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It's hardly a news flash that the National Rifle Association (NRA) supports anti-conservation, if not anti-hunting, politicians. Even though I've written about it several times, I never realized how bad it was. A just-released report by the NRA's nemesis, the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), deals out all the dreadful details, and it should be a major eye-opener for any hunter who still supports the NRA.

The Anti-Conservation Mission of the NRA

It’s hardly a news flash that the National Rifle Association (NRA) supports anti-conservation, anti-hunting politicians. Even though I’ve written about it several times, I never realized how bad it was.

A just-released report by the NRA’s nemesis, the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), deals out all the dreadful details, and it should be a major eye-opener for any hunter who still supports the NRA.

(Incidentally, in case you’re wondering about the “anti-hunting” adjective, I refer to people who consistently support or vote for measures that destroy wildlife habitat or limit hunting access, even if they own guns and say they “support hunting”–even, if fact, if they hunt. Obviously, the loss of wildlife habitat and huntable land hurts hunters as much or more than opposition to hunting from animal rights groups.)

“As the self-proclaimed ‘largest pro-hunting organization in the world,’ the National Rifle Association has long claimed to represent America’s hunters and shooters in the fight to protect one of America’s oldest traditions,” the AHSA said in a press release accompanying the report. “The NRA’s bylaws include an article setting a core goal ‘to promote and defend hunting…as a viable and necessary method of fostering the propagation, growth and conservation…of our renewable wildlife resources.’ But it turns out that its by-laws are just empty rhetoric.”

“Our goal is to pull back the curtain on the ugly truth,” Ray Schoenke, AHSA President, wrote in a letter to NewWest.Net. “The leaders of the National Rifle Association, who have long claimed to represent hunters and shooters, have instead overwhelmingly supported the biggest conservation opponents in Congress.”

And Schoenke doesn’t mind getting a little personal. In a P.S. on the letter, he said, “Unlike Wayne LaPierre (Chief Executive Officer of the NRA), I don’t fly on private jets and my salary is a dollar a year. I can also outshoot LaPierre and I’ll gladly challenge him to a wild hunt. That’s a challenge I look forward to, but I won’t hold my breath that he’ll ever take it.”

(Here’s a P.S. from me. Don’t you think it’s a bit strange–or should I say, telling–that a self-acclaimed “conservation organization” would call its top dog “Chief Executive Officer”? At least they pay him like a CEO, close to a million dollars in total annual compensation, roughly equal to 35,000 annual membership renewals.)

Regrettably, we have no good way to judge a politician’s record on conservation, but the annual survey conducted by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the best we have–and the one primarily used by ASHA to come to its conclusions. On the front page of the report, in fact, AHSA states that the NRA gave campaign contributions to 52 of the 53 members of Congress who received a zero rating from LCV for their conservation voting records.

Inside the report, which is titled “Slash and Burn,” the AHSA offered three examples to support the group’s conclusion. The NRA gave much more money to and gave much higher ratings to politicians who:

  • In 2001, opposed the Roadless Area Conservation Act, which was defeated even though it would have protected millions of acres of our best hunting land.
  • In 2005, tried to sell off hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to “corporate interests at prices far below market value,” as stated in the report. “While conservation groups across America came out against the (sale of public land), the NRA stayed silent.”
  • In 2007, opposed the so-called “Katrina Amendment” proposed to prevent future catastrophic flooding and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat threatened by climate change.

The NRA is “out of line with America’s most respected conservation organizations,” says AHSA, mainly because the nation’s biggest gun lobby gave $4,085,277 to support the 193 members of Congress who received poor conservation ratings from the LCV and only $390,897, 10 times less, to the 245 members of Congress who have received high conservation ratings.

The AHSA goes into great detail on what contributions went to individual members of Congress, so if you’re wondering how much NRA money went to your candidate, you can probably find it in the report.

The report also compares NRA campaign donations to senators and representatives endorsed by the Sierra Club with predictable results.

The online presentation of the report also has a survey for hunters who might agree with this statement: “I will not support a gun rights organization that works to elect members of Congress who will allow our natural environment to be ruined by corporate polluters, loggers, strip miners, and other groups that act to destroy America’s great outdoors.” Click here to add your name to the list.

The main point AHSA made, the main reason for issuing the report, was: Don’t let the NRA leadership and its allies in Congress destroy the lands where we hunt.

To this, I say, only hunters who are NRA members need to work hard inside to change the focus of the organization or stop paying membership dues.

Footnote: Ironically, on the same day I read AHSA’s report, I read a Los Angeles Times article citing recent survey findings that more hunters and anglers supported John MaCain than Barack Obama. Go figure. More on this later.

To read the entire report, click here.

