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Entries in TRCP (21)

Monday
Nov032014

Should We Support New CWA Rules? I'm Not So Sure . . . 

Some sportsmen groups support the new rules proposed for the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

For example, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, of which B.A.S.S. is a member, says this: “Sportsmen must speak up for strong, science-based protections for waters upon which America’s hunters and anglers rely. Tell the Army Corps and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you support their efforts to clarify the Clean Water Act and urge them to finalize a rule that protects wetlands and headwater streams.”

I’m not so sure. For months I’ve argued with myself about this. Yes, I want to protect wetlands and headwater streams, but . . .

The original Clean Water Act was passed by our elected representatives and senators and signed into law by the President. It clearly was implemented with the best interests of the public and our aquatic resources in mind.

These rules were formulated by the EPA for the EPA. Public input was solicited, but no bureaucracy is going to institute rules detrimental to its own best interests. It’s going to create regulations that strengthen it and expand its powers.

And what recourse do citizens have in dealing with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who, more and more, are making the rules that we must live by? Not much.

EPA insists that these new rules simply “clarify” its regulatory role in protecting waters upstream of navigable waters. It needs to do so, it asserts, because of Supreme Court decisions that created uncertainty.

Critics of EPA and Corps overreach counter that those decisions reined in those agencies, which is why they now are proposing new rules.

I could present you with an almost endless list of testimonials from both sides, but I’ll keep it to a couple.

EPA’s Nancy Stoner says this:

“So EPA and the Corps are bringing clarity and consistency to the process, cutting red tape and saving money. The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule does not regulate new types of ditches, does not regulate activities on land, and does not apply to groundwater.”

Mike Freese, an attorney for the Oregon Farm Bureau counters:

“This is also going to affect counties, cities, home builders and land use anywhere near a waterway . . . The Clean Water Act will become a land management tool for federal agencies.”

If my decision to align with one side or the other were based only on the rules themselves, I’d probably side with the sportsmen groups and EPA. But it’s not.

There’s also interpretation and enforcement by the bureaucrats in those agencies, and the track record there is not good. Ask Mike and Chantell Sackett up in Idaho about that. After obtaining necessary local permits and consulting with the Corps, they were filling in their lot with dirt and rock, preparing to build a home in a neighborhood where other houses have stood for years. Suddenly, federal officials showed up, demanding that they stop construction because their .63-acre lot is a protected wetland.

Seven years later, they’re still fighting for the right to build their home. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on their behalf, but its judgment said only that the couple has the right to seek judicial review in opposing the EPA.

Also in 2012, a top EPA official, Al Armendariz, resigned after a video surfaced of him making a speech in which is compared the agency’s enforcement strategy to Roman crucifixion.

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean,” he said. “They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them.

“And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

More recently, bureaucrats in another agency have refused to cooperate with Congress on another water-related issue. The Interior Department ignored a subpoena to provide documents regarding this administration’s rewrite of the 2008 “Stream Buffer Zone Rule.”

"The administration's response to the committee's oversight efforts has been downright shameful. Their actions are unjustifiable and show blatant disrespect to the transparency they promised the American people,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Yes, we all want clean water.  And thanks to the original CWA we’ve made tremendous strides in improving water quality and fisheries. The question now is how to balance continued improvements with maintaining a government that is mindful of and respectful to its citizens and their rights.

(This was published originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Thursday
Sep042014

TRCP Responds to Green Decoys Accusations

On Aug. 14, I posted accusations that Green Decoys is making against the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). They relate mostly to TRCP’s assertion that it represents sportsmen, as it takes funds from environmental groups that often are anti-fishing and anti-hunting, as well as supportive of tighter gun controls.

In response, TRCP says this:

“The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership stands on its record of success fighting for sportsmen by fighting for conservation and access. Since its inception, the organization has been attacked by anti-conservation forces, usually working through industry front groups, for one simple reason: if sportsmen unite, sportsmen win.

“Before giving any credence to these attacks, we encourage people to research who is making the attacks and who is funding the attacks. In the meantime, the TRCP will keep working to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.”

It adds that the organization “operates financially with a very high degree of transparency . . . We are funded at numerous levels, from foundation grants all the way down to yearly $35 members. Our annual report and Form 990 are published openly on our website for all to see.”

Finally, it provides links regarding the origin of Green Decoys, and, I’ll acknowledge that it does not seem as transparent as TRCP regarding its origin and funding.  Green Decoys describes itself as “a project of the Environmental Policy Alliance.”

And the Environmental Policy Alliance is “a project of the Center for Organizational Research & Education” which was formerly the Center for Consumer Freedom.  The latter originated with Richard Berman, a public relations specialist, who campaigns against environmental groups and labor unions, among others.

But I must say that I am in sympathy with Berman regarding his opposition to the “nanny culture” in general and some of the “targets” listed on the Berman Exposed website. They include ACORN, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, teachers unions, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Here’s a reminder about  EPA: A couple of years ago, a bureaucrat there compared his agency’s enforcement strategy to Roman crucifixion of Christians. When his comments went public, he was forced to resign.

But you can bet he’s not the only one in the EPA and other federal agencies who thinks that way. Remember Lois Lerner at the IRS?

