Wednesday, October 5, 2011

U.S. Chamber of Horrors

R. Bruce talks with the "fair and balanced" folks. What a knob.
It seems that big industry in this country is relentlessly continuing its attack on the public lands that belong to every single American. This time, it's the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that's going on the record and supporting the Fish and Game Subversives Act, which would open up millions of acres of high-quality fish and wildlife habitat to development.

And that, of course, is exactly what this right-wing outfit wants. Contrary to its very name, the USCC is not so much a friend to commerce as it is to big industry. Thousands of mom-and-pop businesses out there that are members of this organization are being duped into thinking this overarching outfit is out to help the flow of cash through their communities when, in reality, this slave to Big Business is simply doing the bidding of the industry that desperately wants to develop public lands for their subsurface minerals.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the evil mastermind behind the FAGS act that would open up unprotected public lands to eventual development and unchecked use by the reckless off-road vehicle community, USCC Executive Vice President for Government Affairs wrote: "This legislation would direct that these lands be managed for multiple uses, which would include increased recreational opportunities, responsible resource development and better access to enhance firefighting and insect control capabilities. The bill would allow local land managers and surrounding communities to determine through the local land management planning process how these lands should be used."
Ah, yes... R and W. Rich and White and out to rape
America's public lands.

It's proof that R. Bruce Josten (what kind of blue-blood uses an initial for his first name, anyway?) knows virtually nothing about the millions of acres of land in question and is simply parroting the message clearly delivered to him by the moneyed extraction industry that, more than anything, wants to build inventory and enslave the nation to decades more of fossil fuel dependence. If he had an orginal thought, R. would have considered the impact that trashing prime fish and game habitat would have on the long-term economy in rural America that depends on the billions of renewable dollars that flow into these communities each year thanks to hunters, anglers and others who have no trouble "accessing" these apparently inaccessible lands. He'd know that these lands are already subject to multiple use, even the kind he's so blindly supporting. In short, R. is a tool ... of the extraction industry.

And he's a dick, too.

It's one thing to have sell-out organizations like the Safari Club and the NRA (themselves political mouthpieces of the rich white guys who run outfits like Exxon-Mobil and Shell) throwing themselves into this arena and declaring the lands that are supposedly unfit for wilderness are now only of value if they're turned under in favor of oil and gas extraction. But to have the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the assumed parent organization (even though that's not true) of all chambers of commerce across the nation, ignoring the healthy, steady income that keeps much of the rural West afloat in favor of short-term gain for the richest of its members is unconscionable.

Are these lands unfit for wilderness? That's debatable. Are they only worth something if they're opened up to the rape-and-ruin plans put forth by the USCC and the right-wing extraction industry? Uh, no. There are millions of acres of roaded front-country land that every American with a desire can access, and then there are roadless lands that provide vital refuge for big game herds, irreplaceable habitat for wild fish and, oh yeah, unfettered access to every American with the will to take a step up a trail without the help of a fucking machine. And then there's wilderness, industry's favorite four-letter word. Why is there an assumption that, if land isn't appropriate for wilderness distinction (and wilderness, too, is accessible to every single American with the nerve to walk) then it must only be good for industrial and motorized destruction?

That's the USCC for you... a slave to industry, not the servant of America's small businesses.

And that's not my original thought. Take the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts, which recently cancelled its membership in the USCC, citing the organizations bias toward industry and its lack of assistance to simple business. 

Harry Robinson of the Brookline, Mass., Chamber of Commerce, said his organization made an effort to further distance itself from the USCC because, "I think they are viewed in some circles as more in favor of large corporations as opposed to small businesses..." 

Hmm. Imagine that. And that's from some far-flung chamber in Massachusetts, where roadless lands are but a rumor.

So, while big business and industry continue their assault on the best of what's left of our public lands, it falls to hunters and anglers to get off their collective ass and start communicating with the bought-and-paid for douchebags in Congress, who will do the bidding of industry because, frankly, it was industry that paid to get them elected

Remind Congress, particularly those right-wingers in the West, that we've seen the impact industry and unchecked motorized access have on fish and game habitat and our ability to hunt and fish on public lands. Tell them that the money we spend in these rural communities we visit as we fish and hunt is real money, and that we spend it every single year in restaurants, convenience stores, motels and retail stores. It pays the bills for rural America, and will for generations to come if they'll just leave well enough alone.