Related articles on NewWest.Net:

Hunters, Look Beyond the End of Your Gun Barrel, 7-9-08

NRA Nemesis Alive and Well, and Supporting Obama, 6-24-08

NRA Stands for Not Really an Ally, 11-4-07

Defending Wilderness and Hunting Defends Our Right to Bear Arms, 3-29-07

Guns, Sex, Lies, and Democrats, 3-22-07

The Zumbo Affair, Afterthoughts, 3-8-07

NRA Destroys Long-time Friend, 2-26-07

NRA Supports Conrad Burns, Proving Again it Doesn’t Represent Hunters, 11-2-06

NRA Doesn’t Represent Both Hunters and Gun Owners, 7-2-06

Saving Hunters from the NRA, 6-21-06

To read a chronology of all my articles on the NRA and gun rights, click here.

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  1. Concern troll Craig misses the point — as he often does.
    The NRA shows some conservationist values and awareness at the state level, but at the national level it has been captured by the wingnuts who get lathered over Waco and Ruby Ridge and believe every home should have 50-cal machine guns, RPGs and enough firepower to mow down the ravening hordes of darkies, wetbacks, hippies and UN peace keepers swooping down in their black helicopters.
    (Okay, that was a slight exaggeration, but not by much.)
    Long ago, the NRA made an unholy alliance with the GOP and Big Bidness and under the cover of Second Amendment language, have supported politicians who genuflect before the Almighty NRA, but are quite willing to destroy wildlife and habitat in the pursuit of the even more Almighty Dollar.
    People are beginning to figure that out, which bodes ill for the NRA, the GOP and ravenous corporations. Obama and Western Democrats are nullifying much of the overheated NRA rhetoric by embracing hunters and drawing common-sense lines between hunting and legitimate self-defense and the mini-militia whackos.
    Good job, Bill.

  2. Pretty good article and it does point out quite a few flaws in the NRA’s conservation record. ONe point…did you know that the heads of The Conservation Fund, The Trust for Public Land, and The Nature Conservancy all hold the title, President and CEO? The head of World Wildlife Fund also President and CEO. HMMMMM, guess it is not that odd a title.

  3. One man’s conservation is another man’s devastation

    What a weak case has made here against the NRA. LaPierre is paid like a CEO because he’s worth every penny and most NRA members being the capitalists pigs that we are have no qualms about it. I want the most effective lobbyist money can buy! Ray Schoenke can out shoot out hunt LaPierre? Woppie! Is that supposed to somehow make him a savvier leader for the protection of the 2nd amendment? As for the three bullet points; the roadless act has greatly hindered forest management and conservation on national forests and the private sector has historically been a much better steward of the land. What about the loss of habitat to catastrophic wildfire, insect and disease from a lack of management? These might have been valid point if a case was being made for preservation but hunters are interested conservation and restoration. As for the Katrina Amendment: The NRA supports some senators who are champions of the 2nd amendment but vote against some pork to protect an area below sea level from catastrophic flooding and that is also supposed to somehow save wetlands from climate change? SO WHAT!

  4. The AHSA is a phony ‘pro-gun’ group whose major funding comes from ‘anti-gun’ groups, such as the ‘Brady Bunch’. Don’t take this guy, Wild Bill’s word regarding the NRA and its history of conservation. The NRA is more than a hunting club. NRA members are conservationist. The NRA-ILA wages legal defence for the 2nd Amendment, to protect our citizen right to keep and bear arms. Do your own reaserch, and don’t be fooled by the likes of Schneider.

  5. Open Fields is a federal program? So what?
    Polled sportsmen endorse McSame over Obama? So what?
    That does not negate the point that the NRA is allied with politicians that help corporations wreak havoc in the natural world every day, every minute.
    Open Fields is a bandage compared to the damage caused by DuPont, Exxon, Arch Coal, et al.
    The media that caters to sportsmen is terrified of arousing NRA wrath, so of course sportsmen’s political awareness is going to be colored by that.
    Craig, is that all you’ve got?

  6. Bill, you really need to stop shilling for the Brady Bunch and reading the Puffington Host. Ray Schoenke donated five grand to the Brady Campaign “voter education” PAC in 2000, for one thing. His total of 86 grand in FEC records went almost exclusively to Democrats including such sportsmen as David Bonior and Barbara “the Red Barrel” Mikulski.
    Oh, and there’s other donations, to Barbara Boxer, California Victory, that great sportsman Bill Bradley. This guy’s a big spender of the most liberal of the libs. So he hunts ducks…
    As for adhering to the LCV line…the simple fact is that doing so would mean a lot of sportsmen would be unemployed. Can’t hunt much when you can’t afford to fuel the truck, much less pay some outfitter thousands to horsepack you.
    Stop insulting your readers with this transparent hooey. And yeah, I’m an NRA life member.

