WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with the board of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership on Tuesday to address the status and future of conservation and agriculture policy in America, particularly as they affect fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the leadership the secretary provides have a profound impact on the daily lives of millions of Americans, including sportsmen,” said Dr. Rollin Sparrowe, TRCP interim board chair and co-founder. “The TRCP board of directors is privileged to welcome Secretary Vilsack and values his insights regarding how hunters and anglers can work with the new administration to assure the future of our outdoor traditions.”
While addressing the sportsmen’s group, Sec. Vilsack described the USDA as an “every way, everyday department” committed to protecting the nation’s natural resources. “We want Americans to see the USDA in a new light and understand how the utilization of Forest Service lands and private agriculture lands has an effect on everyone,” Vilsack said, “including in areas of conservation, outdoor recreation, nutrition and ways to address climate change.”
“Conservation programs administered by the USDA represent the single-largest federal investment in conservation on private land,” said TRCP President and CEO George Cooper, “and they are critical to maintaining healthy fish and wildlife habitat, soil and water quality, and recreational opportunities for our nation’s 34 million sportsmen.
“Secretary Vilsack’s willingness to discuss these pressing conservation issues with the TRCP honors the drive and determination of America’s hunters and anglers in sustaining the habitat found on these lands,” continued Cooper. “The TRCP and our partners will continue to educate the public and policymakers on the importance of strong, sound conservation programs in agricultural policy – whether they concern implementation of the new Open Fields program, maintaining the vitality of the Conservation Reserve Program or monitoring the management of U.S. Forest Service lands.”
Vilsack was sworn in as the 30th secretary of Agriculture on Jan. 21, 2009. He was one of President Obama’s earliest cabinet nominees, and his confirmation received unanimous support by the U.S. Senate. In 1998, Vilsack was elected to his first of two terms as governor of Iowa. During his career, he has served on the National Governors Association executive committee, chaired the Democratic Governors Association and chaired the National Governors Association Committee on Natural Resources, where he promoted private lands conservation. As governor, he created a comprehensive conservation program in Iowa to encourage and assist landowners in installing buffer strips, restoring wetlands and rewarding good conservation practices.
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.