Daily Archives: September 14, 2014

Excerpt from Field & Stream: A Threat to Sportsmen, and Now, a Threat to a Way of Life

By Hall Herring

                Land & Conservation Coalition FundField & Stream.com

Over the past 18 months, I’ve spent an awful lot of time writing about, and talking about, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Boring, right? The reading and writing equivalent of a tow sack full of Ambien. Who would do this, especially in the summer, when the Trico hatch is swirling in huge smoky columns on the Missouri River, the heads of big rainbows showing like makos in every seam of current? What am I thinking under these fluorescent lights as I hear through my window the whistling wings of south-bound mourning doves that will not be here for the shooting in a few more days? My Lab stands and stares at me, then flops down again under the table that holds the fax machine. He groans. My son is home from school and shooting his bow in the yard.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking. As Bob Marshall pointed out in his recent post about the LWCF only being fully funded twice in the course of its 50-year history, the chronic assaults on this landmark program endanger sportsmen. The Fund, which costs the taxpayer absolutely nothing, is a big part of why America still has public hunting and fishing at all.

We hunters and fishermen are the direct beneficiaries of a visionary program from 1965 which has paid for everything from building rural swimming pools so kids on the Nebraska prairie can learn to swim and don’t drown in the irrigation ditch, to urban wildlife refuges in flood-prone parts of New Orleans, to fishing access sites across the nation. It’s a frustrating and even depressing fact that the LWCF has been under assault all these years, and we don’t even know it. We fish with our children at a place that would be completely off limits to us without LWCF, and 95 percent of us there have no idea why we have that freedom, or how it can be kept for the future. We don’t even know the LWCF exists.

Our ignorance is as dangerous to our nation as any scraggle-bearded terror junky careening around the moonscape of the Middle East. The LWCF and programs like it are why our country works. Why we have what we have. Why we are who we are.

I’m thinking of our military, and how recent studies show that more than one out of four young men in our country is too overweight to pass the test to join up, even if they want to. Why? It would be comforting to blame it all on computers and video games and junk food, but that’s only part of it. The other part is that a majority of what used to be, only two decades ago, an active outdoor people, no longer has the space and freedom to be active and outdoors. Population has doubled in my lifetime. The number of hunters has fallen. Open space is under siege by waves of development, and urban kids have fewer and fewer places to play and exercise and be outdoors. We are losing critical wetlands to agricultural development for a booming world market, not because farmers want to fill them in and farm them (American farmers have the same rising expenses as the rest of us, and have to make money), but because we have not come up with the funds for conservation easements that would compete successfully with the profits of the industrial, scorched earth-style agriculture that has become our norm.

The wealthiest among us have unprecedented access to hunting and fishing, shooting, open spaces, athletics, and other outdoor recreation, but it’s not the wealthiest among us who fight our wars, is it? It’s not the wealthiest among us who I meet catfishing on the river, or elk hunting on public land, or reading Field & Stream. It is the American families who need public lands and clean public waters and fish and game to chase; places to learn to shoot, run, swim, climb trees and jump creeks.

Teddy Roosevelt said in 1912, “This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in.” All through my life, this country has been more than just a good place for all of us to live in. It has been the greatest place on this planet to live in. It’s not a mystery why it has been that way. It did not just happen, either. Americans made it that way, with programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

No nation in history has ever been saved by the passively uninformed. Make your voice heard now.

Captive Deer Regulations Remain With Missouri Department of Conservation

September 10, 2014 was a special day for the Conservation Federation of Missouri. It marked the 79thanniversary of the formation of their organization, and now also marks the day CFM helped end legislation that would have reclassified captive white-tailed deer from wildlife to livestock.

Senate Bill 506 was an agriculture omnibus bill that contained legislation to transfer control of captive deer from the Missouri Department of Conservation to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The bill died on September 10 when the House of Representatives fell one vote shy of the 109 they needed to override Governor Nixon’s veto. The Senate vote to override passed by two votes.

CFM members put their heart and soul into ending this legislation and protecting wildlife. The power of motivated citizens working for a cause they believe in never ceases to amaze. We know white-tailed deer are wildlife. We know it doesn’t matter what side of a fence they are on. We are grateful to the legislators who voted to end this senseless legislation.

The founding fathers of CFM must be mighty proud of us today. CFM members who came before us fought to protect and promote the natural resources of Missouri. Yesterday we left our mark with a win for this generation of conservationists.

