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  • February 11, 2014

    Conservation Measures Suddenly Gain Momentum in Congress

    By Bob Marshall

    In an earlier life, when I covered sports that involved balls, a coach once told me “Momentum is a factor because the players think it is.”
     
    You don’t need to be Aristotle to figure that one out. But the observation came to mind because there has certainly been a sudden, positive momentum to sportsmen’s concerns in Washington. And, just maybe, Congress is finally doing right by sportsmen because its members finally think it’s the right thing to do.
     
    Just days after the two-year struggle to get the new Farm Bill enacted finally ended in victory, three more important bills for sportsmen have a stiff wind at their backs.

  • July 12, 2013

    Gulf Coast Economics: Fish and Wildlife Dollars Hammer Development

    By Bob Marshall

    Conservationists fighting to protect fish and wildlife habitat usually are up against the same opponent: Business development.

    In the Midwest, that can mean agriculture. In the Northeast, it’s often sprawling business parks.

    But down on the Gulf Coast, where protecting wetlands is critical for fisheries, the other side is typically represented by oil and gas drillers or waterfront residential developments that turn marshes into finger canals with boat docks.

  • 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.

  • March 22, 2013

    Native Grasslands Can Be Saved by 'Protect Our Prairies Act'

    By Bob Marshall

    There’s new hope that native grasslands—arguably the most threatened wildlife habitat in the nation – can be saved.  But the House of Representatives will have to follow the bipartisan lead of a couple of prairie state representatives to get that done for sportsmen.
     
    The Protect Our Prairies Act recently introduced by Tom Walz (D-MN) and Kristi Noem (R-SD) would help protect the nation’s remaining native sod and grasslands by reducing federal crop insurance subsidies for the first four years those acres are farmed.
     
    This is a new version of the “Sod Saver” concept that has been around for some time, with the aim of preventing native grasslands from being plowed for two important reasons: This habitat is critical for a wide range of upland birds, migratory waterfowl and numerous other species; and they are far less productive for crops than other lands.
     

  • January 29, 2013

    Burned Up: Oil Fields Are Wasting Enough Natural Gas Daily to Heat Half-Million Homes

    By Hal Herring

    There was a lot of hubbub around the West when NASA revealed the beautiful “Black Marble” satellite images of America and the world, showing the intensity of our settlements through the brilliance of our electrical lights. So much of the eastern and southern U.S. is lit, and the lights only began to fade as you reach the northern Great Plains, and then look to the northern Rocky Mountains, which remain fairly dark.

  • June 7, 2012

    Hero for a Day 2012: Improving a Wisconsin Wildlife Haven for Veterans

  • January 30, 2012

    The Debutante Hunters Documentary Shows The Best Side of Hunting

    By Hal Herring

    (Editor’s Note: The Debutante Hunters won the Shorts Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival after this post was written.)

    Sometimes it seems to me that conservation in the American West is like a Rocky Mountain river, wild with snowmelt, tumultuous and dramatic, with some new, obvious, challenge every second. But Southern hunting and fishing, and the conservationist ethic they spawn, seem more like a southern river, broad and slow and deep, shadowed with history and tradition.

  • 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

    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.

  • October 31, 2011

    Conservation (Bad) News: Salmon Plague Spreads to Wild Pacific Stocks

    By Bob Marshall

    Deadly Disease Threatens Wild Pacific Salmon

    File this one under: Just when you think things couldn't get worse.

    Earlier this month fishery officials in Canada and the U.S. confirmed the deadly infectious salmon anemia had been found for the first time in wild Pacific salmon. This is the same disease that devastated salmon farms in Chile and other countries. The disease was found in two sockeye salmon smolts off British Columbia.

    The news sent shock waves through the fishing industries and communities that depend on salmon. It was good to see the threat also quickly cut through the entrenched partisanship in Washington resulting in a bi-partisan bill to address the outbreak.

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