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Magical Creation: Where’s the evidence?

creationismI find it amusing that creationists take delight in criticizing various minutiae within the overwhelming and continuously verified facts of biological evolution, and yet refuse to put forth any scientific or historical proofs for their own theory. Creationist theory is entirely based on magical happenings taken from a single source that has been often debunked. If independent, demonstrable evidence for biblical creation exists why are there zero scientific sources for this miracle?

If, the world is in fact only 6,000 years old and we are all related to a single happy Caucasian couple living in an enchanted garden with talking snakes and diabolical fruit, why is that not borne out by DNA evidence or confirmation from science and history? If there was a gigantic flood that covered the entire planet, why is that event never mentioned in any peer-reviewed historical or hydrological accounts? If there were 1,400 “kinds” of animals on the fairytale ark, what the heck are “kinds” and why are they never referenced by scientific studies?

For that matter, if the wizardry of your religious claims are true, why is the magic of your religion more true than the conflicting magic of the hundreds of other religions? Where is the proof that magic even exists? If any of this were true, it seems you all could agree on a single narrative.It seems that if you are making extraordinary claims about our origins, then you should be responsible to produce verifiable, objective evidence and a fully fleshed out methodical theory that supports your claims and conforms to the current state of our scientific knowledge.

Science, Politics and Native Trout

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 East Sixth AvenuePlease Help
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

Director Jeff Hagener,

Joel Sartore Bull Trout Photo

Joel Sartore Bull Trout Photo

I have to say that I am very disappointed in the current FWP response to the scientifically-based plan to reduce the bloated population of lake trout in Flathead Lake. MFWP worked with the CSKT for many years to establish and execute a management plan for the Flathead Lake and River System. The overall aim of that co-management plan was to reduce the number of predatory lake trout. Since the 2005 mid-term review, it has been evident that the objective has failed. We now have a lake trout population exceeding 1.5 million fish. We have nearly lost Swan Lake to invasion by Flathead Lake trout. 12 of the 17 lakes in Glacier National Park have been invaded by lake trout and the native fish populations in many of those lakes are functionally extinct. The Flathead lake trout population is expanding throughout the system.

Even though one of the objectives of the Flathead Lake and River Fisheries Co-Management plan was to “Provide a recreational fishery based on nonnative and native fish…” within the 10-year period of the plan, it has now been 21 years since we could last legally fish for our native bull trout in the North and Middle Forks, and Main Flathead River. We have willfully removed an important segment of our native fish assemblage and reduced fishing opportunity for all river anglers.

The number one goal of the co-management plan was to “increase and protect native trout populations.” As it became evident that the co-management plan was not meeting its primary objective through the use of recreational fishing alone, FWP encouraged an increase in lake trout harvest. In 2010, FWP Director Joe Maurier wrote; “I am committed to putting a gillnetting pilot program together. I am committed to enhancing bull trout populations in Flathead Lake, as we have in other lakes in other parts of the region. I recognize gill netting as a legitimately identified management application in the joint management plan.” The Tribes took that as encouragement to work on their pilot netting program. Once that program was completed, FWP complained that it was “incomplete in both content and process” and removed their name from the process.

The Tribes have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to rewrite the proposal using the best possible science and a full-blown EIS process. The completed plan received the support of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, DNRC, The University of Montana and others, as well as various conservation and angler organizations. FWP sits alone in opposition beside a few commercial fishermen who benefit from the status quo.

MFWP continues to cling to mainly political arguments that have been repeatedly rejected by scientific review. In response to the release of the CSKT proposal, FWP released a poorly forged “Q & A” response using outdated and bromidic arguments. The “stable” argument for native fish has been repeatedly repudiated. Even the 2002 report “Native Trout Security Levels for the Flathead System”, cited in the Q & A, clearly states that “Secure levels do not represent target or management goals. The Co-Management Plan is specific in its goal to increase native trout populations… At this time, regardless of what these levels are, managers will try to increase native trout numbers from current levels.” That has never happened and has not been supported by FWP even though they signed the document.

The bycatch argument is likewise pretty much a bogus contention. Of course, bycatch is an issue that will have to be closely monitored, but it has never been a problem in any of the several ongoing lake trout reduction projects. Lake Pend Oreille and Swan Lake publish their bycatch mortality figures and in both cases, there has been no noticeable affect on the non-target native fish populations. In any case, it is the job of USFWS to closely monitor any activity that may affect ESA-listed native fish populations and they can pull the plug or require changes at any time if harm is occurring.

Current harvest by angling alone is about 70,000 lake trout. Even though the co-management plan has run for 23 years, FWP still claims that the current level “may be helping bull trout”, but it’s “too early to tell”.  Even the most aggressive alternative under the CSKT proposal would only slightly more than double current levels of harvest to 143,000 lake trout out of a population of 1.5 million fish. If anything, some of the reviewing fishery scientists think the plan is not aggressive enough.

