May 10, 2021

CSF Chimes in on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forest Conservation Solutions


Why it matters: On January 27, President Biden issued an Executive Order (Order) on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” As directed in this Order, the U.S Department of Agriculture published a Federal Register notice seeking public input on existing and innovative opportunities to install climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices. In response, CSF submitted a formal comment letter highlighting the importance of existing programs and how they can mitigate the effects of climate change, while maintaining support for the inclusion of key stakeholders, including the sporting conservation community, in ongoing conversations related to climate change and conservation efforts. Using concepts that the sporting conservation community has championed for decades, it is incumbent upon sportsmen and women to ensure the success of existing science-based conservation practices on our nation’s public and private lands is recognized in discussions about climate policy.

On April 29, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to a Federal Register notice seeking public input on climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices and programs. This comment period was initiated by President Biden’s January 27 Executive Order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” As directed in the President’s Executive Order, USDA posed a series of agriculture and forestry-related questions to garner public insight on the use of existing and novel programs to address contemporary conservation challenges.

In response to the USDA’s Federal Register notice, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation prepared formal comments intended to answer several of the questions posed by the agency. CSF’s responses largely focused on past and ongoing conservation successes stemming from many of the agency’s existing programs, including several of the Farm Bill’s conservation programs and successful practices utilized by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Many of these programs rely on active management practices to achieve conservation successes, but CSF reiterated the ability of these same management practices to mitigate the effects of climate change. Further, CSF encouraged the USDA to continue to work with key stakeholders, including conservation professionals and members of the sporting conservation community, to ensure that existing and future practices and programs are rooted in the best available science to achieve conservation successes.

Charged with the management of our nation’s national forests, as well as the implementation of numerous conservation programs on both public and private lands, USDA has tremendous potential to affect conservation successes around the nation. However, CSF maintains that the practices and programs implemented by the agency in response to climate change should also include considerations for other conservation challenges, including those impacting our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and access for sportsmen and women. Further, CSF continues to highlight the importance of voluntary, incentive-based private lands conservation programs that allow landowners to incorporate conservation activities at their discretion while maintaining viability of their working lands. For more information on USDA’s Federal Register notice, click here.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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