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posted in: General

November 8, 2015

Are Your Senators Just Paying Lip Service to Sportsmen?

Here’s how they voted on clean water for headwaters and wetlands

In late October, I wrote about three upcoming attacks from Congress on sportsmen’s access to healthy headwater streams and wetlands. We’re now witnessing the aftermath of two of these attacks and, unfortunately for sportsmen, it’s not all good news.

Image courtesy of Bob Wick/BLM.

First, a victory: On November 3, the Senate voted down a bill that would have forced a costly and unnecessary do-over on a multi-year federal process to write a rule clarifying which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule has been (and continues to be) a target of Congressional ire. Had the bill just sent the rule back to square one, it would have set the cause of clean water back many years. But the bill would have gone one step further to eliminate protections for some waters currently covered by the Clean Water Act, and eliminate consideration of the impact on fish and wildlife when deciding how to protect a body of water. Sportsmen turned out in a big way to oppose this disastrous bill, and it failed.

The bad news? Remarkably, 57 of your senators still voted for the bill undercutting the Clean Water Act. Even worse, on the very next day, the Senate approved a resolution that would wipe away all the work done by federal agencies to produce the Clean Water Rule and prevent them from ever issuing a similar rule to clear up regulatory confusion. This bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass easily. Fortunately, the president is sure to veto it.

Did your senator stand with sportsmen and vote in favor of healthy trout streams and productive wetlands? Click here to see how your senator voted on S.1140, which would have stripped protections from waters long-covered by the Clean Water Act. Click here to see how your senator voted on S.J.Res.22, which would have locked in Clean Water Act confusion and pollution threats to wetlands and headwaters indefinitely.

If your lawmaker voted ‘Nay,’ they voted correctly for sportsmen’s access and outdoor recreation industry jobs.

Throughout much of the debate about Clean Water Act jurisdiction, senators opposing the Clean Water Rule have claimed that “everyone is for clean water,” as if this is somehow self-evident. But, at some point, the actions of our elected officials have to match their words.

Senators cannot claim to be for clean water and then vote for a bill that would kill the Clean Water Rule and prevent efforts to better protect clean water in the future. Senators cannot claim to be for clean water and then vote for a bill that strips Clean Water Act protections that have existed for decades for many of the waters that are critical to fish and wildlife. Sportsmen need to know the difference between the lawmakers who are actually working to maintain and improve natural resources and those who just say they are. The votes in the Senate this week are a good place to start recognizing the difference.

Tell your senators how you feel about their votes. Tell them you need clean water where you hunt and fish.

 

4 Responses to “Are Your Senators Just Paying Lip Service to Sportsmen?”

  1. Johmar Bellend

    It was a straight party line vote. R’s – yes, D’s – no. It is a little deceiving on a party line vote to state that only one party truly understands and supports sportsmen and the other party does not. There are multiple facets involving hunting and fishing in America and one party only does not have a lock on the answers. One is the federal overreach on the part of the EPA to vastly extend the clean water act beyond its historical impact. The R’s were reacting to that situation. There are good reasons why some sportsmen are wary of increasing the regulatory footprint of the EPA. Oops, Let’s Turn the Colorado River Yellow comes to mind… It is a legitimate policy issue to determine where water quality regulatory authority should primarily rest. Sorry to say, your article grossly misrepresents a public policy issue on a party line vote by not being upfront on that point.

    • Jimmy Hague

      Johmar, thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more that one party does not have a lock on the answers. In this case, it wasn’t a party line vote. On the first vote, four Democrats crossed party lines to vote with all of the Republicans. On the second vote, three Democrats and one Republican crossed party lines to vote with the other side. My point is, regardless of party, those who voted in favor of these bills did not do what is best for conservation of fish and wildlife habitat.

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November 5, 2015

Winner Alert! Capturing the upland scene that makes us #PublicLandsProud

Thanks to those of you in #PublicLandsProud nation who shared their best upland hunting photos taken on public lands! With seasons opening up from the prairies of South Dakota to the plains of Texas and the pine forests of South Georgia, there were some really impressive submissions, and it was the very tough job of our guest judge, outdoor photographer Brian Grossenbacher, to ultimately select a winner.  After much deliberation, here are the winning shots:

First Place:  Instagrammer pfitzpatrick

“This image pulled me in and told a story about the excitement of a kid’s first hunt,” says Grossenbacher. “With hunter’s safety still fresh in his mind, I could just imagine his quickening steps and total concentration as he approached the dog on point. Great composition and lighting, but more importantly, this image speaks to the generations of hunters before us and after us who will have the privilege to enjoy public lands.” First Runner UpAnthony Hauck ‏@AnthonyHauckPF  Oct 19

 

“I love the perspective of this image,” says Grossenbacher of this shot from Pheasants Forever staffer Hauck. (He had a slight edge in this upland category.) “It shows the wide open space of the hunt and follows the point of view of the dog in the foreground. The more I look at this image, the more I see and get pulled into feeling of being there. Very creative composition that illustrates the long miles, and wide open country of a Western hunt.”

