New Year 2018, Venue for Outdoor Review, Much Change and Much To Learn

  • Moms Take to the Woods and Streams with Their Kids
  • More Industry is heading to Preserves and Protected Areas
  • Global Warming, Invasive Species…More

By Forrest Fisher

A grandmother of six from New York State, Rose Barus says, “Alaska is beautiful, but if we talk with folks that have lived there for generations, they acknowledge that change is taking place. Let’s all work to understand much more.”  Forrest Fisher Photo

In the lives of sportsmen and sportswomen, the outdoors is about fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, boating, safe shooting, all that and more. Today we know that many things are subject to change and are scientifically measurable. One of the largest trends (change) is that there are many more ladies than ever before taking hunter safety training, learning to fish and becoming certified all across the country to carry a handgun. Modern moms want their kids to eat organic, untainted food, like venison from deer and to be safe. More moms in the woods will take their kids with them.  More kids in the outdoors, a very good change.

If we talk to folks in Alaska, they acknowledge things are changing. There are fewer halibut to catch, Chinook (king) salmon are part of a variable up and down population swing more often and there are plans for new copper mines (at Bristol Bay) that may contaminate a myriad of pure water rivers with their process discharge effluents.

Is our increasing population to blame for many of the changes we read and hear about? Is world industry to blame? Is our world receding? Global warming, is it for real?

Many college-oriented experts say so, despite certain science that appears to still be quite uncertain to measure long term trends. Some experts say we do have measurable evidence of shrinking ice caps.  We all might agree that our weather is certainly changing, that’s for sure, but is it a natural cycle or man-caused?

Birds are a serious part of the storyteller tale of evidence about our planet ecosystem. There are more than 10,000 bird species in the world, but in the last 100 years, about 200 of those species have gone extinct. Should we be concerned? Yes, of course, but we should work to understand why these birds have disappeared. Those reasons might include poaching, polluted waterways, contaminated air currents, inadequate garbage disposal and a long list of manageable people issues that until now, were not considered important.

Birds, fish, seals, beluga whales, walruses, polar bears, many other animals, arctic ice and people like you and me, all seem affected.  So, believe it, we are certainly in the process of change. To the untrained among us (like me), we accept that most people are not climate scientists, biologists or environmental science engineers, but we do need to rely on the science and studies, and understanding, of these experts who do know.

With communication e-networks on the increase, it you live your life at work and at home from your smartphone and laptop, like a majority of working people today, where do we draw the line on false facts and untruths that can seem to affect lives? We can only combat the fold between falsity and truth by asking questions and trying to get involved so we can all understand more about our changing environment and actual reality.

The fact about all that is, for the bulk of us, the outdoors is something we do for recreation. It’s not our life. Maybe we need to make the outdoors and understanding it a larger part of our lives. Ecosystems worldwide are changing. Ships, planes and global industry are a big part of the management issue for world eco-health. Invasive species have come to us from these sources and more.

We have killer bees in much of America, Burmese pythons in the two million acres of the Everglades, snakehead fish that can breathe air or water in the Potomac River, and many more invasive critters that most of us sportsmen have little or no concern about. We should. These invasives are changing things, many have NO predators. Get involved.

Overall, we read there are something like 50,000 invasive plants and animal species in America alone. In Lake Erie, there are 186 invasive species at last count. There are non-native fish and mussels in that mix, too. These things affect you and me, and us all.  America offers many great places to enjoy the outdoors in all its splendor, but yes, it is changing.

As sportsmen, let’s help our neighbors all around America by keeping an eye on things that can change our ecosystem. Let’s keep our national parks and monument trails intact. Let’s prevent industry from moving to capture minerals, oil and precious ore from areas that are now protected. They have been protected for a reason: to prevent change.

Many industries want to mine copper in the border waters of Minnesota, or drill for oil and mine in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the name of new energy development. I think these and many other areas should consider continued protection from industrial exploitation well into the future.

It’s important to let your legislators know how you feel about such change. Please join me in one resolution for the new year, to get more involved in these issues that affect our future.

It’s a Happy New Year for learning and sharing.

 

 

 

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: The Epitome of Remoteness

  • If you are opposed to drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, now is the time to speak up and let your senators and representatives know.

Posted by Don Carpenter | December, 2017; w/Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA)

As an avid elk hunter in Idaho and Wyoming, I often marvel at how elk country, even when very close to cars and civilization, can feel wild. Entering a tight, timbered canyon, especially when elk may be near, is awe inspiring, even when the trailhead is only a quarter mile away.

