TRCP’s Neil Thagard and his wife Catherine recently had the opportunity to enjoy some time on public land chasing Merriam’s turkeys. With Catherine behind the camera and Neil as the caller and shooter, they were able to coax this wily tom away from his hen into their decoy setup, which resulted in a 25 yard shot – enjoy the video!
Chances are that most sportsmen do not spend much time thinking about energy development. But whether you know it or not, hunters and anglers have much at stake when it comes to our energy resources, including renewable sources such as wind.
As head of the TRCP’s energy program, it is my job to carry the sportsman’s voice in the energy development processes. My objective in this is clear: to ensure our nation’s energy needs are balanced with those of sportsmen.
Sportsmen should be encouraged that renewable resources like wind have shown so much promise. With clean-up still underway on the tail of the three-year-anniversary of the BP oil spill, many in the conservation community are encouraged by the forward momentum on renewable resources.
The concern for sportsmen is that the rush to develop and bring renewable energy resources to the market will negatively impact fish and wildlife and result in loss of access for hunters and anglers.
As with traditional forms of energy development like oil and natural gas, renewable resources must be developed and implemented with what the administration calls a “smart from the start” mentality. The TRCP, along with Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation, head up the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development – a coalition dedicated to bringing balance to oil and gas development.
SFRED lays out 10 considerations for developing renewable energy on public lands. They are as follow:
- Give sportsmen a voice in decision making.
- Protect roadless backcountry, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and local and state public lands.
- Conserve important fish and wildlife habitat.
- Consult with state fish and wildlife officials first.
- Rely on the latest science.
- Strengthen the permitting and leasing process.
- Monitor impacts to fish, wildlife and water.
- Mitigate damage and reclaim affected land and water.
- Comply with all relevant environmental laws.
- Hold industry accountable for development costs. This includes monitoring and mitigation costs.
When applied, these principles ensure that renewable energy development can be compatible with the needs of fish, wildlife and hunters and anglers.
The TRCP’s energy program will continue to carry the sportsman’s voice in land-use planning and policy debates so that all forms of energy are balanced. We will call on you to speak up when it matters.
Watch the video below and visit the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development website to learn more.
- In the next century, nearly 40 percent of the natural ecosystems where sportsmen hunt and fish will change due to a number of reasons, including climate change.
- Higher water temperatures in waterways such as Montana’s Yellowstone River negatively impact trout populations.
- Drier and warmer weather patterns aggravate fire cycles in states like Oregon.
- Temperature changes can push out native species and allow foreign species to disrupt the natural food cycles.
Oregon offers some of the best public upland game bird hunting in the West. Chukar season ended in January, but die-hard bird hunters already are thinking about next season. Last fall, I shared a particularly fine hunt with Walt Van Dyke, retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, and Pat Wray, author of “The Chukar Hunter’s Companion.”
Watch following video for footage of the hunt and click here to take action and conserve Oregon’s best backcountry.
The weather was warm, and the heat of the day penetrated our bones. By noon sweat dripped from our brows. Nelly, my shorthaired pointer, was unaccustomed to the heat and had drunk almost all the water I was carrying. Van Dyke, Wray and I covered territory that hadn’t seen human footprints in weeks. A breeze was blowing, and the coveys of chukar flushed wild. But hitting a bird was a bonus compared to the remarkable views and solitude we found that day in southeast Oregon.
Along with supporting populations of upland birds, Oregon’s semi-arid mountain ranges hold key habitat for mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and elk. Small streams provide unique fisheries. As a sportsman and a mother, I want to return to these special places with my daughter and see that the landscape hasn’t changed. Better yet, I want to see to it that the habitat has been improved.
To maintain the high-quality fish and wildlife values of these lands, hunters and anglers are calling on the southeast Oregon BLM to implement a new, locally conceived land allocation called a backcountry conservation area, or BCA. As proposed, BCAs would protect public access, honor existing rights and conserve intact fish and wildlife habitat while allowing common-sense activities to restore habitat and protect communities from wildfire.
Under the BCA allocation, the BLM would uphold traditional uses of public land but allow wildlife managers to restore the rangeland and habitat. The proposed plan enables vegetation management to control noxious weeds, restore bunchgrass to benefit wildlife and livestock and reduce the risk of wildfire. BCAs also would allow ranchers to maintain agriculture improvements and continue their operations.
Join thousands of sportsmen working to conserve our public lands by contacting the state BLM office in Oregon and promoting BCAs as a land-management tool.
- Sportsmen must travel farther than ever to access public lands.
- Public lands can be rendered inaccessible by adjacent private land owners.
- The federal Open Fields program incentivizes land owners to enable sportsmen access to privately owned lands, including otherwise inaccessible hunting grounds.
Visit our partner sites to find out more about Open Fields and public lands access:
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.
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.
