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.
Of course, like last year's effort, it faces a tough challenge in the Senate. However, the measure has already become a centerpiece of the presidential election, with likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney adopting it by calling it "marvelous." As an analysis by the National Wildlife Federation shows, the Ryan budget would reduce funding for programs that benefit the environment, fish and wildlife to less than one percent of the entire budget.
Most alarming is the GOP's stated aim to sell public lands to help pay the nation's bills. The document even calls these properties "unneeded public land," and actually suggests it could force that unpopular idea "by reducing appropriations to various agencies." In other words, without the money to manage your national forests, seashore, parks and BLM lands the managing agencies would have to sell them -- or go out of business.
This won't sound radical to Romney, who is already on record wondering why some public lands are needed.
This will be a very busy six months for America's sportsmen and anyone who cares about clean and healthy public lands, air and water. You'll need to be sending emails and phone calls to your congressional delegation opposing these cuts.