Field and Stream Takes on The Bush Administration

I doubt if many would call Field and Stream a leftist magazine. Here in Idaho it is required reading for the average guy. Every doctor’s office and barber’s shop has a stack for browsing while you wait. So, it was quite surprising to read the following articles:
For Sale: Your Hunting Heritage

The Bush administration wants to hold a fire sale on our public lands. Will your grandchildren have places left to hunt? A report by Field & Stream conservation columnist Bob Marshall: Even for an administration that takes perverse pride in sneering at the term “conservation,” this latest news is a shocker: President Bush’s 2007 budget includes an order to the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to sell off as much as 800,000 acres of national lands to generate money for public schools. The proposal directs the agencies to raise nearly $1 billion for the federal treasury by selling more than 300,000 acres of national forest and up to 500,000 acres of BLM lands, mostly in western states. The sale was ordered to help fund a federal program that since 1908 has sent revenues from timber sales to rural counties to support, among other things, school programs. But as timber sales have steadily fallen over recent decades, the funding has dried up – so the administration wants to sell pieces of public recreation land to make up the difference.

Special Report: You Call This a Wetland?

The Bush Administration announced last week that the nation is no longer losing wetlands–as long as you consider golf course water hazards to be wetlands.Really.Thursday, Interior Secretary Gale Norton called a press conference to claim our long nightmare of wetlands loss had finally come to an end due to unprecedented gains since 1997 However, she then admitted much of that gain has been in artificially created ponds, such as golf course water hazards and farm impoundments.The sporting community–from Ducks Unlimited to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership–reacted quickly, and not favorably. Researchers long ago established that natural wetlands such as marshes, swamps and prairie potholes are far more productive than even the best-designed artificial wetlands. And sharp-edged water bodies like water hazards, farm ponds, and even reservoirs offer very little for wildlife. Putting man-made ponds in the same class as natural wetlands is like ranking pen-raised quail with wild coveys.The boldness of Norton’s claim was particularly galling given the Bush Administration’s record on wetlands. President Bush, like other presidents before him, promised a policy of “no net loss” of wetlands, but his administration has consistently supported rollbacks of the Clean Water Act to satisfy industry and development.In fact, at the same press conference, the Fish and Wildlife Service reported a continued loss of 523,500 acres of natural wetlands during the same time period. So how could the nation have come out ahead if it lost more than half a million acres? Norton didn’t try to hide the truth: The 715,300-acre “gain” was mainly artificial ponds.

These two article pull no punches in their criticism of the Bush Administration. If they mirror the attitudes of most outdoor enthusiasts (and if the reader’s comments included with the on-line versions are characteristic, they do), the Republican party is in the process of losing a group critical to their base in western states.

Here is a sample of some of those comments. To read the articles and all the comments go here and here.

This is simply more proof to conservationists and sportsmen that this administration does not have our interests at heart. I’m tired of being lied to so blatantly. It’s time for a change now before there is no place left to fish, to hunt, to camp, or to simply enjoy the natural world.

Why should the current administration care about national wilderness reserves, they own there own reserves for hunting, much like the King of England once did.Somehow we have a choice between having guns with no game [R] or game with no guns [D].I say we let the sportsman hunt on the greens, I am sure that would clear things up quickly.

Thanks F&S for running this article. It is ridiculous that this Administration is trying once again to undermine our public lands sporting heritage. It just goes to show out of touch these policy makers are with the average hunter and angler in this country. The future of hunting as we know it is dependant on keeping public lands in public hands!It would be difficult to improve upon the comments already made, all of which I completely agree with. I deeply regret voting for this sorry administration. They are not Republican Conservatives, but have turned out to be radical zealots, who have not hesitated to lie to us about nearly everything. I guess I mainly voted for them due to their alleged support of the 2nd amendment. I could not have imagined that they would have turned out to be simply point men for corporate interests. I would characterize myself as a fanatic hunter and fisherman AND a environmentalist. Both our interest groups should join forces against this disgraceful administration. I am 72 years old and have never seen anything like it!

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