Should Conservation Be a Political Issue?

I get angry when a discussion about a conservation concern -- like oil and gas drilling in Wyoming or Utah, or maintaining roadless areas in Idaho or New Mexico, or a proposed pit mine in the headwaters of the world's largest wild salmon fishery -- degenerates into a "political debate."

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I've never seen clean water and healthy forest habitat as parts of either a "liberal" or "conservative" agenda. In fact, some of the most effective environmental initiatives in American history weren't brought about by "lefties" and "tree-huggers" (think Teddy Roosevelt). For example, I don't know what demographic you think is funding Trout Unlimited these days, but I can assure you, it isn't a bunch of trout bums rolling around in technicolor hippie vans.

In my humble opinion, conservation shouldn't be a political issue. It should be a cultural issue. And in that regard, I think those doing the real heavy lifting to protect wild places for fishing and hunting aren't so much "green" as they are "camo."

If you fish, you have a vested interest in rivers, lakes, and oceans, regardless whether your politics lean left, right, or stand straight down the middle. Sure, how we go about tackling complex environmental concerns is open to debate. But that debate is ultimately more effective if the rhetoric is toned down.

I wish politicians from both sides of the aisle would figure that out. Don't you?