The Rod & Gun Club

Hunters & Anglers Defendng Our Future - A Conservation Hawks Blog


Mar 2012

Ice? What ice?

Hot on the heels of the National Wildlife Federation’s new climate report, there’s word of a new study in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate that details a 71% decline in Great Lakes ice cover since 1974.

Dr. Jeff Masters at WunderBlog reports that between 1974 and 2010, Lake Erie lost 50% of its ice, Lake Huron lost 62%, Lake Michigan lost 77%, Lake Superior lost 79% and Lake Ontario lost 88%.

As you might imagine, that’s bad news for both ice fishermen and the down-wind homeowners who are shoveling more lake-effect snow because of the increased winter evaporation.
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On Thin Ice

Ice fishermen can’t get out because the conditions aren’t safe. Moose are dying from tick infestations at unprecedented rates in Maine and New Hampshire. Duck hunters are left waiting at the alter when their quarry doesn’t fly south. Cutthroat trout numbers are declining because of lower stream flows and warmer water. What’s the common denominator? As the National Wildlife Federation explains in a new report titled “On Thin Ice: Warming Winters Put America’s Hunting and Fishing Heritage at Risk,” it’s climate change.

Here’s a taste of the report, featuring our own Bill Geer:

Four kinds of trout live in the clear, cool waters of Lolo Creek, which flows out of the Bitterroot Mountains near Missoula, Montana. Bill Geer and his wife live less than half a mile from the creek, and he takes every opportunity he can to fish there.

Geer, a wildlife biologist, has been fishing the creek regularly since he first came to Missoula as a college student in 1970. In the past decade, though, he’s noticed a disturbing trend: With warmer temperatures and shorter, less snowy winters, he’s catching fewer fish. “A good snowpack means there’s enough water for the trout. But now there’s not enough snow,” he said. “My little fishing stream isn’t such a Shangri–La anymore—–it’s breaking my heart.”

Geer points out that this is happening elsewhere in the West. On the Yellowstone River in southern Montana, on the White River in Colorado, and elsewhere, stream flows are declining as winter snowpacks are decreasing. “When flow trends go downhill, that doesn’t signal a good future for trout. It’s getting too warm for them.”

As sad as this makes him, he’s more worried about the impacts on his six grandchildren, several of whom also hunt and fish. “It concerns me that they’re going to be losing some of the great outdoor opportunities that I had.”

It’s not just fishing opportunities that Geer sees going downhill. He goes elk hunting every fall with a friend, and they’ve noticed that their success is declining. Traditionally, elk migrate out of their high-altitude habitat in the fall, when cold weather and snow drive the animals to lower elevations. “Now with winter coming later, and being warmer, the elk are staying higher longer. They aren’t coming down until the end of the hunting season, or after the season has ended. For a hunter, you’re not happy about that.”

Geer, who directs climate change initiatives for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said there’s no question that carbon pollution is behind these trends. For people who doubt whether climate change is real, he suggests paying less attention to public polls on the issue and more attention to wildlife. “If you want to know what’s happening, look at what’s happening to the critters. Look at Colorado’s elk or Yellowstone’s cutthroat. They’re telling us a story.”
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Let It Blow

Best wind map ever. Hell, best map ever!

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March Madness

While the future is obviously at risk from climate change, the month of March has been even harder than usual on climate doves and climate deniers. First we had a record-shattering run of warm weather across most of the United States.

Then the World Meteorological Organization reported that 2011 was the warmest La Nina year ever, and that “The 2002–2011 ten-year average of 0.46°C above the 1961–1990 mean matched 2001–2010 as the world’s warmest ten-year period on record. This was 0.21°C warmer than the warmest ten-year period of the twentieth century, 1991–2000. In turn, 1991–2000 was clearly warmer than previous decades, consistent with a long-term warming trend.” They also called the rate of global warming “remarkable.”

Then a new climate analysis in the journal Nature Climate Change stated: “It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming.”

Not that facts will ever overcome willful ignorance, but it’s definitely getting much more difficult for anyone truly interested in learning the truth about climate change to call himself (or herself) a skeptic. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary.

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Trouble In Texas

We’ve heard a lot about the heat & drought in Texas, and the video below documents some of the serious water issues that are making life hard for folks in the Lone Star State. But here’s something else to think about. What happens to whitetail deer when their forage dries up and the watering holes disappear? Do the extremely dry conditions and the incredible heat improve quail populations? Where do all those Texas largemouth bass go when their reservoirs are drawn down to mud?