  7. The AHSA is an organization for sportsmen that don’t have the stomach to support the NRA because they are more concerned with partisanship than the preservation of the 2nd amendment, so called conservation is simply the means used to justify it.

  8. I went and looked at this SHOCKING report. What I would like to know is: WHO exactly prepared this. Was it LCV staff? Sierra Klub? Both?
    I was also amused by the average NRA rating of the “correct” voters, a D-minus. So, we vote green, we also throw away our firearms rights. No coincidence, and no thanks.

  9. Gun control and hunting are too very different issues. As for the gun control aspect, I support the NRA 100%. It is not the Government’s business what type of firearm I own. Despite some comments above (and they are typical of the anti-gunners) the NRA does not advocate owning a rocket launcher and is not trying to leaglize them. That being said, I left the NRA because of their opposition to wolf re-introduction, which is anti-conservation, their opposition to the removal of non native elk and deer from the channel inslands (supporting non native species is anti-conservation), and their opposition to the roadless rule. As someone who considers themselves a gun nut, hunter, and environmentalist, I have come to the harsh realization that most big city liberals hate hunting and guns, and that most conservatives would plow down every last tree for a buck and build a Wal-Mart smack dab in the middle of Yellowstone if given a chance. That is the reality. It’s ugly and real.

  10. If you think supporting the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Act would protect land you’re nuts. It will remove roads (access) and eliminate management of millions of acres. Of the 800,000 acres that burned in our area in Idaho last summer most was in Inventoried Roadless Areas. The management prescription is to let those areas burn and then to allow passive restoration. That means no trees are planted after the burns. We’re seeing devastating erosion. Elk cow tags in our area went from 150 in 2007 (the number was set before the fires started) to 25 this year. In another IRA to the west of us the Canadian wolves drove the elk through the burned areas last fall resulting in many elk being shot. Oh well, with no food they might have starved through the winter. How many of you went to Yellowstone the spring after the 1988 fires? There were dead elk and bison everywhere you looked. I don’t mean you could go into an area an find a dead elk or bison or two. I mean as you walked through areas you were never out of sight of dead animals. Managing forests can improve habitat.

  11. Becky,

    Studies have shown that roadless areas have better wildlife habitat, better hunting, and healthier ecosystems. The only people that complain of access are the people that are either unaware that there are already 300,000 miles of roads in our national forests nationwide, or that don’t know that there is only one spot in the lower 48 more that 22 miles from a road, or that consider hunting driving around on an ATV to be real hunting. Real hunters don’t need and don’t want more roads. As for less cow tags, there could be many reasons for that. Dead bison? Gee, maybe the rancher influence that promotes slaughter of any bison that dares step foot outide of Yellowstone has something to do with that. As for fire, funny how the pro logger crew blames fire for devestating the forest and then advocates controlled burns (which frequesntly get out of hand) as a means of keeping the habitat healthy. The Roadless rule is a Godsend and bravo to Clinton for doing something that helped hunting tremendously.

  12. I’m not sure what studies you are looking at, but I know in my area the unmanaged area are not better habitat. According to Fish & Game our cow tags are down this year because 800,000 acres of their habitat burned last year along with some elk. Their habitiat is seriously degraded to the point that it will not support the numbers that were here a year ago. This is according to Fish & Game, not just my opinion. In many areas it burned so hot that grass hasn’t grown back this year. Many people don’t realize that part of the 300,000 miles of roads are in the Inventoried Roadless Areas. These area are roadless in name only. A recent Montana study showed that State lands are healthier ecosystems with more abundant and diverse species and more wildlife than Forest Service managed lands. Montana, like Idaho manages the state owned lands. The dead Bison were in the heart of Yellowstone Park. All around Old Faithful and the geyser baisins and points in between. Hunters were nowhere near those animals. You had to be there early in the season because they had to remove carcasses so the grizzleys wouldn’t set up camp in those areas frequented by tourists. I don’t know where you live but the Clinton Rule did nothing to improve hunting or habitat in my area.

  13. Pardon me if I am skeptical of data from western fish and game agencies but they have proven themselves to be in the back pocket of logging and ranching interests on numerous occasions. Part of the reason bison are starving in Yellowstone is because they are confined to Yellowstone. If allowed to roam free in and out of the park, these mass die offs would not be happening.

    Oh thank God for roads. How did nature ever manage for 4 billion years before humans came along and built roads.