I have seen no science undertaken by FWP that would refute findings by CSKT. All we hear is that the Tribal plan won’t work, but no realistic alternatives have been presented that have not been tried, and failed, for the last 20 years. It is time for our outstanding Montana fish and wildlife managers to lead and get on board with actual solutions and not spend so much effort on sour grapes.

There’s a Tongass Amongass, and Thank God There is

Tongass National Forest - USGS Photo

Tongass National Forest – USGS Photo

It’s in our blood, we yearn for those mythical places, Xanadu, Shangri-La, Bedford Falls, Button Valley. For anglers, our fabled places seem even more real. Our dreams take us to places like Patagonia, Kamchatka, Tasmania, or even Montana. Even though most of us will never visit those mythic locales, we still keep that box of big streamers handy, or that 8-weight rod polished and ready.

Wild fish in wild places. I live, work and fish among some of the most legendary waters in the world. A short drive can put me on the Missouri, the Clark Fork, Rock Creek or the Big Hole. These are places that fill the dreams of many anglers around the world. And yet, many of the storied fisheries of Montana are the result of human tinkering. Sometimes legal, sometimes unlawful, or accidental, we have changed the makeup of our fisheries. Travel to any of the rivers mentioned above and you will find fish populations made up mainly of fish that Nature never intended for those waters. Brown trout from Europe, rainbows from California, walleye and northern pike from God knows where, inhabit waters intended for wild native trout. I won’t try to tell you that the fishing isn’t wonderful and the catching superb, but in the back of my mind I will always wonder what this place could have been had we just let it be.

There are few places left in our world that we have not reached with our misguided ideas and “management” philosophies. We change the habitat, redirect the waters, increase access and introduce alien species. In southeast Alaska, there remain a few of those untouched places. Places where most of the fish don’t come from concrete ponds, raised on nuggets of dead fish and delivered to their new homes by shiny tanker trucks. The nation’s largest national forest, the Tongass, is one of those places. The Tongass still contains all five species of wild Pacific salmon. 70% of all wild salmon harvested from our national forests come from the Tongass and 30% of salmon caught on the West Coast. The Tongass salmon fishery provides $1 billion to the economy of southeast Alaska annually and 7,300 jobs. And yet, 65% of the salmon habitat in the Tongass remains open to watershed-scale development that could devastate those vital fish populations. The time is now to guarantee protections for one of our last truly wild places.

Tongass NF Graphic

Tongass NF Graphic

The Tongass faces direct threats from mining, timber harvest, hydropower development and poorly planned roads and culverts. We don’t yet know how the threat of a changing climate will ultimately affect southeast Alaska, but all of these factors, along with our innate greed and stupidity, are sure to impact one of the most important wild fisheries left to us. Judging by the ways in which we have failed to protect watersheds and fish in the “Lower 48”, time is short to see to it that our remaining wild fish populations continue to thrive for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

Several organizations have identified 77 watersheds, out of the hundreds within the Tongass National Forest, that are considered to be of the highest priority for salmon and trout production. Currently, only about 35% of the wild salmon and trout spawning and rearing habitat in the Tongass is properly protected. These 77 watersheds comprise only 1.8 million acres of the nearly 17 million acres of the Tongass  These watersheds are most in need of watershed-scale protection and are integral to continued salmon and trout production. You can help to protect the “Tongass 77” by spreading the word. Please visit AmericanSalmonForest.org and add you name to the growing body of those concerned with protecting this special and unique resource for our children and grandchildren. Even for those of us who will likely never see it, it is vital that places like the Tongass continue to exist.

This is my submission to the Trout Unlimited 2013 Blogger Tour sponsored by Fishpond, Tenkara USA and RIO, and hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.

Republican Anti-Science Committee

lumisGood Grief! Do you still wonder why Republicans have no credibility with voters? The House Republican Steering Committee just named Wyoming representative Cynthia Lummis as the new chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Yes, THAT Cynthia Lummis. The one who said, “she believes the jury is still out on climate change.” “This subcommittee’s focus on the science of energy development and use is a perfect fit,” she said in a statement.” Where, exactly, in “Science, Space and Technology” does energy development and use fit in?

Lummis takes over the helm from former chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). “In 2009, [Smith] criticized the media for not airing enough “dissenting opinions” about climate change.” Smith, in turn, replaced Texas Republican Ralph Hall.

“I don’t think we can control what God controls.” [Hall] also said he agrees with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) that climate scientists are involved in a conspiracy to receive research funding.

