Clean Water and Hunting and Fishing - The proposed Oberatar/Feingold
October 25, 2007
Twenty-four hours ago, I wrote a condemnation of the proposed CWRA. It was my answer to a reader concerning five questions he had about the proposed bill's effect on farmers, landowners, wetlands, state government, and local government. In that piece I condemned, as I often do, the short sighted and misguided support of hunters and fishermen for such government programs and power grabs that their (hunters and fishermen) organizations tout with all the enthusiasm of a Russian AARP (I make this up) for a return to communism.
I am in receipt of a sarcastic communique accusing me of lying. The gist is that only if the government gets more authority over private property (marshes, flooded woodlands, floodplains, newly wetted areas, rivers, creeks, brooks, bogs, fens, swamps, ditches, deltas, springs, impoundments, drainages, watersheds, sheetwater, seeps) is there any hope of maintaining the hunting (waterfowl, small game, upland game, big game) and trapping (furbearers, predators) and fishing (nurseries for fish, spawning grounds, cover) that depends on water areas.
Like the joke about "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you," and the facts all around us about how if, for instance, we let government teach about sex in the schools (and then push radical agendas and then assert control over kids without need for parental notification or permission, then to take the kids for abortions, and now give birth control to 11-year-olds sans parents while all the while promiscuity and violence surges in the schools and academic achievement tanks), or how if we just pay gas taxes the government will only spend it on road (and bridge) construction and maintenance: placing any confidence in the federal government to maintain hunting and fishing (and certainly trapping) by giving them more land acquisition or money to take and subsidize easements or certainly to expand their authority (at the expense of private property owners' rights and local and state government authority) is wrong-headed and flies in the face of the facts. Think about it and be honest.
If you give the federal government authority over all water areas it will be exactly like when our forefathers let the federal government establish National Forests for multiple use, public recreation, the health of rural communities, and the needs of rural economies. Today, these units have closed down rural economies, impoverished rural communities (into roadside art stalls much like third world serfs), killed off hunting with protected wolves and bears, eliminated grazing, ranches, and logging while wasting immense renewable natural resources, closed access and campgrounds with road closures and Wilderness and Critical Habitat and all manner of specious Native this and Invasive that claims while the inaccessible and unmanaged public lands burn more and more each year. The Forest Service law enforcement is trained and equipped (to raise pay and retirement) to fight drug cartels and terrorists while being focused on some local guy gathering firewood or entering an area without a permit (shades of man-traps on medieval European Estates). Today, we shrug about claims by the federal government that they are immune from state regulations regarding wildlife on federal lands and that federal land doesn't have to pay taxes so local roads and schools can shrivel while urban school cesspools get more and more money to turn out less and less educated graduates.
National Wildlife Refuges? Same deal. Let's be frank here, OK? Under the Clinton appointees there was a move (unmentioned by our esteemed and respected hunting and fishing organizations and our state fish and wildlife agencies) to reorient the Refuges, the overwhelming majority of which were authorized in legislation to be bought for waterfowl, into Native Ecosystem Preserves where water management equipment and management is verboten. Hello, is anybody out there? For those of you that are always mad at me - that meant reduced or eliminated waterfowl production, migration and wintering habitat, and hunting, fishing, and trapping. If anything these agencies are even more loaded today with personnel that oppose (deep in their bones) hunting, fishing, trapping, grazing, logging, roads, access, public uses, and yes - humans living in rural areas.
National Parks? BLM lands? Army Corps of Engineers lands? Bureau of Reclamation lands? DOD bases? If you see any push to stock or increase or increase access or indeed benefit hunting, fishing, and trapping on any of these areas please let me know. Forget about the recent (and six years tardy) Presidential EO: that is merely end-of-administration window dressing that will still be wobbling when the next President ignores or poop-cans it. Fact is that all federal lands are less and less managed for harvestable surpluses of fish, game, and public use and more and more preserved and saved for Endangered Species, Threatened Species, Species in Peril, Species Approaching Endangered Status, Native Ecosystems, Invasive Species mischief, wildlands, corridors, sanctuaries, non-game, watching, non-consumptive recreation, wilderness, buffer areas, interpretation, study areas, Wetlands of International Importance, U.N. Designated Areas of this or that, etc. Add in the use of predators (federally introduced and protected) to decimate hunting (and fishing and trapping by endangering the would-be participants) by increasing attacks on hunters as well as killing game and dogs, threatening rural children and rural livelihoods, and one is forced to ask "Who are you gonna trust?"
In the beginning, as in all of these tales, there was a germ of need. Sixty years ago, USDA money and personnel were being used to drain wetlands that raised and wintered ducks. So efforts to minimize this conflicting use of federal tax dollars led first to buying wetlands and then to easing wetlands (those perpetual easements that I worked to get were a scam every bit as big as the variable rate mortgages of today - the return to the landowner for turning over so much to the Feds was and is not a bargain but a disgrace. (Those that expect benefits from private property should pay the owner or be prepared to do without.) Then it led to reduction of federal payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to Counties and then to federal road controls and water claims when drainages shifted due an abundance of reasons and now to federal law enforcement of Ninja-type officers with drawn guns in family farm yards with children present. The legitimate need morphed into a government nightmare.
