Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Breaking News

Wild Bill

Now Anti-Wolf Groups Are Blowing It

No reasonable deed goes unpunished, eh? That must be how wildlife managers or advocates who actually want to resolve the wolf-delisting impasse must feel. On September 23, I posted a commentary with the title, Pro-Wolf Groups Blew It where I criticized the left-leaning plaintiffs in the various lawsuits for pushing too hard, too long, and turning fence setters and most western politicians into the anti-wolf camp and possibly endangering the integrity of the Endangered Species Act. Now, the pendulum has swung to the far right.

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Forest Service Moves to Intimidation to Collect More Entrance Fees

On September 29, I wrote about a historic court decision overturning the Forest Service's (FS) policy of charging an entrance fee to visit or park in the Red Rock High Impact Recreation Area (HIRA) in Arizona's Coconino National Forest. In my commentary, I not only urged the FS to forego appealing the ruling but also to throw in the towel and comply with the court decree and stop charging the fee--and then purge the National Forest System of all 95 HIRAs. I'm one for three.

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The Tea Party America Really Needs

We've been mired in a lot of contentious issues lately, wolves, wilderness, guns, et al, so let's lighten up a bit today. We've all seen the tea party faithful on TV, protesting big government, high taxes, and anything-Obama with those tea bags hanging from their hats as they chant and wave an anti-the-way-we-are placard. Well, I've had enough of it. First of all, that is a disgusting waste of perfectly good tea bags, and second, these protesters are giving tea drinkers a bad name. It's about time we launched the Real Tea Party with a single mission--giving tea drinkers the respect we deserve. I am so painfully aware of this long-festering inequity. Like other minorities, I have spent my entire life fighting discrimination and prejudice and intolerance. And don't tell me you haven't seen it--that snooty, high-and-mighty, attitude coffee drinkers have and how it has become ingrained into the fabric of our culture. Here are just a few examples:

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NRA Still Getting it Right, Except on Tester

Here's something that isn't news to anybody. The number of guns Americans own has skyrocketed, but how is this significant? An incredible--and later proven unfounded--paranoia swept the country starting back in 2008 when it started to look like a perceived anti-gunner, Barack Obama, might become Commander-in-Chief. The rest of the economy tanked, but thanks to Obama, the gun industry flourished and had its best three-year run ever. Firearms manufacturers worked three shifts per day and still couldn't make enough guns, especially handguns, to meet demand. Not only has the number of handguns owned by private citizens at least doubled, to more than 100 million handguns, about one handgun for every two adults, but sales of long guns and shotguns has also soared. Americans now own at least 250 million guns, more than one per adult, including at least 20 million firearms gun control advocates might call "assault weapons." The number of privately owned firearms continues to go up by at least 4 million per year, and interestingly, many new handgun buyers are women.

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Earth to Forest Service: Recreation Fee Program Is Still Illegal

Since December 2004 when the Bush Administration talked Congress into tacking the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) onto a must-pass budget bill as a dreaded "midnight rider" and made it the law of the land without public debate or congressional vote, it has been more than controversial. The Forest Service (FS) immediately started illegally interpreting the law as a license to charge the public entrance fees to drive, walk or ride a bike into National Forests and to park along state highways passing though federal land. Citizens protesting the illegal policy have won court cases in the past (click here for details), but in every case, the FS reacted by appealing with the full force of the federal legal machine until it prevailed over volunteers hoping for a little justice.

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Pro-Wolf Groups Blew It

Everybody who even remotely follows the wolf issue knows how bad it is, politically. About the only way it could get worse would be a wolf breaking into an urban backyard and biting a child. Federal District Judge Donald Molloy's August 5 ruling putting the Big Dog back on the endangered species list and stopping hunts in Idaho and Montana was that proverbial last straw for a lot of people, even a lot of fence sitters who actually like wolves and supported the reintroduction.

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Time to Tear Down the Border Stations

Today, I've decided to abandon my normal manner of being diplomatic and gentle and say something that needs saying without sugarcoating, so here goes. Just in case you haven't traveled around Europe, here's how it works. You can, for example, fly into Spain, rent a car and drive over to France. And guess what happens when you get to the border? Absolutely nothing!

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Five Ways Motorists Can Defuse Road Rage for Cyclists

Last week, I suggested five ways cyclists can help defuse road rage. Now, here's "the other side," what motorists can do to not only curb anger, but also make roads safer and more pleasant for people on bicycles. Before I get started, I should say, as I have several times in the past, all cyclists realize that the vast majority of motorists safely and courteously share the roads with us. But a tiny minority continues to make like miserable and hazardous for cyclists.

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Five Ways Cyclists Can Defuse Road Rage

Two days ago on my morning trip down to the coffee shop to get a little wisdom at the ORG (Old Retired Guys) Table, a driver blasted right through a stop sign and almost made it my last day on a bicycle. So what did I do? Two things. First, since I ended up about five feet from the driver's window, I did not yell or make obscene gestures, not even any dagger eyes, Instead, I waved and smiled and tried to give him my best "no worries, we all make mistakes" look. Second, I decided to write this commentary--and the "other side" for next week. I've already written several columns about the prickly relationship between cyclists and motorists sharing our public roadways, but today, I'm talking directly to cyclists, not motorists.

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Glacier’s Shuttle System a Stunning Success; Can We Take the Next Step?

Remember the last time you heard somebody say a federal agency did a great job? Not recently, eh? I, too, confess to not saying it often, but I'm saying it today. Three years ago (click here). I wrote about an innovative new shuttle system getting underway in Glacier National Park. In my first line, I asked, "If we built it, will they come?" The results are in, and the answer is yes. In 2009, in fact, 157,000 of people used shuttle buses instead of driving personal vehicles over the traffic-choked Going-to-the-Sun Highway, and according to Glacier's public affairs manager Amy Vanderbilt, "We will easily exceed that figure this year."

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