Industry has its inventory already. Much of the West is leased and awaiting development. Drill there. Leave the good stuff alone. The real Americans who hunt, fish, hike and camp will thank you for it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

RMEF ... Mistake Corrected

Good job, RMEF. Now get on board
and hate FAGS with the rest of us.
Holy crap, did you see this?

It would seem that sportsmen who understand the connection between roadless habitat and elk survival and proliferation got through to the thick-headed brass at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and got that esteemed old organization to actually back away from its support of the Fish and Game Subversives Act (also known as the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, but I'm a "call-'em-like-I-see-'em" kind of person).

This is fantastic news, and if you take the time to read the comments under this Field and Stream blog, you'll realize quickly where the real hunters in America are coming from. I couldn't be prouder of my brothers and sisters out there who actually took the reins away from the leadership at RMEF and guided the organization in the direction it should have been facing all along. Just think how much grief RMEF could have avoided if it actually listened to its members rather than its buddies in Congress who could give a shit about the future of hunting and fishing in this country.

Now that RMEF is not supporting the FAGS Act, there'll be those who take a few cheap shots at the group for flip-flopping on this issue, but take heart. The Safari Club and the NRA are still firmly supporting this legislation because ... well, I'm not really sure. Perhaps it's because they're doing a favor for the rich white guys within the extraction industry who want more public lands they can pillage. Just a guess, really.

I'm pleased the RMEF saw the light, but I refuse to withdraw my attack against the organization until it actually climbs on board with the hunters and conservationists who make up its ranks and actively opposes this incredibly harmful legislation. What say you, RMEF? You've shown you have some balls. Now show us how big they are.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is RMEF on the Take?

You'll recall that I scolded the Safari Club for joining an effort that's actually counter to productive hunting and fishing when it signed on to support the "Wilderness and Roadless Release Act of 2011," a payback bill from U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming to their industry cronies who paid to get them elected.

Open up the backcountry to motorheads
and industry? No way, bizatch!
SCI deserves a good bitch-slapping.

But the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation? One of the most reputable sportsmen's advocacy organizations on the planet? The group that raises more money than God, and then translates that money into action on the ground by protecting elk and big-game habitat? That Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is supporting the "Fish and Game Subversives Act of 2011?"

Yep. According to letter dated July 11, 2011, RMEF joined SCI and the likes of Whitetails Unlimited, the Campfire Club of America and, of course, the ultimate foam-at-the-mouth outfit, the NRA.

Memo to the brass at the RMEF: You've shown your stripes. You're not who we thought you were. It would appear that you, like the two on-the-take legislators who are sponsoring this bill, are bought and paid for. The sportsmen who visit your annual "Elk Camp" and spend thousands of dollars on raffle tickets and auction items must now consider themselves betrayed. You sold out to bigger money, deeper pockets ... industrial interests. You betrayed us.

RMEF ... supporter of FAGS, and probably fags
Why? I wish I knew.

Because you, RMEF, above all others, understand that the best elk habitat left on the planet is contained within the roadless and wilderness study lands that make up such a small percentage of our public lands. You, above all others, understand that hunting opportunity and success is greater in areas that are intact and healthy. You, above all others, understand that the average hunter can't afford to step behind a high fence or a "Posted" sign to go hunting (and most of us wouldn't if we could, dipshits). But you put your name on this bill, and you're behind the FAGS Act all the way.

We're all a bit disappointed, to say the least. I know I've attended my last Elk Camp (I'm going to Reno next year, but I'm blowing my cash on 'hos and blow instead). I'll be sure to wander by the convention and let you know how I really feel about your sell-out organization, though.

Thanks for nothing, douchebags.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Roadless vs. Brainless?

So, I mentioned in my last post that a host of bought-and-paid-for politicians are giving into special interests and are out to reduce the last, best chunks of American public real estate to front-country playgrounds for the motorhead douchebags that can't seem to live with the idea that they're not the only people in the country who use public lands.

