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Roundup of top hunting, fishing, and conservation issues

Posted on May 24, 2012

OK, so if you want to call this a lazy blog, be my guest. But here are a half-dozen items that have occupied my attention the past week. I figure they’re worth sharing with other dear browsers (that's a hunting pun, get it?) interested in outdoors debate around the country.

Issue of the week: LWCF

First, a little advocacy. The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund is under attack in the U.S. House, again. There are too many congressmen who criticize LWCF and wish to eviscerate its funding, even though every American has benefitted from the program the past (nearly) 50 years. Here’s how the LWCF Coalition describes the program.

“Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans…

“It was a simple idea: use revenues from the depletion of one natural resource – offshore oil and gas – to support the conservation of another precious resource – our land and water. Every year, $900 million in royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf are put into this fund. The money is intended to create and protect national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects.

“Yet, nearly every year, Congress breaks its own promise to the American people and diverts much of this funding to uses other than conserving our most important lands and waters.”

Congress, politicians not keeping promises? Ignoring a charter to fund their own projects? I can’t believe that’s possible. If, like me, you think that behavior sucks, then check out the Coalition’s website and follow its Take Action button. The website has the most up-to-date information including factsheets, state specific information, and more details on that Take Action page. 

Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups are putting on a full-court press with the media for LWCF beginning today (May 24), and I’ll try to keep you posted on those efforts at this blog..

Run for office: become a SWCD supervisor

A little more advocacy but a little closer to home: Fed up with lousy local-level conservation efforts? Stop complaining and do something about it. Consider running for a soil and water conservation district supervisor position in Minnesota. Learn all about the posts, responsibilities, and how you can influence conservation policy in your community here. These positions could use more hunters and anglers in them around the state.

The deadline for filing is June. 5.

For more information, a blog at Bluestem Prairie provides additional detail and perspective.

Austerity, a dishonest excuse

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has become one of my favorite outdoor groups the past few years. Its current president and CEO, Whit Fosburgh, posted a fine piece on the Union Sportmen’s Alliance website this week. The piece, entitled Conservation in a Time of Austerity, chronicles how anti-conservation politicians are using the budget mess, which they created, to justify bashing and defunding the programs they loath. You know, those programs like Wetlands Reserve, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Conservation Reserve Program.

Fosburgh nails it, and he’s a serious fly-fisherman too boot. Required reading here.

Deer vs. birds column in N.Y. Times

By the way, in my column this week, I promised a link to a New York Times piece that sparked my thoughts on white-tailed deer vs. birds. You can read the original piece via this link.

Wisconsin deer issue goes national

If you’re following the recall election in Wisconsin, you might find the following piece in Esquire on Scott Walker and deer management interesting. Walker’s selection of Texan James Kroll as “deer czar” has been controversial even in outdoor circles, and writer Charles P. Pierce adds his perspective to Kroll’s background and views on deer management. Read at your own peril. Just sayin’.

Conservation Hawks off to soaring-good start

A few months ago, I blogged about a new group, Conservation Hawks, and the organization – to its credit – hasn’t ducked controversy. From the outset, the organization said it would focus on climate change, and I can think of no better feed to follow on Twitter if you’re looking for quality links and solid science-based information on that issue. In its May 23 blog, the group tackled that sometimes frustrating topic of politics. Read it on the group’s website.

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