Bottom line for me: Environmental funding groups push agendas in favor of bigger and more intrusive government and that inevitably leads to loss of freedom and abuse of power by unelected bureaucrats like that EPA official and Lois Lerner. Yes, TRCP does some great things on behalf of sportsmen, but, as it does so, it takes money from those groups, which also support anti-fishing and anti-hunting organizations and policies.  What does that cozy relationship mean for the future of fishing and hunting?

Thursday
Aug142014

Green Decoys Argues TRCP Is Not Credible Voice for Anglers, Hunters

Activist Angler stopped promoting the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership awhile back, as I became more and more troubled by its political and financial ties to left-leaning groups, foundations and politicians. You can read one of my posts related to that here.

Here’s the essence of the issue for me: While TRCP has “conservation” in its name and many conservation groups for its members, it seems more closely allied, especially financially, to preservationists, many of whom want to restrict where we can fish and impose tighter gun controls. Some of those backers also believe that manmade climate change is “settled science,” and, as a consequence, advocate for ever tighter and more burdensome environmental regulations that are not supported by science.

I’m not suggesting that TRCP doesn’t do some good on behalf of fish and wildlife habitat. I believe that it does, and many of its coalition members are champions for fishing and hunting. But I also suspect that TRCP is a compromised organization and, over time, morphing into a preservationist Trojan horse amidst the conservation community.

With that in mind, today I received a press release from Green Decoys, which says, “A review of TRCP’s most recent tax records finds that it receives 77 percent of its contributions from just 8 donors, many of which are San Francisco-based environmentalist foundations.”

Will Coggin, senior research analyst, adds, “TRCP provides Big Green and Big Labor with a convenient mask for their agendas: Sportsmen. TRCP is nothing more than a puppet with a camo hat, in the pay and in the pocket of radical and left-wing interests . . .

“Sportsmen and other grassroots members of these organizations should be worried that they are being used as pawns by environmentalists,” continues Coggin. “You can’t receive the majority of your contributions from a handful of elitist urbanites and claim to be a credible voice for backwoods hunters and anglers.”

Go here to read what Green Decoys has to say about TRCP:

Here’s an excerpt:

On the Sideline for the Second Amendment

TRCP claims to support the right to hunt and fish, and so it should be a vocal proponent of gun rights. But when pressed, TRCP couldn’t offer a stance. “[O]thers know far more than we do about the Second Amendment,” TRCP stated. Bizarrely, WyoFile reports that Whit Fosburgh, head of TRCP, “doesn’t view President Obama as a threat to gun rights.” TRCP’s non-stance is even stranger given that a portion of every sale of firearms and ammunition is earmarked for conservation programs.

Thursday
Jan302014

Green Decoys Exposes 'Radical Environmentalists' in Outdoors Camouflage

For awhile, I’ve been concerned that the interests of anglers and hunters are being weakened and compromised, as groups that supposedly represent them embrace friendship and funding from preservationist and left-wing organizations and financiers.

In fact, I wrote about this awhile back, when I discovered that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had been named to the board of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). (You can read my post about that here.)  I also was concerned about its acceptance of grants from left-leaning trusts.

Others in the fishing and hunting community share my concerns, it seems, as the launch of a new website, Green Decoys, demonstrates. Founded by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), its intent is to “expose radical environmentalists camouflaged under outdoor-sounding names whose real objective is to serve the interests of their wealthy backers.”

Its targets: TRCP, Izaak Walton League of America, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance.

“These self-anointed sportsmen’s groups posture as advocates for the hunting and fishing communities, but their funding tells the real story,” said CCF Senior Research Analyst Will Coggin. “Given the millions they collectively take from radical activists, it’s clear they serve an environmentalist master, not America’s sportsmen.”

My biggest regret regarding this campaign is that it clearly is based on the assumption that real anglers and hunters can be only on the right-side of the political spectrum. Traditionally, I don’t think that’s true.

But the sad reality today is that the leftist ideology in general is anti-fishing and anti-hunting, as its direction is shaped by environmental preservationists who want to force us off the water and out of the woods.

I write about the difference between being an environmentalist and a conservationist in my new book, Why We Fish.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay “I’m Not an Environmentalist”:

“We don’t want to be called 'environmentalists' because we associate that description with agenda-driven campaigns for preservation policies that often are not backed by scientific evidence.

“For anglers, 'conservationist' is the term of choice. Conservationists believe in both protection and sustainable use of our lands, waters, and other natural resources. They follow an ethical code of behavior and embrace a stewardship philosophy.

“So we have two factions, conservationists and environmentalists, sharing many of the same values, but more often viewing each other as enemies than allies.”

Thursday
Feb282013

Drought Threatens Future for Fishermen, Fisheries

A water crisis is looming, with sport fisheries and anglers as the likely losers, according to Jim Martin, conservation director for the Berkley Conservation Institute.

“It’s a problem that no one wants to talk about,” he said, pointing out that have of the continental U.S. now is under drought conditions.

“We have to start talking about it.”

Martin gave that message at a freshwater summit sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership during the recent Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa, Okla.

The country needs a plan to prioritize the use of water and to manage development, he said. And the sooner the discussion begins, the more influence that outdoor enthusiasts will have.

Once the crisis hits and recreational use of water is competing against agriculture, manufacturing and urban populations, the fishing industry won't have the votes to compete.

 "A hundred million sportsmen are going to be lost in the shuffle," he said.

Read more in Tulsa World