Speak up to Save Critical Grassland Habitat

The TRCP joins partners Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited and others in urging sportsmen across the nation to contact their House representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the Protect Our Prairies act (H.R. 686).

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), would reduce crop insurance assistance for the first four years for crops grown on native sod and certain grasslands converted to cropland.

Learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Reducing crop insurance assistance so it is proportionate with the production capability of this land, rather than insuring it at the same rate as land that has been farmed for years, could save taxpayers nearly $200 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate from the 112th Congress.

Importantly, this legislation does not prevent producers from making their own planting decisions.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Protect Our Prairies Act.

Call your representative today and ask him or her to co-sponsor Protect Our Prairies Act (H.R. 686) and defend grasslands for pheasants, quail and other wildlife.

New Hope for Native Grasslands

Iowa Barn

Photo by Scott Bauer.

There’s new hope that native grasslands—arguably the most threatened wildlife habitat in the nation – can be saved.  But the House of Representatives will have to follow the bipartisan lead of a couple of prairie state representatives to get that done for sportsmen.

The Protect Our Prairies Act recently introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) would help protect the nation’s remaining native sod and grasslands by reducing federal crop insurance subsidies for the first four years those acres are farmed.

This is a new version of the “Sodsaver” concept that has been around for some time, with the aim of preventing native grasslands from being plowed for two important reasons: This habitat is critical for a wide range of upland birds, migratory waterfowl and numerous other species; and they are far less productive for crops than other lands.

Outdoor writer Bob Marshall explains why the need for Sodsaver has never been greater, and how the recent push for corn-based ethanol and soaring world commodity prices have led to a dramatic increase in conversion of grasslands to row crops.

Read the full story on the Field & Stream website.

Wednesday Win: Walleye

Photo courtesy Outdoor Nebraska.

This week’s Wednesday Win comes courtesy of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Watch out, there’s math involved!

Wild, female walleye will typically lay their eggs in a rocky area during the night, secreting upwards of 300,00 eggs. Although females produce eggs in abundant numbers, less that five percent of their young successfully hatch. If only five percent of the 300,000 eggs survive, how many walleye does that leave?

Send your answers to info@trcp.org or post a comment on the TRCP Blog by Friday to be entered to win.

Invasive Species in the Great Lakes

Did you know that one of the most serious threats to America’s outdoor heritage is invasive species? Nowhere is that threat more evident than in our own Great Lakes. Learn more.

  • Biologists and longtime sportsmen have seen firsthand the devastating effects of invasive species such as the sea lamprey eel, zebra mussels and Asian carp.
  • By wreaking havoc on equipment and on fishing and hunting, invasive species cost the American public $137 billion per year.
  • Hunters and anglers unintentionally spread invasive species from one body of water to another through boats, boots or other gear.

History of the American Wild Turkey

The wild turkey has been a staple of American tradition since the 1500s, but its survival has not always been certain.

  • Native only to North and Central America, the wild turkey was discovered by Europeans in Mexico in the early 1500s.
  • By the 1930s, the wild turkey population was at less than 30,000 birds; a victim of market hunting, subsistence hunting and widespread habitat destruction.
  • Over the next 50 years, state wildlife agencies funded by hunters’ dollars and working with the National Wild Turkey Federation, captured more than 200,000 wild turkeys and released them in quality wild turkey habitat.
  • Today there are more than 7 million wild turkeys roaming the woodlands and river-bottoms across the country.

Habitat Management Strategies for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

Steven Rinella emphasizes the value of undeveloped winter range for Sitka black-tailed deer in southeastern Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

• Created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, the Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres.

• Safeguarding the last remaining undeveloped forests in the Tongass National Forest is key to maintaining the region’s high deer populations and high quality hunting.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture and others are working to transition the traditional southeast Alaska economy so public lands management benefits both people and wildlife.

• The proposed “Sealaska” legislation could end public ownership and access on more than 70,000 acres of the highest quality national forest lands in southeast Alaska.

Video: Future of the Farm Bill

Ducks Unlimited’s governmental affairs staff sit down to discuss the future of the Farm Bill with Rep. Kristi Noem (SD) and Rep. Tim Walz (MN). Watch the video below to find out where conservation, commerce and our sporting trations fit in.

Not in the Job Description

“You want me to wake up at what time to fish?” This was the first sentence I clearly remember saying to my new boss Christen Duxbury when she told me the itinerary for the TRCP staff retreat.

I had started as the TRCP communications intern the week before, and while I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania and loved fishing for bluegill, waking up at 4 a.m. to fish with my boss and coworkers was not my idea of fun.

The TRCP’s (from left to right) Kendra Bailey, Christen Duxbury, Annie Wilson, Michelle Dietz and Mia Sheppard at a staff retreat.

