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Guest Blog: Now is Not the Time to Retreat on Wildlife Conservation

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October 21, 2011

Guest Blog: Now is Not the Time to Retreat on Wildlife Conservation

By Dan Ashe

Editor’s Note: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe is the person ultimately responsible for the welfare of the nation's fish and wildlife and its habitat. This enormous duty puts Ashe in a perfect position to realize how much damage the threatened budget cuts to federal conservation programs would inflict on those priceless resources—and, as a lifelong hunter and fisherman, he also understands how much those cuts would harm our sports and their future.

This is his response to Conservation Editor Bob Marshall’s recent column about the specific losses those potential cuts would cause, and explains why sportsmen must exclude conservation programs in any calls for budget reductions.

by Dan Ashe

Like all duck hunters, I know that, oftentimes, the worse the weather, the better the hunting. I look at our current conservation climate in much the same way.

Although our nation is going through some rough economic weather right now, we can’t lose sight of the fact that there are still enormous needs – and opportunities - for fish and wildlife conservation.

I understand and respect hunters, anglers, and shooters who believe that in the current budget climate, conservation programs should share in any cuts. This community has always put what is right ahead of what is easy, and I believe the reluctant support some may give for budget reductions comes from genuine patriotism.

But we should recognize that America has always found a way to enrich her conservation legacy despite difficult times. During the Civil War, President Lincoln inked a land deal for what later became Yosemite National Park. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era, hunters supported landmark legislation that created the Federal Duck Stamp and the Wildlife Restoration Act, contributing to the establishment of 142 wildlife refuges across the nation in that decade alone.

Now, the legacy of a century of conservation – indeed the future of the North American model of wildlife conservation – is threatened by the prospect of draconian cuts to conservation programs. These programs, though only a sliver of a percentage of the federal budget and largely inconsequential for deficit reduction, have been disproportionately singled out by some in Congress and their supporters.

This is not deficit reduction. These are policy and political objectives dressed-up as deficit reduction by those who seek to get those pesky fish and wildlife agencies – federal and state – out of the way of development. Never mind that America’s outdoor recreation economy generates 8.4 million, non-exportable U.S. jobs, most in rural areas, generating over $100 billion annually in federal, state and local taxes.

We recognize that we are stewards of taxpayer dollars, but I believe your state and federal conservation agencies have a demonstrated record of getting the most out of every dollar we do receive.

I urge everyone who cares about wildlife conservation and the future of hunting and fishing in America to stand up for our way of life. Demand that we live up to the courage and vision of our predecessors by holding the line on conservation funding. Participate in Ducks Unlimited’s “Double Down for Ducks” campaign and purchase two Federal Ducks Stamps instead of one. Most of all, get out on the landscape with your kids and grandkids, and think about the kind of world we should leave to them. It takes investment, and now is not the time to cut back on conservation spending.

Comments (13)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

This painful period of time for all agencies that need tax revenue generated by the private sector that needs to grow and flourish, not shrink as it is has been should make all public and private union members think where their dues are being spent. We just get a report that personal wealth in this country has diminished to record levels in the last three years. Figure it out folks, or this country is soon going to become another Greece.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 60256 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Some of the land that I've always come to rely on is in trouble. We own some CRP, but next year it's coming out and we need to decide what to do with it, and that's when it really hits home; when it becomes personal like that. It will be gone in the name on MONEY.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." - 1 Timothy 6:10

Nate

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sanjr wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"This is not deficit reduction. These are policy and political objectives dressed-up as deficit reduction by those who seek to get those pesky fish and wildlife agencies – federal and state – out of the way of development." Truer words have never been spoken.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhead wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

this is the only area where I depart from the contemporary conservative thinking on the budget. Yes, we need to reign in spending, but not on conservation progarms. $ spent on fish and game habitat is an investment in the future. if we don't fund the programs that protect our land and water, hunting and fishing will diminish.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Plenty of room in the DoD budget for hundreds of billions in spending cuts. Most of our DoD money is spent defending other nations overseas that won't defend themselves (Korea, Japan, the UAE, NATO member states) and in stabilizing 3rd world nations to make places like SE Asia 'safe places' to offshore American jobs. Right now, the "free trade" global ideology is sustained solely by the commies in corporate America riding on the backs of the American taxpayer.

Cut DoD spending to the amount needed to solely accomplish the job of defending the waters and lands of the USA and we could save about $500Bn per year from the Federal Budget. But Wal--- errrr... I mean Mao Mart executives and their lobbiests would get upset.

Ever dollar we spend defending other nations does $100 damage to the US economy.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Buckhead! Get real! Every agency that has been cutback says they buy the need to cutback, but NOT CUTBACK THEIR AGENCY. I work in the public school system, and teachers say the same thing...YOU CAN NOT CUTBACK ON EDUCATION! Yes you can, and it is painful! Figure out why, and don't let it happen again is the best medicine, don't borrow tax payer money well into the future insuring the problem will continue with the coverup. And in any recession, Wildlife programs are ALWAYS CUTBACK.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"These programs, though only a sliver of a percentage of the federal budget and largely inconsequential for deficit reduction, have been disproportionately singled out by some in Congress and their supporters."