  14. And you are more expert because….. I think the logging and ranching interests would beg to differ on Fish and Game being in their back pockets. Any piece of ground has a maximum carrying capacity. Yellowstone will only feed so many bison on a good year, less during bad years. You can manage for forage production and increase the carrying capacity but that isn’t an option in Yellowstone nor should it be as that is not the intent of the park. Hunting season allow us to manage the game populations based on surveys of the number of animals and the carrying capacity of their habitat. We can kill a few and leave the rest with more food through the winters or we can not kill any and allow many to starve at times. Mother Nature doesn’t achieve some perfect balance and maintain it. Populations fluctuated widely before man had much impact. They built up when times were good and when the population became too large for an area they either spread into other areas and competed with other animals or in times of drought or fire starved to death in large numbers. All wild populations fluctuate with the conditions.

  15. I understand perfectley that Yellowstone has a limited carrying capacity. The fact that, due to rancher politics, the bison are confined tehre is the reason they are starving. If you agree then that populations in nature fluctuate, then why worry about the decrease in cow elk? It will come back eventually correct? It should not be the intetntion of any land management agency to manage just to increase carrying capacity. Management should instead focus on a healthy ecosystem with all of it’s parts intact (the wolf being a part for example). Again, I fail to see how more roads actually benefit wildlife. I guess remote Alaska, the Amazon basin, Anarctica, and the Australian outback are all on the brink of collapse because they lack 300,000 miles of road.

  16. More roads probably won’t benefit wildlife but sound forest management could definitely reduce habitat loss. The roadless rule greatly hindered forest management activities. Roads can be removed following logging activity or maintained for recreational purposes if desired. Mortality rates on federal lands have skyrocketed with the decline in management relative to other ownerships to the point of localized collapse. Species mix is also shifting in the forest, trending toward increased proportion of fir species that are able to outcompete pine species in overcrowded forests. The negative outcome of the trend is that firs are less resistant to fire and more susceptible to insects and are now located in an overcrowded forest, primed for fire, insect, or disease. The Forest Service monitors forest heath through their forest inventory analysis program where you can view forest growth, mortality, and removals data by land ownership.
    FIA data:

  17. If hunters don’t care about handguns and pistoleros don’t care about shotguns and nobody cares about machine guns, soon we’ll be divided and conquered.
    What a clever way to take away our second amendment rights. Destroy their staunchest supporter from within.

  18. As a follow up to the above comment regarding roads, a key ecological component (fire) has either not been removed or was never a function in those regions listed above. Road construction required for forest management in the lower 48 at this point is minimal.

  19. Matt, I don’t know where building more roads came from. I’d like to see us maintain the ones we have. They Payette National Forest has spent more money obliterating roads than maintaining them lately. Some of those roads have been important for fire fighting and now they are obliterated to the point wildlife can’t pass through the areas. If you decrease elk population you reduce food for the Canadian wolves. Why not strive to increase the number and diversity of wildlife in an area up to it’s potential carrying capacity. Yellowstone is passing its carrying capacity with few management options in the park. That is part of the problem.

  20. Open Fields is a great program that I strongly support, but let’s be honest; it’s a lay-up. More or less everybody in the conservation community, even the NRA as Craig correctly notes, supports it. Let’s get to real issues like selling public lands or stopping the Pebble Mine or (and especially) the Roadless Rule to determine who is pro-conservation and who is anti-conservation…..Bill

    P.S. Although Craig and I respectully agree to disagree on this specific point, he is correct that I only want the best for hunters and hunting, which is why I feel so strongly about the contents of this column and other similar commentaries in the past.

  21. Jon, in the southeast and many parts of teh countyr, pine is dominant because of logging practices. The National Forests have been turned into pine tree farms for the sake of the industries. The forests managed themselves quite well for billions of years without human aid. What management shoudl focus on is correcting man’s mistakes (like wolf removal) rather than provding more board feet for the timber industry which is what modern “management” does.

    Tome, maybe the NRA and republicans could defend hunting by defending the places we hunt. Novel concept eh?

  22. Becky J,

    You and I are obviously getting two different sources on information. From what I understand, animals are more abundant in areas with less roads. They avoid roads, they hate the noise of snowmobiles and ATVs. More roads will mean more ATVs and road hunters, and the best areas to hunt are the designated wilderness areas were motorized vehicles are off limits. Again, long before there were roads, animals were doing fine. The real problem is exploitation of public land by corporations. The logging industry destroys fire resistant old growth forests and turns our lands into a monoculture. More roads mean less habitat. If they didn’t, the interstates would be great places to hunt. Also, human overpopulation, which most republicans do not believe is a problem, is a major culprit to the decline of hunting and wildlife. We have too many raods on public lands as is. Let nature reclaim about half of them.

  23. Bill, I would be honored to share a stretch of water with you some time and continue our discussion from both sides of the stream as we share a love for the same water and the same experience, while equally valuing the fragility of that experience and its immeasurable worth.

