20080805_fp_logoWASHINGTON – Highlighting a range of issues pivotal to sportsmen-conservationists, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released its 2010 Conservation Policy Agenda. Developed in concert with the TRCP’s individual and organizational partners, which include national hunting, fishing and conservation organizations, labor unions and grassroots sportsmen, the 2010 Conservation Policy Agenda will enable the TRCP to advance policy solutions on natural resource management issues of common concern and will provide focus to the group’s efforts in the year to come.

“We presently find ourselves in a time that is challenging yet exciting for American conservation policy and the sporting traditions that rely on responsible management of our natural resources,” said Jim Martin, chairman of the TRCP board of directors. “The TRCP will continue to pursue consensus-based, common-sense solutions to these challenges for the good of these resources and in the spirit pioneered by our namesake and standard bearer, Theodore Roosevelt.”

The TRCP 2010 Conservation Policy Agenda features the following issues:

  •  Ensuring responsible energy development on federal public lands
  •  Forging a strong and competitive Conservation Reserve Program
  •  Securing sportsmen’s access through timely implementation of Open Fields
  •  Promoting conscientious conservation of inventoried roadless areas
  •  Instituting common-sense reform of the General Mining Law of 1872
  •  Strengthening recreational marine fisheries management and angling opportunities
  •  Assuring dedicated funding to avoid and mitigate the effects of climate change on fish and   wildlife
  •  Advocating legislation for wetlands conservation and clean water restoration

“The TRCP has taken great strides in recent years toward reestablishing sportsmen as leaders in natural resource policymaking in the United States,” Martin continued. “As America’s acknowledged first conservationists, hunters and anglers are both proficient at and accustomed to shouldering this role.”

“Theodore Roosevelt stated, ‘It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it,’” said TRCP Senior Vice President Tom Franklin. “The TRCP looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Obama administration to forge solutions to our most pressing conservation issues – and persevere in our mission to guarantee all Americans high-quality places to hunt and fish – by focusing our efforts where we stand to contribute the most to the future of our shared resources and invaluable outdoor heritage.”

• Ensuring responsible energy development on federal public lands

Energy development on public lands has become one of the most important and controversial subjects facing federal land managers today. With the new push to harness the sun, wind and other forms of renewable energy, the necessity of balancing production of domestic energy with the needs of fish and wildlife – and fulfilling the government’s promise that our public lands will continue to support traditional sporting activities – will be even more critical. Recently announced revisions in the federal minerals-leasing process were welcomed by sportsmen and could signal changes in the management of federal public lands – changes that the TRCP has long been vocal in requesting. Yet much work remains to be done to safeguard our outdoor heritage throughout all phases of the planning, leasing and development process, and the TRCP will remain involved in crafting with the administration and Congress policies charting the future of all forms of energy development on lands owned by citizens of the United States.

• Forging a strong and competitive Conservation Reserve Program

The conservation title of the Farm Bill is the single-largest source of federal funding for conservation on American private lands, and the Conservation Reserve Program remains our nation’s largest and most successful private lands habitat conservation program. Farmers and ranchers are making a major difference in restoring and enhancing the environment through the CRP, which has resulted in the conservation of millions of acres of wetland, grassland and forest habitats – benefiting both fish and wildlife species and sportsmen. Due to economic factors, however, enrollment in the CRP has continued to decline in recent years as millions of acres have been withdrawn from the program. The TRCP is working to ensure continued enrollment opportunities, including regularly scheduled general sign-up periods, continuous sign-up opportunities, and additional sign-ups for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

• Securing sportsmen’s access through timely implementation of Open Fields

The Voluntary Access and Habitat Incentive Program, or “Open Fields,” was authorized by Congress for the first time in the 2008 Farm Bill following tenacious support by the members of a TRCP-sponsored coalition. Open Fields provides states with $50 million in federal money to enhance or create voluntary hunter-access programs on private lands and will encourage landowners who enroll their properties in the program to employ best-management practices for fish and wildlife. Landowners can receive a financial incentive in exchange for opening lands to the public for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation. The TRCP will continue to press the Department of Agriculture to launch and implement Open Fields without delay.