"America’s outdoor recreation economy generates 8.4 million, non-exportable U.S. jobs, most in rural areas, generating over $100 billion annually in federal, state and local taxes."

Sayfu - how do you factor that into smart budgeting? Cuts still sound sensible?

Of course they do, because you blindly drag the party line, even when...

"This is not deficit reduction. These are policy and political objectives dressed-up as deficit reduction by those who seek to get those pesky fish and wildlife agencies – federal and state – out of the way of development"

You think it's just solid conservatism, when it's obviously just an insignificant cut that will actually translate into less money for the budget in the long run. It's simple logic, but you've been fooled by your corporate masters.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

You cut across the board...no BS about revenue generating. I saw that first hand with cuts in hatchery steelhead on the WestCoast. Talk about revenue generating! Gas stations, sporting good stores, restaurants, and on and on that benefited from anglers lining the river banks...but they shut down hatcheries in favor of wild fish that never will produce a viable fishery, and the economy suffered. When times are tough, and these are the worst of times, 14 trillion in debt, and most of it generated in the last 3 yrs. you cutback. We will see a lot more suffering going forward than we are now. "How can you cutback on medical research!?" "How can you cutback on education?"..and on and on to ad nauseum. If private funds can sustain your dear programs fine. I want no more dollars printed up, and more debt created digging a hole we can not get out of. What happens is the spending goes on, and the revenue doesn't happen.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhead wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Sayfu, I assure you I am being real. while I agree with you 100% that this country needs to curtail spending, I don't think you realize how crucial some of these programs are to the future of the field sports. being an easterner I have seen first hand how loss of habitat and access leads DIRECTLY to a loss of hunters and fishermen. Why? because you can't hunt ducks in a condo complex and you can't hunt pheasants in a parking lot. And, to your point, you can't stock trout in rivers that can no longer support trout because all the development upstream ruined the water. These programs, WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN CUT, preserve what habitat is left.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Buckhead..The Greeks are saying the same thing right now, as folks turn over cars, burn them, knock out store windows, and steal. We are not that far from being like Greece. I want everyone to feel the pain, no one saying, "as bad as things were, our dear programs were not effected. The notion that Americans are "Entitled" is over. The ave. recession lasts 6-9 mo.s We are into the third year, and now the threat of dipping back into a very dangerous recession/depression is a distinct reality...crucial as you say, is not the operative word of the day...back to good economics, and the cuts will continue. So you think this stimulus two jobs bill Obama wants passed with another 1/2 trillion dollars in borrowing/spending is the solution?....flat out scary.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

While conservation and wildlife is important so are the women, children, and families of my town. When the US gets a handle on it's entire way of government I've no doubt that conservation will be well funded. Until then our wild lands and our citizens will continue to suffer.

Budget cuts themselves in a time of economic downturn are ridiculous, and if this article made any attempt to address the underlying fallacy of such economic nuttiness I'd be much more sympathetic. Now is the time for huge investments in restoring public lands, the time to hire more F+G officers, upgrade trails and habitat.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from billyjo bondurant wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I agree rock rat there is alot of land that needs work in cleaning it up where people had dumped unwanted items and left them to turn to rust.thhat ends up poluting the water and land around it. alot of crimes happen in public land as well as FWP managed lands. there is a huge need for more lawinforcment action and for the persons who use the land for hunting, camping want to take pride in what they have not abuse it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Actually, most of the US national debt was created during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush admins. That is what comes of unlimited defense spending, tax cuts on the people who export American jobs, and three unfunded wars.

We could put the US on an instant track to fiscal success if we (1) withdraw from the WTO, (2) impose retaliatory tariffs on nations that impose barriers against US goods, (3) cut defense spending to $150Bn per year (which is about what is needed to defend the USA and its waters, fully fund Strategic Air Command's successor, fully fun the strategic nuclear arsenal, fully fund the Coast Guard, and maintain a sufficient navy to defend all American lands and waters).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from sanjr wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"This is not deficit reduction. These are policy and political objectives dressed-up as deficit reduction by those who seek to get those pesky fish and wildlife agencies – federal and state – out of the way of development." Truer words have never been spoken.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhead wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

this is the only area where I depart from the contemporary conservative thinking on the budget. Yes, we need to reign in spending, but not on conservation progarms. $ spent on fish and game habitat is an investment in the future. if we don't fund the programs that protect our land and water, hunting and fishing will diminish.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Plenty of room in the DoD budget for hundreds of billions in spending cuts. Most of our DoD money is spent defending other nations overseas that won't defend themselves (Korea, Japan, the UAE, NATO member states) and in stabilizing 3rd world nations to make places like SE Asia 'safe places' to offshore American jobs. Right now, the "free trade" global ideology is sustained solely by the commies in corporate America riding on the backs of the American taxpayer.

Cut DoD spending to the amount needed to solely accomplish the job of defending the waters and lands of the USA and we could save about $500Bn per year from the Federal Budget. But Wal--- errrr... I mean Mao Mart executives and their lobbiests would get upset.

