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Join TRCP’s Aaron Field and Ian Nakayama as they hunt private farm lands in Minnesota thanks to the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. This one-of-a-kind access program complements the full suite of habitat improvement programs that invest federal Farm Bill dollars at the local level. In the case of the VPA-HIP, there is a nine-to-one return on this investment in the form of outdoor recreation spending in rural communities.
In the video, Greg Hoch with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Craig Lingen with the Wilkin Soil and Water Conservation District share information about the importance and success of the VPA-HIP program in their state.
You can support strengthening this important public access program in the next Farm Bill right now.
The White House has released the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which contains some important line items for conservation. The document is meant to guide Congress as lawmakers begin to negotiate funding levels for the next fiscal year.
According to the proposal, the Biden Administration is focusing conservation investments in several key areas and agencies, in part to tackle climate change and address the biodiversity crisis.
Here are eight highlights that could affect hunters and anglers.
Notably, the president has prioritized a $15-million increase—and over $415 million total—to support restoration in the Everglades, one of our most unique and ecologically significant ecosystems. Hunters and anglers have been calling for full funding of Everglades projects since last fall. Take action here to add your voice.
The White House is recommending that $624 million, or $83 million over FY23 enacted levels, go to the National Wildlife Refuge System. This would be the largest budget ever for management of these public lands, where access to hunting and fishing has grown substantially in recent years.
The administration also wants to sustain funding of $50 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, our nation’s most successful public-private partnership conservation program. Strong support for NAWCA could also be good news for grasslands, if lawmakers embrace the idea of a North American Grasslands Conservation Act, built on the NAWCA model, this year.
The budget includes over $57 million for aquatic invasive species prevention, an increase of $7.4 million. In July 2022, the TRCP worked with partners and leading outdoor recreation businesses to establish a new blue-ribbon commission to stop and reverse the spread of aquatic invasive species in the U.S. The commission will soon release a landmark report detailing ways for federal and state governments to help control and mitigate the spread of aquatic invasive species.
The White House is requesting $3 million for the conservation and enhancement of migration corridors. This is an issue the TRCP has been intently focused on since the Department of the Interior’s Secretarial Order 3362 was signed in 2018.
The budget includes $80 million to support the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, a nearly $6-million increase over FY23 enacted levels. This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program supports voluntary conservation on private lands, which will be a key focus of the America the Beautiful Initiative.
The budget provides $1.2 billion, or $208 million above the FY23 enacted level, to increase conservation adoption and farm income across privately owned land through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This funding helps support the historic investments for conservation provided in the Inflation Reduction Act, passed last year.
Finally, the president’s budget boasts nearly $52.2 billion in governmentwide climate spending, a near 26-percent increase from FY23 enacted levels. This proposed funding would run the gamut from climate-smart conservation practices on private lands to drought mitigation and carbon market development, and it is intended to move the United States closer to achieving the climate goals outlined when Biden first came into office. The TRCP and our partner groups continue share the perspectives of sportsmen and sportswomen experiencing climate impacts and proposing solutions to the administration and Congress.
Ultimately, appropriators in Congress will have the final say on spending levels for Fiscal Year 2024, a process now underway on Capitol Hill. The sporting and conservation communities are continually providing feedback on funding priorities and demand for programs on the landscape and look forward to building on these efforts in the year to come.
On Thursday March 9th, the Nevada Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure held a hearing on bill AB112 to establish a Wildlife Crossing Fund within the State’s General Fund. The committee received testimony, all in support of passage, from over 20 individuals across diverse interests including hunting and conservation groups, livestock producers, road construction, and local government. The Fund, which would be administered by the Department of Transportation to work collaboratively with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, will support new and existing projects that allow wildlife to migrate safely across highways.
“Our roads, highways, and overall human expansion into wildlife habitat has to be balanced with their need to have safe migratory corridors,” said Carl Erquiaga, TRCP Nevada field representative. “Nevadans overwhelmingly support protecting wildlife corridors and this bill provides critical resources to ensure safe migratory routes for our native wildlife, like mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep.”
In Nevada, several major big game herds follow migration routes that traverse over a hundred miles annually, often crossing multiple major highways along their way. In some instances, animals cross these roadways for their daily movement hundreds of times a year. According to a Nevada Department of Transportation study, more than 500 wildlife-vehicle collisions occur on the state’s roads annually, at a cost of over $19 million to drivers and Nevada taxpayers. While Nevada has been a leader in constructing safe wildlife crossings in places like Interstate 80, Highway 93 and Interstate 11 near Hoover Dam, there are many locations in need of similar projects.
If passed, AB112 will provide needed funding for crossing projects that protect both people and wildlife. This initiative will also make Nevada more competitive for similar federal funding. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by Congress in 2021, directed the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to distribute $350 million over five years through a competitive grant process to projects that reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve wildlife connectivity. Successful applicants will need to contribute matching funds, and AB112 would create a mechanism for Nevada to meet this requirement.
“I don’t know how many people have really been around these crossings, but they are great,” said assemblyman Burt Gerr of the 33rd district during yesterday’s hearing. “I think this is a great bill and a great project.”
The bill was amended to include language calling for consultation with affected parties who have grazing permits on federal or state land or private landowners near future crossings. The committee will likely hold a work session in the future and the bill will then go to Ways and Means before an assembly floor vote. The state Senate will need to vote to pass AB112 before reaching Governor Lombardo for signature to become law. Nevada sportspeople must remain ready to voice their support if the bill is to cross the finish line.
The Department of the Interior has announced it will invest $23 million in landscape-scale conservation and restoration in the Prairie Pothole Region states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
This major commitment to wetlands that support more than half of North America’s waterfowl is one piece of the department’s plan for $120 million in new conservation funding authorized by legislation in 2022. The plan also includes $20 million for projects in the Lower Mississippi River Valley and $10 million for habitat restoration in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River.
Taken together, these three pots of funding signal a significant investment in the health of the river and the Central and Mississippi flyways.
“We’re pleased to see this investment in the irreplaceable wetlands of the Prairie Pothole Region, which is recognized as some of the most productive waterfowl habitat in the world,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Sportsmen and sportswomen continue to be keenly interested in how the administration is implementing its climate resilience goals by investing in the lands and waters that sequester carbon, provide critical fish and wildlife habitat, and support thriving communities. We celebrate this announcement from DOI and look forward to working with decision-makers to ensure that habitat improvements are made where they will have the greatest impact for fish, wildlife, and Americans.”
Grasslands restoration and other habitat projects that improve climate resilience were also among the funding priorities announced this week.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed its own plan for $850 million in new conservation investments.
Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr
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.Learn More