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.