Talking Conservation on Capitol HIll

Today I will be taking part in a Capitol Hill summit coordinated by the Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance (www.bullmoosesportsmen.org) called the "Taking Aim at Conservation: American Sportsmen at a Crossroads Forum." The event involves a number of hunters and anglers from throughout the country, as well as some political heavyweights: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be speaking, as will U.S. Senators John Tester (D-Montana), Mark Udall (D-Colorado), and James Risch (R-Idaho).

I will be on a panel with New Mexico State Representative Nate Gentry (R), Montana State Senator Kendall Van Dyk (D), Gary Taylor of the Association of Fish and WIldlife Agencies, Steve Moyer from Trout Unlimited, and Tom Sadler from the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

I'm sure the discussion will include a number of topics, perhaps most prominently HR 1 and its crippling effects on conservation (the details of which F&S conservation editor Bob Marshall eloquently outlined last March).

Whenever we toss out that topic on this blog, we inevitably get a string of comments that say, "We have a national debt...we have to pay for it somehow" and so on, and I certainly understand that.

My question, however, is why doesn't anyone see conservation in the same context as a "national debt?" We're talking about doing the right thing for the future generations. In my mind not preserving and protecting the resources we all depend on, especially the natural resources anglers and hunters who, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, generate $122 billion for the economy on an annual basis rely upon, is just as short sighted and irresponsible as letting a monetary debt spiral out of control.

I think I'll ask that question today. I'll let you know the answers I hear.