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October 27, 2020

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October 26, 2020

A Toast to the Patron Saint of Conservation on His Birthday

If you’ve looked at the state of our country lately and thought, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ this might be your answer 

Hunting and the American outdoors were fundamental to who Theodore Roosevelt was—without them, he would be unrecognizable. There have been other sportsmen in the White House (Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower were all passionate flyfishermen), but T.R.’s greatness cannot be separated from his passion for the outdoors, which is what makes him the patron saint of conservation in America.

So, it’s no wonder we’re thinking of him today, as his 162nd birthday coincides with a pivotal time for our nation and the conservation priorities he helped to set in motion.

Theodore Roosevelt led with a clarity of purpose, and he would have seen clearly the task facing modern-day hunters and anglers—it is no less than the survival of our outdoor traditions. The future of hunting and fishing, not to mention our fish and wildlife resources, is in the hands of decision-makers who are often uninformed or downright hostile. But it is also in our hands. We must move fish and wildlife conservation up the hierarchy of our own political decision-making and vote accordingly.

If, like Roosevelt, hunting and angling are foundational to your very being, something you want to pass down to your children, then you can’t afford to be passive about policies that will affect your access or the responsible management of fish and wildlife habitat.

A generation ago, many elected leaders learned the language of the land as kids, knew the culture of opening day, and shared stories of blaze orange and bird dogs at the Formica counters of small town diners. But today, the lawmakers who understand our culture beyond its value at the voting booth are few and far between. This reality reflects broader trends: an increasingly urban population that’s more and more profoundly disconnected from wildlife and wild places.

Still there is no more important issue in this country than conservation, and to celebrate T.R. is to celebrate his famous maxim.

Subsequently we must hold our elected officials accountable when they make decisions that threaten habitat and access. We must inform others, and be informed ourselves, on the importance of the North American model of wildlife management, and explain how hunters and anglers play an absolutely essential role in the funding of conservation work. After all, following in T.R.’s footsteps, we are the prime authors of some of the greatest fish and wildlife conservation success stories in the history of the world.

To be a hunter or an angler in 2020 is to be a steward for the future. It is no less an essential call than the one that motivated Theodore Roosevelt and a generation of American conservationists, to whom we owe a profound debt of gratitude. The hunters of the next century need us to carry that mantle forward with our words and actions.

Get started right now by urging lawmakers to include investments in conservation in any economic recovery legislation. Congress can put Americans back to work during the COVID crisis by supporting conservation programs that restore habitat, fix trails and access sites, make highways safer for people and wildlife, and build more resilient water systems. Click here to take action.

 

This post was originally published on October 27, 2016 and has been updated.

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October 23, 2020

TRCP and 40 Groups Launch Conservationists for Climate Solutions

#OurLandWaterWildlife campaign outlines seven key areas of focus for policymakers

A diverse coalition of 41 groups from across the hunting, fishing, landowner, and conservation communities launched a new website to highlight the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, and habitat and promote policy solutions in seven key areas.

Ourlandwaterwildlife.org will be a hub of educational resources, storytelling, and advocacy dedicated to natural solutions that sequester carbon and build habitat resiliency to combat climate change. Many of the coalition’s recommendations are proven strategies for safeguarding the fish and wildlife habitat that supports outdoor recreation opportunities in the United States.

“Our organizations already advocate for and implement land-and water-based solutions to make our rivers, lakes, streams, forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal systems more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” the coalition writes in a formal joint statement, which is being used in communications with key lawmakers. “Conservation organizations and state and federal land and wildlife management agencies have been on the cutting edge of ecosystem-based solutions. Together we can expand these programs to have a much greater impact far more quickly.”

The recommendations included in the statement and at ourlandwaterwildlife.org are intended for Congress, the executive branch, agency leadership, states, and other decision-makers developing a national-level approach to addressing climate change.

The seven key areas of focus for the coalition include: Agriculture; Forests, Rangelands, and Grasslands; Oceans; Rivers, Lakes, and Streams; Wetlands; Coastal Resilience; and Adaptation.

Learn more at ourlandwaterwildlife.org.

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October 21, 2020

More Atlantic Menhaden Will Help Rebuild the Iconic Striped Bass Fishery

Managers vote to reduce Atlantic menhaden quota by 10%

A coalition of eastern states took a step toward improving the management of the Atlantic menhaden, a tiny baitfish consumed by striped bass any other sportfish.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Menhaden Board voted to reduce the Atlantic menhaden quota by 10 percent, establishing a quota of 194,400 metric tons for the 2021 and 2022 fishing years.

