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  • December 28, 2011

    Why You Should Watch "My Life As a Turkey"

    By Hal Herring

    It has always been my belief that every real and lasting conservation victory comes not from anger or a sense of loss but out of love for a place or a heritage, something powerful and positive. That kind of love is based in deep experience, and I wanted to make sure that Field and Stream readers are aware of a new (and free for viewing) movie made from one of my all-time favorite books, Illumination in the Flatwoods, by outdoorsman and wildlife biologist Joe Hutto. He grew up steeped in the turkey hunting traditions of the north Florida woods, and then, as a young man, embarked upon one of the most intense and unusual research projects ever undertaken.

    In the first chapter of the book, he writes of a hunt taken when he was twelve-years-old, his first time alone in the pre-dawn springtime woods, of listening to the world as it awakens, and realizing that a lone gobbler is stalking and studying him. “I never saw that great bird on that cool spring morning, but he inadvertently shared something important with me, and I would ever be the same. A wild turkey had changed my life.” Indeed, it did. And that was just the very beginning.

  • December 27, 2011

    Conservation Report: Shale Gas Extraction Could Leave a Mess for Wildlife

    By Bob Marshall

    Any sportsman who has followed habitat fights over the years knows this: Fish and wildlife always pay a price for fossil fuel extraction -- and if sportsmen are not involved in setting policies at the front end, disaster will almost surely follow for fishing and hunting.

    The latest example is the current rush to riches unleashed across the nation by the revolution in shale gas extraction. The general population sees this as a godsend in supplying a fuel source that is domestic and friendlier to the atmosphere than oil -- and is creating jobs and millionaires in the process.

    But the Philadelphia Enquirer recently reported sportsmen in Pennsylvania are finding out that, like most gold rushes, this one can trample their woods and waters. Construction of a trench for a 50-mile gas pipeline in Lycoming County left open to the elements "sent mud sliding down hillsides, fouling a stream." Now, "environmentalists and sportsmen have been raising alarms about the effects on the landscape. They worry about construction mud clogging waters and disrupting fish spawning, and about pipeline rights-of-way cutting swaths through forests, destroying treetop canopies."

  • December 22, 2011

    Conservation Report: Less Mercury, But More Damage by Invasives

    By Bob Marshall

    New Mercury Rules Good News for Fish, Wildlife and People

    The Environmental Protection Agency this week issued the long-delayed and debated "Mercury and Air Toxics Standards(MATS)" for power plants. The standards will require reductions of air emissions of mercury and air toxins harmful to humans as well as fish and wildlife habitat. It means that 40 percent of the nation's 1,100 coal fired power plants not using advanced pollution controls, will be required to upgrade to meet the new standards over the next three to four years.

    Power plants are the largest remaining source of toxic air pollutants (mercury, arsenic, cyanide) and are responsible for half of the mercury and 75 percent of the acid gas emissions in the United States. When fully enforced, the new rules could reduce the presence of those air pollutants by 90 percent.

  • December 21, 2011

    Conservation Report: Get a (Conservation) Job, Kid!

    By Bob Marshall

    Put 'em To Work -- on Conservation

    State and federal fish and wildlife agencies facing steep budget cuts will be happy to hear about a new grant initiative from the Obama Administration that seeks to put youth to work on conservation jobs across the nation. “America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists,” has a two-fold goal: Getting important conservation work done, and exposing more of America's youth to the outdoors.

    The initial phase of the grant program, to be administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, will leverage $1 million in existing funding from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, with at least $1 million in matching funds from corporations, foundations and other non-Federal partners to provide critical financial support for conservation jobs and job training programs.

    Over the past two years, Federal agencies and partners have provided more than 50,000 young people with paid work and service learning opportunities on public lands and waters.

  • December 15, 2011

    Conservation Report: Some Wetlands Survive--For Now

    By Bob Marshall

    Word from Washington yesterday indicates the omnibus spending bill will arrive on President Obama's desk without policy riders attached by the House GOP and favored by some Senate Republicans that would weaken environmental protections for wetlands and other fish and wildlife habitat.

    The Congressional Quarterly reported "Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the language included in the spending bill (HR 2354) that passed the House in July will not be part of the final omnibus measure under negotiation."

    Republican lawmakers have opposed a new wetlands guidance from the Obama Administration that would restore protection to some of the 20 million wetlands left open to development by Supreme Court decisions in 2002 and 2006. Wildlife officials say the wetlands affected--called isolated and temporary or "intermittent"--are essential to waterfowl nesting grounds on the prairies and riparian habitat in the west, responsible for 50 percent of the wild trout populations and essential to big game herds.

  • December 9, 2011

    Conservation Report: Will the Gulf Lose the Oil Spill Fines?

    By Bob Marshall

    Restore Act Needs Sportsmen’s Voices—Now

    Some $20 billion in fines from the Deepwater Horizon spill that should go to restoring fish and wildlife habitat in the Gulf could disappear into the nation's general treasury unless sportsmen get involved in the next few weeks.

    BP is expected to be hit with the bill within the next six months for violating the Clean Water Act with the estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil pumped into the Gulf from its accident. Current law sends those fines into the general treasury, where it can be used for anything from bank bailouts to congressional medical insurance.

  • December 6, 2011

    Conservation Update: House Sends Message Supporting Invasive Species

    By Bob Marshall

    House Votes to Allow Weaker Ballast Discharges

    Sportsmen and others concerned about the rising tide of invasive species lost a round to the shipping industry recently when the House voted to order the Environmental Protection Agency to use weaker ballast discharge standards established by that industry in setting new nationwide rules.

    Shipping ballast is known to have delivered dozens of invasives that have taken a heavy toll on fisheries and wildlife across the nation. States have been moving independently to stop the invasion, with 29 passing rules requiring strict cleaning and inspection of ballast. And the EPA is in the process of establishing nation-wide standards following a federal court ruling that made ballast and other water discharged form ships subject to regulations under the Clean Water Act.

  • December 5, 2011

    Congress Pushed to Limit the Number of Acres Elligible for CRP

    By Chad Love

    Powerful ag interests are pushing Congress to drastically limit the number of acres that can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

    From this story on argusleader.com:

    Soaring crop prices are coaxing landowners across the Midwest and Great Plains to put Conservation Reserve Program acreage back under the plow, and Congress is considering reducing the program even further. A farm bill that leaders of the congressional agriculture committees drafted this fall would cap the $2 billion-a-year Conservation Reserve Program at 25 million acres nationwide, down from the current limit of 32 million acres. When the program was created in 1985, the government was allowed to enroll as many as 45 million acres.

  • December 2, 2011

    Toxic Petroleum Sludge Headed for Colorado's South Platte River

    By Hal Herring

    A flyfisherman hunting late-season carp on Colorado's Sand Creek has discovered a plume of "black gunk" spilling into the water, and EPA clean-up officials are on-scene trying to stop the petroleum sludge from contaminating the South Platte River.

    EPA Emergency Response Manager Curtis Kimbel, quoted in the Denver Post, said the "gasoline-like substance" contained the carcinogenic chemical benzene, and was migrating from SunCor Energy's refinery, underground beneath land owned by the Metro Wastewater, and "daylighting" at Sand Creek.

    Here's a link to the fishermen's full story, complete with his acount of how difficult it can be to get a response to a threat our waters.