USDA photo by Alice Welch
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USDA photo by Alice Welch
Field staff take to the woods to capture images of elk, deer, and sheep on the move
Like many hunters over the past few months, here at TRCP we’ve been paying close attention to the migration corridors and seasonal ranges used by big game species like mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope.
As landscapes across this country are increasingly fragmented by roads, fences, and human development, maintaining the functionality of these habitats has become an urgent conservation challenge. Meanwhile, a mounting body of scientific research shows that the loss of or disruption to migration corridors and winter range has a severe, negative impact on the health of big game herds.
There’s an old truism that a picture is worth a thousand words, so this fall TRCP took to the field armed with trail cameras to capture some images of these habitats in use. We focused our attention on the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests in northern New Mexico as well as the Rio Grande National Forest in southern Colorado.
We chose these places because ongoing planning efforts by the U.S. Forest Service will determine how these public lands are managed over the next 20+ years. It is imperative that land-use plans for our National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands incorporate the latest research on migration and seasonal range in order to ensure the health of wildlife. And where more research is needed to safeguard these habitats, it is critical that our fish and game agencies receive the resources needed to complete this important work.
By no means was our trail cam experiment a scientific effort—we simply thought it would be a fun way to raise awareness about the issue (and a good excuse to stretch our legs while exploring public lands). Besides, there are many other groups and agencies documenting big game migration using the latest methods and technology to improve our understanding of the issue.
So if you don’t already, follow us on Instagram and over the coming weeks you’ll see some of the wildlife images captured on our trailcams.
Or return to this blog, which will be updated as we release new photos on our social media accounts.
Above all else, be sure to support migration corridor conservation and let decision-makers know that sportsmen and women across the country won’t stand by while threats to our big game herds go unaddressed.
Industrial fishing giant strikes out twice as it breaks the rules in the Chesapeake Bay
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today issued a decision cracking down on overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay and paving the way for better management of the menhaden fishery.
Ross found the state of Virginia out of compliance after foreign-owned Omega Protein willfully violated the fishing cap on menhaden, a key food source for striped bass, in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Secretary Ross made the right move in standing with recreational fishermen,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Reduction fishing for menhaden threatens the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working fishing guides and tackle shop owners and impacts everything from striped bass to whales. Today’s decision holds Omega accountable and sets the stage for improved management of this important forage fish.”
“U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross’ decision to hold Omega Protein accountable for their actions demonstrates clear conservation leadership to the sportfishing and boating industry and anglers along the Atlantic Coast,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “This decision comes at a critical time because menhaden’s top predator, Atlantic striped bass, is currently in poor condition and the Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning and nursery area for the species. We thank Secretary Ross for recognizing the value menhaden brings to the recreational fishing community and America’s outdoor recreational economy.”
“The ASMFC’s Policy Board has some of the finest fishery managers in the country on it and they unanimously found Virginia out of compliance with the Menhaden Fishery Management Plan. Upholding the ASMFC’s non-compliance finding for Virginia was simply the right thing to do,” said David Sikorski, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. “We applaud Secretary Ross for defending both the management system and the forage base in the Chesapeake Bay.”
Since October, tens of thousands of recreational anglers, dozens of business and organizations, and nine Governors along the east coast, including Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, have all requested that the Secretary take action on this issue.
According to a recent scientific study, menhaden reduction fishing contributes to a nearly 30 percent decline in striped bass numbers. The striped bass fishing industry contributes $7.8 billion in GDP to the economy along the Atlantic coast.
Photo by Courtesy of John McMurray.
North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act Clear Key Hurdle
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today passed comprehensive wildlife conservation legislation that includes, among other major wins, authorization of two key initiatives that lay the groundwork for stronger management of wetlands, water, and fish habitat.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act both received unanimous bipartisan support as they made their way to the Senate floor.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act was originally enacted in 1989 in an effort to restore wetland habitat for ducks, geese, and upland birds, provide flood control, reduce coastal erosion, and improve water quality. The Act is one of the great success stories of the modern conservation era and has funded nearly 3,000 projects through $1.73 billion in grants. More than 6,200 partners have contributed another $3.57 billion in matching funds to conserve 30 million acres of habitat.
“Among a multitude of benefits, wetlands provide excellent waterfowl habitat, contribute to carbon sequestration, and improve coastal resilience,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The North American Wetlands Conservation Act underpins many ongoing efforts to restore and safeguard these landscapes, which are critical to the future of hunting and fishing in America. For thirty years, this law has proven itself the model of conservation investment done right.”
The National Fish Habitat Partnership, a collective of 20 diverse groups across every landscape in America, has already succeeded in boosting fish populations through on-the-ground fish habitat conservation projects. Since 2007, more than 840 projects have been completed across all 50 states. But the future success of these partnerships is perennially threatened because the initiative has no permanent authorization and funding has been cut year after year. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act invests in the Program for the first time and formally establishes the National Fish Habitat Board to guarantee all stakeholders—tribes, nonprofits, local and state governments, private sector entities, and the federal government—have a seat at the table.
“Anglers are committed to advancing the conservation efforts of the Partnership,” added Fosburgh. “The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act tackles some of the biggest challenges to fish habitat conservation head on. The TRCP is proud to be part of this effort moving forward.”
Earlier this year in a bipartisan vote, the U.S. House passed companion legislation for both bills, paving the way for support by Senate Democrats and Republicans.
The legislation passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee today also includes language to reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, create a coordinating task force between federal and state agencies on Chronic Wasting Disease, and reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program, a funding stream that helps Bay watershed states meet water quality goals.
“Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper and committee staff, we move one critical step closer to getting these bipartisan provisions on the President’s desk,” said Fosburgh.
More information about the National Fish Habitat Partnership is available HERE.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bipartisan bill to keep the government open includes Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act
In one of the biggest conservation victories of the year, bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate released legislation to invest in the future of hunting and secure new investments in wildlife and habitat.
The bipartisan compromise to fund the government through September 2020 includes historic legislation that for the first time allows excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to be used to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters.
As the number of hunters decline nationally, the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act will ensure that millions of more active and engaged outdoorspeople are paying into conservation and supporting some of America’s greatest traditions. This legislation has been a top priority for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which has actively worked to include it in the year-end government funding deal.
“Every time hunters purchase guns and ammo they invest in habitat and wildlife, and this legislation will help avert a major conservation funding crisis,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We cannot underscore the importance of this bill for sportsmen and women, conservation, and the next generation of hunters. We hope everyone in the House and Senate will stand with hunters across the nation and send this to the President’s desk for swift signature.”
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of hunters declined by 16 percent contributing to a decline in funding from hunters.
“This is truly a landmark day for hunting and conservation,” said Fosburgh.
Read more about how the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act supports conservation HERE.
To take action and tell Congress to get this bill across the finish line sign our petition today.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More