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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.

  • November 11, 2013

    Some In Congress Are Finally Paying Attention To Sportsmen

    By Bob Marshall

    It’s hard to believe after events of the last few months (see: government shutdown, sequester, conservation budget cuts) but this is just in: Congress deserves sportsmen’s praise!
     
    Well, maybe that’s a little over the top.
     
    The truth is, only some members of Congress deserve our praise so far--specifically, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who have packaged some long-overdue ideas to help fish, wildlife and sportsmen.
     
    Hagan is the lead author of the Sportsmen’s and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions (SPORT) Act introduced this month, which includes some of the important items that were in Murkowski’s Sportsmen’s Act, which was introduced earlier this year.

  • October 4, 2013

    The New Dangerous Ignorance of American Public Lands

    By Hal Herring

    As would-be pontiffs pontificate about the shutdown, and ideologues of the left and right declare the end of America, some federal employees are going about some very serious business. You and I and Aunt Millicent are barred from visiting our National Parks and our federal wildlife refuges (that we paid for with our duck stamp money), and in Montana, more than 12,000 public lands managers, biologists, clerks and outhouse technicians are worrying about car payments while they are hunting ducks, watching Netflix, or trying to close in to archery distance with a big bull elk. But the government shutdown is no forced vacation for those who care nothing for America’s hunting and fishing heritage. These ideologues see this whole political pseudo-showdown as an opportunity, and they are busier than ever.

  • 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.

  • January 16, 2013

    Federal Report on Climate Warns of Adverse Effect on Wildlife

    By Bob Marshall

    Must reading for sportsmen and other conservationists: The draft report of the latest National Climate Assessment.

    The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires an assessment report at least every four years. It is put together by the 60-member federal National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, whose work was reviewed by the National Academies of Science.

  • 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.

  • April 10, 2012

    Conservation Update: New Ryan Budget Hits Sportsmen Harder - Again

    By Bob Marshall

    When it comes to fish, wildlife and public lands, the new House budget pushed through by the GOP reminds me of the old football cheer: "Hit- 'em again, hit 'em again — Harder! Harder!

" That's right, the elected representatives that led last year's unprecedented attack on fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing are back swinging the same sticks — only harder.

    The bill House Budget Chief Paul Ryan, R-WI, authored and steered to passage on a party-line vote, takes spending on conservation programs that support a healthy environment and outdoors sports to even lower levels than it had plunged last year.

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