Changing demographics and the death of 40 hour work week mean outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to watch birds and hike trails than take days off to hunt and fish. It isn’t bad, but here’s the rub: state conservation agencies are largely funded by hunting and fishing license sales. A birdwatcher may not be paying into the system that protects their quarry, a hiker may not be paying into the system that maintains their trails.
Western state agencies are among the worst off. More than 90% of the Wyoming Game and Fish department’s funding comes from license sales- the state legislature provides practically no financial support, and many legislators prioritize mining, timber, grazing, and private property interests over stewardship of natural resources.
The decline in license sales has left state agencies scrambling for new revenue. One idea is a non-consumptive recreation fee attached to Yellowstone National Park. The big question is whether revenue would be directed toward non-consumptive activities like hiking and birdwatching, or into the old hook-and bullet crowd. Time will tell if we can find a compromise- and if hikers, campers, photographers and the like are willing to foot a bit of the conservation tab. .
Dolores River Review
I’ve written a bit about tensions on the lower Dolores River in southwest Colorado: Dolores County officials want the lower river protected; officials in neighboring Montezuma County fear protections would impact water extraction and development.
A few days ago, a Colorado court ruled the lower Dolores River should be managed, in part, for the protection of native fish species- specifically flannelmouth sucker and bonytail- fishes of the Colorado River found nowhere else on the planet.
Fortress of Solitude
Crazy. That’s what I thought when I saw the new fly fishing clubhouse in Redding , California. The new facility provides opportunities to engage the public in fly fishing, casting, tying, and other aspects of the sport- looks pretty neat.
One up, one down.
The good news? Conservation efforts in Texas (of all placess) have led to delisting of the black-capped vireo.
The bad news? The Island Marble butterfly, found only in Puget Sound and rediscovered in 1998, is now a candidate for federal listing. The species only occupies about 800 acres of our entire planet, mostly on public land. Hopefully that’ll improve its prospects for survival.