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  • October 21, 2013

    Everglades Reopens, and Everyone's Happy—Especially Florida Keys Guides

    By Mike Toth

    The government shutdown affected many Americans, but hit one group particularly hard—the backcountry fishing guides of the Florida Keys, who rely upon entry to Everglades National Park so their clients can cast for snook, redfish, seatrout, snappers and other species in a beautiful, remote, wild area.

    These 16-day closure directly affected the guides—who must buy annual permits that allow access to the Everglades—because if they can't fish, they can't take clients out. And unlike federal employees, there's no possibility of back pay. But it also took away another element.

  • June 25, 2013

    House Kills Farm Bill and Sportsmen’s Hopes

    By Bob Marshall

    The House of Representatives stunned sportsmen’s conservation groups last week when it suddenly and unexpectedly killed its version of the Farm Bill, putting the nation’s largest and most effective conservation programs on a three-month death watch.

    Earlier, conservation groups had hailed the Senate passage of a Farm Bill and voiced hope a House version would be clearing that chamber in a matter of weeks, based on optimism from the GOP leadership. But those hopes melted quickly with the passage of two amendments supported by more conservative members. The first would have undone traditional price supports for milk producers; the second would have deepened already steep cuts in food stamps.

    Those measures eroded Democratic support, and when the vote was called, the bill failed 195-234.

  • 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.

  • 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 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."

  • October 14, 2011

    The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership And The $1 Trillion Question

    By Hal Herring

    This morning, I received a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership about a new study defining the economic benefits and effects of outdoor recreation, conservation, and historical preservation efforts in our country. It reports that “the great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year. “

    I hope people will take the time to actually read and ponder what is revealed here. So much of it, if we think about it, is common sense-- we all know (or are) someone who owns or works in an outdoor store, or as a guide or outfitter, or who has recently bought a boat or upgraded fishing tackle or guns. The money is there, it’s moving through the economy, and it is dependent on having healthy and protected lands and waters to use that tackle or shoot those guns (imagine the miniscule percentage of the economy in France, or China that is generated from hunting and fishing- then look at the US figures in the linked study).

  • June 23, 2010

    Herring: Get Lost in Summer, If Only for a Day

    By Hal Herring

    My rod tip bent, straightened, bent again as the 1 1⁄2-ounce sinker grabbed bottom, lost it, grabbed it, the big nightcrawler rolling with the current on the main Missouri River, looking for a channel cat or a walleye. The river was running high and muddy, and almost every species of fish in it was feeding on the banquet of the flood.

    My daughter held the big budget-model spinning rig we call the River Cat, and she slowly cranked up on some heavy thrashing creature, careful not to set the circle hook, just tighten and keep the pressure on. A flash of gunmetal silver in dark water and a river drum, two pounds or so, came to the surface.

  • May 18, 2010

    Herring: Hunting and Fishing With 450 Million People

    By Hal Herring

    You could say that I’m reading it so you won’t have to. The book is The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 by Joel Kotkin, a professor at Chapman University in California, and a scholar of economics, sociology, and the history of cities.  The Next Hundred Million celebrates what to some of us will be a disturbing fact: the US is one of the only industrialized "First World” countries that is experiencing rapid population growth. By 2050, the US will have a population of 400-450 million people.

    According to Joel Kotkin, we are moving into a new golden age, where our economy, based on the needs and the production of so many human beings, and based on the freedoms that our citizens enjoy, will make our country the most competitive and powerful nation on earth.

    There are a lot of questions raised with Kotkin’s  view - water supplies, the loss of agricultural lands, and how the new society- which he sees as living mostly in vast suburbs- will be supplied with energy for its homes and cars. Kotkin does note that greenways “could provide a break from the monotony……and ideal sites for the preservation of wildlife.”

    Nowhere in the book is hunting or fishing ever mentioned.  That is not Kotkin’s subject. His subject is a US thriving with 400 to 450 million people.

  • April 26, 2010

    Herring: Remembering Moulder Branch

    By Hal Herring

    Moulder Branch is just a little creek in north Alabama – narrow enough to jump over in some places, and stretches of its upper reaches go dry almost every summer. It is not navigable even by canoe (though once in 1977 I floated it at flood stage on an old inner tube, an experience I would not recommend). I remember when the silver redhorse--a big sucker--ran every March up Moulder Branch, and how I and a few good friends spent some of the best afternoons of my life snagging for them, with Zebco 202s and bell sinkers under treble hooks, the fish exotic and beautiful in the clear water over the gravel beds.