  24. Oh, right, Matt, you support NRA 100% but left the organization. Fighting gun control costs money, mister.
    As for the larger issues you raise here, you’re wrong about four billion years man-free. The landscape you see, the vegetation on it, AND the animals on it were hugely influenced by Indian management practices manifested in induced fire. Never mind Indian harvest practices, tribal territories and whatnot. To ignore that blows your arguments completely out of the water.
    Study harder, dude.

  25. Darn, I missed Bill’s additions:
    Bill, you should not only want the best for hunters, but for America, our society at large, et cetera. The simple fact is that AHSA and other fake groups is nothing more than a “divide and conquer” strategy by a combination of those who would strip Americans of not only their firearms rights, but their economic and therefore social well-being.
    I realized a long time ago that I couldn’t be a hunter first last and always in the context of a life with many other worthy life goals. Some people certainly can be such, and more power to them…yet not so much power that they can exercise it over my rights.
    Have a nice day.

  26. Matt, I don’t know where you get your information. There have been a number of studies on wildlife and roads. Deer are naturally inquisitive and move towards ATV’s and snowmobiles. Most wildlife that move away from ATV’s and snowmobiles move away less quickly and less far than they do from people on foot or on skis. I do have a 4-stroke snowmobile so that does reduce my noise level, but even on the old 2-strokes the deer, elk and moose often walk towards us on trails. We stop when we see them and wait until they move a distance away. I’ve had bison in Yellowstone walk right up to my snowmobile. Close enough to reach out and touch. I’m sure I was more afraid than they were. I don’t ride because I don’t want to walk. I ride because of knee surgeries and an ankle reconstruction. I walk when and where I can, but that becomes more limited as time goes by. Why do you always blame industry for the mistakes made by the Forest Service. When the miners came into our area in the 1860’s there were mixed pine, fir, spruce and larch trees. In the 1930’s the Forest Service and CCC came in and planted lodgepole pine in the untreed areas along the roads. If you get off the roads you will see a lot of the old mix still there. Industry wasn’t pushing for the planting of the lodgepole. Modern logging isn’t all about clear cutting. We’ve learned a lot over the years. Logged areas can actually produce less sediment than unlogged areas. The canopy is opened up and sunlight gets trough to the forest floor so grasses and shrubs can grow. These benefits last for many years. Uncontrolled fires contribute far more sediment to the rivers than well managed logging. If we drive all logging out of this country we drive it to countries that care far less about the environment than our loggers do.

  27. Note to the National Rifle Association:

    We are going to need you real bad over the next decade. Please try hard to find a strong Second Amendment supporting conservationist poliical leader. Don’t be afraid to talk with some of the old gun rights supporters and inform them that American gun owners are mostly wilderness supporters and believe in protecting the environment and wildlife habitat. We’ll take any help we can get in keeping the Second Amendment, but it’s going to make our job harder if political leaders who lose nothing by giving lip service to gun rights also leap whole hog into the pockets of corporate powers intent on destroying the last places where we hunt and fish. We’re gun owners, and we worry about mercury in fish, and the blowing up of ancient eastern forests to get coal to burn, as if we were a bunch of cave people. We can see the hypocrisy and the danger in pandering to international corporations that keep our nation on its knees before the false god of oil. We’re super sick of Republican corruption, but we’re afraid that the Democrats are gonna “dance with those who brung ’em” which might include the Brady Bunch. Please don’t force us to make impossible choices, because a whole lot of us are going to vote the health of the USA first – and that includes the health of the environment, and the economy, and the two things are inseparable. Once upon a time, we trusted that the nation was tough and self sufficient and we could vote single issue- gun rights- and that was a good time.

    It is over. We just saw how it could go, where politicians don’t try to mess with our gun rights, but they sell everything else right out the window to the highest bidder.

    NRA, my old friends, get out of the headquarters and make some strong new arguments- I’ll help you anyway I can- to some new people, lots of them, anybody who will listen. Don’t sit tight and let the old base of Republicans come to you, reminding you of how its always been. They are dragging a lot of stinking nastiness behind them, like a tincanned cat, and the country is watching. Things have changed. Not the threats to gunrights- they are stronger than ever. Never before have so many Americans shown that they would give up freedom for the illusion of safety. It has been shocking and its been ugly.

    The battle field has changed. The stakes are as high as ever. Comfortably hidebound is not going to cut it.

    By the way, we don’t trust the AHSA. We’d prefer to hang with our old friends.

  28. Dave,

    I do want the best for society and America, just as much as you do, which is why I’m not worried about the gun rights issue and choose to concentrate on issue that make a difference right now. The gun issue has been won. As I’ve written in the past, the dems won’t dare make any serious effort to get more gun control. They know that support for the Second Amendment is too strong, and even though I’m sure there are mavericks within the party that want more gun control, the leadership won’t risk it politiclaly.

    So let’s leave it put it on hold and work on issues that matter.


