Prominent sportsmen’s groups spoke out in support of measures in proposed U.S. Senate legislation that would help minimize the impacts of climate change and variability on fish and wildlife, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.

The Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act, S. 1881, would require federal resource agencies to plan for the projected long-term effects of climate change and encourage states to prepare natural resources adaptation plans while ensuring that these plans are guided by the best available science. In a letter to the bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Max Baucus, the sportsmen expressed concern about the future of hunting and angling in the face of increasing human development along with the impacts of climate change.

“We strongly support legislative approaches, such as those in the SAFE Act, that recognize the reality of climate change and create the national leadership and structure to minimize its anticipated effects,” said Noreen Clough, director of conservation of B.A.S.S. and signatory of the letter. “Our groups have been recommending the adoption of similar standards for fish and wildlife adaptation for years, and we urge these elements to be included in any forthcoming climate legislation.”

“Sportsmen are often the first to notice the impacts of our changing climate, which already is affecting where and how we hunt and fish,” said Dr. Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute, a signatory of the sportsmen’s letter, and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We commend the science-based approach that underlies the SAFE Act, and we urge the Senate to do its part to uphold the public’s hunting and angling opportunities by advancing the adaptation components of this legislation without delay.”

Maintaining ecosystems capable of supporting fish and wildlife populations is critical to the nation’s health, economy and natural services such as flood control, water filtration and groundwater security. With each passing season, the need to develop strategies to help fish and wildlife adapt to a changing climate becomes more pressing. Guided by the members of its Climate Change Working Group, the TRCP is engaged in ensuring that the issue of climate change and fish and wildlife adaptation are properly addressed in congressional legislation.

“Abundant outdoor opportunities, including hunting and fishing, are the dividends we reap when we exercise responsible management of our natural resources,” said TRCP Climate Change Initiative Manager Bill Geer, “and the fish and wildlife provisions in the SAFE Act set the course for on-the-ground actions that sustain these resources and consequently our sporting traditions. Sportsmen and professional fish and wildlife managers strongly support this pragmatic approach to resource conservation.”

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