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  • September 27, 2012

    The Latest Sportsmen Surveys...and What They Mean to Sportsmen

    By Hal Herring

    By now, most sportsmen with an internet connection know the results of some interesting recent polls: there are more people hunting and fishing in the U.S. than there were several years ago, most of those people want more environmental protections for the lands and waters where they fish and hunt, and the majority of those hunters and fishers identify themselves as conservative.

    Even if it means putting up with some new people on our favorite creek, or running into a couple of orange-clad newbies in our elk country, the increase in hunters and fisher numbers is a positive for all of us. First it means more revenue for our state fish and game departments, many of which have been pretty well starved in recent years. That revenue translates into good biologists for better wildlife management, better law enforcement to keep fish and wildlife populations from getting hammered at a time when grocery store prices are at record highs, and commercial poaching operations are on the rise. The revenue can translate into habitat purchases, more and better public access, partnerships with private landowners to do everything from restoring wetlands to reducing the negative impacts of farming and logging, to creating blockbuster habitat for wildlife from bobwhites to whitetails.

  • September 25, 2012

    New Poll Shows Most Sportsmen Tend To Be Environmentally-Minded Conservatives

    By Bob Marshall

    A new poll released today reaffirms what previous research has pointed out for years: America's sportsmen strongly favor environmental protections over industrial development, regardless of their political affiliation.

    The election-year poll, conducted by Chesapeake Consulting for the National Wildlife Federation, clearly targeted opinions of sportsmen based on their political affiliation. Responses to key fish, wildlife and environmental issues were divided by Republican, Democrat or Independent voters.

    While the responses from Democratic sportsmen closely tracked their party's support for those protections in Congress, Republican sportsmen clearly broke with the GOP's recent agenda of rolling back fish and wildlife protections and programs.

  • September 20, 2012

    Hedge Fund Manager Donates 170,000 Acres of Wild Lands in Colorado

    By Bob Marshall

    Journalists often are stumped for the right words to explain amazing news that comes across their desk. But this time the simple words announcing the news were amazing enough:

    "A wealthy hedge fund manager has set a record, donating 170,000 acres of prime wilderness land in Colorado’s pristine Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, making it the largest donation to the agency."

    It gets better.

    "Avid conservationist Louis Moore Bacon, 56, CEO and founder of Moore Capital Management, which is one of the largest hedge funds in the world, donated to the wildlife agency most of his 81,400-acre Trinchera Ranch Saturday, Sept. 15, adding to a previous 90,000 acre donation from his adjoining Blanca Ranch."

  • September 14, 2012

    Beetles Running Out of Food in Western Forests, Climbing Higher

    By Bob Marshall

    First, the good news about the bark beetles that have been ravaging western forests for almost a decade: A new report indicates they may finally have eaten themselves out of house and home after killing conifers on some 42 million acres of forests at prime fish and wildlife altitudes.

    Now the bad news: The same report showed evidence that warm winters have allowed the bugs to push into higher altitude areas where cold temperatures once held them back.

    The U.S. Forest Service report said aerial surveys showed beetle-killed trees on 3.8 million acres of public down, the second consecutive year of a decline, and less than half of the nine million trees killed in 2009.

  • September 12, 2012

    Farm Bill Expires at End of Month, Conservationists Urging for Renewal

    By Bob Marshall

    This is where all the political gamesmanship over the budget for the last year has put fish, wildlife and sportsmen: The current Farm Bill expires at the end of the month, which could bring a halt to the wide range of programs it supports, including Conservation Reserve, Wetlands Reserve and Grasslands Reserve. The Senate passed a bill that drew praise from sportsmen during the summer, and the House Agriculture Committee followed suit. But GOP deficit hawks think it gives too much to nutrition programs like school lunches and conservation, while some Democrats think the cuts to nutrition programs are too steep.

    Veteran Hill lobbyists say they fear election year politics is now having an impact, with each side afraid a vote either way could be used against them.

    "The calendar doesn't lie, and right now it says we've got eight legislative days (days when congress meets and can vote) before the end of September, and there's no evidence of a Farm Bill on that (House) calendar," said Steve Kline, director Center for Agricultural and Private Lands Director at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

  • September 5, 2012

    Hurricane Isaac Stirs Up Oil Along Louisiana's Coast

    By Bob Marshall

    Louisiana has closed a 12-mile section of Gulf coastal waters and beaches after Hurricane Isaac washed up large areas of oil and tar balls at the location of one of the worst inundations of BP oil during the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010.

    Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said crews discovered large sections of viscous oil and tar balls floating from the beach to one mile offshore between Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge, just west of Grand Isle, to Pass Fourchon.

    "It's a very large mass that is viscous but hasn't coalesced into tar mats yet," Barham said. "But the Elmer's Island beaches are littered with tar balls of every size, from eraser size to the size of baseballs."