But, I was surprised to see one well-known–and much respected–outfit on board with the plan to release all of America's roadless land and all of its wilderness study areas from their present state of protection.

First for hunters? Uh...not so much.
The Safari Club, the group of well-heeled sportsmen that has done more for wildlife conservation in this country and around the world than just about any environmental group out there, mysteriously appears on the bill's list of supporters, next to the likes of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the United Four-wheel Drive Associations. The last three make sense. Our country's roadless lands stand in the way of free-for-all eight-cylinder activity that has proven absolutely tragic to fish and game habitat.

But the Safari Club? WTF?

Who missed the memo here? It's no secret that America's roadless lands are home to our healthiest game herds and the last of our native fish. Keeping them intact is a no-brainer.

So... who else is on that list? Check it out for yourself. You'll see the usual suspects–you know, the eighth-grade educated advocacy groups whose members spend more time tearing up the landscape in big trucks or on ATVs than they do actually appreciating the backcountry for what it is (my theory is that they're compensating for little, tiny peckers, but what do I know?). Oh, and don't forget the NRA, the outfit that claims to represent hunters, but really and truly wants to safeguard your God-given right to own a bazooka. They're on the list favoring those who support the destruction of our country's hunting and fishing heritage.

And make no mistake about it. Removing the meager protections afforded to what's left of America's backcountry habitat is a shot to the heart of the ethical hunter or angler who understands that these wild places do more for our hunting and fishing opportunity than the NRA or the Safari Club will do in thousand lifetimes.

To say I'm disappointed in the Safari Club is an understatement. This is an organization that has staunchly represented sportsmen the world over, carrying water for a little-understood philosophy that sportsmen, by necessity, are among the world's leading conservationists. This hard right turn makes no sense to me, and leads me to believe this decision is based on something other than the organization's traditional position on habitat protection.

If you're a Safari Club member, you might want to reconsider that investment. As of now, it's going to support the desires of the motorized and extractive-use industry that is completely unforgiving of fish and wildlife habitat. And that, of course, means the Safari Club is supporting the degradation of our hunting and fishing. Again... it makes no sense.

I suppose the argument could be made that the Safari Club is supporting access for folks who might not be able to wander into the backcountry without the help of a machine. To that, my answer is simple. There are more roads and motorized trails on public lands than we can possibly hope to navigate in a lifetime. Opening up the best of what's left to the notoriously irresponsible motorized community is a dire mistake we'll all regret.

Get with the program, Safari Club. You're better than this.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Usual Suspects

Ahem... first, an apology. I kind of dropped off the face of the earth there for a bit. The "day job" has been particularly demanding lately, and I just haven't had the energy to respond to every brain-dead moron who wants to trash America's public lands and ruin the hunting and angling legacy these great places provide.

Until now...

It seems The Usual Suspects are back at it. Since they haven't had any luck kicking Medicare to the curb, and since they've spent the first six months of the new Congress tackling symbolic legislation in order to make the other party look like a bunch of pansies (which, let's face it, ain't too tough), the Republicans bolstered by the Tea Baggers are now out to repay their cronies in the industry. The idea, they say, is to open all this wasted public land here in the West to "multiple use."

And, of course, we know what that means, right? Oil and gas. And off-road vehicles, of course. Because there's nothing easier than pleasing a bunch of high-school graduates who like to rip and snort through perfectly good country just for the hell of it.

The Blue-Ribbon Coalition is just giddy at this latest effort, called the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, to hamstring the protective status of the West's best fish and game habitat. This bill would remove the protections from 43 million acres of Bureau of Land Management wilderness study areas and U.S. Forest Service roadless areas and open them up to "access" for the little guy.

Well... that's a little deceptive. All of us elitists who want to lock up the land from "Joe Six Pack" can get into the backcountry with a good pair of $60 hiking boots. The "regular guy" this bill would benefit owns a $7,500 Polaris four-wheeler with knobby tires and some impressive horsepower. Who's the elitist, I wonder?