Wildlife populations have always been susceptible to drought. But now
human-caused climate change is making the situation worse. Take a look at the video. It shows what we have to look forward to if we don’t start reducing our greenhouse gases in the near future.




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1982-2012

If you pay attention to the climate doves & deniers, you hear a lot about the inconsistencies and inaccuracies of climate science. We even see it here at the Rod & Gun Club blog, where some people argue that our IPCC climate models and projections are consistently wrong.

Peter Sinclair just released a fascinating new climate video titled “Global Warming: What we knew in 82.” Take a few minutes and check it out. I think you’ll be amazed at the consistency of the science from 1982 to 2012, and at how well earlier projections have stood the test of time.

The implications for sportsmen are clear. We need to address climate change, and we need to do it now.



Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Monday Open Thread - 3/26

Here’s your chance - tell us what’s on your mind!

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Conservation Solutions - 4

Composting

With the start of the Spring season, many of us are working on our lawns and backyards.  In this week’s Conservation Tips I’ll discuss the many benefits of composting; not only as a tool to help fight climate change, but as a way to recycle household and backyard waste that will improve the health and productivity of your garden.

Tip 1 - Don't Burn your Bridges, Recycle:  Burning leaves, small branches and other lawn debris releases CO2 into the air.  Instead of burning this organic matter, you can utilize it in a way that improves your garden and protects the environment. Composting is essentially recycling. By turning your backyard waste into mulch, you can create nutrient-rich, productive soil that will improve the quality of your garden.  Composting also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers.

The same goes for household waste such as vegetable scraps.  When this waste is disposed of in the garbage, it ends up in the landfill where the decomposition process releases methane into the atmosphere. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Organic waste decomposing in oxygen-poor landfills generates methane, a heat-trapping gas 23 times more potent than CO2. By contrast, composting this waste in the presence of oxygen minimizes methane production. Composting also produces a nutrient-rich soil amendment that reduces the need for synthetic fertilizer while helping soil store more carbon." By recycling your scraps, you will help reduce methane emissions and sequester CO2. 

Tip 2 -  A “2 for 1” Special:  Another popular composting option is known as Worm Bin Composting or vermicomposting.  Red worms are an excellent resource to help accelerate the composting process. As an added bonus, they can be used as fishing bait.

Tip 3 -  Building for Conservation:  Building your own compost bin can be a simple project with little or no cost, especially if you use scrap lumber or fencing materials.  Don’t use chemically or pressure treated wood that contains toxins such as arsenic.  Using treated wood can allow toxins to seep into your compost.  Adding a hinged-wood or metal lid to your bin will help prevent pests and wildlife from accessing your compost.

Some items that should NOT be added to your compost are meats, fats, oily foods, dairy products, pine needles, pet waste, invasive plants or noxious weeds.  

For more information on building a simple compost bin that will save you money and reduce greenhouse gases, please visit these helpful links:
How to Build a Compost Bin 
How to Build a Compost Bin #2
Making a Portable Compost Bin
The Woodworkers’ Workshop's Free Compost Bin Building Plans

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Jeremy Schneider.

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More Great Photos!

More of our favorite photos from the Conservation Hawks Photo Contest.


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Photo by Paul Queneau


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Photo by Timothy Brass


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Photo by John Gale

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Photo Contest Update

We wrapped up the voting portion of our Conservation Hawks Photo Contest a couple days ago, and now the judges are hard at work picking the winners.

In the meantime, we wanted to share a few of the outstanding pictures that didn’t make it to the final round, but that are wonderful photos nonetheless. We’ll probably put up 8 or 10 here over the next few days. Our thanks go out to all the people who participated in the contest, and to all the folks who stopped by our Facebook page to vote.


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Photo by Chris Chapman


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Photo by Clint Walker


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Photo by Chad Dacus

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Does Spring Heat Mean Global Warming?

Because of a technical glitch, we can’t put this short video from the Weather Channel up on the blog. But if you have a second, click on the link and take a look. It’s called Does Spring Heat Mean Global Warming?

The video includes Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro, a former climate skeptic who now believes climate change is impacting our weather. As Ostro put it, “My point of view has changed, and that’s based on data and science, not politics.”

