Asking for Action on Climate Change

AFFTA joined nine hunting and fishing conservation groups on a letter to President Obama, urging him to take the actions within his power to protect, reconnect and restore fish and wildlife habitats in service of a climate adaptation strategy, and to maintain current conservation programs as budget priorities. The letter points to the Beyond Season’s End report as a guide book for action.

Here is the letter:

March 11, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:
The undersigned organizations represent millions of hunters, anglers, outdoor related businesses, and other conservationists who are passionate about America’s sporting heritage. We were pleased to hear your commitment to addressing the effects of a changing climate during your inaugural address and State of the Union speech, and we urge you to deliver on this promise by directing federal agencies to develop and implement climate change adaptation strategies that support the resiliency of fish and wildlife populations.

The hunting and angling community has many experiences with climate change. Because of the time we spend in the woods, fields, lakes and rivers, changes in weather patterns are not an abstraction to us. This past year alone, we saw iconic rivers such as the Yampa in Colorado and Madison in Montana closed to fishing due to high water temperatures. Likewise, we saw droughts in the Midwest dry up duck marshes, and wildfires of uncommon intensity burn more than 9 million acres of game habitat.

While much attention is paid to the need to reduce carbon pollution, there are concrete steps your administration can take expeditiously in preparation for the predicted increases in floods, drought, and fire. Some call this focus “climate change adaptation”. America’s sportsmen and women call it common sense. Every hunter and angler in the country supports the need to protect the highest quality habitats where we hunt and fish. While this should be a priority of any adaptation strategy, protecting relatively small areas of habitat is not sufficient when fires, floods, and drought can wreak havoc on a landscape scale. In the future, fish and wildlife will need a network of interconnected habitats and migration corridors to survive and thrive. Finally, many of the areas that were historically the most biologically productive have been settled and developed, and are in need of restoration. Hunters and anglers all support restoring these habitats where we will see significant recovery of fish and wildlife while also preparing communities for the impacts of a changing climate.

In 2009, conservation and sportsmen’s organizations published a report titled Beyond Seasons’ End, which offered recommendations on how to respond to climate change. We urge you to implement and fund climate change adaptation strategies in a manner consistent with the recommendations included in the report, and ensure that these strategies support robust hunting and fishing opportunities, do not undercut funding for existing programs which currently help build fish and wildlife resiliency, and fully engage state agencies in executing the strategies.

Your administration has implemented some of those recommendations through improved science coordination, individual agency adaptation strategies, and development of a federal-state-tribal coordinated interagency strategy focused on natural resources adaptation, which needs to be released as soon as possible. As you know, more needs to be done to meet our vision of maintaining our economic vitality and our national treasures for the future. The remaining recommendations from Beyond Seasons’ End, including reductions in carbon pollution and a robust adaptation program, provide a pathway to achieving our shared goals for confronting climate change.

In addition, we support reaching outside of traditional natural resource agencies to include those whose infrastructure investments could be made in ways more beneficial to fish and wildlife and more resilient to climate change impacts. Agencies should find ways to prioritize lower cost natural system restoration and protection over built-infrastructure where feasible. For example, the restoration of mountain meadows can improve habitat and contribute to groundwater recharge to provide more reliable water supplies for downstream communities. Restoration of floodplains likewise creates valuable fish and game habitat while reducing the impacts of flooding on human communities. Common sense approaches such as these can help communities better prepare for drought and floods while also benefiting fish and wildlife.

Our organizations are ready to help with this work. Our members and staff dedicate millions of hours to conservation projects that help enhance resiliency so that future generations can enjoy the same sporting opportunities we have today, and the $120 billion hunting and angling economy can be sustained. We urge you to take the actions within your power to protect, reconnect and restore fish and wildlife habitats in service of a climate adaptation strategy, and to maintain current conservation programs as budget priorities. The existing federal conservation funding programs will be critical to adaptation strategies when done in concert on a landscape scale.