  29. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
    Thomas Jefferson

  30. Dave,
    I support gun rights 100%, not the NRA. Read closer next time. The NRA does not stick to gun rights, they get involved in all sorts of issues.

    I did not say North America has never been impacted by man. I said nature thrived for 4 billion years before we built roads which others have argued actually help wildlife (what a spin).

    The Indians did not have nearly the level of impact western civiliziation did. Follow your own advice and study harder.

  31. No matter the initials, these national lobby groups are big business, seeking and getting big money, and spending big money, all in attempts to further the goals of the subscribers or so we are told.

    If you were to examine TWS, TNC, DU, Sierra Club, RMEF, you find that no matter what they say to donors, their work is not to provide land on which to hunt. Hunting is not the raison d’etre most think these organizations live and die for. They are land acquisition and holding companies that have no tax liability. Vast income streams, and market altering business presence, but no tax liability. And that vast income stream provides well for the upper level management persons. Some are bringing down 7 figure incomes and benefits. They are not in it to provide for hunting, but to grow the income stream and to control more land that they might manage as they wish, for any purpose they wish. If hunting happens, it is more serendipity than intent.

    NRA and hunting is really a red herring. NRA is about the well regulated militia, defending against corrupt law enforcement thugs, and keeping the military and police out of your home. Coincidentally, your hunting piece qualifies as a weapon for the constitutionally protected militia. That you have a gun to hunt with is because of the vigilance of the NRA, and their having the horsepower and standing to sue over transgressions against the people and the Constitution, mostly be governments intent on making life easy for themselves and hard for citizens. The “us agin’ them” deal that seems to prevail in this country to a heightened degree in these times has not lessened. One party is for, by, and of government, and government workers, and the other is supposed to create enough wealth to support the party of government’s habit, lifestyle and ambitions. The NRA is a needed buffer, blunt force instrument, and legal coyote to fight that element. And, we can hunt if the regulators allow it. They can take that away, but not your shooters.

  32. I am pretty amazed at the ignorant comments about Yellowstone fires of 1988. As someone who hunts the areas around there I would have to say that yes, it is true there was a lot of winterkill of elk and bison immediately after. Since then the animal populations rebounded rapidly, to pre fire levels, and essentially all the outfitters I know feel the habitat is actually greatly improved. Don’t know any who would go back to the prefire habitat, even though a lot of them do hate the wolves and bears which have also thrived and give them headaches. Although as one of my outfitter friends said, it gives his clients a much bigger thrill to see a wolf and griz fighting over a gut pile than blasting one more six point ever does for them. And good lord, didn’t know there was anyone still advocating for cutting our last roaddless areas….even the ATV hunters don’t do that. Even the logging industry can’t be prodded to support logging those paltry uneconomical stands. I sure don’t know what “managing”those lands does, but based on my summer work with the FS in high school sure didn’t look pretty.

  33. Thanks, animalman. Both Becky J. and matt have been spewing emotional bs about the 1988 Yellostone fires and their aftermath. There was a large die-off during winter-spring 1989 but the elk numbers rebounded exponentially to allow another huge winterkill 10 years later. Bison don’t die of starvation in Yellowstone because they are “not allowed to leave” as matt stated–and no study is going to support that claim.

    Also, I wouldn’t base any opinions on the reaction of animals to vehicles in Yellowstone–whether you’re on a snowmobile or driving a car.

  34. As a side note, the sitting governor of Alaska, Sarah Paulin, McCain’s VP pick, is a member of the NRA.

    Hal, great comment. I am going to use my voice within the NRA to help with that. I think a growing and passionate part of the membership shares those thoughts as well.

  35. This discussion must include the effects of drought that the interior Northwest and West has experienced off and on for the last 30 years. When the interior Northwest and West has a heavy snowpack winter, the number of wildfires has been minimal. When their is a low snowpack winter, followed by a hot dry summer, the number of wildfires has been huge. For example, the winter of 2006-2007 was a low snowpack winter. In the hot dry summer of 2007, huge fires raged in the dried up central Idaho forests.
    The winter of 2007-2008 provided a big snowpack in the Northwest, and the number of fires in the summer of 2008 has been minimal. Fighting fires in hot dry summers with low snowpack is an insurmountable task. The Forest Service spends most of its firefighting efforts just protecting structures and rural towns located in the forests. Firefighting cannot stop the raging fires in the backcountry when the forests are dried up, due to drought and low snowpack winters. The dry summer fires finally end when cooler weather and storms arrive in September. I speak about this as a firefighter and lifelong (56 years) resident of Idaho.

