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Scott Rall: Who exactly is the TRCP?

BY SCOTT RALL

The Globe outdoors columnist

The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce used an interesting statement a few years back.  I don’t know if they still use it today, but it went something like this: “Doing things other people think just happen.”

It does not matter if it’s running a Chamber of Commerce, which I think they do very well, or rallying around a sportsman’s cause; it takes people doing the work.  I became familiar with an organization a few years back called the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. I came across them in some reading I was doing and decided to find out a little more about what the organization does.

When I started looking around, I found out a lot more than I expected.  They have a three-part mission: habitat and clean water, sportsman’s access and outdoor recreation economy. I think they are most recognized for their public lands access advocacy because it has been in the news the most lately, but they certainly work in all three areas with great vigor.

Let’s just look at sportsman access for a minute. There are many thousands of acres of state and federal lands in North America to use for hunting, hiking, photography and many other outdoor pursuits.

Minnesota has a great history of managing its public lands for the benefit of Minnesotans.  This is not the case in many other states. There is a movement that has been brewing for the past two decades and over the past five years, in earnest, to transfer federal lands back to the states so they can use as them as they see fit. This might not sound like a totally dumb idea on the face of it, but the facts of the past show a very different story if you are a sportsman or other outdoor enthusiast.

The history of what happens to federal lands that are transferred to the states is a bad one in almost all cases. In many cases these lands that were open to the public get sold off to the highest bidder and become private for the utilization of their maximum profit potential.

That can mean the loss of important management programs that benefit the nation’s natural resources and all of the wildlife that inhabit these lands. The Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is the tip of the spear when it comes campaigning for the protection of  these lands and the resources that lie within their boundaries.

There is a state forest in Oregon that was possibly on the chopping block to be sold off to private interests. It holds within its 82,000 acres some of the most pristine habitat in the entire state.  Many residents and visitors chased the trout and other game that resided there.

It took years of fighting to ultimately protect this forest from commercial consumption. Sportsmen and women and the TRCP, along with the help of many other partners, helped stop the sale.

It is just one of the many fights that are fought on a daily basis to protect the lands. They are important to the people who use them and to the recreation industry that supports them.

I was in Tim Walz’s office in D.C. a few years back and he told me that the outdoor recreation industry in Minnesota was a greater economic engine then the entire pork production industry in the state he represented in total dollars and jobs created.

I know the pork industry is of great importance to the state and to those who participate in it. Nobody likes bacon more than me.  What it says is that hunting and fishing should not be minimized as part of the nation’s and Minnesota’s economic engines.

TRCP follows and informs on many other issues too numerous to cover in this column, but one other important piece they are working on -- which is on everyone’s mind, especially in Minnesota -- is clean water and the initiatives being introduced and used to protect and improve them, and in some cases, abuse them.

Minnesota has a lot going on in the state when it comes to clean water, but so does the nation even though many of us know little about them.  The United States Supreme Court has over the past few years made some rulings that have weakened the protection of different kinds of waters and changed how they can be used.

When there is an issue that is important to the core of the TRCP organization’s mission, members move on that issue and inform those affected to do what they feel is right.

The TRCP is a clearinghouse for dissemination of information that many sportsmen would never hear if the group did not exist. I have only scratched the surface of what the TRCP is and does, but there is an easy way for you to find out more.  Go to their website at TRCP.Org and you can easily read up on many of the issues they follow and campaign for.

If you want, you can clear your schedule for a few hours and learn a lot. I met several of the folks that work for TRCP at a media summit in Minneapolis last winter.  They are passionate folks who care about the environment and for those of us who enjoy it so.

They, like any other conservation organization can use a few of your dollars as well. Check them out, and if you feel as I do you, too, might consider them worthy of a few of your hard-earned dollars.

We need TRCP to keep doing the work they do that “other people think just happen.”  Teddy Roosevelt was a pioneer of the conservation movement in North America. Help the TRCP carry on his legacy. Check them out today.

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