So what is harmful about more federal water area control? Think politics. Most of the hunters and fishermen are going to get mad but so be it. In all candor and honesty - If any of the Democrats get elected to the White House or if they maintain control of the Congress the environmental groups and animal rights groups will rightly believe that they are in the drivers seat. The same can be said for the Republicans so far. If the D's get in, they are beholden to and will support appointments and legislation for the radical groups I refer to. If any of these metro R's get in, they will immediately try to reach out to the middle: how? By the time tested scam of supporting loony appointees and loony regulations on the environment and animal rights agendas that tickle lots of city folks and importune small groups of inconsequential and relatively powerless rural bumpkins. Nixon did it in spades (ESA, AWA, MMPA, WHBA).
So picture the President of HSUS as Secretary of the Interior or the PETA lady as Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the head priest of the Wilderness Society as Chief of the Forest Service or an ambulance chaser from the NRDC as Secretary of Agriculture. Picture federal invasive species authority legislation and a mandate (Executive Order or new law) for all federal agencies to restore the native ecosystem of the United States. Then think about all those new wetlands we just placed under the CWRA. So what?
First you just get a law passed (in the new and more sensitive Congress and White House) that says all aquatic ecosystems under federal control are to be restored to their native ecosystem (which means anything you want it to mean). If you don't get that: start wording regulations under the Refuge Admin Act or Park Service authorizations or Forest Service Management acts that say the same thing. Or if that doesn't work, burn up the phone lines with radical lobbyists and lawyers to set up a lawsuit that gets a court to proclaim that undoubtedly the fill-in-the-blank Act mandates that all waters under federal authority must be restored to Pre-Columbian conditions. And last but certainly not least, there is always the U.N. treaty scam that worked so well to save the cormorants and hawks and owls that are coming out our collective tusch today. You negotiate a U.N. treaty or some non-descript treaty with Korea or Russia to protect and manage aquatic species or aquatic ecosystems. You deny any hidden motives and vilify any detractors and then in paragraph 3, section J, line four you cleverly (by half) insert the key phrase "pristine conditions" which you swear only means clean, but a lawsuit a year later evokes from a court that it means before settlement and therefore native per some scientist-of-the-evening. So what?
Well remember who is now in charge of USDA, USDI, USFWS, USFS, and NPS, et al. While you think about invasive killer bees and kudzu, they think about all the Invasive Species that are hunted, trapped, and hooked. They know what sort of plant communities support them and what species will replace them or cause them to decline with the proper tweaking of habitats. They are homed in on rainbow and brown trout and pheasants and chukars and Hungarian partridge. They know that bass were transplanted (just like their wolves but that won't be mentioned) out west and that muskies don't belong in Tennessee. They know that cleansing wetlands of certain species will decrease waterfowl production (back to Pre-Columbian levels, don't you know) and use (i.e. hunting for all you sensitive types). They know that many (there are literally infinite combinations) native plant community mixes will eliminate trapping and fishery support. They will use your tax money to buy lots of scientists-of-the-evening to wax poetic, and they will hire a bevy of analysts to tell us how people will flock to these native ecosystems and increase the economies of rural America nine-fold, and it will all be lies and your hunting, fishing, and trapping will fade, and you will be told it is progressive, natural, and enlightened that such barbaric practices are becoming extinct.
How long will you not react to Trout Unlimited telling you that invasive species authority at the federal level (at the expense of State authority that you can control) is good when it will result in the elimination of brown trout and rainbow trout fisheries, western bass fisheries, and Great lakes salmon and trout fisheries? How long will you send money to a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that tells you how romantic it is to hear wolves howling while those wolves are decimating elk herds? How long will you listen to Ducks Unlimited lobbying for socialistic and anti-American legislation like CWRA? When fishing goes under the TU guys figure they will still be rich enough to fish pristine waters: the RMEF guys will get jobs as office managers with some government agency when their party gets in: and DU will sell even more beadspreads and shirts at high markups as such memorabilia of bygone days takes on the aura of old wooden hunting decoys on E-bay today.
So smart guy. What is the answer? The answer is what got America to where it is today: private property and protected rights. I just hunted deer for a week in South Carolina. I hunted as a guest at my son-in-law and daughter's deer club and on a farm my son-in-law and daughter own. Private property and four month season and daily deer limits - no federal government or their tentacles there. I jump shoot ducks out of my canoe on Virginia streams that are public thanks to state laws that go back to the founding of the state. I hunt ducks and geese on picked corn and soybean fields that kind farmers allow free. One of the spots we used to hunt was leased by a guy quoted in a recent National Geographic article but that is life. Those nasty boys and girls I mentioned under the nest Administration have NO foothold in these places: Why oh why would I want to give them such authority over Virginia waters or South Carolina swamps?
The federal government does a few important and vital things like defend the country, conduct our foreign policy, and minimize unfair competition between states and assist states to track and apprehend interstate and international crime and criminals. Anyone using the excuse that since they do these things they should be given more should be watched carefully for signs of insanity or duplicity. Insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result and the environmental/animal rights record of the past 35 years speaks for itself. Duplicity is best displayed by those internet letters from the guy whose Dad has gazillions in a bank in Nigeria, and if you help him get it you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. Either way, supporters of things like CWRA are NOT friends of hunters, fishermen, or trappers as well as a lot of other folks.
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