Climate Progress has a long post on the amazing warm weather, including the Weather Channel video and a new quote from meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters.

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A Simple Question

As happens here on occasion, a few of us have been having an interesting discussion in one of the comment threads. Most of the back & forth has revolved around climate change, but there’s a bigger question that has emerged, and I’d like to elevate this new topic to the top of the page.

To offer a quick recap, I asked our friend guest. if we should take action on issues that depend on a scientific understanding of a complex subject - issues like holes in the ozone layer, or banning lead from paint and gasoline, or dumping toxins in our rivers.

His answer was “Of course.” So he and I are on the same page. There are certain important issues we need to address, and our scientific understanding of those issues should guide our response.

So I asked a follow-up question:
Who should the U.S. public rely on to determine whether the science in any particular area meets the minimum standards for taking public action?
A) Scientists with expertise in the field.
B) Scientists who lack expertise in the field.
C) Laymen who lack expertise in the field.

Makes sense, right? If we’re going to address complex issues, we need to know who we can count on for the best possible answers to our questions. Someone has to explain the science to the rest of us. Otherwise we won’t be able to make rational, informed decisions.

But here’s where we’ve gone off the tracks. While I’ve asked guest. who we should listen to when we need to determine whether the science in any particular area meets the minimum standards for taking public action, he’s been unable, or unwilling, to answer my question. I’m not sure why, as I’ve given him choices that cover every possible scenario, but apparently the question is harder than it seems.

So given guest.’s obvious reluctance, I’d like to put the same question out to the rest of you. Who should the U.S. public rely on to determine whether the science in any particular area meets the minimum standards for taking public action?
A) Scientists with expertise in the field.
B) Scientists who lack expertise in the field.
C) Laymen who lack expertise in the field.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Climate Change In The West

Here’s a new TRCP video that looks at a few of the impacts of climate change on western fish & wildlife habitat.



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More Record Heat

We’re seeing more record heat, and more crazy weather, as spring arrives here in the United States. ABC News ran another segment on our unseasonably warm temperatures yesterday.

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The Science Was Wrong

For quite a while now, climate doves have been pointing their fingers at Britain’s Met Office, which has consistently ranked 1998 as the warmest year on record. As you might imagine, it’s difficult to make the case that the planet is continuing to warm when the warmest year ever recorded was 14 years ago.

NASA and NOAA didn’t agree, but the Brits have indeed remained steadfast that ’98 was the warmest year ever.

Until now, that is. It turns out that the planet is continuing to warm after all, and that temperatures have risen more than we thought.

Tip of the hat to Joe Romm at Climate Progress.

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Bill Geer

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Back on March 7th, we ran a post from Bill Geer, who is the Climate Change Initiative Manager for the TRCP, and who’s been a driving force behind Conservation Hawks since we first started the organization.

Bill just published a new climate change Op/Ed in the Seattle Times. We’re going to reproduce it in its entirety down below. If you read the original post, you may notice a few similarities to the Times piece, but you’ll also see a bunch of new material. Kudos to Bill, who is one of the hardest working and most talented conservationists in the country.



Address Climate Change With Science, Not Opinion Polls

Should elected officials and policymakers let public-opinion polls decide our nation's future response to climate change? Indisputably, no.

The roller-coaster path of public acceptance on climate change charted by political polls is frustrating to the pragmatists among us. With nearly 98 percent of the world's climate scientists saying climate change already is affecting the natural world, effective action requires the knowledge we gain from focused investigations and sound science — not political polls.

We should solicit the views of those not subject to political debates — fish and wildlife.

Biologists do that through field investigations on the distribution and abundance of species in habitats that meet their life-cycle requirements. If one habitat no longer will support a species, the species must move to another habitat that does. It cannot debate habitability in the public square and it votes by adapting, migrating or dying.

Growing climatological and biological information tells a story of environmental change in Washington state that is beyond rational debate. Washington's average air temperature increased 1.65 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 through 2006, compared with a 1.25 degree increase for the United States. Average winter snowpack in the state declined 2.7 percent over the same period, and spring rain increased 16.2 percent.

August precipitation has declined 35.5 percent. The South Cascade Glacier in North Cascades National Park has been shrinking so rapidly over the past three decades that scientists predict it could melt completely within a century, jeopardizing chinook salmon reproduction in the Cascade River.