• Promoting conscientious conservation of inventoried roadless areas

Our nation’s national forests and grasslands encompass approximately 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas, which provide important range for wildlife and clean water for fisheries. Too many roads can result in reduced cover for big game, causing shorter hunting seasons and decreased hunter opportunity. Roads also can diminish the quality of spawning habitat, curtailing opportunities for anglers. Sportsmen and fish and wildlife have benefited from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a federal policy that provides multiple-use guidelines for roadless area management with an eye toward conserving the valuable qualities of these areas. The TRCP is working to implement the renewal, for one year, of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s May 2009 “Roadless Directive,” which requires secretarial-level review of road construction and forest management projects in roadless areas. The TRCP supports and promotes congressional legislation that conserves national forest roadless areas.

• Instituting common-sense reform of the General Mining Law of 1872

The 1872 Mining Law, which governs hard-rock mining – for minerals such as gold, copper and silver – on America’s public lands, was signed into law more than a century ago. While the economies, cultures and politics of the West have changed since 1872, the mining law has not. Because the law has never been meaningfully reformed, more than 270 million acres of America’s most treasured public lands are at risk, including important wildlife habitat and hunting areas, valuable fisheries, popular recreation sites, vital municipal water supplies and sensitive roadless areas. The TRCP will continue to work to ensure passage of common-sense reform of the 1872 law that will improve management of our federal public lands and shared natural resources. By building Senate cosponsors for S. 796, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, and urging Senate decision makers to pursue passage of S. 796 in 2010, the TRCP will help safeguard the hunting and fishing traditions on these lands for future generations to experience and enjoy.

• Strengthening recreational marine fisheries management and angling opportunities

In the run-up to the 2007 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our country’s primary marine fisheries management law, the TRCP-created Angling4Oceans Coalition developed a set of core principles that it hoped would guide fisheries management policy. The “SALT” principles <http://www.trcp.org/issues/fisheries/379.html>  continue to ring true. The TRCP is working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to see that those principles help inform and guide implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, especially as it affects recreational anglers, and to enhance NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program, a registry that should facilitate obtaining better angling data so that policymakers can increase their understanding of saltwater fishing’s impact on fisheries conservation. The TRCP will continue to collaborate with federal agencies to steer renewable and non-renewable energy extraction in ways that maintain healthy fish populations and allow continued high-quality recreational angling opportunities in our nation’s oceans.

• Assuring dedicated funding to avoid and mitigate the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife

How we address the challenges of global climate change now will affect how future generations will continue to enjoy our time-honored sporting traditions. Wildlife management agencies must closely monitor species to detect and adapt to changes in abundance and distribution as a result of climate change. These agencies must work to mitigate the effects of such change by conserving crucial habitat and adapting management programs that support fish and wildlife populations. The TRCP will urge the Obama administration to increase the annual appropriation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the State Wildlife Grants Program to fund State Wildlife Action Plans that address the challenge of climate change. The TRCP also will continue to press Congress to pass climate-change legislation that funds a natural resources adaptation program and advocate for a Natural Resources Adaptation Fund to include dedicated funding for agencies to help fish and wildlife adapt to climate.

• Advocating legislation for wetlands conservation and clean water restoration

America’s wetlands – and the important habitat and sporting opportunities they host – are in jeopardy. The United States loses approximately 80,000 acres of natural wetlands annually, and more than half of our nation’s original 221 million acres of wetlands have disappeared. Recent Supreme Court decisions weakened federal protections for wetlands and waters as provided by the Clean Water Act, removing measures for geographically isolated wetlands and intermittent and ephemeral streams. In fact, the EPA estimates that approximately 20 million acres of wetlands and streams are no longer protected from development as a result, and confusion remains over which waters are protected and which remain vulnerable. The TRCP is bolstering legislative action to directly remedy the confusion created by the courts – and continues to urge the Obama administration to work with Congress to pass clean water legislation that will clearly define “waters of the United States” and restore federal protections that have been lost for many streams and wetlands.

Read the TRCP 2010 Conservation Policy Agenda.

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.