Daily Archives: April 21, 2015

TU: House bills undermine Clean Water Act

From The Outdoor Wire

Two U.S. House of Representatives committees passed separate bills the week of April 20 that would severely hinder the effort to restore protections to America’s headwater streams under the iconic Clean Water Act.

One bill, approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a rulemaking proposal that restores protections to small, headwater streams within 30 days. The second bill, passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, would prevent the Corps from funding the enforcement of the proposed clean water rule that would protect headwaters.

“Both of these actions characterize the ongoing attack from Congress against the Clean Water Act,” said Brian Zupancic, government affairs manager for Trout Unlimited. “Small headwater streams are the lifeblood of our fisheries, providing clean water and food to downstream fish populations, as well as seasonal spawning and rearing habitat. Rather than give the Corps and EPA the chance to offer a final rule to clarify protections for these vital waters, Congress is stepping in now to pre-judge the outcome and block the process.”

The clean water rule is currently being finalized by the EPA and the Corps. It received an outpouring of public support during the rulemaking comment process, and was crafted in response to two Supreme Court rulings in the 2000s. Essentially, the court weakened Clean Water Act protections from small headwater streams and advised the EPA and the Army Corps to prove a nexus between small headwaters and the big rivers they feed. With the science done, and the connection proven, the new clean water rule simply reinstates the protections the Clean Water Act granted to small waters for the first 30 years of the act’s existence.

“The rule is nothing radical. It simply makes sure some of the most important waters in the country are given the protections they deserve and that they once enjoyed,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager, wetlands and water resources for the National Wildlife Federation. “Both the EPA and the Army Corps are working to address congressional concerns in the final rule. Rather than play politics with clean water, Congress should let the rulemaking process run its course.”

“The legislation advancing in the House is an affront to sportsmen everywhere, who have made it clear they want the agencies to produce a final rule that clearly restores clean water protections hunters and anglers can rely on,” said Jimmy Hague, director for the Center for Water Resources at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Instead, Congress is bent on derailing a deliberative rulemaking process before we even have a chance to see the impact sportsmen and many other stakeholders had during the public comment process. Congress should reverse course on these bills and reserve judgment until the process has run its course.”

Sage-Grouse Merchants of Doubt

By Mark Salvo

Defenders of Wildlife Blog

There’s a new documentary making the rounds, getting high reviews, and for good reason. Adapted from the acclaimed book, Merchants of Doubt by Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes and NASA historian Erik Conway, the film by the same name is a cutting exposé on strategies by certain industries to spend huge amounts of money to employ “highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire” who muddle the discourse (and facts) on public health and safety. Their goal: to create uncertainty about well-established public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to cigarette smoke to climate change. The first step in their campaign: question scientists and discredit their work.

Now industry has unleashed this tactic on current efforts to protect sage-grouse. Last week, a coalition of industries and some western counties filed petitions with the Department of the Interior challenging the science that serves as the foundation for the National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy. This unprecedented planning process aims to improve sage-grouse conservation on more than 60 million acres of public land. Let’s hope this cynical ploy does not distract states and federal agencies from this important work.


Industry has challenged Greater Sage-Grouse: Ecology and Conservation of a Landscape Species and Its Habitat, a monograph written by 38 experts on sage-grouse, sagebrush steppe and land management, published by the Cooper Ornithological Society in Studies in Avian Biology, and printed by the University of California Press. It is the most important work ever written on sage-grouse by all of the most accomplished people who study the species. Sage-grouse © Margaret Sloan

We know more about sage-grouse than most any other wildlife species in the country, thanks to dedicated scientists who have committed their lives to studying the bird. These scientists have published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles on sage-grouse, and recently compiled their decades of work into an impressive monograph on the species. I have worked to conserve sage-grouse for 15 years, and I am privileged to know many of these scientists and to read their work. They are, every one of them, thoughtful, sincere professionals devoted to understanding a complex species and its fragile habitat.

These scientists sounded the alarm on sage-grouse years ago, having documented widespread habitat loss and degradation, and long-term population declines. It is their research that also provides a blueprint for restoring the species and its habitat. If put into practice, their recommendations could protect and recover sage-grouse, and also benefit hundreds of other species that depend on the sagebrush grasslands. But failure to take these steps could result in further declines of sage-grouse and their habitat.

The latest industry challenges to sage-grouse science follows sobering news that firms spent at least $9 million last year lobbying Congress on sage-grouse issues. The biggest spenders were Anadarko Petroleum Corp. ($3.1 million), National Rural Electric Cooperative Association ($2.1 million) and Chesapeake Energy ($1.8 million). Safe to say, they probably were not lobbying for stronger protections for the species.

It’s beyond time to protect sage-grouse and the quintessential western landscape where they live. Doing so benefits everyone. Instead of undermining the effort by trying to discredit science, industry should join with federal agencies and states, conservationists and other stakeholders to protect and recover this remarkable bird.

Wolf attacks becoming a costly problem in greater Minnesota


Grand Forks, ND

There’s a lot of “huffing and puffing” going on in Greater Minnesota, and it’s costing the state a lot of money.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says wolf attacks are becoming a pricey problem. Just ask third-generation Hinckley farmer Nathan Nelson; he says wolves attacked and killed 10 of his calves. “It’s a big problem,” he said. Nelson’s neighbor dealt with a similar situation as did dozens of other farmers mostly up north in cities like Bemidji, Roseau, Grand Rapids and Aitkin.

