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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.

  • October 10, 2013

    Keys Fishing Guides Protest Government Shutdown of Florida Bay

    By Ben Romans

    Yesterday about 500 people aboard more than 100 boats, kayaks, and paddleboards assembled near the eastern entry of Florida’s Everglades National Park to demonstrate their frustration with the Federal Government’s closure of the park’s fishing grounds.
    Regional guides whose businesses are being hurt spearheaded the rally. A press release says that while they find no fault with the park’s officials, they insist the Department of the Interior do something to provide reasonable access while federal legislators attempt to reach a budget solution.

  • August 14, 2013

    Fishing in the Salmon Forest, Part 5: The Lust for Timber vs. the Need for Forest

    By Hal Herring

    Editor’s note: Conservationist blogger Hal Herring spent five days exploring and fishing Alaska’s Tongass National Forest earlier this month. This is the last of five reports.

    A Ward Air floatplane lands in the Tongass National Forest. Photo by Earl Harper, Earl Harper Studios.

    President Theodore Roosevelt created what would become the Tongass National Forest in 1902, when he used the executive power of the 1891 Forest Reserve Act to establish the Alexander Archipelago Reserve in 1902. It would become the Tongass National Forest in 1907, when the “reserves” were renamed. The Tongass was part of the grand overarching plan for our National Forests, a system of productive public lands that would forever protect the one thing no nation could survive without: water. But as with so many well-meaning government efforts, the ever-variable human factor wormed its way into the Tongass, as I believe it has into every land-conservation effort in history, in every part of the world.

  • August 12, 2013

    Fishing in the Salmon Forest, Part 4: The Waters of the Power Fish

    By Hal Herring

    Editor’s note: Conservationist blogger Hal Herring spent five days exploring and fishing Alaska’s Tongass National Forest earlier this month. This is the fourth of five reports.

    Matt Smythe holds a nice humpy taken on the fly. Photo by Earl Harper, Earl Harper Studios.

  • August 7, 2013

    Fishing in the Salmon Forest, Part 1: The Lifeblood of the Tongass

    By Hal Herring

    Editor’s note: Conservationist blogger Hal Herring spent five days exploring and fishing Alaska’s Tongass National Forest earlier this month. This is the first of five reports.

    Glacier feeding the Taku River. Photo by Chris Hunt.

    In this misty, twilit country, the sharp lines we know in the more settled world blur and shift and disappear. The line between land and water goes first--at midmorning’s high tide, we thrash along in waders through neck high grass at the border of a placid saltwater estuary, mosquitoes whining, gnats in a dervish dance around our heads. By low tide at late afternoon, the saltwater has withdrawn, replaced as if by magic by an ether-clear torrent of freshwater born in the forested mountains that tower above, flowing over clean gravels as wildly colored as gemstones. The rain falls silently, sifting into the river, sky and water blended.

  • 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.

  • August 21, 2012

    Conservation Update: Numbers of Hunters, Anglers in US on the Rise

    By Bob Marshall

    A press release from the Department of Interior last week held some of the best news in recent years for sportsmen—and the quality of life of all Americans: After decades of steady declines, the number of hunters and anglers in the U.S. showed significant increases over the last five years.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation showed the number hunters and anglers increased 9 and 11 percent respectively, part of the 38 percent of all Americans who participated in wildlife-related recreation. That was an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. A Service spokesperson said the survey, which has been done every five years since 1955, last showed an increase was in the late the 1980s — which means we've halted a 30-year slide.

  • May 25, 2012

    BREAKING NEWS: Recent Signups Keep CRP Acreage Near Cap

    By Bob Marshall

    Fish, wildlife and sportsmen got good news Friday when Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, announced recent and future sign-ups of 5.65 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program, keeping that keystone conservation program close to its current authorized cap of 32 million acres.

    But in an interview with Field & Stream, Vilsack also urged sportsmen to keep the momentum going by urging their congressmen - particularly House members - not to swing the budget axe on conservation funding in the new Farm Bill currently under consideration.

  • May 11, 2012

    House Goes After Trout Stream Protections--Again

    by Bob Marshall

    Are they crazy or brilliant?

    That's a question Trout Unlimited and a growing number of sportsmen are asking about the House leadership after it launched yet another attempt to block a proposed new wetlands guidance that could restore protection to millions of acres of wetlands, including headwaters of trout streams across the West.

    The latest effort comes from the House Appropriations Committee, which voted along party lines for a measure that would prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from spending any money to implement the guidance, expected to be issued by the Obama Administration in the next few months.

    Two House GOP budgets previously contained similar policy directives, neither of which made it through Congress. But the fact this try came so late in the game – and from a different vector – makes many conservationists nervous.

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