The harvest reduction comes in response to a recent fundamental shift in Atlantic menhaden management. In August, ASMFC unanimously adopted a new ecological management system, which considers the needs of predator species and is set up to specifically help rebuild the striped bass population and fishery.  Yesterday’s quota decision on menhaden is especially important to the sportfishing and boating community because it represents a follow through on the commitment by ASMFC to implement this new ecological management system.

“The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission took an important step in curbing harmful menhaden reduction fishing, something recreational fishing and conservation groups have been working on for more than 20 years,” said Whit Fosburgh, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It’s important to note that the commission’s own science showed that an additional cut is needed to give striped bass a 50 percent chance of meeting target goals. Therefore, additional harvest cuts will likely be needed to ensure the long-term recovery and health of striped bass and other important sportfish. The TRCP will continue to work to implement additional measures to guarantee there are enough menhaden in the Atlantic Basin to serve the critical role of forage as well as improve water quality.”

Several recreational fishing and boating organizations recently sent a letter to ASMFC urging the adoption of a conservative coastwide total allowable catch that will help rebuild the iconic striped bass fishery.

“In order to have a high likelihood of rebuilding striped bass, the fishing mortality for striped bass and menhaden must each be maintained at their target levels,” said Mike Leonard, Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association. “Last year, ASA supported ASMFC’s decision to control fishing mortality for striped bass to its target level, and this decision sets us on the path toward achieving the needed reductions in menhaden harvest to achieve its ecosystem reference point target level.”

“This important first step by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to put science-backed limits on menhaden harvests will help support the entire ecosystem of prized sportfish that our industry’s boaters and anglers count on,” said Adam Fortier-Brown, Government Relations Manager for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “While more may need to be done in the future, this significant improvement to fisheries management will allow our community to work with ASMFC to continue to reduce fishing mortality, and steward our whole marine ecosystem well into the future.”

“Given the importance of menhaden to the Atlantic Coasts largest recreational fishery it is concerning that the board set upcoming quotas at levels that include more risk than sound ecological management suggests,” said David Sikorski, executive director of CCA Maryland. ”While more fish will be left in the water for predators next year, managers should be concerned over the near-failure of recruitment of striped bass that was recently reported in the Chesapeake this year, and not lose site of the vital connection that harvest levels of menhaden have to the future of striped bass.”

 

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How the South Racked Up 174K Acres of Inaccessible Public Land

History has shaped how public lands are now organized and, in some cases, completely isolated by private land

After years of analyzing and identifying landlocked public lands across the country, the TRCP and onX have now tallied up 16.43 million acres of lost hunting and fishing opportunities in 22 states.

This is no doubt frustrating, because they’re your public lands and you can’t get to them. But there’s no single policy or decision-maker to blame. As we’ve seen in the West, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic, public lands have become landlocked in many ways. The diverse history of the Southeast has similarly had significant implications for the way this region’s public lands are organized—and in some cases isolated—today.

States such as North Carolina, which had been among the original 13, and Tennessee, part of which had been a territorial claim of North Carolina until it was ceded to the federal government, used an older survey system known as “metes and bounds” to create property lines following geographic features and other landmarks.

Other states were acquired through treaties with foreign powers, such as the Louisiana Purchase, and so their public lands were organized according to the survey system used across the West and Midwest to divide the federal government’s acquisitions into a grid-like pattern of ranges, townships, and sections. These states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi—are known as the South’s “public land states.”

But over time, as in other parts of the country, many public lands in the South were sold off. Particularly in the areas between the Appalachian Mountains and Mississippi River, where demand for cotton, the region’s primary cash crop, produced a westward land rush. During the first half of the 19th century, large speculative purchases resulted in the massive transfer of public lands into private hands.

Following the Civil War, Congress enacted the Southern Homestead Act to reduce speculation and encourage land ownership among formerly enslaved people, but the law was repealed in 1876 as the Reconstruction Era came to an end. As a result, the remaining federal estate in the South was subject to massive land sales in which timber and mineral interests accumulated huge swaths of forests.

In the early 20th century, however, the region’s public-land legacy was reborn, beginning with the passage of the Weeks Act in 1911. The law empowered the federal government to acquire lands for national forests in the eastern United States. The intention of the law was to restore cut-over and eroded lands, thereby conserving timber resources and important watersheds.

The 1930s saw the establishment of state forests and parks, in part with the help of Civilian Conservation Corps workers, who built facilities and infrastructure. States also began to acquire Wildlife Management Areas to conserve important habitat for game species, as well as to provide hunting and fishing opportunities for the public.

The result of all of this is today’s unique system of county, state, and federal land holdings and, unfortunately, a remnant patchwork of landlocked public lands.

Learn more at unlockingpubliclands.org.

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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