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  • November 29, 2011

    Conservation Roundup: More Wilderness, but Less Habitat

    By Bob Marshall

    Nevada Wilderness Bill Gets Support from All

    So, we can just all get along!

    Far from the Sunday talk shows and the name-calling of the presidential campaign, a rural Nevada community has proven all interests--ranchers, sportsmen, farmers, miners--can find a way to protect fish, wildlife and wilderness. That was obvious when the entire Nevada delegation, both Republicans and Democrats, jointly introduced the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act, which would create a federally-protected wilderness from a 26,000-acre scenic range that boasts outstanding trout fishing.

  • November 23, 2011

    Conservation Roundup: Senate Amendment Threatens Waterfowlers and Anglers

    By Bob Marshall

    There's been little for sportsmen to thank Congress for lately, what with our public servants taking a $615 million bite out of conservation programs just last week in the name--falsely--of cutting the nation's deficit.

    So news that Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and Dean Heller (R-Nevada) want to permanently remove protection from 20 million acres of critical wetlands is even more egregious. This is the latest attempt to prevent Congress from addressing Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 that said the original Clean Water Act was not meant to protect "isolated and temporary wetlands." Unfortunately for sportsmen, it meant one-fifth of the nation's wetlands and as many as 2,000,000 miles of small streams would now be open to draining and development. These just happen to be among the most critical to waterfowl, including the prairie pothole region where most North American ducks are raised

  • November 18, 2011

    Conservation Roundup: Sportsmen Lose Millions

    By Bob Marshall

    $615 Million Cut from Conservation

    Sportsmen got a sneak preview of how much Congress values their issues earlier this week, and it wasn't pretty: House and Senate appropriators agreed to cut $615 million from key fish and wildlife conservation programs that support public hunting and fishing--not to mention the overall quality of human health.

    The cuts were contained in the 2012 “minibus” spending bill, so-called because it will only keep the government running another four weeks, rather than a regular "omnibus" spending bill which would have provided funding through the end of the fiscal year. 

    Among the drastic cuts announced:

    • Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program cut by $35 million.

    • Wetlands Reserve Program cut by approximately $200 million.

  • November 16, 2011

    Hunting Amidst Grizzlies: Always Respect the Bruin, and Remember Your Bear Spray

    by Hal Herring

    Hunter shoots charging griz in Badger-Two Medicine area
    By Karl Puckett

    A Kalispell elk hunter shot and killed a charging grizzly bear in the Badger-Two Medicine Area of the Rocky Mountain Front on Wednesday. It was the third instance of hunters shooting grizzly bears in self defense on the Front — and at least the eighth in northwestern Montana — since big-game rifle hunting season began three weeks ago.

    In an interview, Ben Laster, 28, described the shooting of the female grizzly as "the worst thing I've had to do in my life."

    I was hunting just east of the Scapegoat Wilderness boundary, about a week ago. In the half-light before dawn, the tracks in the snow on the game trail looked like they might be human. As the light came up, though, it was clear that they were grizzly tracks, the improbably huge mitten-like print with the perfectly round toes, the frozen steep ground scored by the big diggers, like a badger print blown up, a badger from an old black and white Godzilla movie. Most of the tracks were blurred—there was more than one bear traveling here, and it looked like we were all going to the same place, a little pass about a mile and half off.

  • November 16, 2011

    Conservation Roundup: Call Super Committee Before Conservation Budget Cut

    By Bob Marshall

    Let the Super Committee Hear from You

    Sportsmen who care about the future of their traditions have an important job over the next week: Let the congressional Super Committee on the budget know that more cuts in conservation programs will only increase the deficit, not lower it.

    The Super Committee is the bi-partisan group charged with outlining $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade by Nov. 23rd. Failure to agree would trigger automatic cuts of the same amount, most of which would come out of defense and domestic spending. Congress already has cut conservation spending by 30 percent earlier this year, putting vital fish and wildlife programs on the edge of collapse.

    Conservation groups fear the Super Committee is considering even more damage--but they worry those automatic cuts could be just as severe. The frustrating thing is that, as mentioned in many previous posts here, conservation spending actually turns a profit for the nation's treasury. So it's time for sportsmen to contact their congressional delegations and tell them "Hands off of conservation funding.” You can find out who your reps are, and how to contact them here.