Click on picture for the Video Story of ANWR in the eyes of Don Carpenter.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge feels wild in a different way. The 19-million-acre refuge is the epitome of remoteness. The feeling of being immersed in such a large tract of land largely untouched by man is staggering. It is a truly intact ecosystem that stretches from the southern slopes of the Brooks Range over high, glaciated peaks and across the Coastal Plain to the Arctic Ocean. This place is unique and there is nothing else like it. We would never be able to create its equal. But you don’t need to take my word for, check it out for yourself here: 

I have had the opportunity to travel to the Refuge several times. Prior to my most recent trip last June, I had the chance to meet Dr. Bob Krear. Dr. Krear is a biologist and was part of the 1956 Sheenjek Expedition to the Brooks Range, which was organized by conservation legends Olaus and Mardy Murie. A biological survey and a film created by the team were used to convince Congress and President Eisenhower to designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1960.
Dr. Krear is also a World War II veteran. He fought in the mountains of Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. In his memoir, he writes that the 1956 Sheenjek Expedition and the small part he played in the formation of the Arctic Refuge were was among the proudest achievements of his life. Those are powerful words coming from a World War II veteran.
The Central Arctic around Barrow and Prudhoe Bay have been developed into the some of the largest oil fields in the country. The Western Arctic is designated as the National Petroleum Reserve. The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the only remaining segment of our Arctic Ocean Coastline, is now being strongly considered for oil and gas development. This debate has gone on for decades, but now there is language in the recently passed Senate tax bill that would allow drilling in the Refuge. The Senate and House need to reconcile their bills that will go to the president.

If you are opposed to drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, now is the time to speak up and let your senators and representatives know.

These words from Mardy Murie are even more powerful for me today, as drilling in the Arctic Refuge becomes a real possibility, than when I first read them:

“Beauty is a resource in and of itself. Alaska must be allowed to be Alaska, that is her greatest economy. I hope that the United States of America is no so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by – or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them.”- Mardy Murie, Alaska Lands Bill testimony June 5, 1977, in Denver, Colorado.

 

 

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) is working National Policy issues that AFFECT ALL SPORTSMEN

Click the Picture to Take Action.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) is working on national policy issues that affect all sportsmen, here is an update:

National Monuments 

BHA responded in force to the Trump administration’s unprecedented rollback of monument protections on more than 2 million acres of American public lands. Thanks to many of you who have spoken up, we’ve been sending a clear message that this decision undermines the longstanding bipartisan legacy of the Antiquities Act. We’ve responded to this historic attack with a series of ads, press releases and opinion articles. To make sure you have the facts needed to respond accordingly, we’ve compiled Frequently Asked Questions to help you better understand our stance.

Greater Sage Grouse

Our sagebrush ecosystems play a critical ecological role that not only supports the sage grouse, but mule deer, pronghorn, elk and a multitude of other species. For decades, habitat loss and degradation from development, invasive species and fire and have negatively impacted these iconic places. BHA has fought hard to see conservation plans implemented but a small faction in Congress and the current administration is intent on unraveling this historic collaborative conservation success. After BHA and our partners successfully averted attempts to scuttle conservation plans in defense spending legislation, the Interior Department issued a notice of intent to consider amending all, some or none of the 98 management plans. According to the DOI notice, this review is a result of one plan’s failure to prepare an environmental impact statement for its sagebrush focal areas. BHA and our chapters around the West have attended public meetings and submitted comments to the BLM. We’re remaining diligent and we will let you know as more comments and action are needed.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 

Despite widespread opposition from sportsmen and many others, the Senate passed a tax bill earlier this month that includes a provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy development. With House and Senate legislation now combined into a package that will likely be sent to President Trump for his signature before Christmas, the refuge, home to the largest migratory caribou heard in the world, is a backcountry treasure at risk Check out this video that features national board member J.R. Young, his wife Renee and Alaska volunteer extraordinaire Barry Whitehill. It’s not too late to let your members of Congress know where you stand.

Mountain Bikes in Wilderness 

Earlier this month the House Natural Resource Committee held a hearing on the latest version of a Trojan horse bill to allow mountain bikes and other forms of mechanized recreation in wilderness. Our position on maintaining traditional uses and intact habitat in wilderness area remains unchanged, and we’d welcome your help in making this position known by writing a letter to the editor, setting up meetings with your members of Congress or sharing your opinion on social media. If you can lend a hand, please let us know. Find a rundown of many of the issues that BHA is actively working on here.

Sabinoso Wilderness Grand Opening sabinoso.jpg

A huge shout-out to the New Mexico chapter for responding in true BHA fashion to the opening of the Sabinoso Wilderness for the first time. BHAer Brad Jones was the first citizen to go through the gates, which opened on Nov. 10. Brad authored a great opinion column giving thanks, and the chapter convened a celebratory hike on Dec. 9! Thanks go to New Mexico’s U.S. Senate delegation and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for their efforts to open the Sabinoso, pictured below:

Thanks to all of you for supporting Backcountry Hunters& Anglers. If you’re not yet a member of our organization and you’d like to get involved with your local BHA community, please join us here. 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers http://www.backcountryhunters.org/