnect Maurepas Swamp and its fisheries to the Mississippi River is set to begin soon, to once again introduce beneficial freshwater flows from the river. The diversion, a project being implemented through the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority, will provide fine sediment loads to help offset the subsidence that is eating away at southern Louisiana, due to sea level rise and lack of natural replenishment of terra firma from silt-laden flows brought down to the Delta by the Mississippi.

More directly, it will immediately restore beneficial nutrients and oxygen-rich water to the swamp. Backwater areas that lack significant flows of fresh water, such as seasonal inputs from a river, can over time become hypoxic – meaning they have low levels of dissolved oxygen that make survival difficult for fish and other aquatic life.

“When water gets back in the swamp there’s so much detritus on the bottom that decays, and when the water pulls out, it just doesn’t have much oxygen left in it and can be devoid of fish,” said Todd Mason, angling-savvy host of the popular YouTube fishing show Marsh Man Masson.

The TRCP is working with a coalition of conservation organizations to engage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to guide an ongoing effort referred to as “The Lower Mississippi River Comprehensive Management Study.” Congress has instructed the Corps to identify ways to manage the southern half of the Mississippi River to improve flood control, habitat, recreational access, and natural infrastructure.

You can also learn more here about TRCP’s involvement in a major Mississippi River Delta restoration effort – construction of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion.

All images credit Todd Masson

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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