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Top 10 Underreported Conservation Stories of 2014 Named by Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released a comprehensive list of its Top 10 Underreported Conservation Stories of 2014. This is the first year that the TRCP, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, has produced this list.

"These stories comprise a choice cross-section of important conservation-related topics that failed to register with the public over the past 12 months," said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. "Right now, these issues couldn't be more relevant to American citizens. We'd like to refocus attention on the policy debates that have the greatest potential to alter Americans' abilities to access and enjoy our fish and wildlife, lands and waters.

"Conservation of our invaluable natural resources and upholding public opportunities to access and enjoy these resources is in everyone's interest," continued Fosburgh, "whether you fish for bass, trout or snook or hunt deer, pheasants or ducks – or simply appreciate open spaces and clean water."

Millions of acres of public lands off limits to the American people, a world-renowned – and critically threatened – Alaskan salmon fishery, unprecedented opportunities for restoration of the Gulf of Mexico and the threat to our nation's public lands heritage – these are among the underreported conservation stories that made the 2014 TRCP list.

Here are the TRCP's top 10 underreported stories of 2014, listed in order of importance:

1. America's national forests and parks for sale? A vocal group of lawmakers and activists is demanding that America's public lands – including some national parks – be transferred to state ownership or to be sold to private interests.

2. Money earmarked for conservation gets spent elsewhere. A federal program created to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and increase public access and recreation opportunities is being treated more like a slush fund.

3. Budgeting restrictions for wildfire management burn up cash. Wildfire suppression costs have consumed the U.S. Forest Service budget, preventing crucial investments in forest management and wildfire prevention programs.

4. World's largest marine reserve embraces recreational fishing. President Obama signed a proclamation in 2014 that not only expanded the footprint of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to six times its current size but allows recreational fishing in these rich waters.

5. Regulations for management of 245 million acres of public land being rewritten for the first time in decades. The Bureau of Land Management is updating its national land- use planning handbook, which federal land-use planners use to make decisions regarding 245 million acres of the public's lands.

6. Public denied access to 35 million acres of public lands. Approximately 35 million acres of U.S. public lands – roughly the size of Alabama – are virtually off limits to visitors.

7. Gulf of Mexico restoration offers once-in-a-lifetime conservation opportunities. Up to $20 billion in settlements from the BP oil spill represents an unprecedented opportunity to restore the Gulf of Mexico.

8. Federal red snapper regulations have anglers seeing red. Despite an abundance of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal season for recreational anglers shrank to nine days in 2014.

9. 'Not dead yet': Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine still a threat. Powerful international mining interests are redoubling efforts to develop the world's largest open-pit mine in southwest Alaska's Bristol Bay region.

10. While California fights, Western sportsmen and ranchers collaborate – and win. Sportsmen's groups, ranchers and farmers – groups with often competing interests when it comes to water use – are working together locally to improve water management during the current Western water crisis.

Visit the TRCP website for complete top 10 profiles and more information.

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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.

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CONTACT: Katie McKalip 406-240-9262 kmckalip@trcp.org

Source:Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership