Every day, hunters and anglers see wetlands drained and buffer strips bulldozed – and valuable acres once enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program plowed into corn fields. Guides cancel hunts with their clients because there are so few birds – and the habitat needed to support them is quickly disappearing.
I couldn’t have asked for a better guide. From his well-worn, cut-off sun shirt to the way he used his teeth to nip off the heads of the squirming shrimp we were using as bait to his immaculate 18-foot flats boat – Bob Baker was the quintessential Keys boat captain.
When he opened up the throttle on his Maverick we hauled across the water, quickly making headway on the trip from Islamorada’s World Wide Sportsman toward Everglades National Park. Our conversation settled on fish stories as our ears adjusted to the steady buzz of wind across our faces.
Fishing with us that day as part of the TRCP Saltwater Media Summit was Tom Van Horn, a writer and fishing guide from the Orlando, Fla., area. Between two locals we had enough fodder to keep us in fish tales for the entirety of the journey without any trouble.
It was impossible to persuade my smile to recede as we navigated shallow runnels, cruised past islands dense with mangroves and flocks of seabirds, and wove around wooden channel markers at what felt like a breakneck speed.
Bob and Tom were at home on the water. As my land-locked legs struggled to keep me upright in the slight chop, I asked these captains endless questions about life on the water. Can you really make a living doing this? How many times have you been hooked? How often do you take your boat out of the water? What if I have to go to the bathroom? What are some of your more memorable clients?
They answered my barrage of questions graciously and with a smile.
Bob’s response to one of my questions struck me. As we were cruising back toward the World Wide Sportsman, I asked him if he had a backup plan. Had he thought about what he would do if bad weather or a catastrophic event were ever to take away his ability to fish? He looked at me and said, “No. I’m just a fisherman. I just want to fish.”
As his answer drifted away in the salty spray coming off the bow, it struck me that we have a great responsibility to ensure that recreational fishing opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico remain. Not only is sportfishing essential to the region’s unique culture and quality of life; without it people like Bob and places like the Keys would cease to remain as we know and love them.
To help create a blueprint for healthy Gulf fisheries, the TRCP has released a report outlining recreational anglers’ recommendations for projects and initiatives designed to help the Gulf of Mexico recover from the 2010 oil spill.
“Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries: Recommendations for Restoration, Recovery and Sustainability” is the result of a series of workshops the TRCP organized in May with Gulf State anglers, scientists, charter fishermen and guides, state and federal fisheries managers, fishing tackle and boat retailers and representatives of conservation organizations.
Proper management and planning of our Gulf resources is integral if we want to pursue the outdoor pastimes and way of life that make our coastal places, and people like Bob, so unique.
Seven major sportsmen’s groups from across the country hosted a teleconference calling on Congress to end the shutdown that has closed hundreds of wildlife refuges, Forest Service and BLM areas at the start of hunting seasons across the nation. Leaders from the sportsman-conservation community urged Congress and the administration to make habitat conservation efforts a priority.
The shutdown is limiting hunting opportunities and is hurting the country’s wildlife-related recreation economy, which in 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated at more than $144 billion. For instance, the shutdown closed more than 329 federal wildlife refuges for hunting, and more than 271 are shut to fishing, affecting local economies.
These closures compound the cuts proposed by Congress to programs that conserve wildlife habitat, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and others. The shutdown also undermines efforts to reauthorize the Farm Bill, which includes critical elements of national conservation policy.
Find out how the federal shutdown is affecting sportsmen and -women. Featuring top leaders and experts in the sportsman-conservation community including:
- Dr. Steve Williams, President, Wildlife Management Institute and former Director of the U. S. + Fish and Wildlife Service (Pennsylvania)
- Land Tawney, Executive Director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (Montana)
- Whit Fosburgh, President/CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (Washington, D.C.)
- Gaspar Perricone, Co-Director, Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance (Colorado)
- Miles Moretti, President/CEO, Mule Deer Foundation (Utah)
- Howard Vincent, President & CEO, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever (Minnesota)
- Desirée Sorenson-Groves, Vice President, Government Affairs, National Wildlife Refuge Association (Washington, D.C.)
Listen to the telepresser and let us know how you are seeing the effects of the government shutdown.
Mark your calendar. Saturday, Sept. 28 is National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day.
National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. This year marks NPLD’s 20th anniversary. Celebrate with volunteers from your community at parks and other public places – visit the NPLD webpage to find an event near you.
Since 1971, National Hunting and Fishing Day has been called the most effective grassroots campaign ever undertaken to promote hunters, anglers and the conservation benefits they provide for all Americans. Join the celebration and enjoy the outdoors this weekend.