“Their livestock gets prayed on often, and unfortunately that’s a huge economic impact for that family and that family’s farm,” Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Charlie Poster said.

The state has a program to help reimburse farmers. The problem is that the price of cattle is way up; right now, a 500-pound calf goes for around $1,500.

Just in the first three months of this fiscal year, the state paid out more than $70,000 because of wolf attacks. Multiply that by four to get a rough projection for the whole year, and you get more than $280,000, which is more than double what the state paid for wolf attacks for all of last year.

“The value has gone up so much,” Poster said, “we’ve actually exhausted the appropriations.”

Poster says Gov. Mark Dayton wants the wolf depredation fund to double. The Department of Agriculture is also touring Greater Minnesota, teaching farmers like Nelson how to access funds and protect their livestock.

“They’re going to continue to eat,” Nelson said of the wolves, “whether it’s deer or our livestock or whatever it is.”

Poster said Minnesota’s wolf depredation fund started in the 1970s when the Endangered Species Act was passed. He explained that farmers could no longer protect their livestock themselves, so the government agreed to pay for losses caused by wolves.

Minnesotans were briefly allowed to hunt gray wolves until late last year when a federal judge reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for the animal about three years after wolves were removed from the list.

Change.org users seek to ban hunting photos from Facebook

From USSA Weekly eNewsletter

Anti-hunters from across the globe have managed to garner almost 15,000 signatures in a petition that seeks to ban photos of hunters posing with their harvest from Facebook. The petition, which was started over three months ago by change.org user Ollie Raison, has gained traction in recent days, mostly due to a series of posts floating around on the social media landscape.

Raison, who lives in London, United Kingdom, addresses hunters in the initial paragraph of his petition on change.org, saying that the document is not an anti-hunting statement because it doesn’t actually seek to end legal hunting activities.

“This is not an anti-hunting petition,” Raison says on change.org. “You have a legal right to hunt. What this petition is trying to achieve, is to have Facebook acknowledge that certain images are not suitable for social media. This includes glorifying hunting by posing for smiling photos with ‘trophies’.”

In other words, Raison wishes to see Facebook, the largest social media network in the world with 1.3 billion active users, exclusively and subjectively sensor hunters by prohibiting them from sharing post-harvest pictures celebrating their accomplishments.

“Humans have been sharing stories of the hunt through visual means since man first painted scenes on the walls of caves 40,000 years ago,” said U. S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) Digital Media Specialist Cam Pauli. “Sharing our success and passion for the outdoors is an integral part of who we are as a hunting community. Social platforms like Facebook allow us to celebrate the hunt with friends and family as people did thousands of years ago. The medium has changed, people haven’t.”

Pauli went on to say that he doesn’t believe Facebook will be censoring average hunters anytime soon.

“Facebook operates in a very grey area when it comes to the type of hunting photos they choose to remove from Facebook,” Pauli explained. “More often than not, Facebook only takes down photos when a large number of users report the content.”

Anti-hunters have taken advantage of this method and consistently use this strategy against targets, like they did with Melissa Bachman, Kendall Jones, and most recently, Rebecca Francis.

“Sportsmen can circumnavigate many of these issues by simply posting tasteful images of their harvest to Facebook, and by adjusting their filter settings,” said Pauli. “If a friend or a Facebook user messages you about a photo, respond in calm fashion and ask them to unfollow or unfriend you. Should a situation escalate, you can always reach out to the people at USSA for more help or guidance.”

Not everyone has to agree with our hunting heritage and way of life, but that doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to be censored due to the radical opinions of anti-hunters.

KWF Note: The Kansas Wildlife Federation supports those Facebook users who want to post their successful harvests in a tasteful manner. Relating the successful efforts it takes to harvest their trophies is an accomplishment that should be celebrated utilizing modern social media.

Kaw Nation to dedicate park improvements

Public is invited to ceremony at historic site

The Kaw Nation will dedicate a new dance arbor, campsites and trails at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, April 25, 2015. Native dancers will perform at 3:30 p.m. at the dance arbor. Visitors should bring a lawn chair. The park is located three and one-half miles south of Council Grove on Dunlap Road, then one-half mile east on X Avenue. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The dedication will be led by Kaw Nation Tribal Council Chair Elaine Huch and council members Erin Kekahbah, Gena Warren, Jason Murray, Jim Lesert, Patti Kramer and Terry Pepper Clinton. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and KDWPT Assistant Secretary for Parks and Tourism Linda Craghead will also be on hand for the ceremony. Members of the Kaw Nation Kansas Projects Committee Ken Bellmard, Jason Murray, Skyler Mathews, Curtis Kekahbah, Pauline Sharp and Barb Stanbrough (Honorary) may also attend.

Council Grove was the last location of the Kanza People before they were removed to Indian Territory in 1873. On February 28, 2000, the Kaw Nation purchased 146.8 acres of their original land along Little John Creek, and it was dedicated as Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park on April 20, 2002. In August 2013, the Kaw Nation was awarded a $350,000 grant from the Kansas Department Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for a dance arbor and trails and campground improvements at the park. Groundbreaking for the arbor took place in September 2014. K-Construction from Alta Vista was selected to build the arbor, and it was completed in March 2015.

Mission Statement: To re-establish a Kaw Nation presence in Kansas and develop Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park as a cultural gathering place dedicated to educating the public, promoting tourism and preserving the heritage of the Kanza People.

For more information visit: www.kawnation.com