We were warned
When Bob Marshal wrote, This will be the year that will test the commitment of the outdoors community, he gave us fair and early warning of the assault on conservation that was coming.
The conservation battles sportsmen fought to protect fish and wildlife habitat in the past may seem like speed bumps to the wall being raised in Washington this year.
Hal Herring took up the battle cry when he wrote Are There Any Politicians Who Really Understand Sportsmen’s Concerns?
What is disturbing is that we seem to have lost any conservative political leaders who understand sportsmen’s concerns, or, in the same vein, who recognize that there can be value in undisturbed land, or waters, or that intact ecosystems, with their healthy game and fish populations, also hold economic value in producing clean water, clean air, grazing, wildlife, flood or invasive weed control, all those elements that may not always add to the bottom line of corporate profit, but are the actual bottom line of life on this planet.
Not long after that Kirk Deeter added his voice in Should Conservation Be a Political Issue?
In my humble opinion, conservation shouldn’t be a political issue. It should be a cultural issue. And in that regard, I think those doing the real heavy lifting to protect wild places for fishing and hunting aren’t so much “green” as they are “camo.”
U.S. House takes an axe to conservation
Yesterday Deeter sounded the alarm loud and strong in his reaction to the US House of Representatives passage of HR1, Proposed Conservation Funding Cuts Could Devastate Fly Fishing Resources.
HR1 is a bill in Congress right now that would slash funding for a number of important conservation programs that impact fly fishing from coast to coast. I don’t care what your political persuasion is…if you’re a fly fisher, this should concern you, because any threat to habitat is a threat to opportunity. And in many cases, once a resource is gone, it’s gone.
Are you getting the message yet? If not, then you are not paying attention!
In 30 years of working with our federal government I have never seen anything as disheartening as this. The recent actions taken by the U.S. House of Representatives repesents a collosal lack of judgemt and a complete disregard for our nations outdoor sporting and outdoor recreation community.
TU helps us understand some of the damage wrought by HR 1:
The bill contains numerous harmful legislative riders, including:
• Stopping the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA from conducting a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protection for some wetlands and streams which were curtailed by two harmful and confusing Supreme Court decisions, Rapanos (2006) and SWANCC (2001).
• Removing funding for the Klamath River Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, a necessary step toward eventually removing four dams and reopening 350 miles of salmon habitat.
• Removing the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Army Corps authorized permits for the disposal of dredge and fill material and to designate as off limits certain areas for disposal of dredge and fill material.
• Preventing the use of federal funds to implement certain Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction programs, which help to restore coldwater habitat in the headwater areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
• Blocking the U.S. Forest Service’s Travel Management Plans, which were developed to prevent uncontrolled off-road vehicle use from damaging fish and wildlife habitat.
• De-funding the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, a law enacted last year with strong bipartisan support, which represents a broad coalition of restoration partners.
• Discontinuing rulemaking processes designed to protect streams from mountaintop removal mining.
“Conservation is most effective when it is collaborative and science-based,” said Moyer. “The riders in HR 1 put a halt to the scientific processes being used by federal agencies to develop effective protections for rivers and streams, and stymie collaborative efforts in places like California’s Klamath River basin and San Joaquin watershed.”
The bill also cuts funding for vital conservation programs:
• Eliminates funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, a highly successful, landscape scale, partnership-driven effort;
• Cuts the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enables conservation of habitats through purchase of fee title or easements from willing sellers around the nation, by $393 million from FY 2010 levels. Potentially hundreds of acres of land could fail to be conserved if this funding cut became law;
• Cuts the National Fish Habitat program, one of the best landscape scale fisheries habitat conservation programs in the federal government, by 28%;
• Drastically cuts funding for Great Lakes restoration;
• Eliminates funding for the State Fish and Wildlife Grants program, a bedrock partnership between state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
• Cuts important Farm Bill conservation programs. Permanently cuts the Wetland Reserve Program by almost 50,000 acres and cuts the Environmental Quality Assurance Program by more than $350 million from authorized levels.
“Hunters and angler conservationists are willing to shoulder our share of the burden for reducing federal discretionary spending, but a disproportionate burden should not be saddled on programs of critical value to sportsmen,” said Moyer. “We call on the U.S. Senate to draft a new version of this bill that is worthy of support of the sportsmen of the nation.”
Time to take action
When I wrote this post I intended it to be the foundation for posting a comment to Deeter’s post.
When I started to comment I got a bit wound up. Here is what I wrote:
It is this simple: conservation equals opportunity equals economic activity. HR1 is not governing, it is fiscal terrorism.
The lack of consultation with the leaders of the hunting and fishing community, the callous disregard of basic economics, the attacks on policy all make this a clear assault on America’s traditions of hunting and fishing.
Sure our elected officials need to address the nation’s fiscal challenges. The hunting and fishing community has demonstrated a willingness to share the burden. But putting an axe to conservation programs goes far beyond the federal government.
Those conservation programs are what create the opportunity the fuels the funding, paid for by hunters and anglers in license fees and excise taxes, that make it possible for your readers to enjoy hunting and fishing.
The lack of understanding by our elected officials and others of how conservation funding supports the user-pays, user-benefits programs like the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program is appalling.
Think there is a problem with access to hunting and fishing now? If this keeps up only the rich land owners are going be hunting and fishing in this country. And those who did not voice there objection will only have themselves to blame.
Now more then ever hunters, anglers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors need to tell their elected officials to stop this assault on conservation and the outdoor recreation economy.
As Deeter so eloquently put it,
Call their bluff. Ask them to get real. And tell them that our sacred fishing and hunting places matter.
If you don’t and we lose habitat, opportunity and our outdoor reaction businesses then you only have yourself to blame.
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