Partners and Agendas

by Jim Beers
for Alliance for America


This from a fellow recently, “I don’t believe the stuff you say because you are the only one saying it.” Really? It is a valid point and one that should be addressed. If the outdoor writers and conservation organizations and Universities and “our” Federal “conservation” agencies and State agencies don’t mention the illegalities, costs, and corruption behind much of today’s “conservation” programs, why should anyone believe an old retired guy that is always crying “wolf” (in the literary sense)?

Why is it that Congressional Committees can find no one to oppose Federal Invasive Species Authority proposals? Such authority will jeopardize and probably spell doom for pheasants, chukars, Hungarian partridge, brown trout, Great Lakes salmon, largemouth bass west of the 100th meridian, and other such critters that grace the walls of Cabelas and Bass Pro and sportsmen’s family rooms and dinner tables across the country. Where are the Pheasants Forevers and the shotgun and fishing tackle manufacturers? Where are the guides and outfitters and rural folks who profit from and enjoy the presence of these welcome species brought here from far away to enhance our lives? Where are the State fish and wildlife agencies that manage and profit from the uses of these species?

Why is it that growing Endangered Species complaints ignore the impacts of wolves on deer and elk and other game? Why is it that decreasing permit availability for big game is blamed on weather and “too many formerly” and habitat change and everything EXCEPT the growing wolf densities in these areas? Why is it that Universities and State fish and wildlife agencies (with one or two exceptions) rubber stamp Federal wolf “experts” forecasts that are patently untrue about future wolf behavior and future management relief of serious problems? Where are the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundations and Deer Hunters organizations as future decreases in big game availability become realities?

Why is it that the explosion of Federal land acquisition in recent years is not questioned by State fish and wildlife agencies or sportsmen’s organizations? The increasing Federal acreage and increasing Federal control of State lands purchased with Federal funding (even only in part) coupled with increasing inaccessibility; decreasing fish, wildlife, and forest management; increasing elimination of the full gamut of human uses; and the decrease in fish and wildlife numbers, diversity, and habitats seems of no importance when mention of the old saw about “save the dirt” is brought up. Like questioning if a tree makes a sound if it falls unheard by any human ear, are wasted and unmanaged and inaccessible natural resources of any relevance to man? Parks, Refuges, Forests, and other public lands are no longer fish and wildlife habitats so much as they are Federal islands where management and energy development are forbidden while environmental extremists use them as excuses for “corridors” and “Wildland” schemes to increase Federal ownership and exclusion of public uses. As Counties receive less and less compensation for lost property taxes, opponents of more land acquisition are vilified in the media and by Federal agencies and their environmental “partners.” Whoops, the mention of partners has just answered all my questions.

“Partners” the term brings a smile to the face and fond memories of Saturday afternoons in dark movie theatres watching the bad guys get rounded up by the good guys. Today the term has much more real and sinister connotations.

Today the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) “partners” with every conservation (and environmental and even some animal rights) organization. The same could be said about the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. FWS “partners” with the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA) and the American League of Anglers and Boaters to keep more Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson money in Washington for use here rather than in State agencies as specified in those laws. FWS “partners” with Defenders of Wildlife (an animal rights organization disguised as pro-wildlife) to disarm opponents of wolf introductions until it is too late to contain the wolves anymore. FWS and IAFWA and ALL the old conservation agencies sponsor numerous common meetings and “receptions” for each other each year. Ducks Unlimited (DU) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) “partner” with FWS to buy, manage, ease, and otherwise control more acreage each year. Federal agencies like EPA, FWS, National Park Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service and the governments of the District of Columbia and Maryland have “partnered” with the US Army Corps of Engineers for years to permit and cover up the deposition of toxic sludge through a National Park into the Potomac River by Washington DC onto the only spawning grounds of the long-“Endangered” shortnose sturgeon. This latter is done while fining, arresting, raiding, and otherwise seriously harassing citizens for far less “violations” of recent Federal statutes.