Unable to feign illness, I showed up and joined the rest of the team in the quest for stripers. And while I was not exactly bright-eyed and bushy tailed, it was my first glimpse into what I signed up for with the TRCP. The level of dedication and enthusiasm present among TRCP staff was palpable.

Some work the daily 9-5 grind to collect a paycheck – TRCP staffers work around the clock because they deeply care about their work. Each one would rather be romping around the great outdoors with a gun or a pole in hand. Instead, more than half of TRCP employees are surrounded by concrete and cubicles in Washington, D.C.  These staffers have the foresight to recognize that by coming into work every day they are helping ensure future generations of sportsmen quality places to hunt and fish – and that if they failed to show up, hunting and fishing would remain at risk.

Throughout my seven-month internship I worked with people like Brandon Helm, who watches a video of a trout stream each morning for inspiration to keep influencing policy for the benefits of sportsmen and the fish and wildlife upon which they depend. Or Duxbury, the public-lands hunting, trail-running bundle of energy who keeps the outdoor community informed about conservation policy. And Bob Hale, TRCP’s numbers man, who takes afternoon walks around the city to escape his office.

I thought I knew hunting and fishing enthusiasts growing up, but working at the TRCP revealed to me a new level of dedication. These people possess enthusiasm not just for the outdoor experience but also for the prolonged conservation and well-being of outdoor resources in this country. Working for the TRCP was an eye-opening experience, not just because of how much I learned professionally, but because the contagious passion of the staff members.

Even if they did make me get up at 4 a.m.

Editor’s note: The TRCP offers internship positions in communications and conservation policy. To learn more contact cduxbury@trcp.org or bhelm@trcp.org.

Mapping Project Brings on-the-Ground Results for Sportsmen

Montana sportsmen mapping prized areas of the state as part of the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

Involving the American sportsman in issues that affect our hunting and fishing heritage is fundamental to maintaining our outdoor heritage. Here at the TRCP we try and ensure sportsman involvement occurs at a level where impacts and results tend to be clear and immediate. To this end, the TRCP has developed a state-specific approach to capture input from local hunters and anglers called the Sportsmen Values Mapping Project.

As part of the project, TRCP staff members meet with sporting groups, conservation organizations and rod and gun clubs to identify “bread and butter” hunting and fishing areas in various states. You might wonder why anyone would reveal a favorite honey. When combined with critical habitat maps already in use by federal and state agencies, this information provides a powerful tool for politicians and decision-makers to use in public lands management.

The project’s goal is ensuring sportsmen are represented in management decisions by highlighting the exact areas they want to see managed for the continued and future use of hunting and fishing.

The success of the mapping project has earned recognition both at home and abroad and is largely held as a case study on how sportsmen can participate in land management and public policy. Recently, TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development Director Ed Arnett gave a presentation about the project at the Conference on Wind Power and Environmental Impacts. The conference, held in Stockholm, Sweden, was attended by more than 300 people from at least 30 countries.

The TRCP’s Center for Responsible Energy Development Director, Ed Arnett. Photo courtesy of Mark Weaver.

During the presentation, Arnett highlighted the project as tool for wind energy developers and decision-makers to use in identifying key, high-use areas warranting special conservation strategies and in avoiding conflict with sportsmen and other stakeholders. As presented, the mapping project provides valuable and previously unavailable data that will aid in balancing energy development with the needs of fish, wildlife and sportsmen.

As Arnett returns from the international conference, he continues to ensure that decision-makers balance the needs of fish, wildlife and sportsmen with the impacts of land-use management decisions across all economic sectors to ensure a strong economy into the future. The TRCP Sportsmen Values Mapping Project is critically important to achieving that balance.

The project is expected to grow in the coming years.  In Wyoming, Western Outreach Director Neil Thagard will be returning to those communities that participated in the project to present results and develop opportunities for place-based, grassroots campaigns to protect areas important to sportsmen.  The TRCP plans to expand the mapping project to more western states in the near future.

Learn more about the Wyoming mapping Project.

Learn more about the Montana mapping Project.

Get involved today by signing up as a TRCP member.

You Talk, We Listen

Thanks for your interest and participation in the TRCP Livestream on Tuesday and congratulations to the winners of the “Gigantic Book of Hunting Stories.” We hope you enjoyed the chance to talk with us about key conservation issues in your community.

You can help us spread the word by posting this link (https://new.livestream.com/trcpchat/2013Priorities) on your Facebook timeline or by making a tax-deductible contribution toward our efforts to unite sportsmen on behalf of conservation.

If you missed it, you can watch a video of the event at Livestream.com. A few of the topics discussed include:

  • How hunters and anglers might feel the effects of the sequester
  • Prospects for the Sportsmen’s Act in the 2013 Congress
  • Update on the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska
  • Tips for getting your voice heard in Congress

As these events expand, we hope you will continue to engage in and become informed about policy issues that are central to securing our nation’s outdoor heritage.

Watch the video below to find out how you can make a difference.