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso
And, yes, it's the usual suspects who are pushing for this bill, and, as usual, it's a bill that's really aimed at making it easier to turn the West into a industrial pincushion, with a bonus for the thrill-seeking ORV rider who drinks the Kool-Aide, no questions asked. I mean, these guys are Republicans, right? They can't do anything wrong, can they?

Usual suspect No. 1: Wyoming's own John Barrasso, a bought-and-paid-for oil and gas advocate who's in debt to the tune of $179,000 to the oil and gas industry (his No. 3 campaign financeer, behind the health professionals industry and the GOP leadership PAC). It's no surprise that this dude wants to release 12 million acres of BLM wilderness study areas and remove millions of acres in U.S. Forest Service system from the roadless inventory–he's got to make good on his promise to perform legislative felatio on his energy industry benefactors.

Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico
Barrasso's bill is the mirror image of a bill put forth in April in the House. This "twin brother" bill was introduced by Usual Suspect No. 2, U.S. Rob Bishop of Utah, who owes the energy industry almost $20,000 worth of favors (No. 2 on his donation list behind ... sigh ... lobbyists). Also involved in this piece of legislation, which would gut the protective status on some of the best hunting and fishing ground in the country, are Usual Suspects Nos. 3 and 4, Reps. Steve Pearce of New Mexico ($319,000!) and Kevin McCarthy of California ($68,000).

It seems the notion of public lands that belong to every single American rubs these guys the wrong way. God forbid we protect a small portion of the untracked backcountry to ensure the next generation of hunters and anglers the opportunity to stalk game and cast for wild trout in landscape that looks just like it's supposed to look.

But, hey, we know our problem. We can't muster the resources to cough up thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to get these guys to bat an eye. We don't have the cash, baby. We barely matter.

And, until that changes ... until we can muster the support from within our educated ranks and throw these bought-and-paid-for "lawmakers" out on their ear, we're going to have to beat back every single effort they undertake to take away our birthright. It's really our fault. It's our own apathy (and the propensity of many of us to mistakenly vote for the wrong set of douchebags) that keeps us from having the appropriate amount of influence on The Usual Suspects.

Thankfully, these bills are a lot like the others the GOP has pushed out like cheesy turds this session--symbolic. They don't have the votes in both houses, but they're doing their best to prove to their financial and ideologic benefactors that they're willing to get dirty to accomplish a little bit of evil.

Meanwhile, we're in "react" mode. The solution? Sadly, we have a couple of Novembers to go before we can do much about it. But, if you're interested in letting these stooges know we're onto them, get in touch with them and say something.

Couldn't hurt, right?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

'Won't Take Yes for an Answer'

In an increasingly common display of partisan douchebaggery, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah is actually opposing the diversification of our domestic energy production on public lands. Apparently, the rotund, bought-and-paid congressman is a live-in-the-now kind of cat–to hell with the future of hunting and fishing (and why not throw in breathing clean air and drinking clean water while we're at it). He's not going to live long enough to deal with his own self-centered mistakes.

He's an oil and gas stooge. A one-trick pony. No matter how much sense it makes to invest in research and development of clean, renewable energy resources, this guy simply won't bend, instead insisting that, before we consider new long-term sources of energy in this country that might allow us to keep our public lands healthy and intact for future generations, we bleed every acre of public land dry of fossil fuels. Oh, and did I mention that he's the chairman of a public lands subcommittee in Congress? Friggin' awesome.

You try and figure it out. I'm stumped.

This is a dude who simply works for industry, and he's doing it on our nickel. Here's proof, as mentioned in a recent Salt Lake Tribune editorial:

  • Presently, the United States has more producing oil wells than at any time since 2002. We are producing about a fourth of our own oil consumption (about 5 million barrels of day of our 18 million barrels-a-day habit). Keep in mind this is after the Deepwater Horizon disaster last summer that is, if you believe Bishop and his GOP cronies, hampering domestic production.
  • We've reduced dependence on foreign oil by 25 percent by ramping up domestic production, but, no matter how many holes we'll drill, we'll never be able to match our present oil consumption. The reason? Uh, we just don't have the oil.
  • We've leased almost 40 million acres of public lands for oil and gas development. We've drilled less that half of it. 
  • President Obama, in the midst of a budget crisis, devoted significant attention to this issue last week when he talked of the need to diversify our domestic energy production while still using oil, gas and "clean" coal to bridge the gap to the next generation of fuels.
He won't support drilling for oil because ... he supports
more drilling for oil. 
All this, and Bishop still isn't satisfied. We must sell more oil and gas leases, he says (or, if you're like me, you see the truth: "We must build inventory, so my asshole buddies in the industry will have something do when we finally dump this Muslim, foreign-born, Kenyan spy the silly Democrats elected in 2008"). We must drill our way out of this problem (Sarah Palin must be whispering in his ear–amazing how much influence the MILF factor has, isn't it?). We must continue to enable the industry to record billions in annual profits, by God.

What a tool. I would wager that, had George W. Bush delivered the message that expanding domestic energy production to include solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear energy, Bishop would have noted the wisdom of using fossil fuels as a bridge to the future (and the continued stream of industry money into his campaigns) and wholeheartedly supported it.

But, since the plan comes from the other side of the aisle, he's busy getting all red-faced and indignant. As the Trib said, Bishop won't take 'yes' for an answer.

And here's the irony. He's opposing a bill that would create jobs at no cost to the taxpayer and without borrowing money from foreign governments simply because it requires some environmental accountability from the industry as it seeks to drill–yes, Rob, drill!–for oil and gas, both onshore and off. We've seen what can happen without proper oversight, and not just last summer. We've seen it right here in the West, where hydraulic fracturing chemicals are turning up in domestic water wells; where drilling mud spills and then spends the winter frozen in a waterfall; where surface water is tainted; where air quality in western Wyoming is worse than it is in downtown Los Angeles; where mule deer herds simply vanish for lack of winter range. Nah. We don't need oversight. We don't need accountability. Benzene is like sea salt–it's great on steak.

Oh, and here's some more irony. By opposing the bill, as the Trib points out, Bishop is trying to micromanage the Department of Interior. He's inserting more government into the equation, not less. He's demanding that Congress have some management authority on land managed by a executive branch secretary. If that doesn't raise the hackles of every sportsman who understands that quality fishing and hunting depends on having places to fish and hunt left intact, what will?

Wake up, Utah. This creep is mortgaging our future to subsidize his cushy job on The Hill. Need proof? His top campaign contributors? Lobbyists. No. 2? Oil and gas

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sportsmen for Lies and Propaganda

You know when your right-wing, politically motivated propaganda is disavowed by the uber-conservative National Rifle Association, you're treading new ground in the conservation arena.

Pardon me. That should read, "conservation" arena.

I give you Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, which turned heads a couple weeks back when someone on the staff sent out a news release claiming the NRA, Safari Club International and the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus, among other right-leaning groups with a dog in the hunting rights right, all opposed the effort to delist wolves from under the Endangered Species Act and return their management to the states where the top-tier predators live. Wisely, the NRA, SCI and CSC all support the delisting efforts and the plan for state management. It's likely the only way in the near future that hunters will have a (legal) shot at wolves in the West.

And, when the SFW release hit the media world, all three organizations above immediately cried foul. And rightly so. They cautioned the media and members of Congress to "thoroughly investigate and independently confirm" any claims made by Utah-based SFW. Good advice.

Apparently, simply delisting the wolves and having them managed in a common-sense manner by states that would treat the critters as game animals, just isn't enough for the foam-at-the-mouthers at SFW. The idea, evidently, is that delisting them and having them managed as anything other than vermin is unacceptable. Welcome to the All or Nothing Club, SFW. I'd like you to meet your fellow members, starting with the douchebags at Eart First! and ending with the booger-eaters at Lobo Watch. Don't worry... you'll fit right in.

But I'm deluding myself, and you, if you're paying attention. SFW has always been in this club. This is a group that claims on its website to represent sportsmen by protecting habitat and seeking ways to increase wildlife populations across the West, but wouldn't get involved in the effort to protect over a million acres of prime wildlife habitat in the Wyoming Range from future oil and gas extraction. They also rarely, if ever, get involved in efforts to restore native fish populations in the West, assuming instead that, so long as there are hatcheries, we'll have fish. So much for that "habitat" argument.