So, say I work for Bass Pro or Cabelas and understand that we should oppose Invasive Species proposals. We sponsor receptions for the conservation agencies and we want to be seen as on the side of sportsmen. But (DU) supports FWS Invasive Species proposals. We hire and are proud of former Elk Foundation and retired FWS employees on our payroll and they counsel avoiding controversy and “working with” their old counterparts. But FWS wants more budget and authority and the Elk Foundation “partners” with IAFWA and others who “support reasonable Invasive Species legislation” (translation whatever gives money to State agencies.) Some of the conservation organizations and nearly every State agency get Endangered Species grant money from FWS. Organizations like DU and TNC raise millions and buy and ease lands by appearing as positive and white-hatted doers of good, not knuckle-dragging opponents of a warm fuzzy like more Federal authority to “save” something like the elusive “native ecosystem.” Thus, do agendas merge, blur, and disappear. Note: Recently I shopped at Bass Pro in Springfield, Missouri. I tried to speak to someone about Invasive Species at the corporate office by making inquiry at their store/museum complex. I struck out, as far as I can tell because they are just a big outfit that is impervious to contact by someone just dropping in.

Then there is the interchangeable nature of “partners.” The US Forest Service just hired a long-time Invasive Species advocate from TNC where she got money and attention for Federal Invasive Species supports. FWS hired an Invasive Species advocate form the National Beef Cattlemen Association. A top Congressional staff advocate for environmental programs loses his job due to politics on the Hill and is immediately picked up as a top FWS manager. The Wildlife Management Institute hires a former top FWS manager. A lawyer for IAFWA goes to work for FWS and then goes back to IAFWA. A top FWS animal rights advocate goes to work for the Fund for Wildlife when the Administration changes. The point to remember is not that these are bad people or that what they do is wrong. Remember that these are considered the best candidates for these jobs but what does such high recommendation really entail? It entails skill at compromise and survival in the give and take of Washington politics. While most folks in the hinterlands are impressed that this is “best” for their organizations (connections, experience, etc.) I submit that what it really brings about is a common agenda that, by meeting “most peoples needs” does not meet the needs of or protect our more narrow interests from brown trout fisherman to elk hunter. Look to recent history to see how loggers and cockfighters are marginalized and then dog hunters, trappers, and dog breeders are singled out for elimination; one small group at a time.

This common agenda reflects Federal power, Federal money, Federal solutions, and a minimization of any State role other than as an extension of Federal mandates. DU is impervious to impacts on “invasive” brown trout or “invasive” Great Lakes salmon while they envision Invasive Species funding availability. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is seduced into silence by University studies that predict no significant loss of elk to wolves and falsehoods about improved elk habitat once “invasive” plants are eliminated. IAFWA ignores FWS shortstopping of money intended for its’ members because of the potential for windfalls for State agencies if the proposed Federal Get Outdoors Act is passed. Eastern State fish and wildlife agencies remain quiet about the future potential influx of mountain lions and wolves as western States try valiantly to resist Federal hegemony over all their plants and animals. It is far more difficult and politically dangerous to oppose Endangered Species actions, Federal land acquisition, or Invasive Species proposals than to bill and coo about “Native ecosystems”, Invasive Species hobgoblins, predator desirability, or environmental “emergencies.” These latter are nearly all generated and justified by UN bureaucrats interested in growing their power over the US, international environmental and animal rights extremists, and University professors interested in grants and supports for their pet area of study and tenure. Underlying all of this is the flow of Federal money through FWS and the future promise of even more largesse to be distributed and shared by these groups who will also brag to their members about how they helped bring it all about. “Partners” all.

This growth in “partners” over the past thirty years (since passage of the Endangered Species Act and other sources of Federal power and Federal funds) has blended the whole spectrum of agendas into one agenda of compromise and accommodation. This common Federal-run agenda is doubly dangerous to those of us who hunt, fish, trap, and otherwise use natural resources or public lands. The reason is that it increasingly incorporates the agendas of those organizations committed to the demise of our right to use animals, natural resources, or public lands. These groups are also committed to the elimination of any active management or use of any natural resources for any reason. This is being accomplished by politically and financially neutering State governments that are the rightful opposition to such Federal growth named in our Constitution.

So don’t think because “your” organization doesn’t mention it, it isn’t real. The old Washington saw about “these organizations are formed to represent their members in Washington and they all wind up representing Washington to their members” was never truer than it is today. Trying to describe this in an understandable fashion is like trying to write instructions about how to clean up a badly backlashed casting reel. But clean it up we must and while it shouldn’t take thirty years, it can’t be done overnight either.

Jim Beers
24 July 2004
The price of libertyand a bountiful environment is constant vigilance and a willingness to fight for both.



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