The best scientific predictions show that the sea level will rise 2 to 4 feet along the coast of Washington by 2100. Recent studies in Skagit Bay, Willapa Bay, Gray's Harbor and the mouth of the Columbia River predict nearly a 60 percent loss of low tidal habitat and eelgrass beds by 2100, probably leading to a steep decline in coastal black brant abundance.

Climate change is forcing Washington's elk populations to adapt to changes in their forage and shift their annual migration patterns. Variations in water quality and quantity could transform some trout rivers to smallmouth bass waters. Freshwater wetland loss throughout Washington could severely reduce waterfowl productivity. The loss of the insulation of prairie snow cover in Eastern Washington can kill sharp-tailed grouse chicks in early spring when air temperatures still are freezing.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, under the state's Climate Leadership Act, is planning adaptive measures to better conserve and manage fish and wildlife across broad landscapes in the changing climate. With recommendations from the Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, the agency is emphasizing conservation of crucial areas, such as winter range for elk, and corridors that will enable fish and wildlife species to move to other suitable habitat.

Thomas Kimball, past director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said in 1981:

"Man is an integral part of the animal kingdom. As our environment becomes less livable for the subjects of the kingdom, it also becomes less suitable for the king. The status and trends of species diversity and the condition of fish and wildlife populations are the litmus tests of a healthy human environment."

Man and wildlife — we're all in this together. We need to accept that.

William Geer is the Climate Change Initiative Manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. He produced a video, "Beyond Seasons' End — Washington," documenting the impacts of climate change on Washington's fish and wildlife. He is based in Lolo, Mont.

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Monday Open Thread - 3/19

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A penny for your thoughts ...

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Conservation Solutions - 3

From Home To Hunt

In this set of conservation tips, we’ll discuss conservation-friendly ways of getting to your favorite hunting and angling spots.

Tip 1 - We know how anxious you are to get to your favorite hunting or fishing spot, but take it easy on the pedal. By reducing your speeds and braking less, you'll save gas. In addition, be sure to keep your tires properly inflated and check them regularly. Not only is driving on under-inflated tires dangerous, it reduces your fuel economy and increases harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Make sure you change your oil filter and air filter, too - you’ll improve your gas mileage and vehicle performance. For additional ways to keep your vehicle running strong while saving gas and protecting the environment, be sure to visit the EPA's On the Road - What You Can Do page.

Tip 2 - If you plan on scouting a local spot and the location is within a few miles, try leaving your vehicle at home and giving the ol' bicycle a spin. By burning calories instead of gasoline, you'll keep your body in excellent condition for the season ahead. Staying in shape is an important tool for a successful hunt, so try riding your bike - both your body and the environment will appreciate it. That goes for all the anglers out there as well. A simple rod and reel case with a shoulder strap, or even a bicycle fishing rod holder, can make biking to your fishing hole as easy as ever. If bicycling isn’t an option, walking is good exercise and you'll get to enjoy the great outdoors at the same time.

Tip 3 - If you're going hunting or fishing with someone else, consider carpooling. Driving in separate vehicles wastes gasoline and money, and pollutes our air with greenhouse gases and toxic emissions.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Jeremy Schneider.

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Shotgun Update

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No one who follows climate science will be surprised to learn that last’s month’s shotgun challenge has come and gone without my Beretta changing hands. Long story short, the science on climate change remains solid.

If there’s one thing that caught me by surprise, it’s how truly ineffective people were in making the case that human-caused climate change is a hoax. The standard approach was to copy an opinion piece from a marginal source like WUWT, e-mail it to me, and expect me to fork over my gun. No one presented substantive, peer-reviewed science that contradicts our current understanding of climate change, and no one offered an alternate hypothesis that explains the physical realities around us and also stands up to close scientific scrutiny.

I’ll keep the challenge open, but it sure looks like I’ll be holding on to my shotgun for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor
Todd Tanner
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Where Should We Start?

Whitetail Deer

One of our short term goals here at Conservation Hawks is to document how climate change is likely to impact hunters and anglers. For example, let’s say you hunt elk in Colorado or you fish for largemouth bass in Georgia and Florida. How will climate change effect your hunting or fishing 10 years from now, or 20, or 50?