  36. Bill, I have to take issue with your statement that the gun issue is decided. Make no mistake, it is NOT. Obama was barely tepid in his support of the SCOTUS overturn of the DC gun ban and immediately said it would have to be subject to local restrictions. If he succeeds in appointing a jduge that would over rule that it will not be protected again in our lifetimes.
    Even roadless forests are managed, but they are being managed by disease and beetles for no one’s benefit. Because beetles have been allowed such free rein they are not only destroying the forests out side of Yellowstone, but they are destroying the crucial white bark pine inside of the park. Cutting one more food supply that the grizzlies need.
    As for the wolves, they are having a terrible impact on the elk. anyone who goes to Yellowstone regularly cannot help but notice the lack of elk, and the rarity of sighting moose. Wolf proponents try to claim that the elk are jsut hiding even as the numbers have plunged from 19,000 to 6000 last winter.

  37. The pine bark beetles are thriving in the warm low snowpack drought winters. When you have a cold heavy snowpack winter, the beetle larvae are killed by the cold temperatures. In the interior West, there has been way too many warm drought winters in the last 30 years.

  38. Marion, wolves and pine bark beetles are both a part of the natural ecosystem. Elk numbers have been artifically induced over the years as have certain species of trees such as pine. This perception that the forests and elk are suffering is based on an inaccurate perception of what an ecosystem is supposed to be.

  39. Diseases such as cancer and small pox,plague, etc are a normal part fo the system too. Are you saying they shoudl be protected and reintroduced where they have disappeared?

  40. Wolves are not a disease. They are a healthy part of the ecosystem. If anything is the disease, it is the ranching, mining, and logging industry.

  41. what dave said… gotta stop the schilling for brady bunch

  42. As a hunter and an oilfield worker I support the NRA’s balanced approach. The AHSA sounds like the Seirra Club in disguise to appeal to us that like to hunt as well as extract some of our own natural resources as opposed to shipping $700B of our dollars overseas in exchange for their energy resources.

    If the pioneers that settled these lands held to your beliefs we would have never crossed the Appalachians let alone the Mississippi.

  43. And you GMA sound like a REP. zealot who never crosses party lines.

  44. The NRA has a balanced approach? About as balanced as the oil companies who see nothing but profit in pillaging the land and sticking it to the consumer.

  45. I just had to look at this thread one more time, I thought it had been shot dead finally.
    Bill, I just have to shake my head at your responsiveness to what shouldn’t be termed NRA’s “nemesis” but more clearly “just another liberal front group.”
    Never mind that I finally bothered to poke around on the AHSA website, found the August 20 press release and this charming quote:
    “With research from the League of Conservation Voters and the assistance of former Congressman Pete McCloskey, we launched this effort today.”
    Ah, League of Conservation Voters. The Bruce Babbitt “identify our enemies and destroy them” outfit.
    And Pete McCloskey? Co-author of the ESA? Earth Day co-chair? Faked out “republican” in a primary against Richard Pombo who was trying to reform the ESA into something a bit more sane, then turned around and endorsed Pombo’s Dem opponent? Of course, Pombo bit the dust thanks to big money dumped in his district by, yep, entities including LCV. And McCloskey finally came clean and officially switched to the Dems.
    This AHSA thing is so transparent, it should be invisible. I guess my question is when Bill joins the staff.

  46. Pombo bit the dust because he was insane. He wanted to sell our public lands, your public lands, my public lands, tp private interests. He wanted to sell the very public lands that are the only place most sportsmen in the west have to hunt.

  47. While I’ll admit the surplus sale proposal was inept in its execution, the concept of selling isolated tracts and consolidating others is worthy. Hey, the Feds do it all the time to evil private inholders…if doing it one way is all right, the goose oughta get the gander, eh?
    But Mark “Tin Ear” Rey is the crummiest salesman in the world…really, he is.
    As for Pombo, don’t ignore that he got something like four million dollars in unlimited, non McFein-regulated targeted money dumped into his district against him. The only insanity on Pombo’s part was in having the backbone to try reforming a shamefully bad and unjust law that is a bludgeon for the exclusive use of a chosen few.
    His defeat sent a pretty clear message to those with more flexible spines, and America is worse off for it. How else to explain that charming 9 or 11 percent Congressional approval rating? I wonder what Mark Rey’s approval rating might be?

  48. The ESA has saved many species, including our national symbol, and much public land from destruction.Pombo wanted to scrap the ESA, not reform it. He also wanted to scrap the Historic Preservation Act which has protected scientifically important archaeological sites, religious sites for Native Americans, and historic sites important to our national heritage. He has been placed in the dustbin of political history which is where he belongs and can do no more damage than he already has.

  49. When someone mentions ESA reforms its immediatly “gutting”. The people who scream gutting are the ones in the NGO/anti access/pro wilderness lobby are paid employess whose job it is to blow evrything out of proportion. These NGO’s have way too much money and put it to advance their agenda. Its always the same spin. The whole thing Keep it Wild Bill is talking about all over the internet I cant believe the amount of money spent on this alone.

