Congressional Bickering Leaves Sportsmen in the Lurch
We called the Sportsmen’s Act easy to love for a reason. Until yesterday it appeared that a large majority of lawmakers in Congress agreed.
The bill recognizes the broad economic and social impacts of conservation, improves access for sportsmen and supports habitat conservation. It integrates 17 separate bills, including the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act and the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. It also would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Until yesterday’s Senate vote, the Sportsmen’s Act had passed all legislative hurdles with widespread support from both political parties – a rarity in such a divisive political environment. But somehow, even after Americans expressed strong distaste for partisan politics, dysfunctional gridlock returned to Congress.
With their backs up against the so-called fiscal cliff, elected officials from both sides of the aisle locked antlers again. American sportsmen are paying the price.
Hunters and anglers are experiencing the fallout from congressional inaction as access dwindles, development diminishes opportunities for sportsmen and funding for conservation disappears.
A diverse alliance of powerful groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to The Nature Conservancy has joined forces in support of the Sportsmen’s Act. Together, in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt, we will continue to stand up for sportsmen.
The TRCP and our partners are working with congressional leaders and members of the sporting community to form partnerships on the Hill and in the field that will benefit our sporting traditions for current and future generations.
In the coming days and weeks we will be asking for your voice in this fight. Be ready.
We’re throwing some vintage TRCP your way for this week’s Wednesday Win. Check out this blast from the past photo of one of our staffers, and see if you can guess who it is. If you need clues, visit our staff page for a comprehensive list of staff members and current photos. If you answer correctly, you could win a Gigantic Book of Hunting Stories.
Submit your answer via our Facebook page, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on the TRCP Blog. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we will announce the winner on Monday, Nov. 26.
Federal Farm Policy Writing Script for New Dust Bowl
Ken Burns new documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” depicts a full-blown ecological disaster, the likes of which never had been seen in America.
The dust storms that swept across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other Great Plains states in the late 1920s and early 1930s were largely caused by the combination of drought and high winds on a landscape that had seen the near total conversion of native grasslands and wetlands to row crop production.
As I write this, similar conversions of native grasslands and wetlands are occurring alarmingly quickly. I have to wonder: Is federal farm policy helping write the script for a new Dust Bowl?
In the last several years, crop prices have steadily increased. As many of you know, corn and soybean prices hit a record high this summer. These high crop prices create immense pressure to convert marginally productive grasslands, wetlands and forestlands to row crops.
Federal crop insurance policy removes much of the risk associated with converting these marginal acres. Unlike every other federal farm program, crop insurance does not require farmers to be “conservation compliant.” This means that crop insurance benefits can be maintained even when farmers convert ecologically valuable wetlands, grasslands and till highly erodible lands.
I can only hope that the black-and-white images of families living inside dusty houses with potato sacks over their heads will capture the attention of our elected officials tasked as they work toward passing the next farm bill. Or maybe the testimony of beautiful, old, wise faces telling of their parents’ mental breakdowns from the devastation catch the eye of members of the House Committee on Agriculture.
President of Sundog, Inc., a business development firm based in Fayetteville, Ark., that focuses on agriculture, alternative energy and green products, Tim Kizer is also the private lands field representative for the TRCP.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.