We’re going to rely on the best possible science to create all our scenarios, but we’d like to hear from you about where we should start. Quail hunting in the south? Trout fishing in the Rockies? Whitetail hunting in New England? Bonefish in the Florida Keys? Turkey hunting in Pennsylvania and West Virginia? Salmon fishing in Alaska? Please stop by the comment section and tell us what kind of hunting or fishing you’re most interested in. It’s okay if you can’t make up your mind between fishing for smallmouth bass in Minnesota and hunting pheasants in Kansas - feel free to leave us 2 or 3 different suggestions.

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Hot Weather

Here’s an excellent Washington Post piece on the unseasonably warm weather that most of the country has been experiencing, courtesy of Mike Diehl.

A little taste:

At Climate Central, Andrew Freedman put this current stretch of extraordinary warm weather into a broader context:
In a long-term trend that has been linked to global climate change, daily record-high temperatures have recently been outpacing daily record-lows by an average of 2-to-1, and this imbalance is expected to grow as the climate continues to warm. According to a 2009 study, if the climate were not warming, this ratio would be expected to be even.

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Hawks & Doves

Are you a hawk or a dove?

Hawks are vigilant, passionate and protective. They tackle problems head-on and they advocate for strong, direct action. That’s true across the board, whether you’re talking about military hawks, fiscal hawks, foreign policy hawks, deficit hawks or conservation hawks.

Doves usually fly in the other direction. They’d rather discuss a problem than do something concrete. They want to study the situation and then study it some more. They’re worried about the possible consequences of their actions, and they almost always favor a passive approach.

Hawks feel they have a real stake in the fight. They want to protect our country, our way of life, our American heritage and our kids and our grandkids. They’re conservatives in the true sense of the word. Our most famous conservationists were all hawks - Aldo Leopold, George Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt ...

History hasn’t treated doves so kindly. One of the 20th century’s most famous doves - Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime minister who attempted to appease Nazi Germany with diplomacy - was succeeded by an equally famous hawk, Sir Winston Churchill, who led the fight against Hitler’s war machine and told England, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

And now we find ourselves drawing lines in the sand yet again. On one side are the doves who tell us there is no climate problem. Or if there is a problem, we’re not responsible for it. Or if we are responsible, there may not be anything we can do about it. In any case, the situation needs more study and more discussion before we can even think about addressing it.

On the other side are the hawks. We recognize that the climate threat is real, that the science is solid, and that it’s our sacred duty to defend our sporting heritage and pass on our hunting & fishing to future generations. Furthermore, we understand the true nature of this fight. Climate change is a moral issue and those of us fighting for our future and our kids & grandkids hold the high ground.

So here’s the question of the day in black & white. Where do you stand? Are you a conservation hawk or a climate dove?

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Happy Birthday!

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Without my son Kian, who turns 7 today, there likely wouldn’t be an organization called Conservation Hawks. Kian is my inspiration. He’s the reason I spend so much time and energy trying to protect the natural world and pass along our hunting & fishing to future generations. I’ve been doubly blessed, first as a sportsman and then as a father, and now it’s my turn to give something back. In the meantime, Happy Birthday Kian!

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Banned

One unfortunate part of life on the web is that some people, protected by a sense of anonymity, tend to cross the lines of good taste and write things they shouldn’t. Our policy here at the Rod & Gun Blog is that we should all remain respectful of other folks’ points of view, and we should hold ourselves to a standard worthy of our fellow hunters & anglers. If someone can’t meet those minimum standards, then they don’t belong here.

Last night, a frequent commenter who goes by the name of “Guest” wrote: “Nice try but you are lying again.” As best as I can tell, that was directed at me. I asked “Guest” to clarify his (or her) statement, but he chose not to.

As a long time outdoor writer, and now as the Chair of Conservation Hawks, personal integrity is a huge part of my professional life. I never lie or misrepresent the truth, at least not on purpose, and if someone is going to call me a liar, I prefer they have the courage to do it to my face.

Barring a suitable explanation and apology, “Guest” will not comment here again. Nor will anyone else who follows his example. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with other folks, or with defending your point of view, or with showing passion. But I won’t put up with people who hide behind their anonymity and sling mud. We’re trying to build a community here, and that means we need to maintain a certain minimum level of civility and respect.

Update

Frequent commenter “guest.” claimed he (or she) was not responsible for the offensive comment. Further research indicated that another commenter, drowningpuppies (also undrowningpuppies), left the comment and will not be welcomed back to the site without an explanation and apology. While everything I wrote above was technically correct - it appears that drowningpuppies has also used “Guest” in the past - I was personally unaware of the distinction between “Guest” and “guest.” “guest.” is completely exonerated of any wrongdoing.

