Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 36° Clear

Inconsistencies In Olympia Leave Sportsmen Puzzled

By Rich Landers The Spokesman-Revi

Conservative is perhaps the most misused term in American politics.

The so-called conservatives in Olympia are as liberal as donkey dung in a barnyard when it comes to squandering salmon.

They understand the principle of investing money in the stock market. Yet they say it’s frivolous to save wetlands that store and purify the water we bank in the earth.

They preach to us about restoring prayer in schools. Yet they ignore the wisdom of the Creator who ordered two of every species to be gathered, not just the ones Noah liked, or the ones he could eat or the ones he considered useful at the time.

Conservatives aren’t always wrong. They’re just inconsistent.

Consider Rep. Steve Fuhrman, R-Kettle Falls, chairman of the new, expanded and mightier House natural resources committee.

Fuhrman, 48, is a seven-term representative, who undoubtedly reflects majority sentiments among his 103,000 constituents in the six northeastern counties.

Fuhrman is co-sponsoring a bill to strip authority from the governor to appoint the Fish and Wildlife Department director. The bill would give the power back to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, a move sportsmen of all political persuasions support in order to purge some of the politics out of wildlife management.

But like most conservatives, Fuhrman is clueless about the concepts of conservation.

Fuhrman has introduced a bill (HB 1000) to eliminate the state’s program for listing and protecting endangered species.

If the bill were to be enacted, the state of Washington would be at the mercy of the federal Endangered Species Act.

How can Fuhrman trumpet state rights and then introduce a bill that would surrender to the federal government all leadership in managing fish and wildlife species and other natural resources?

This is un-Republican and unconservative if not downright un-American.

Fuhrman is either naive or simply pandering to the emotions of downcast loggers by giving them false hopes.

For example, the court decision that stopped logging old-growth timber to protect the spotted owl had little to do with the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Court Judge William Dwyer of Seattle cited the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) in ordering logging restrictions.

Indeed, Forest Service officials under the Bush administration proposed a rule change that would have exempted them from the NFMA and allowed them to work under the Endangered Species Act, which would have given them more leeway to cut logs.

Dwyer denied the request and ordered the Forest Service to comply with NFMA provisions to maintain viable populations of all species found on national forests.

A true conservative would realize that the main problem with the Endangered Species Act is that it’s not strong enough.

The act doesn’t kick in until agencies have neglected other laws designed to protect fish and wildlife. By that time, however, the train wreck has already occurred.

Washington’s endangered species programs is an early warning system for species management. The state’s program is more flexible than the feds’ and has a higher chance of success because it deals with species woes while they’re less drastic and less costly.

Washington’s endangered species program was cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a reason for turning down a proposal to federally list the Canada lynx as endangered.

Under the state’s guidelines, some logging will continue to be allowed in the Loomis forest area of Okanogan County. Under federal rules, logging likely would be curtailed.

The unconservative conservatives in our government are no dummies. Notice that they made no reference to weakening environmental laws in their Contract with America.

The main problem with conservatives is that they think they can liberally spend our natural resources as though there was an endless supply.


The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.