Our friend, Collin O’Mara, the CEO of the National Wildlife Federation said, “This is a victory for wildlife and Missourians. Governor Nixon’s veto of legislation that would have transferred regulation of deer farms to the state agriculture department sends a message that the people’s wildlife is a benefit to everyone, not for privatization and profit. We hope that this victory provides other states facing the same challenges with a clear path forward based upon sound science and protecting wildlife.”

On behalf of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and millions of Missouri wildlife enthusiasts, we thank the 52 state representatives for their commitment to sportsmen and the millions of Missourians who simply appreciate wildlife.

CFM understands the importance and believes in the strength of the state’s agricultural industry. We believe agriculture and conservation must work together, and CFM is committed to helping further efforts to do so for the greater good of our state. Yet, the captive cervid language in SB 506 was damaging to those efforts. It should have never been added to the agriculture omnibus bill. A political maneuver to backdoor bad legislation backfired. Hopefully, the good legislation that suffered because of politics can be passed as stand alone bills during the next legislative session.

To the Representatives who made the difficult but correct choice to vote against SB 506, the conservation community of Missouri thanks you. We will not forget who our friends are.

Brandon Butler

Executive Director

Conservation Federation of Missouri

What’s the secret to attracting birds to your backyard this autumn?

It’s easy—turn your yard into a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat® site!

Fall is a great time for bird-watching. Many birds are looking for an inviting place to stop over during their winter migration or even stay for the season.

Here are five helpful tips that are sure to have all the neighborhood birds “tweeting” about your yard this season:

Provide running water. Birds require water year-round. The sound of running water in a birdbath or pond will be heard by birds from some distance, draw them in for a drink, and possibly a quick dip as well.

Clean out birdhouses. Make necessary repairs to birdhouses in preparation for species that roost during fall and winter. In many areas, bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches and winter wrens may take up nightly residence in birdhouses to keep warm and safe.

Create brush piles. Save your fall clippings of branches and twigs. Then, pile them in a corner of the yard to create cover for birds that prefer habitat on the ground—such as dark-eyed juncos, tree sparrows and white-throated sparrows.

Increase the number of feeders. In the cooler days of fall, birds increase their food consumption and will continue to do so as the temperature drops.

Plant evergreens. Planted near feeders and birdbaths, evergreens are perfect for providing cover for birds after deciduous trees lose their leaves.

Creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat® site in your own yard may seem like a small thing, but it makes a huge difference for birds and other neighborhood wildlife. In fact, you’ll be joining over 150,000 other sites across the country, protecting over 250,000 acres.

Cabela’s, NSSF Join Forces to Help Prevent “Straw” Purchases

Promoting Don’t Lie for the Other Guy Program at 60 Stores Nationwide

Cabela’s Incorporated, one of the nation’s leading specialty retailers of hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor equipment, is partnering with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, to help prevent illegal “straw” purchases of firearms by bringing increased attention to the firearms industry’s Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program.

“Don’t Lie” was formed as a cooperative program between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and NSSF more than 12 years ago to help ATF educate federal firearms licensees to be better able to identify and prevent illegal straw purchases of firearms and to raise public awareness about the seriousness of the crime of purchasing a firearm for someone who cannot legally do so.

“As a leading retailer in the firearms industry, Cabela’s is proud to partner with NSSF to increase awareness of the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program to help prevent straw purchases and enhance public safety across the country,” said Michael Copeland, Cabela’s chief operations officer.

All Cabela’s stores already display Don’t Lie for the Other Guy point-of-purchase displays and use a program video and printed material to help train employees to better detect and deter straw purchases. Starting this fall, the retailer is adding informational mouse pads and an educational card at all of its 250 computer kiosks where each customer seeking to purchase firearms must electronically complete the ATF Form 4473 with correct responses including that he or she is the actual buyer and not acquiring the firearm on behalf of another person.

The messaging on program materials explains that anyone attempting an illegal firearm purchase faces a stiff federal felony penalty of up to 10 years in jail or up to $250,000 in fines.

To legally purchase a firearm, a person must be able to pass an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check and fully comply with state and local laws. When a criminal knows he cannot pass this check, he may try to induce a friend or other person to make the purchase on his behalf, which is known as a straw purchase and is a felony.

“Federally licensed firearms retailers are on the front line every day working to prevent illegal purchases,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO. “We are pleased to work with Cabela’s to bring additional Don’t Lie for the Other Guy awareness into their stores to help advance the goal all of us in the firearms industry share.”

“The firearms industry is proud of its longstanding cooperative relationship with the ATF and the entire law enforcement community by assisting them in their efforts to combat the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms,” said NSSF Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

Learn more about Don’t Lie for the Other Guy at www.dontlie.org.