This is the very same “Science” committee who gave us Paul Broun (R-Georgia) who used the term “Lies from the pit of Hell” to describe his scientific knowledge about the science behind evolution. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” he said at an appearance at Liberty University. “Bill Nye [The Science Guy] slammed Broun, for his comments about evolution, saying that Broun “is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology.”  And, Nye went on to make the astonishing claim, in response to Broun, that the earth is simply not 9,000 years old.

And, let’s not forget committee member Todd “Legitimate rape” Akin. Oh, and, good ole boy Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.),

Rohrabacher has made a number of scientifically questionable statements, including the idea that an earlier period of global warming may have been caused by “dinosaur flatulence.” Last year, after coming under fire for seeming to suggest that if global warming is real it could be addressed by cutting down trees (when in fact forests reduce global warming by absorbing atmospheric carbon), he issued a statement saying, “I do not believe that CO2 is a cause of global warming.”

And so, the anti-“science” committee marches on under the same old, new leadership, embarrassing our country with a chairman and members who wouldn’t know science even if they weren’t sniffing dinosaur farts.


You Decide

The following news/opinion stories all showed up in my RSS reader this morning. Taken together I think they recognize a conundrum being played out in energy-producing states around the country. The first is an opinion piece by a policy analyst for a conservative think tank in Ohio, but similar opinions are showing up in newsprint and electronic media in most western and mid-western states.

Without coal, we lose
“When energy companies doing business in Ohio make profits, nearly everyone wins, and Ohio’s economy grows, which results in job creation and additional tax dollars for all levels of government.”

With Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming
“Emissions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable, said researchers affiliated with the Global Carbon Project.”

Long-Term Research Reveals How Climate Change Is Playing out in Real Ecosystems
“Around the world, the effects of global climate change are increasingly evident and difficult to ignore.”

Off The Cliff And Into Deep Water? Cutting Clean Air And Clean Water Programs Could Incur Heavy Costs
“The health cost of power plant pollution is an estimated $100 billion each year, nationwide, when people get sick or die from breathing dirty air. When polluted water makes swimmers sick, the additional public health costs in just two southern California counties has been estimated at $21 to $51 million each year.”

Wyoming – A look into the effects of energy development on fish
“Most anglers are pretty even-keeled and realize the need for alternative energy development. I think most would agree, however, that if that development comes at the cost of our fisheries it’s not worth it. There are ways to mitigate the impact of energy development on our rivers; and studies like Carlin’s are helping to show how best to preserve fisheries while allowing energy development.”

This is but one day in an on-going argument that is playing out across the country. What does this mean for the Treasure State? Yes, Montana will continue to develop our natural resources. Our economy was built on the resource extraction, but we all need to remember that these resources are finite need to be developed for the benefit of all of the people in Montana and all of the people in our country. The need for alternative, less polluting, energy development must be given equal weight alongside the development of existing natural resources. Mining coal, or drilling for natural gas has consequences that can far outweigh their short-term effects on local economies. As we move forward, we need to keep in mind that we have no choice but to wean ourselves from technologies that kill our people and our environment. We will continue to mine our coal resources and remove our oil and gas from the earth for the near future, but as we do that we need to take into account all of the consequences, not just the monetary rewards or the short-term profit motive.

Please help with this important work

The good folks over at Conservation Hawks are up against a deadline. They need to raise $2,000 this week to match a grant from the Cinnabar Foundation to produce a couple of climate change videos for anglers and hunters. Check out their plea below and please help out if you are able.


We need your help.  As Conservation Hawks supporters, you understand how important it is to educate other sportsmen about climate change, and how vital it is to create a groundswell of public support for strong climate & energy legislation.  It’s the only way we’re going to save our hunting and fishing for future generations, and it’s the best chance we have for passing on a healthy natural world to our kids & grandkids.
Unfortunately, we’re up against the wall.  We have to raise enough money to produce two educational climate videos, one for hunters and one for anglers, and we have to raise those funds this week.  Please visit the Conservation Hawks website and donate as much as you can afford to give, whether that’s $5, $25 or $250.  We’re all in this together and with your help, we can offer future generations of sportsmen a fighting chance.  Our world may be warming, but hard work and dedication can help change our political climate, slow our fossil fuel emissions and defend our sporting heritage.

Please visit the Conservation Hawks website and make your tax-deductible donation.
Todd Tanner
Chairman, Conservation Hawks

Mega Mitt

Last December, during the Republican debates Mitt Romney commented that it is, “immoral” for the federal government to unnecessarily spend money on disaster relief in the face of yawning deficits.” More recently he intimated that he would send FEMA responsibilities back to the states where they could be handled more efficiently.

“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral,”

We now have a hurricane/mega-storm affecting as many as twenty states. Who thinks that a state-by-state response is the way to go? Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue from all those various governments attempting to coordinate relief efforts? Can you imagine the number of people who would die?