Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hope? It takes more than invoking TR...

I love the idea of a sportsmen's advocacy group with cojones. Non-profit status works for groups who want to finesse their way around issues and "compromise" with industry and their on-the-dole politicians (you get 90, we'll take 10 and declare victory). It's the groups that have lobbying power that make the most difference--hell, if you can't beat them, become them. Lobbyists, that is.

Unfortunately, the groups out there that claim to represent hunters and anglers almost always let us down. Take the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, for instance. Here's a group that should have the best interest of game and fish habitat at heart, and they ought to speak for sportsmen who depend on intact habitat for opportunity. Yet they run and hide when industry raises up on its haunches and decries the "radical environmentalists" who are getting in the way of progress. You know, those environmentalists that have the stones to actually want to protect habitat, like roadless lands across the West. You'd think RMEF would be all over that--it's a proven fact that the most successful hunting for big bulls takes place in areas that haven't been scarred by roads or ORV trails.

Nope. They turn a blind eye. Or worse--they enable the erosion of habitat, largely, it would seem, to protect their funding sources, which would be mighty pissed off if sportsmen--who are supposed to be all about energy independence, patriotism, apple pie and Karl Rove--got in the way of the next big energy lease.

Hell, the Safari Club, populated by monied, old white guys does more for conservation in this country than RMEF--and I would wager its political make-up is something Mr. Rove would be proud of.

Anyhoo... there's a new group out there that is making a big deal about having those cojones I mentioned earlier. The newly formed Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance is registered as a conservation organization with a lobbying arm--a voice for sportsmen in DC that can back up their efforts to convince politicians to do the right thing, and back it up with endorsements, something non-profits are forbidden to do. That ought to ge their attention, right?

Not so fast. Invoking the ghost of good, ol' Teddy Roosevelt has proven only so effective. Now, I firmly believe Roosevelt--a hell of a sportsman in his own right--helped launch the conservation movement in this country. But everything from his memory to his writings have been conveniently repressed (the DC monument with his name on it is tucked away conveniently on an island--out of sight, out of mind) by those who'd rather not feel the icy stare of the man who said things like "Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it."

Another conservation organization, The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, has been largely ineffective, but not because its heart isn't in the right place. It's, sadly, a small non-profit that likes to talk a good game, but its accomplishments have been outweighed by the 90-10 example above. TR's good name hasn't helped much.

Bull Moose? Jury's out. Of course, in my mind, one of its core goals is just lip service to bring the paranoid sector into the fold--why is it that sportsmen's groups can't walk across the street without stating the obvious? Of course the BMSA wants to protect the Second Amendment for sportsmen. Goes without saying. As I've noted before in this embryonic forum, nobody will ever have the political power to take our guns away. Instead, groups like Bull Moose ought to focus on protecting the places we need to put our Second Amendment rights to good use and quit wasting bandwidth trying to be so damned politically correct.

So far, seems like politics as usual. We'll see if this movement, which is largely confined to Colorado right now, can gather enough political power to counter the lobbyists from Big Oil and others who would rather see our public lands used to pad the pockets of industry than to serve as a reminder that this country has a heritage and a culture that is teetering on the edge.

Let's see if the BMSA has the fortitude to tell Washington to, "Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it." And then, of course, we'll see if they can back it up. I wish them luck.


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