Second Runner Up: Instagrammer ajvavra


“This must have been one of those rare times when the scenery and lighting are so good that it puts pressure on the photographer to capture the perfect image—this one is very nicely done,” says Grossenbacher. “I love that the river tracks through this entire image, plus the play of light, contrast in the clouds, and even a rainbow is just classic Montana.”

Submit your best dog photos for the next round of our photo contest! You could win a new pair of Costa sunglasses, or even our grand prize—a Yeti cooler packed with great swag. Keep showing us what makes you #PublicLandsProud, and we’ll continue to protect your access to quality fish and wildlife habitat.

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Take Refuge: Five Havens for Wildlife and Sportsmen in New England

The National Wildlife Refuge System spans 150 million acres of land and water from coast to coast, with at least one refuge providing public access to quality fish and wildlife habitat in each U.S. state. Last week I traveled through New England with the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) coalition, visiting five National Wildlife Refuges along the way. I was inspired by this immersion in living-and-breathing habitat restoration and enhancement projects that are benefiting local communities and future generations, but it became very clear that none of it would be possible without the help of local and national partners contributing financial assistance and on-the-ground support. Overall, refuges across the country are underfunded, and this has caused a real impact on the health of wildlife habitat and quality of visitor experiences.  Though the refuge workforce has fallen 12 percent in the past four years, the staff that we met over the past week were passionate, engaged, and responsible for executing conservation initiatives that may not see results for many years. Here’s a taste of what I experienced.

Image courtesy of Julia Galliher.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Rowley, Mass.

Occupying two-thirds of Plum Island, this refuge’s Great Marsh is at the confluence of the Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Parker, and Merrimac Rivers. In 2014, the National Wildlife Refuge System and its partners teamed up to remove dense invasive wetland reeds that spread quickly by water and air. They successfully decreased the invasive plant population by 85 percent and replaced them with native shrubs and grasses, supporting habitat for the more than 67,000 migratory birds that spend warm seasons in the marsh. Our small group wandered through past the dunes to where hunters may pursue waterfowl and whitetail deer thanks, also, to careful management. The refuge is less than 20 miles from route 95 and just an hour from Boston, providing quality access to sportsmen and birders from an ever-sprawling urban area.

Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Newington, N.H.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Wells, Maine

The Great Bay and Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuges have partnered with their state fish and wildlife agencies to accomplish restoration projects and protect at-risk species, like the recently delisted New England cottontail rabbit. Just weeks before we arrived at Great Bay, the staff released ten young cottontails raised in a one-and-a-half-acre pen at the refuge. Meanwhile, partners and volunteers at Rachel Carson worked to remove invasive grasses and restore native shrubs where the rabbits breed.

Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, Bethel, Maine

The Umbagog staff is currently partnering with timber contractors to clear out invasive trees and restore healthy forest habitat. They showed us trees marked with blue paint for removal this winter. Forty to 50 years from now, probably long after these dedicated refuge workers retire, the effects of the timber harvest will begin to sustain woodcock and other species reliant on hardwood forest habitat.

Image courtesy of Julia Galliher.

Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Brunswick, Vt.

This refuge places a high value on educating the community while maintaining and restoring the Connecticut River watershed. Fueled by the refuge’s relationship with local partners, French’s staff is able to restore salt marshes for migratory birds, like black ducks, reestablish wetlands by deconstructing manmade bodies of water, and provide education materials through the Watershed on Wheels (WOW) project—the refuge’s mobile visitors center. Unfortunately, many of these projects are on standby due to the lack of conservation funding appropriated to them by Congress.

Fortunately, local and national partners are providing assistance for restoration projects on our National Wildlife Refuges, but these efforts only go so far without a permanent refuge workforce. On behalf of the New England refuges that I had the pleasure to experience, I encourage you to reach out to your lawmakers and urge them to invest in conservation to protect and sustain the refuge system for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and sportsmen.

 

Kristyn Brady

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November 3, 2015

Senate kills dirty water bill

Hunters and anglers celebrate brief reprieve for headwater streams and wetlands before preparing for a fresh threat to the Clean Water Rule

In a Senate vote today, “The Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” S.1140—which would have stripped Clean Water Act protections from some waters and nullified a rule to clarify protections for others—was defeated.

“For all Americans who love trout, beer, and a nice glass of water, today is a great day,” says Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s vice president for government affairs. “We thank all of the senators who stood with sportsmen, turned away the blizzard of bad information, and supported clean water.”