As you direct the federal agencies’ responses to the immense challenge of climate change, we respectfully urge you to take a comprehensive approach with an immediate and robust effort to conserve, reconnect, and restore the lands and waters that Americans rely on for fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation. With our organizations’ dedication to enhancing the resiliency of fish and wildlife populations, we can work together to secure a better future for the next generation of hunters, anglers, and all of our citizens.

Thank you for your consideration of our perspectives.

American Fisheries Society
American Fly Fishing Trade Association
Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society
Ducks Unlimited
Izaak Walton League of America
Quail Forever
Pheasants Forever
Trout Unlimited
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Wildlife Management Institute

Support for Making Public Lands Public Access Act

AFFTA joined 40 hunting and fishing conservation groups on a letter to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture asking for improved access for fishing and hunting on our public lands by dedicating a small but important portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for that purpose. Here is the letter:

February 26, 2013
Dear Secretary Salazar and Secretary Vilsack:
The undersigned organizations represent millions of sportsmen conservationists across the United States who are united in seeking your help to open and improve access to public lands for recreational purposes, including hunting, fishing and recreational shooting through the continuation of “hunter and angler access” funding within the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in FY2014. This important budget item would dedicate a very small portion of LWCF to enhancing recreational access to Federal land that is inaccessible or significantly restricted.

This line item had wide support in the 112th Congress, as it was included in both chambers’ appropriations bills, was the focus of bipartisan stand-alone legislation, the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, and was part of the larger Sportsmen’s bill, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, in the Senate. We appreciate that it was in the President’s budget in FY2013, which our community strongly supported. We would support the continued inclusion of this language in the President’s budget.

Nearly half of all hunters conduct a portion of their hunting activity on public lands. Lack of access is cited as the primary reason that hunters, anglers and target shooters stop participating in these traditional activities. In fact, a 2004 report to the House Appropriations Committee concluded that more than 36 million acres of USFS and BLM land have inadequate access.

Opening access to the public lands that U.S. citizens own is not only vital to preserving America’s sporting heritage, but it will also serve to benefit the economy. In 2011, sportsmen spent nearly $90 billion on their outdoor pursuits. Additionally, excise taxes on fishing, hunting, shooting equipment and motorboat fuel as well as fees for licenses and stamps are all dedicated to state fish and wildlife management programs. Coupled with the generous support of conservation organizations, this generates nearly $3 billion a year for conservation efforts.

Thank you for your consideration of this request and for your service on behalf of America’s hunting, fishing and conservation community.

American Fly Fishing Trade Association
American Sportfishing Association
Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Bear Trust Alliance
Bowhunting Preservation Alliance
Berkley Conservation Institute
Boone and Crockett Club
Catch-A-Dream Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Conservation Force
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Ducks Unlimited
Izaak Walton League of America
Masters of Foxhounds Association
Mule Deer Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Trappers Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Wildlife Federation
North American Bear Foundation
North American Grouse Partnership
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
Orion, The Hunter’s Institute
Pheasants Forever
Public Lands Foundation
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Institute
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Tread Lightly!
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Whitetails Unlimited
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Management Institute
Wildlife Mississippi

Statement of Support for Sally Jewell Nomination

Statement from Benjamin Bulis, president, American Fly Fishing Trade Association:

“We applaud the nomination of outdoor recreation industry leader, Sally Jewell, for Secretary of the Department of the Interior. She is an excellent choice who understands the critical formula of healthy habitat creating recreational opportunity that drives economic activity.

She has been a strong advocate for the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and her first hand knowledge of the importance of the recreation economy to American jobs underscores her support for having adequate conservation funding and access to the outdoors on equal ground with other uses of our public lands and waters.

We look forward to working with her on other stewardship challenges to fish habitat such as energy development and water use.

The choice of Sally Jewell signals a continued and hopefully increased focus on the outdoor recreation economy which is so vital to our members and the American people.” 


Government Affairs and Alliances Update

The following update was presented and discussed at the AFFTA Board at the meeting in Somerset, NJ on January 24th.

Government Affairs and Alliances Committee Report

AFFTA’s policy decisions and our engagement on policy issues will continue to be based on this top line message: “Access to healthy habitat creates recreational opportunity and that recreational opportunity creates economic activity.”