  • November 10, 2011

    Conservation Update: Brook Trout Recovering from Acid Rain Damage

    By Bob Marshall

    Virginia Trout Making Progress on Long Road Back from Acid Rain

    Members of Congress trying to roll back or prevent new air pollution regulations might want to have a chat with Virginia trout anglers. It's been two decades since acid rain regulations went into effect, but the state's native brook trout population is only now making a significant comeback from that abuse.

    A new report from the University of Virginia found that between 1987 and 2000 only 55 to 57 percent of streams sampled were suitable to brook trout reproduction. But between 2000 and 2010 that number had jumped to 77 percent. According to the researchers, the lag in improvement reflected "the streams' ability to purge acidification that has settled for years into surrounding soils and that continues to leach into streams."

    The lesson here is that turning back regulations might allow polluters to make a quick buck, but results in long-term expenses for the rest of society.

  • November 9, 2011

    Conservation Update: Go Fishing, Create Jobs

    By Bob Marshall

    Fisheries Programs Tip the Economic Scale

    Here's even more ammunition for conservationists fighting the claim that the nation "can't afford" conservation spending in these tough economic times: A new report proves fisheries conservation programs contribute $3.6 billion to the nation’s economy, and supports 68,000 jobs across the country.

    The report "Conservation America's Fisheries, An Assessment of Economic Contributions from Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation" was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency.

    You've been seeing a steady stream of these "environmental protection creates jobs" stories lately for good reason. Since the Great Recession began in 2008, business lobbies such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute have spent hundreds of millions telling Congress and the American public that the nation should roll back protection for fish and wildlife habitat because they cut industry profits and "kill jobs."

  • November 3, 2011

    Conservation Update: How To Make A Farm Friendly to Wildlife

    By Bob Marshall

    Future-Friendly Farming Report Just in Time

    With Congress likely to chop funding for conservation sections of the Farm Bill, the timing couldn't be better for a new report from the National Wildlife Federation on wildlife-friendly farming practices. "Future Friendly Farming: Seven Agricultural Practices to Sustain People and the Environment" centers on these principles:

    • Cover crops increase water management capacity, reduce erosion and nutrient loss, and improve wildlife habitat.
    • Conservation tillage reduces erosion while increasing nesting cover for birds and wildlife.
    • Organic farming eliminates chemical use, increases soil fertility and increases wildlife habitat.

  • November 2, 2011

    Study: 9.4 Million American Jobs Rely On A Healthy Outdoors

    By Bob Marshall

    by Bob Marshall

    Sportsmen, Allies Make a Dollars-and-Cents Argument for Conservation

    Finally, some hard facts and figures on the reason America should not retreat on conservation and environmental protection during these tough economic times: Cutting those programs and rolling back those regulations would put at risk 9.4 million American jobs, $1.06 trillion in total economic impact, and $107 billion annually generated in tax revenue.

    That was the bottom line of a major initiative rolled out Monday at The National Press Club in Washington D.C. by "America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation” (AVCRP), a coalition that includes almost every major sportsmen's group, environmental organizations and historic preservationists whose programs are threatened with deep budget cuts. The complete list of organizations in AVCRP can be found in the signatories of this letter to Congress.

  • November 1, 2011

    Why I Think The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act Is A Good Idea

    By Hal Herring

    I truly believe that the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage proposal is one of the most thoroughly thought out plans I have ever seen. It doesn’t offend anyone or any group in any way. It truly leaves one of the world’s grandest remaining landscapes intact for future generations to experience and enjoy.”  -Roy Jacobs, hunter from Pendroy.

    Have you ever driven south along the Rocky Mountain Front from Babb, Montana, with Chief Mountain towering from the plains, the peaks and snowfields of Glacier Park staggering off to the west? Or drift down the near-empty highway, pulling over to glass for grizzlies in the distant aspen thickets bonsai’ed by fierce wind, cold temperatures, snow and summer’s parching heat? You can stop in Browning for gas and a Coke before travelling across the ether-clear Badger Creek to the Two Medicine River. Then you can head to the willow-enclosed Dupuyer Creek, passing the signs beckoning you westward at every washboard turnoff -- Swift Dam, Blackleaf Canyon, Ear Mountain, Teton River, Sun River. It's a country vast enough for a lifetime of exploring and then some.