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  • February 11, 2013

    What the Nomination of Sally Jewell Can Mean to Sportsmen

    By Hal Herring

    We are experiencing a shift in our country, a growing weariness with the voices of anger and willful ignorance, especially in the realm of our natural resources. We’ve all endured it: the utterly predictable voices that growl “Wipe your butt with a spotted owl!” (or the equivalent angry platitude) whenever anybody brings up an environmental problem or a conservation challenge. The politicians who think they can win votes by proposing a mass sell-off of public lands, or who claim that protecting clean water and clean air is killing jobs, or, as happened here in Montana recently, target the restoration of a huntable population of wild bison as a plot to destroy agriculture.

    Willful ignorance and the simplistic catch phrases (“drill, baby, drill!”) that it spawns are going out of fashion. But it is going out of fashion because there is a growing and nagging suspicion that our nation, caught in a web of global needs, accustomed to plenty but feeling a bit pinched, is making a lot of poor choices about natural resources, at a very critical time. A lot of people, with widely varying political views, are worried.

  • February 6, 2013

    CEO of Outdoor Gear Company is Named as Interior Secretary Nominee

    By Bob Marshall

    I’ve often wondered why the men and women charged with protecting our natural resources always seem to come from the industries that harvest them for a profit, rather than from the community that needs them protected for their profits.
    President Obama may have just broken that tradition by nominating Sally Jewell, chief executive of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) to replace Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior.
    In fact, Jewell may be the first nominee that could have allies in several major groups that are contesting management of our public lands. According to the New York Times story on the announcement, before joining REI, Jewell also worked in banking and the oil industry.

  • February 1, 2013

    Gulf Restoration Plan Takes Big Step Forward

    By Bob Marshall

    They’ve got the plan.

    They’ve got federal reassurance.

    Now all they need is the money.

    That where sportsmen's conservation groups and their allies in the green world stood this week after the U.S. Dept. of Commerce released its much anticipated “Path Forward” for the RESTORE Act – the bill that will allow 80 percent of what is expected to be more than $20 billion in Clean Water Act fines from the Deepwater Horizon spill to be used for  restoration of Gulf ecosystems and economies. Normally CWA fines go straight to the federal larder.

  • 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.

  • January 25, 2013

    Big Drilling Plans for the "Mule Deer Factory"

    By Bob Marshall

    Sportsmen have just a few days left to help stop the Bureau of Land Management from delivering yet another blow to mule deer, elk and sage grouse populations in western Colorado.
    Monday marks the end of the public comment period on the BLM’s decision to select a new energy development plan for the 1.7 million-acre White River area near Meeker.
    That area could see 15,500 new wells drilled under a management regime that would allow mule deer populations to be reduced by 30 percent below the long-term objectives set by Colorado’s Division of Wildlife.

  • January 23, 2013

    Loss of Funding Could Spell Disaster for Ducks as Drought Returns

    By Bob Marshall

    As seasons came to a close across the nation this month, many waterfowl managers privately were giving hunters this advice: Take plenty of pictures - you might not see this many duck again for years to come.
    Their concerns are real.
    Not only is drought returning to the prairie potholes of North and South Dakota - the most productive duck nesting habitat in North America - but the conservation programs that have served as a cushion against the worst effects of drought are being cut, if not eliminated, by members of Congress who place a low value on conservation spending.

  • January 22, 2013

    From Alabama to Montana, a Revealing View of the Sportsman's Nation

    By Hal Herring

    At dawn on a January morning, the countryside around Stuttgart, Arkansas is an impressionist painting, brooding flooded hardwood bottoms fading without banks into slow gray rivers, harvested rice fields in colors of light butternut and yellow, turned black Mississippi Delta earth. Perfect clouds of snow geese, mallards, Canadas, teal, and wood ducks show dark and beautiful against the leaden winter sky. We--my son and daughter, wife, Lab pup, and I--saw it all not from a duck blind, but from Interstate 40, on the return to Montana from a 5000 mile-driving odyssey to visit family in Alabama, friends in Mississippi and Louisiana. We were towing a 14-foot aluminum boat, bought cheap from an old friend, so we traveled home slowly, not like on foot or horseback, but slowly enough to look at our country, to marvel at its wonders, to ponder its troubles.

  • 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.

  • January 15, 2013

    New Gear Proposals Would Reduce Commercial Fishing's By-Catch

    By Bob Marshall

    Can the oceans’ wild fish stocks survive today’s world of commercial fishing?
    For more than a decade, that question has been the driving concern of many marine conservationists, anglers, and the recreational fishing industry. The combination of new, highly efficient find-and-catch technologies, along with constant market pressures from the world’s exploding population, has overwhelmed the reproductive capacity of some species. Just as troubling, pursuit of market species often results in a huge by-catch -- the capture, death and discard of untargeted species, including not only threatened fish but also marine mammals. Because that equation that shows no signs of changing, it threatens the future of some fish species.

  • January 4, 2013

    For Conservation, It Was Not a Very Good Year

    By Bob Marshall

    As political pundits attempt to assess the impact of the fiscal cliff deal struck by Congress earlier this week, it is becoming increasingly clear that the biggest loser may have been conservation. Here’s what happened, and where we stand:
    - The biggest immediate blow may have come when the House refused to pass the new Farm Bill, instead giving a nine-month extension to the old bill. That cast ominous shadows of uncertainty over many of the nation’s most effective and proven habitat conservation measures, including Conservation Reserve, Grasslands Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. While it is believed legal authorization for those initiatives has been extended, there has been no additional funding.