Ever dollar we spend defending other nations does $100 damage to the US economy.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

"These programs, though only a sliver of a percentage of the federal budget and largely inconsequential for deficit reduction, have been disproportionately singled out by some in Congress and their supporters."

"America’s outdoor recreation economy generates 8.4 million, non-exportable U.S. jobs, most in rural areas, generating over $100 billion annually in federal, state and local taxes."

Sayfu - how do you factor that into smart budgeting? Cuts still sound sensible?

Of course they do, because you blindly drag the party line, even when...

"This is not deficit reduction. These are policy and political objectives dressed-up as deficit reduction by those who seek to get those pesky fish and wildlife agencies – federal and state – out of the way of development"

You think it's just solid conservatism, when it's obviously just an insignificant cut that will actually translate into less money for the budget in the long run. It's simple logic, but you've been fooled by your corporate masters.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

While conservation and wildlife is important so are the women, children, and families of my town. When the US gets a handle on it's entire way of government I've no doubt that conservation will be well funded. Until then our wild lands and our citizens will continue to suffer.

Budget cuts themselves in a time of economic downturn are ridiculous, and if this article made any attempt to address the underlying fallacy of such economic nuttiness I'd be much more sympathetic. Now is the time for huge investments in restoring public lands, the time to hire more F+G officers, upgrade trails and habitat.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhead wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Sayfu, I assure you I am being real. while I agree with you 100% that this country needs to curtail spending, I don't think you realize how crucial some of these programs are to the future of the field sports. being an easterner I have seen first hand how loss of habitat and access leads DIRECTLY to a loss of hunters and fishermen. Why? because you can't hunt ducks in a condo complex and you can't hunt pheasants in a parking lot. And, to your point, you can't stock trout in rivers that can no longer support trout because all the development upstream ruined the water. These programs, WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN CUT, preserve what habitat is left.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from billyjo bondurant wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I agree rock rat there is alot of land that needs work in cleaning it up where people had dumped unwanted items and left them to turn to rust.thhat ends up poluting the water and land around it. alot of crimes happen in public land as well as FWP managed lands. there is a huge need for more lawinforcment action and for the persons who use the land for hunting, camping want to take pride in what they have not abuse it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Actually, most of the US national debt was created during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush admins. That is what comes of unlimited defense spending, tax cuts on the people who export American jobs, and three unfunded wars.

We could put the US on an instant track to fiscal success if we (1) withdraw from the WTO, (2) impose retaliatory tariffs on nations that impose barriers against US goods, (3) cut defense spending to $150Bn per year (which is about what is needed to defend the USA and its waters, fully fund Strategic Air Command's successor, fully fun the strategic nuclear arsenal, fully fund the Coast Guard, and maintain a sufficient navy to defend all American lands and waters).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 60256 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Some of the land that I've always come to rely on is in trouble. We own some CRP, but next year it's coming out and we need to decide what to do with it, and that's when it really hits home; when it becomes personal like that. It will be gone in the name on MONEY.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." - 1 Timothy 6:10

Nate

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

You cut across the board...no BS about revenue generating. I saw that first hand with cuts in hatchery steelhead on the WestCoast. Talk about revenue generating! Gas stations, sporting good stores, restaurants, and on and on that benefited from anglers lining the river banks...but they shut down hatcheries in favor of wild fish that never will produce a viable fishery, and the economy suffered. When times are tough, and these are the worst of times, 14 trillion in debt, and most of it generated in the last 3 yrs. you cutback. We will see a lot more suffering going forward than we are now. "How can you cutback on medical research!?" "How can you cutback on education?"..and on and on to ad nauseum. If private funds can sustain your dear programs fine. I want no more dollars printed up, and more debt created digging a hole we can not get out of. What happens is the spending goes on, and the revenue doesn't happen.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Buckhead..The Greeks are saying the same thing right now, as folks turn over cars, burn them, knock out store windows, and steal. We are not that far from being like Greece. I want everyone to feel the pain, no one saying, "as bad as things were, our dear programs were not effected. The notion that Americans are "Entitled" is over. The ave. recession lasts 6-9 mo.s We are into the third year, and now the threat of dipping back into a very dangerous recession/depression is a distinct reality...crucial as you say, is not the operative word of the day...back to good economics, and the cuts will continue. So you think this stimulus two jobs bill Obama wants passed with another 1/2 trillion dollars in borrowing/spending is the solution?....flat out scary.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Buckhead! Get real! Every agency that has been cutback says they buy the need to cutback, but NOT CUTBACK THEIR AGENCY. I work in the public school system, and teachers say the same thing...YOU CAN NOT CUTBACK ON EDUCATION! Yes you can, and it is painful! Figure out why, and don't let it happen again is the best medicine, don't borrow tax payer money well into the future insuring the problem will continue with the coverup. And in any recession, Wildlife programs are ALWAYS CUTBACK.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

This painful period of time for all agencies that need tax revenue generated by the private sector that needs to grow and flourish, not shrink as it is has been should make all public and private union members think where their dues are being spent. We just get a report that personal wealth in this country has diminished to record levels in the last three years. Figure it out folks, or this country is soon going to become another Greece.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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