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Must-Read Article

Whether you fish, hunt or just shoot marbles, you need to read this post by Ben Long in the High Country News Range Blog today. Ben relates some of the more insidious attacks on our outdoor heritage in recent memory.

“Sportsmen” stab Theodore Roosevelt in the back

One state at a time, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is dismantling the very idea of a public wildlife resource, and replacing it with special privileges for the privileged.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the attacks on our hunting and fishing traditions, but this type of hooey will surely will show up in Montana during the next legislative session. Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, sounds pretty nice hey? “Sportsmen” looking out for your elk, deer and fish? Well, maybe unless you are one of us Teddy Roosevelt socialists who believe that game and fish belong to us all and are not just a perk for the 1%. SFW is more about seeing that large landowners get paid for doing the right thing and making sure they get the perks they deserve, at our expense, due to their exalted status.

[SFW Founder, and Mitt Romney pal, Don] Peay described that egalitarian doctrine, found in Alaska’s state constitution and laws throughout the West, as “socialism.” It offers no economic incentive for landowners to kill predators, improve big game habitat and even provide food and water for target species.

That’s what rich landowners need, more economic incentives ($$) to support conservation. In the Alaska case that resulted in the resignation of the Fish & Game Conservation Director, special “rights” were sought for wealthy landowners;

In return, landowners would get special hunting permits “that the landowner would be allowed to use or sell, perhaps with special authorizations such as the ability to hunt outside normal hunting seasons on their lands.”
The proposal is modeled on similar programs in western states like Utah and Colorado, where it has been promoted by chapters of the advocacy group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and its sister organization Sportsmen for Habitat. The organization has a big expo in Salt Lake City every year where it auctions special permits.

These are just some of the ways that wildlife and public lands have been pushed to the forefront in our new political climate. Our outdoor heritage is under siege from all quarters and it requires us to be even more vigilant to protect our wild legacy and see that we are able pass it on to our children and grandchildren.

No fewer than 13 bills in the House of Representatives — some already reported out of committees — would end protections that our public lands have enjoyed for decades. The Antiquities Act, which was passed in 1906 and used by 15 Republican and Democratic presidents since, is under fierce attack. It provides each president with the opportunity to protect important public lands. Another law threatened by legislation is the Wilderness Act, which preserves important landscapes in their natural condition for recreation ranging from camping and hunting to fishing and hiking.

We don’t need polls or politicians to tell us that this is one of the most important issues to all westerners. Our public lands and wildlife are important to all of us, not just to hunters, hikers and fishermen. They are under attack by a multitude of forces who see opportunities to extract profit from our “socialist” heritage. We will need to be very attentive to statements made by politicians and by those who back them during the upcoming elections and especially during next year’s Montana State Legislature.

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