Updated 11:45 a.m. with tips and info on northeastern Washington participants at bottom.
PUBLIC LANDS -- Several sportsman's groups, including the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation partnership have stepped up to call foul on the lawbreakers who seized Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facilities, noting that they are violating the public interest as well as the law.
Judith Kohler of the National Wildlife Federation points out wide-spread support for maintaining public lands and not giving them away to anyone, least of all to militants wearing cowboy hats and waving guns.
Show your support for wildlife refuges, if you haven't already, buy buying federal duck stamps, she suggests.
And be informed:
"The real story of the Malheur occupation is that the militants and the politicians who support them have in fact completely failed to capture real support from people who live in the West," she says.
Poll after poll shows that authentic public opinion in the West overwhelmingly supports national forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. Not only do Westerners oppose efforts to transfer these lands to private or local control, but Western public opinion is consistently supportive of increased funding for public land protection.The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates have been on the ground fighting attempts in state legislatures and Congress to sell off or transfer public lands to the states.
- See the latest New York Times overview on the campaign in some states to take over federal lands.
Last year, NWF and its affiliates from New Mexico to Montana helped defeat 21 bills seeking to remove public lands from public hands.Hundreds of people packed the lobbies and rotundas of the Montana and New Mexico capitols to protest. Hunters and anglers met with lawmakers in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and other Western states to beat back the assaults on public lands launched by a noisy but small contingent.These pro-public land rallies turned out 10 and 20 times as many people as the Malheur occupation, they were conducted legally and peacefully, and they were made up of local public land supporters – not out-of-state activists.
In addition to defeating the misguided anti-federal lands agenda in the democratic process, The National Wildlife Federation and its 49 state affiliates as well as other sportsmen and wildlife groups have been working for years to advance constructive, local solutions that improve public land management by finding common ground between ranchers, loggers, hunters, hikers, and other interests.
Heads up: Keep an eye out for Washington State Rep. Matt Shea.
Another heads up: Washington's Ferry, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Stevens and Okanogan counties have each donated $1,000 to the American Lands Council, nonprofit, Ivory advocates for legislation that would require the U.S. government to transfer federally owned lands to the states. Numerous legal authorities have concluded that these proposals are unconstitutional. The ALC is supporting the Malheur thugs.
In contrast to the five Washington counties that have contributed to this act of sedition, only two counties from Oregon are on a contribution list for ALC, and only one (Idaho County) from Idaho.
Here's more food for thought about the occupation of a national wildlife refuge:
The all-hat, no-cattle bunch that are cooling their heels at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge do not reflect the views of working ranchers and farmers in the West, many of whom understand the importance of conservation and land protection. Many of these working landowners also are working with groups like Trout Unlimited and the federal government's land agencies on projects that improve ranchlands and irrigation systems, as well as protect watersheds and fisheries.
A column by Randy Scholfield, Trout Unlimited's director of communications for the Southwest region.
Linda Sue Beck is the biologist at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The occupiers who have taken over the refuge are sitting at her desk decrying her science-based work. According to a columnist, it's shameful that reporters covering the occupation are apparently willing to give the Bundys a free pass on describing what is one of the most productive migratory bird stopover sites on the Pacific flyway, as well as one of the first wildlife refuges established in the nation, as nonproductive.
-- Column by Travis Longcore, a professor at University of Southern California.
My latest post in response to propagandists suggesting that I'm anti-agriculture.