We will continue to have three key focus areas: Water and Habitat Quality;
Recreational Fishing Access; Trade, Tax, and Business Development.

We will continue to leverage our alliances with other trade and conservation groups to maximize our impact on policy decisions. We will look for local, regional and national opportunities to work with our alliances partners and bring our economic message to the discussion.

The Jim Range Conservationists of the Year

We will be looking for suitable candidates for the awards and will confer with our members and Alliance partners and make a final recommendation to the board. We will also be look for suitable opportunities to make the presentations.

113th Session of Congress

The new session of Congress has just begun so the outlook for specific policy issues is quite unclear. There are a number of leftover issues from the previous session and it is likely they will be revisited in the coming year.

These following are some of the key issues:
Protecting Bristol Bay – Asking the EPA to invoke its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay’s waters from Pebble Mine.

NFHAP/NFHCA – Continued support for NFHAP and NFHAP project funding. Supporting the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act if it is reintroduced.

Conservation Funding – The federal budget cannot and should not be balanced disproportionately on the backs programs that support conservation and outdoor recreation.

Clean Water Act Jurisdiction – EPA’s draft guidance clarified how they will identify waters protected by the Clean Water Act and implement the Supreme Court’s decisions concerning the extent of waters covered by the Act. This guidance is based on strong foundational science and should be made final at the earliest opportunity.

Access – Sarah Griggs prepared excellent briefings on both the Montana  and Utah stream access issues. Those briefings will be posted shortly. USAC has asked for additional financial support. The board approved an additional $2,500 matching grant.

Policy Watch List

Below is 2012 Policy Watch List. Many of these items will be revisited in the coming year.

Water and Habitat Quality
•Protecting Bristol Bay
•Clarification of the Clean Water Act jurisdictional issues
•Reauthorization of Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund: DONE!
•National Fish Habitat Conservation Act
•Fish Habitat Funding
•Funding for Mitigation Hatcheries
•Conservation Funding
•Farm Bill Conservation Programs DONE!
•Protections for Wilderness and Roadless Areas
•America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
•National Water Trails
•Flaming Gorge Pipeline
•Upper Colorado water diversions Windy Gap and Moffat Tunnel projects
Trade, Tax, and Business Development
•Internet Sales Tax
•Tariffs and Duties
Recreational Fishing Access
•Utah Stream Access Coalition
•Public Access in Biscayne National Park
•Making Public Lands Public
•Jackson River use case in VA.
•PPL Montana vs the State of Montana

AFFTA Opposes Prohibition of Catch and Release Fishing on the Kanektok and Arolik Rivers.

This week AFFTA sent the following letter to the Alaska Board of Fisheries expressing  strong opposition to proposal 113, which would prohibit catch and release fishing on the Kanektok and Arolik Rivers.

Members of the Board of Fisheries,
The American Fly Fishing Trade Association is writing today to voice our strong opposition to proposal 113 under your consideration, which would prohibit catch and release fishing on the Kanektok and Arolik Rivers.  On behalf of our membership which includes fly fishing tackle manufacturers, retailers, outfitters, lodges, guides, travel companies and others with a vested interest in the fly fishing industry, we are deeply concerned about this attack on a management strategy which is at the core of our industry.

Catch and release management is a proven technique used globally by user groups that care deeply about their fishery resources.  On the Kanektok and Arolik Rivers as in other parts of the world, catch and release allows all user groups to enjoy the benefit of the resource, while minimizing the impact of users for whom retention is not a priority.  Many anglers who visit the Kanektok and Arolik Rivers each year are in fact opposed to the retention of fish, and we feel that their right to continue to experience the resource must be retained.

Of particular concern is that fact that proposal 113 seeks to ban catch and release fishing purely on ethical grounds – there is no argument in proposal 113 that is specific to the Kanektok and Arolik drainages.  The passage of proposal 113 would set a precedent that would be devastating to sportfishing in the state of Alaska, and devastating to the sportfishing industry as a whole.

We ask that you maintain the highly successful management strategy that is catch and release fishing, and do not accept proposal 113.

Jim Klug
Board Chairman

Ben Bulis