One final word. We don’t have the time to back-check every blog comment with every e-mail address. To avoid this kind of confusion in the future, we suggest that commenters check in via Facebook. If that isn’t possible, please use your own name, or, barring that, an extremely distinctive pen name that is unlikely to be duplicated by accident. Thanks.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Journalism At Its Finest

With science under attack and the U.S. House repeatedly trying to defund conservation programs and environmental protections, these are dark days for America’s sportsmen. If there’s a silver lining to be found, it’s in the field of conservation journalism. In a recent Field & Stream article, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Marshall chronicled the threats and challenges that hunters & anglers face on a daily basis. This is journalism at its finest - honest, well-researched and insightful - and Bob Marshall, along with his editors at Field & Stream, deserve our thanks and support.

Here’s a little taste. Make sure you visit the F&S website and read the entire story.


It’s now or never for public hunting and fishing.

For 2 million miles of stream habitat that support the wild trout and big-game herds in the West. For 20 million acres of small wetlands that produce most of the ducks U.S. hunters shoot every fall. For Appalachian mountaintops that protect trout streams; for coastal estuaries that produce salmon, redfish, snook, and tarpon along the coasts.

If individual sportsmen and sportswomen don’t act now—if they don’t contact their congressional delegations in the next few months and tell them to call off their attacks on the regulations and conservation programs that have sustained quality public hunting and fishing for a century—their grandchildren may never share the experiences they hold so dear.

That’s the reality facing America’s hunters and anglers in 2012.

“The average hunter and angler out there doesn’t understand what’s going on, that what we’re seeing is the biggest attack on fish and wildlife habitat in 100 years,” says Jim Martin, conservation director of Pure Fishing’s Berkley Conservation Institute and former chief of fisheries at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

He’s not exaggerating.

The sportsmen’s conservation movement finds itself lashed by political and economic forces that threaten to undo generations of work and billions of dollars dedicated to building and protecting the habitat base that supports the world’s best public outdoors experiences.

Last year, many in Congress joined an anti-conservation movement that could cripple or eliminate vital fish and wildlife habitat initiatives that had broad support for years. The attacks began shortly after the new Congress was sworn in, with an appropriations bill to keep government functioning—H.R. 1—that was loaded with dozens of policy riders aimed at everything from wetland protections to global warming studies. Most failed, but the assaults never stopped. As the National Wildlife Federation pointed out in December, one in five of all House roll-call votes taken in 2011—fully 22 percent—involved measures to weaken environmental protections. The Conservation Reserve Program, North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, and Environmental Quality Incentives Program were targeted for decreased funds.

And that was just for starters.


Kudos to Bob Marshall and Field & Stream for telling it like it is.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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An Unsually Warm Winter

It’s hard to believe, but I actually went from January 1st to January 17th here in the northern Rockies without ever pulling on my winter boots. And for the first time ever I haven’t seen the temperature drop down to 0 degrees F. during a Montana winter. Now ABC News is reporting that we’ve had one of our warmest winters on record, and that climate change is responsible. Kudos to ABC for telling us the truth about our changing climate.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Monday Open Thread - 3/12

What’s on your mind?

P.S. -- We just added a new wrinkle to our Monday Open Thread. Disqus, which is our blog service, allows us to add photos in the comment section. So if you’d like to share (tasteful) images here at the Rod & Gun Club blog, here’s what you need to do:

1) Save your photo as a JPG on your desktop and adjust its size (using Adjust Size under the Tool heading) down to approximately 65 - 70 KB. (This is important, as large photo files don’t seem to work on Disqus.)
2) Go to the Add New Comment box in the comment section and click where it says “Type your comment here.”
3) Add your comment about your photo.
4) Click on the “+ Photo” box in the lower left corner and choose your photo.
5) When you’re all set, click the “Post as ...” box in the lower right corner to upload your comment and photo.

By the way, the photos show up as thumbnails in the comment section, but you can enlarge them for viewing by clicking on them.

So what’s appropriate? Tasteful hunting or angling photos, pictures of hunting partners or fishing buddies, images of your kids or grandkids enjoying the outdoors, beautiful natural scenery, shots of a changing climate, etc. What’s not appropriate? Anything rude, crude, demeaning, pornographic, or in generally poor taste will be removed and may result in you being banned from the comment section.