Image courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli.

Earlier this week, eight of the country’s leading sportsmen’s groups sent Senators a letter opposing the legislation, introduced by Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, saying that it would leave headwater streams and wetlands at risk, despite a multi-year public rulemaking process that highlighted the need to protect these areas. “Senators who voted against the Barrasso bill voted for clean water and the outdoor recreation economy, which depends on healthy streams and wetlands,” says Scott Kovarovics, executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America. “These lawmakers followed science and common sense and listened to hunters and anglers, who overwhelmingly support conserving vital water resources.”

A recent National Wildlife Federation poll found that 83 percent of sportsmen and women think the Clean Water Act should apply to smaller streams and wetlands, as the new Clean Water Rule directs. “The science behind the rule is strong, as is its public support, and these streams and wetlands are critical for fish, wildlife, and our way of life,” says Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the NWF. “So, while we are pleased that this bill failed to reach cloture, and we thank the senators who voted for clean water today, but it’s hard to understand why it was up for debate in the first place.”

Despite this support, not to mention the rule’s benefits for drinking water for one in three Americans and flood protection for local communities, multiple threats remain. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has called for the use of the Congressional Review Act to overturn the current rule and prevent any future rulemaking. The Senate is expected to turn to Sen. Ernst’s proposal next. [Updated 11-5-2015 3:48 p.m. ET: Sadly, the Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 22 on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass easily. Fortunately, the president is sure to veto S.J.Res.22.)

“Hunters and anglers must remain vigilant despite our victory today,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Many in Congress are determined to undercut the safeguards we need to enjoy clean water and quality days afield, whether it’s through obscure legislative processes or tucking offending provisions into thousand-page must-pass spending bills at the end of the year.”

“Everyone who likes to spend time outdoors—whether to fish or swim—needs to pick up the phone and let their senators know that clean water is non-negotiable,” says O’Mara.

Learn more about these attacks and other threats to clean water here. Sportsmen can contact their lawmakers in support of better protection for headwaters and wetlands here.

Kristyn Brady

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November 2, 2015

Sportsmen Oppose Congressional Threats to Clean Water and Healthy Wetlands

The Senate will vote on a dirty water bill tomorrow–here’s what sportsmen’s groups are doing about it

Today, eight sportsmen’s groups representing hundreds of thousands of hunters and anglers sent Senators a letter opposing the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” which would derail the Clean Water Rule, produced to clarify protections for headwaters and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Sen. John Barrasso’s S.1140, which the Senate will vote on Tuesday afternoon, would also remove protections for some waters already covered by the Act.

Image courtesy of Nicolas Raymond.

The letter—signed by the American Fisheries Society, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, International Federation of Fly Fishers, Izaak Walton League of America, National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout Unlimited—urges Senators to vote down the bill, because it would force the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to restart the rulemaking process, putting valuable fish and waterfowl habitat at risk in the meantime.

The letter highlights a recent poll, which found that 83 percent of sportsmen and women think the Clean Water Act should apply to smaller streams and wetlands, as the new Clean Water Rule directs. These resources impact drinking water for one in three Americans, protect communities from flooding, and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that supports a robust outdoor recreation economy. “The sportfishing industry accounts for 828,000 jobs, nearly $50 billion annually in retail sales, and an economic impact of about $115 billion every year that relies on access to clean water,” the letter says. “The Clean Water Rule will translate directly to an improved bottom line for America’s outdoor industry.”

In a separate letter to lawmakers, sportsmen’s groups opposed a Congressional Review Act resolution that would invalidate the Clean Water Rule and prevent any future attempts to craft a rule. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has called for the use of Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the ability to overturn agency actions using special rules that bypass the normal legislative process. In effect, this would substitute the judgment of Congress for the deliberate and thorough multi-year public rulemaking process that produced the Clean Water Rule. Congress may proceed to Ernst’s resolution after tomorrow’s vote.

Learn more about these attacks and other threats to clean water here. Sportsmen can contact their lawmakers in support of better protection for headwaters and wetlands here bout $115 billion every year that relies on access to clean water,” the letter says. “The Clean Water Rule will translate directly to an improved bottom line for America’s outdoor industry.”

In a separate letter to lawmakers, sportsmen’s groups opposed a Congressional Review Act resolution that would invalidate the Clean Water Rule and prevent any future attempts to craft a rule. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has called for the use of Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the ability to overturn agency actions using special rules that bypass the normal legislative process. In effect, this would substitute the judgment of Congress for the deliberate and thorough multi-year public rulemaking process that produced the Clean Water Rule. Congress may proceed to Ernst’s resolution after tomorrow’s vote.

Learn more about these attacks and other threats to clean water here. Sportsmen can contact their lawmakers in support of better protection for headwaters and wetlands here.

 

 

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