Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Conservation Gets the Rusty Machete Treatment


July 21: Veto Pen for the Rusty Machete

July 12: The Full Appropriations Committee put the boots to the corpse leaving the work of the Subcommittee unchanged.

Thanks to Moldy Chum, Headwaters (with a hefty dose of info on the appalling bad HR 2018) and MidCurrent for helping get the word out. If you have added you voice let me know so I can thank you here.


An Appropriations Subcommittee in the U.S. House left conservation funding and policy a mutilated corpse on the floor of their hearing room yesterday.

The funding cuts don’t put conservation programs on life support, instead they just left the body on the floor to bleed out. And to make sure they sent a strongly worded message to those of us who care about conservation, they added provisions to the legislation that undermine critical conservation and environmental policies.

How bad is it?

Here is a sample courtesy of TU and NWF (follow the links for more details):

  • The Land and Water Conservation Fund: cut by 80%to $62M, an all time low for the program
  • North American Wetlands Conservation Act funding cut by 47% to $20M
  • USFWS Resources management budget cut 95% to 2.85M
  • State Wildlife Grants cut 64% to $22M

They hung a sign around the corpse with these provisions:

  • Stopping EPA from finalizing protections for wetlands and streams
  • Stopping a rulemaking to protect streams from mountain top removal mining
  • Blocking recent protections for the Grand Canyon watershed from mining

Folks, it is time to raise a stink about this and make our elected officials understand that habitat equals opportunity that creates economic activity!

If we don’t then we only have ourselves to blame.

Add your voice!

TU’s Steve Moyer aptly points out in their press release:
“Fishing and hunting generate $76.7 billion annually in economic activity in the U.S.,” said Steve Moyer, VP for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. “We can’t expect to sustain this powerful economic engine if we’re removing the very conservation programs that make it run.”
TRCP’s Steve Kline had this to say about the EPA provision:
“Clean water is an incredible economic engine, driving such industries as commercial and recreational fishing, hunting, boating and tourism. When water quality degrades, as we see in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay and now dismayingly on the Yellowstone River, the national economy suffers. We can ill afford to lose the millions of American jobs that depend on clean water, and unfortunately today’s subcommittee action may put our nation’s clean water jobs in real jeopardy,” said Steve Kline, director of the Center for Agricultural Lands at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Hal Herring gets it right in his post on The Conservationist

Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives zeroing-in on natural resource conservation programs at a time when conservation, tragically (and temporarily I hope) has become a political football toted mostly by Democrats.

Some of it has less to do with backlash politics than it does some shrewd elected lawmakers, schooled well in the grim arithmetic, who understand that slashing Medicaid will result in a kind of Frankensteinian flash-mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks, while defunding the clean water protection that has so vastly improved our waterways and lakes, even as our population has doubled, will go largely unnoticed (at least in the short-run) and may even win them some powerful friends in the would-be polluter lobby.

Teeg Stouffer, who runs Recycled Fish, emailed this:

My concern right now is that while it’s right to balance the state and national budgets, infrastructure / transportation / industry / energy have strong lobbies that make sure that those sectors are preserved. And while they are important to sustain a way of life our waters sustain life.

Leaders lose sight of the biggest things, or think that they’ll take care of themselves.  Left alone, they probably would, but we won’t leave them alone (see infrastructure / transportation / industry / energy).

And yet … hope and perseverance. This is no time to put down our shovels or our pens.

It is time to light our torches.

If they don’t see the light let them feel the heat.

Our elected officials either ignore the interests of anglers and hunters or they think nature will take care of itself. The case for other sectors is being made more effectively than the case for outdoor recreation. We are seen as “hobbyists” and our venues will take care of themselves or are not as important as the other sectors. Our interest are economically legitimate but poorly understood.

This is the worse I have ever seen in 30 years of doing conservation work. Unfortunately our years of wishful thinking that Republican’s care about sportsmen may finally be catching up with us. I don’t care whether you label it politics or culture, we are seeing how the Republicans in the House value our community and what we know is essential for hunting and fishing to survive in this country.

If the hunting and fishing community does not step up and express outrage over this assault on the very foundation of our traditions then we only have ourselves to blame.


NOTE: This post is being updated as more information comes in, check back now and then. 

Stay tuned, this is only gonna get worse…

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  1. Kathleen Shoemaker says:

    Why is it that the cuts to “help balnce” are done at our expense? Why not “Riff” or just let go of the countless excess baggae of Govt. workers? Those who sit in cushy offices. My point is, does it take 3 or 4 to do the work of 1? Let’s cut Govt instead

  2. Can conservation groups persuade the NRA to make common cause on these issues? That would get the GOP’s attention like nothing else.

  3. Tom Sadler says:

    Kathleen, it would be nice if our elected representatives would cut their pay and expenses proportionately, but that seems unlikely.

    fautso, the NRA has been MIA on this unfortunately. Unlikely they will be persuaded by conservation organizations. Their members need to speak up.

    Thanks for the comments!


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