But the real kicker is that this group, again, according to its website, has 15,000 members. That's just plain scary. Here we have an organization that's willing to play fast and loose with the reputations of other sportsmen-oriented organizations, all while it claims to represent sportsmen on its own. Imagine the damage this group is doing by "representing" sportsmen before Congress on issues like wolf management, habitat protection and natural resources discussions that will impact our sporting success well into the future.

More importantly, the black eye SFW just received when the NRA, SCI and CSC called them out for their unethical and underhanded activities is shared among all hunters and anglers.

Be careful which group you join, folks. SFW isn't worth your charity dollars, not if you want to keep your integrity when you claim the donation on your tax return. You especially shouldn't join a group that's now officially an Adversary of the Sporting State.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Toothless Motorheads Find a New Hero!

So, we all know these days that Congress is out to cut our federal deficit and trim away wasteful government spending. Nobody, not even the most liberal, left-wing, bordering-on-Marxist zealot, can dispute the need to bring some fiscal common sense to Washington.

But, as is typical of the smarmy cretins that seem penetrate our government with agendas that are more political than they are representative, even this process, which should involve sacrifice from all corners, is now laced with vitriol and the seedy agendas of those who would scuttle progress in favor of pleasing a few special interests.

And sportsmen are going to take another shot to the pooper if we're not careful.

Congressman Wally Herger standing up for... himself.
The culprit? U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, a Republican from California. He's introduced an amendment to a House resolution that's actually rife with amendments that are, at best, harmful to our natural resources and to the sporting public. But Herger's amendment, which would nix the U.S. Forest Service's six-year effort to manage travel on land it manages, might be the most egregious, and it would certainly have an impact on hunters and fishermen who value hunting and fishing on public lands without some obese, toothless goober motoring up the trail behind him and asking, "Seen any elk?" before he charges through an adjacent trout stream on his way uphill.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Adversary of the Sporting State: Montana Rep. Jeff Welborn

It's simple, really. Follow the money.

Now, in this case, it's not a hell of a lot of money, but after reading a post in Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing about a Montana state representative who's trying to undo much of the good that was done a couple years back, when the state Legislature finally cleared up exactly what "public access" was in Montana, even a little bit of money can make some folks undertake foolish errands.

So, here's what's happening (the short version). Rep. Jeff Welborn, a Republican rancher from Dillon, Montana, is trying to hamstring the state's incredibly foresighted public access law that allows anglers to follow navigable waterways on foot, so long as they stay within the high-water mark of those streams and access them from public rights of way (like a highway bridge, for instance). The big argument a couple years back was really over what constituted waterways, and what were deemed private "ditches" and off limits to the wandering fishers.

After years of legal wrangling that involved folks like pop-rocker Huey Lewis and his claim that Mitchell Slough on the Bitterroot River that runs through his property is actually a private impoundment (it ain't, Huey... you may believe in the Power of Love, but you apparently couldn't give a rat's ass about public access), the Legislature and then-state Rep. Kendall Van Dyk, a Democrat from Billings, made it clear what constituted public access and what didn't.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lobo Watch: This Week's Adversary of the Sporting State

You know how I feel about extremists, and how extremism–in any fashion, from any political perspective–quells sensible debate and brings emotion, vitriol and unproductive rhetoric to any discussion. This week's Adversary of the Sporting State would have you believe he's a sportsman, himself. Truth be told, he's just another foam-at-the-mouther with an axe to grind.

Toby Bridges runs the website Lobo Watch, I'm assuming out of his mom's basement in Missoula, Montana. He's an affirmed hater of the gray wolf (honestly, this isn't just another post about wolves), but his hatred, of late, is being shotgunned around the conservation world, and he's challenging some organizations that have built their reputations on protecting wildlife habitat and hunter and angler opportunity in this country.

