New Threats to Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse are best known for their elaborate courtship displays. This year, as the sage-grouse begin their annual courtship rituals across the west, Congress is once again considering harmful language that would remove protections for their habitat as part of a deal to fund the federal government and keep it operating through the end of September.

Urge your members of Congress to oppose this ploy to roll back Greater Sage-Grouse protections.

This bird—an icon of America’s Western landscape—once numbered in the millions, but its numbers have declined precipitously due to widespread habitat destruction. In 2015, Audubon celebrated landmark conservation plans to protect 67 million acres of the Greater Sage-Grouse’s habitat. By sneaking bad language into a must-pass spending bill, some members of Congress are attempting to unravel these important protections.

Several times over the past few years, bird lovers like you have stood up to protect public lands and preserve this historic conservation agreement. But the same members of Congress have put the same language back on the table when they think no one is looking. Right now the House and Senate are negotiating the final federal funding package—and once again your members of Congress need to hear that you oppose any efforts to undermine protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse.

A wide range of stakeholders worked together over many years to develop the new conservation plans, which merge local knowledge and the latest science. The collaborative, bipartisan approach protects sage-grouse and supports economic activity and outdoor recreation that depend on a healthy sagebrush steppe. These conservation efforts were so successful that they helped prevent the need for an Endangered Species Act listing, in addition to protecting 350 other species including Golden Eagles and Brewer’s Sparrows. Now, these much-needed protections could be undone.

Tell your members of Congress that including language that undermines sage-grouse protections in a must-pass budget bill would spell disaster for these incredible birds and to let the plans work.

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Sportsmen and Sportswomen Need to Act now!

Dear Hunting and Fishing Supporters:

 

Despite the support for a modest hunting and fishing license fee increase this legislative session by the Governor, the DNR, the BOC, and over 50 stakeholder groups, nothing positive is happening in St. Paul.  We have attached that list of sign on organizations. Thank you everyone! We are also attached a one-page summary prepared by the DNR that lies out the fund balances and when they go into the red.

 

Legislators claim they are not hearing from their constituents! One told us the letters with sign on names don’t have any impact!

 

Neither the House nor Senate Environment/Natural Resources version of the budget bill

 

 (HF 888)

 

contains any fishing and deer hunting license fee language.

 

To make matters worse, the budget proposed by the Legislature for fish and wildlife management is $5 million per year less than the Governor’s/DNR’s recommendations. This one-two punch will dramatically impact our hunting and fishing quality as soon as this July 1.  And the bills do nothing to address the fact that money for fish and game management will be gone by 2019.

 

The reductions in fish and wildlife management which will begin this summer include 40 fewer field workers (primarily in outstate areas), reduced habitat management on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), reduced access to WMAs due to inability to maintain roads, reduced surveys on deer to aid in meeting deer planning goals, reduced depredation responses, fewer lakes stocked with game fish, fewer lake surveys to better manage fish populations, and reduced work with lake associations and conservation clubs.

 

This is discouraging on multiple levels, since:

*             The need for a fee increase is well documented and has long been known of.

*             The Citizens’ Budgetary Oversight Committee closely scrutinized DNR spending and determined that additional game and fish funds are needed now or fishing and hunting will suffer.

*             The Governor supports a fee increase.

*             Your organization and many others support a modest hunting and angling fee increase.

*             The quality of hunting and fishing will decline without a fee increase and adequate budget.

 

Anglers’ and hunters’ voices are not being heard amidst the larger, louder political budget debate. This is a disservice to sportsmen and sportswomen.  We are willing to fight for imposing higher user fees on ourselves because good hunting and fishing is just that important.

 

Consider this a call to action to SAVE OUR SPORT.  I encourage you to forward this e-mail to your members and friends so they know their interests are not being represented in the Legislature.  Urge them to contact their legislators as well as environment committee chairs Rep. Dan Fabian and Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen.  Legislators need to hear that voters expect:

*             A comprehensive fee increase for continued funding of game and fish management, and

*             A two-year budget that maintains current levels of management, not blind cuts to vital programs already holding 46 field positions vacant

 

We need to get calls and emails into:

 

 Rep. Dan Fabian at 651-296-9635 or rep.dan.fabian@house.mn

 

                                                                and

 

Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen at 651-297-8063 or sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn Please do this soon.  The House and Senate versions of the bill are now headed to a conference committee which will finalize the bill this month.  Our collective voices need to be heard in the next few days to make a difference.

 

The House and Senate are taking a break for Passover/Easter. They will be home again. Good time to pigeon hole them about the value and benefits of investing in our natural resources, speedily our fish and game.

 

Powerful legislators are telling us that the DNR can wait until next session! Wrong!! If you think the House will pass a fee increase in an election year we have land to sell you!!! Get ‘er done this session. This is the budget year.

 

Thank you in advance for following up on this. Your support is critical and much appreciated.

 

Learn how your license dollars improve fishing, hunting and wildlife habitat and maintain and create outdoor recreation opportunities by checking out this link on the DNR website:  www.mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Gary Botzek

 

John Lenczewski

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Proposed Federal Cuts Threaten Local AIS Efforts

The federal budget proposed last week by President Trump eliminates the Sea Grant Program completely and slashes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million to just $10 million dollars a year. These cuts will have a profound impact on Minnesota’s efforts to protect our lakes and rivers.

 

Sea Grant funding for research, education, and outreach improves shoreline conservation, development and responsible use of water resources of all costal areas of the United States, including the Great Lakes and Minnesota’s inland lakes and rivers. Minnesota Sea Grant provides a lot of support to lake protection efforts across Minnesota (and other states) and directly to lake association groups.

 

Cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would impact Minnesota directly since GLRI provides $800,000 that is used to fund DNR level 1 and level 2 inspectors at boat ramps. It funds on the ground protection of our lakes. In addition GLRI protects drinking water, fisheries stability and health, Great Lakes shipping bio-security, safety, preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, sea lamprey and other Aquatic Invasive Species efforts in the entire Great Lakes basin. GLRI provides webinars on the latest science for AIS managers, supports research into AIS solutions, and serves as a main communications hub for AIS efforts in the Great Lakes basin. GLRI scientists correctly identified the AIS vectors into the Great Lakes, and were able to take action to block them. The Great Lakes have not had a new invasive species introduction since 2006. Since Minnesota’s main source of AIS is through the Great lakes, cuts to Sea Grant and GLRI will put every lake in the state at higher risk.

 

If you value lakes and rivers in Minnesota, these two organizations are critically important. Let your U.S. Congressperson and Senator know that you do not support cuts to these two programs.

Send Legislators an email urging them to protect funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Sea Grant.

Some boilerplate language has been provided, but please personalize the message, using your own words and with your own experiences.  Thank you for all you do to protect a simple Minnesota heritage – time spent at the lake with family and friends.

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