There is no better time than now to make a donation to the TRCP – your generosity helps support our mission to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.
In 2002 – just over a decade ago – the TRCP was formed with a clear and uncompromising vision: to unite and amplify the voices of hunters and anglers around the biggest federal conservation issues facing the sporting community.
Our accomplishments over 10 short years testify to a significant and growing record of achievement on behalf of fish and wildlife conservation and in the interests of the millions of Americans who partake in our nation’s storied outdoor traditions.
Thanks to our remarkable coalition of partners and supporters like you, the TRCP is speaking up on behalf of sportsmen and-women.
What’s your story?
Steven Rinella, host of the hit TV show “MeatEater” discusses the importance of private lands conservation programs in the Farm Bill and their role in ensuring hunting and fishing opportunities.
- The conservation title of the Farm Bill is the single-largest source of federal funding for conservation on private lands in our country.
- Farm Bill conservation programs assist farmers, ranchers and other landowners in running economically sustainable operations while conserving important fish and wildlife habitat, safeguarding clean air and water, stabilizing topsoil and enhancing recreational opportunities on private lands.
- Given the effectiveness of these programs, proposed reductions in their funding would undermine the effectiveness of efforts like those Rinella profiles in the Driftless Area.
- Every five years when the Farm Bill’s renewal is considered by Congress, American hunters and anglers must fight to ensure that these critical conservation programs are strongly funded.
- If funding levels for private lands conservation programs are not maintained or bolstered in the next Farm Bill, key habitat for fish and wildlife could be severely compromised.
Energy development, fish and wildlife, and other resource values can coexist. That’s the philosophy underlying the TRCP’s FACTS for Fish and Wildlife – our prescription for responsible energy development. It’s also the goal of a unique partnership between the TRCP and western Colorado’s High Lonesome Ranch. By demonstrating energy development that is balanced with other resource values, we can help improve federal energy policy and provide a model for other private landowners as well.
In short, seeing is believing.
Energy projects often fail to address the needs of fish, wildlife, hunters and anglers. A landscape-level approach is critical to abating negative impacts that are all too common – such as mule deer populations in Wyoming’s Pinedale Anticline that have declined precipitously since extensive development began in the late 1990s. We will persevere in our efforts to advance policy addressing outdated and unbalanced federal leasing and development practices. But we’ll also continue to work with the HLR to develop an on-the-ground example for a landscape-level energy model that can be exported to other areas.
Sportsmen need two things to be able to hunt and fish: access and opportunity.
Since the TRCP’s inception in 2002, we have advanced policies that conserve large blocks of intact habitat, called roadless areas, on national forests to maximize hunting and fishing opportunities. Roadless area conservation was the TRCP’s founding issue, and between 2002 and 2012, the TRCP helped successfully conserve 58.5 million acres of public lands habitat in 38 states.
In October 2012, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the 2001 rule, concluding a nearly decade-long legal battle over the management of roadless areas. The TRCP’s efforts will help fish and wildlife managers maximize public hunting and fishing opportunities into the foreseeable future – and ensure that millions of American sportsmen have quality places to hunt and fish.
To see more great content check out the TRCP 2012 Annual Report.
The government is hearing comments ranging all the way from don’t allow hydraulic fracturing at all on federal lands, to don’t pass new rules regulating it on such lands, as it considers a proposal to do the latter.
A public comment period ended Friday on a Bureau of Land Management proposal to update drilling rules on federal lands to reflect the widespread use of modern fracking techniques in oil and gas development.
Food & Water Watch estimates that more than 1 million comments have been submitted to the White House and BLM “urging them to protect public lands from fracking.” It said a coalition of 276 environmental and consumer organizations including itself, Americans Against Fracking and 350.org have delivered President Barack Obama and the BLM nearly 650,000 public comments asking the government to outright ban fracking on such lands.
State and federal public lands hold some of the most productive fish and wildlife habitat in the country and are vital to meeting our country’s energy needs.
- Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition led by the TRCP, the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited that is dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on America’s public lands.
- A 2012 SFRED study found that from 1969 to 2009, the top 50 counties in the Rocky Mountain West region that contained the highest percentage of land managed for conservation had higher per capita income, higher population growth and higher total employment compared to the 50 counties with lands managed more for intensive energy development.
- SFRED works to ensure that our nation’s economic portfolio is considers the responsible development of energy resources as well as the $821 billion annual outdoor recreation economy.
The TRCP and our partners are working to ensure energy development is balanced with the needs of fish and wildlife. Learn more by visiting the websites below.