As the United States writhes in one of the driest and hottest summers in history, with nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states experiencing some form of drought, millions of Americans (including farmers and ranchers) are struggling from the resulting loss of income and higher prices for food and fuel. Other recent disturbing news illustrates the practical implications this weather event can have on fish and wildlife. Millions of fish – sturgeon, large- and smallmouth bass, channel catfish and other species – are dying in the Midwest as water temperatures skyrocket to as high as 100 degrees.
What is clear: both the human toll and the impacts to fish and wildlife caused by a changing climate and warmer temperatures have real consequences and cannot be ignored.
A new NASA report states that climate change is responsible for recent extreme weather events and that the probability of unusually warm summers has greatly increased. Now, Dr. Richard A. Muller, a physicist known for his staunch denial of global warming, has concluded that global warming is in fact real, with human production of carbon dioxide causing the world to slowly warm.
“I’m personally very worried,” says Dr. Muller. “I personally suspect that it will be bad.”
Of course, many continue to refute the science underlying climate change and indict the majority of scientists who accept its existence for promulgating a political agenda. In my opinion, as the TRCP’s climate change initiative manager, these individuals are simply resistant to accepting the reality of what science has made abundantly clear: climate change is real, and it already is affecting our natural resources, fish and wildlife and outdoor opportunities.
I recently wrote a guest article in The Seattle Times arguing that to develop an effective approach to addressing climate change, we cannot rely solely on public opinion polls. We must pay attention to those who are “voting with their feet” – the fish and wildlife that cannot debate habitability in the public square and must adapt to or migrate from changing habitat or die.
At the TRCP, we accept the growing evidence that climate change is real and that changes go well beyond disturbances driven by entirely natural forces. We regularly consult with fish and wildlife biologists in state and federal agencies throughout the United States on the habits, distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife.
The facts leave no doubt that climate change is undeniable. Here are a few examples:
- Even before this year’s Midwestern fish kills from hot water, smallmouth bass have been migrating upstream nearly 40 miles in the warming Yellowstone River, displacing Yellowstone cutthroat that require colder water.
- Warming winters and summers have led to an explosion in mountain pine beetle infestations over millions of acres in many Western pine forests, causing a dramatic conversion of forest cover to grass and shrub meadows in elk habitat. This leads to changes in elk populations and distribution during hunting seasons.
- In a direct response to warmer springs and summers and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, invasive cheatgrass has out-competed sagebrush and native grasses and shrubs throughout 100 million acres of the sagebrush steppe in the West, leading to decreased mule deer and greater sage-grouse habitat and populations, as well as diminished hunting opportunities.
What is the TRCP doing now? We are actively working to inform, educate and mobilize sportsmen by reporting timely data from state fish and wildlife agencies and federal land management agencies. Our state-specific presentations highlight the implications of a changing environment on fish and wildlife and the consequences for sustainable hunting and fishing. We’ve developed presentations for Montana, Washington and Colorado – with Oregon and New Mexico in the works.
Rather than debating specific points of air temperature or carbon dioxide data, the TRCP focuses on the cascading effects of a changing climate in the biological world, including impacts to species of fish and game most important to sportsmen. We highlight on-the-ground projects that help fish and wildlife adapt to a changing environment.
We are taking these state-specific presentations directly to sportsmen-based clubs throughout the West with the goal of providing factual evidence on climate change. Take five minutes to watch the video below and draw your own conclusions.
The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, creators of the award-winning “Take Me Fishing” campaign, works to increase boating and fishing participation in the United States. Watch RBFF’s video about the positive state of the fishing and boating industry as well as some of the newest RBFF tools.
In a recent article for Field & Stream, writer Hal Herring penned the following about Bristol Bay, Alaska:
“It’s all there in my mind, that land and the fish themselves, blood-red sockeye in cold green water, silvery kings thrashing in the shoals, the perfect dots on the side of an arctic char that look so much like tiny planets glowing in a twilight sky that it surely makes you wonder, really, how this world of ours came to be like this, and what it might mean, that a creature could be so beautiful.”
Herring is just one among many who sees the beauty and unrivaled resources found in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The proposed Pebble Mine represents an unprecedented threat to the area, its clean waters and wildlife habitat. Fed by nine major rivers and a wetland the size of Kentucky, Bristol Bay is home of the world’s largest sockeye salmon runs.
Up to 40 million adult salmon return to spawn in the Bristol Bay watershed each year, and more than 12,000 jobs are tied to the fisheries and natural resources there. The Pebble Mine – which would be 20 times larger than all of the mines in Alaska combined – is the wrong mine in the wrong place and must not be permitted.
The Environmental Protection Agency will be taking public comments on the Pebble Mine Project until July 23. Sportsmen stepped up for Bristol Bay earlier this spring and we need you to take action again to conserve this vital resource. Urge decision makers to protect Bristol Bay now and for future generations.
Here’s a must-watch video that captures the faces and voices of Bristol Bay at the EPA hearings last month.