One of Toby's latest manifestos is aimed at the National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates, specifically the Montana Wildlife Federation. If you believe the rhetoric coming from Lobo Watch, you likely think the NWF and the MWF are front organizations for Earth First! and are a hindrance, not a help, to the sporting public. Truth be told, there might not be a more effective, more moderate conservation organization in the country, but don't tell that to Toby. He's convinced this national conservation organization and its Montana state affiliate are out to shut hunters down.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Far Left and Far Right ... More in Common that You Might Think

When it comes to natural resource policy in the West, the moderate, middle-of-the-road citizen lacks a voice. That's because the extremists on the far left and the far right get so worked up that they monopolize public meetings, spit vitriol into microphones and spend a good portion of their time holed up in their rickety cabins hammering away at their manifestos.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that the extremists have more numerous and more effective avenues from which to preach their message, and, quite frankly, they're sensational behavior is more sexy to the press. But what those of us who gather closer to the center of the political spectrum are beginning to realize is that the far left and the far right have more in common than they do with the people who listen quietly, ponder important issues and then work to actually get things done. Our voices might not be loud, but we tend to get the heavy lifting done, even if it takes a while.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Adversary of the Sporting State

I thought I'd start a new feature at the Political Sportsman, largely because ethical hunters and anglers all over the country are faced with real threats from some of the folks who purport to defend our rights to fish and hunt, all the while working with special interests to erode our opportunities, often right under our noses.

And, rather than stoop to Tea Bagger rhetoric or place a "surveyor's symbol" over the district of the politician who, through his or her actions, is harming our hunting and fishing way of life, I just decided to go with something respectful, yet blatantly clear to both the hunting public these people impact, and to the politicians and agency officials themselves, who by word or deed, diminish the uniquely American pastimes of hunting and fishing on land belonging to every citizen of the state. Hence, the title Adversary of the Sporting State.

Friday, January 21, 2011

There's Hope Yet...

If you're reading this, chances are, you've arleady ventured by Hal Herring's Field and Stream blog, "The Conservationist." And if you've been paying attention over the last week or so, you're probably encouraged.

And rightly so.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Big Bad Wolf ... Not the One You're Thinking Of

Why it took U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar two years to restore administrative authority to the Bureau of Land Management when it comes to protecting some of the best hunting and fishing country in the West is beyond me. But predictably, it took extremists like U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop about five minutes to start whining about the return to the way things used to–and ought to–be.

Back when Gale Norton occupied Salazar's office in D.C., she conspired with the likes of Bishop to effectively hamstring the BLM and prohibit the federal land management agency from, well, managing land. Specifically, Bishop and his bought-and-paid-for buddies in Congres didn't want any more wilderness  or wilderness study areas on public land, particularly in Utah. See, wilderness locks out industrial development while protecting fish and wildlife habitat. In other words, Bishop's campaign financiers (read, the extractive industry lobby) would be unable to drill, mine, rape and pillage on land belonging to every single American if that land–worthy as might be–were to be designated as wilderness or a wilderness study area.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Foaming at the Mouth

I learned a new term this week to describe the rabid extremists out there. Thanks to the blog, Eat More Brook Trout, I now have a phrase to describe the over-the-top folks who want things their way, or no way at all. Foam-at-the-Mouthers.

I love it, and I'm shameless commandeering it from that blog (my apologies). And it applies to both extremes of the political spectrum, especially in the sporting and environmental communities. I'd lump in the nuts at PETA with the equally egregious anti-wolf whack jobs who are intent on trying to convince the huddled masses that the wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies are a subspecies new to the American side of the border (because, you know, with tightened security at the check station, they weren't able to cross over into the United States for lack of valid passports).

Extremism is a bad idea in any form, but to legitimate hunters and anglers who understand that habitat is the great equalizer, not whether we have too many–or two few–predators on the ground, the extreme right-winger can be just as harmful as the hard-core green weenie. These extremists are the guys who have identified a scapegoat (wolves, for instance) and have zeroed in on it so closely that they've lost touch with the big picture.

As most good hunters and anglers know, habitat is the key to a healthy ecosystem. The things that really matter are water quality, availability of cover and forage, access from winter range to calving and feeding grounds and back... you know, HABITAT. If you have good habitat, you'll have good game herds, no matter what country the wolves in the neighborhood have stamped on their passports.