    And remember these wackos wont be happy until ALL public land,logging roads,FS,BLM,state,private lands are locked off to only thier clubmembers and us po folk in town gone. Then will the wilderness agenda be final.

    Or somthing they call THE NEW WEST. Just those types of people will allowed, on your road bike or hiking and thats all the access your gonna get, on all public lands.

    It is a rant but how far from the Y2Y agenda is it ???

  50. Even when the common people are locked out of the “wilderness”, those who are allowed to use it will then try to find away to keep each other out. Recall the argument between cyclists and hikers that errupted on these pages a few weeks ago? It was finally locked down because of the battle. Hikers didn’t want cyclists where they were etc. Despite being based supposedly on protecting the land, it actually is catering to the most selfish aspect of “me only”.
    The ESA has helped some species without a doubt, but at what cost? It has seriously eroded our private property rights, the monetary cost is staggering. It has become a means of power grabbing, money making for certain “non profits” that have assets in the billions. It has developed a legal society skilled at taking away the right of individuals to use & protect their own property.

  51. Marion,

    Who are these “common” people? I meet all types that enjoy the designated wilderness areas. Horseback riders, hikers, hunters, fishermen, bird watchers, photographers. By common people do you mean people who want to plow over, drill, mine, graze to oblivian?Is it the people that want to drive over vegetation on ATVs? Who are these common people?

    As far as the ESA, it has done more to protect the land I hunt and recreate on than the republcians or the NRA combined. American hunters (many of whom could be called common people) owe a debt of gratitude to the ESA. The paranoia over private property in this country is amazing. The big powerful developers have done more to condemn and take private property than the ESA by far.

  52. jokin’ joe,

    I see you are helping to spread the paranoia that people that care about nature want to close off the land to all the “poor” people. What is this based on? Those of us who are environmentalists are actually trying to make sure the public has acess to public lands. I’ve seen ranchers chainswa trees down over mountain biking trails because they said the bikers were disturbing their cattle. Ranchers have looked gates that provide public access, they have blown up petroglyphs because the publci was coming out to see them. The extractive industry supported Rick Pombo because he wanted to sell off all public lands to private interests. Then we could all be like Texas were hunters have to pay $1000 a year to deer hunt. How is that for sticking it to poor folks. Common working people should thank God for the environmentalists who realize that public land belongs to all of us, not just big corporations.

  53. No its multi use groups like BRC who keep you “environmentalists” from locking up more of our trails. It isnt paranoia,it isnt isnt you.
    Its your bosses and more importantly their bosses. Thats what scares me. The power elite of the left.

    Maybe I shouldnt have said “po” people.

    Wilderness is for the healthy and the wealthy and poor come to think of it. Those who have the time to enjoy it. I have few days in the summer to take off. I enjoy taking roads out my backdoor to the mountains and forested areas to collect firewwod,fly fish, get huckleberries,morels etc and see beatiful country. Just kick it . I dont have time to hike up a mountain. I’ll hike a few miles here and there. I just would like to keep it the way it is. Thats all. I’d could show you bear scat in a clearcut and the poop is big let me tell ya. Bigger than yours the bear is doing fine.

    Enviro hype is “pombo is selling off our lands!” He got kicked out 2 years ago and your still bringing it up? Somthing that never existed in the first place.

    Im all for protecting the forest bit Im also about keeping my access intact. Stop mining and drilling in these areas, keep existing uses. You wont have my objections.

    How many millions of acres of Wilderness and environmetalists wont be happy until that many million more. Why dont you go explore all that wilderness that we have already and then once youve explored all that get back to me. Tell me if its wild or not.
    Then I could show you some non wilderness land that isnt going to be mined or drilled but you can get their in your car . Tell me if its wild or not.

    Dont believe the hype its a sequel as an equal can I get this through to you?

    Havent you seen the article aboot the Idaho roadless EIS???

    Thats the way it has to done.

  54. JJ, You were doing fine until you said, stop mining and drilling. Okay, you stop using steel or other metal products that run on petroleum. Get your head out of your “my use” box, and think multiple use. If we respect one another’s rights, we all end up with more in the end, it’s that simple. Don’t ever sell anyone else out to get what you want, it’s a big part of what is wrong with this country these days.

  55. A competition shooter, collector, gun-nut, militaria junky does not a conservationist/trophy-market hunter make…different missions, different focuses… No surprise, it’s been evident for decades. Particularly in election cycles; be suspicious of everything you hear…

  56. Most of you probably have seen this already, but just in case, NewWest.Net has received a response from AHSA to the criticism it has received about being an anti-gun group. You can read it here…..