Let’s see those pictures!
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Conservation Solutions - 2

Cooking Your Game

Earlier this week, I provided energy-conservation tips that sportsmen can follow with their game freezers.  This edition, I’ll cover tips you can use when it’s time to cook your meat.
 
Tip 1 - Embrace leftovers:  Prepare and cook as much as you can at once, then freeze the leftovers. By cooking enough food for multiple meals at once, as opposed to cooking for each individual meal, you'll save energy. Be sure to let your leftovers cool down before adding them to the fridge or freezer so as not to increase the interior temperature.  When thawing your leftovers, take them out the night before and leave them at room temperature.  By allowing leftovers to thaw naturally as opposed to using the microwave, you’ll conserve energy and protect the quality of the meat.
 
Tip 2 - When making stews: Choose a slow-cooker over a gas or electric stove.  Smaller appliances can do the job just as well and will conserve energy. Use the microwave, toaster oven and pressure cookers instead of the oven or stove whenever possible.
 
Tip 3 - Use your oven more in the winter and less in the summer.  The heat radiating from the oven in the summer will make your A/C work twice as hard. 
 
Tip 4 -  Once grilling season begins, there are conservation-friendly options you can choose from. Rather than using chemical-laden charcoal, try natural lump charcoal.  For many serious grillers and smokers, natural lump charcoal is the only way to go.  Lump-charcoal companies usually make their products from renewable and sustainably harvested sources, without all those dirty chemical additives.  Once you have the lump charcoal ready, skip the lighter fluid and try a charcoal chimney starter instead.  (They're available at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.)   Lighter fluids release ozone-killing VOCs into the air.  Starting your grill with a chimney starter is as easy as piling in the charcoal and lighting a piece of newspaper on fire.  For more information on conservation-friendly charcoal like the popular Cowboy Charcoal and Wicked Good, check out the Eco-Friendly Charcoal Page.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Jeremy Schneider.
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Carbon Nation

I had a long talk the other day with Peter Byck. Peter directed and produced the documentary Carbon Nation, which bills itself as a climate change solutions movie that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change. Peter just sent me a copy of the film, and while there’s no hunting or fishing to be found, it’s definitely worth watching. I can’t share the movie with you right now, but here’s the trailer. (By the way, I love the one-armed guy from Texas. He’s a hoot.)



Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor
Todd Tanner

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Cards On The Table

Okay, let’s put our cards on the table. Name three people you trust on climate change, and tell us why you trust them. And just for the hell of it, tell us your favorite place to hunt or fish. (You don’t have to give up any secrets, but be as specific as you can.)

I’ll jump in last.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
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Hansen On Climate Change

Here’s NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, one of our foremost climatologists, describing the history of climate science and his own personal background as a climate expert. He also explains why it’s vital that we take immediate action to control our greenhouse gas emissions.


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The Wild Economy

bill_geer_no_credit_needed
The roller-coaster path of public belief in global warming charted by political polls is frustrating to those wanting to combat the harmful effects of climate change predicted by nearly 98% of the world’s climate scientists. Translating public concern for climate change into effective action requires the knowledge we get from focused investigations and sound science – not political polls.

A 2012 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that public belief in global warming has risen to its highest level - 64% of Likely Voters - in two-and-half-years. This follows the steep decline in public belief that followed the Climategate in November 2009, which itself followed a period in 2008 when public belief in climate change was rising.

The belief-disbelief disparity occurs also along partisan lines. A survey updated in 2011 by the Oregon Global Warming Commission showed 84% of conservatives are skeptical about climate change, whereas 97% of liberals believe global warming is probably happening. The survey further reports the 97% of liberals believe we should do something about it while 69% of conservatives think we should not.

So, are we collectively going to decide if global warming is real, by doing year-to-year polls of voters who have shown a bias based on their political affiliation or are changing their minds one year to the next? That’s a hell of a way to deal with arguably the greatest environmental dilemma facing the globe.

Instead of polling voters, why not “ask” those not subject to political debates – fish and wildlife. While we cannot directly ask them their views, state fish and wildlife biologists do conduct field investigations on the distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife species that are forced to live in habitats that meet their life cycle requirements. In that way, species are giving their response by where they choose to live. If one habitat no longer will support a species, it must move to another that does. It cannot debate habitability in the public square, and it votes by adapting, migrating or dying.

The late Thomas Kimball, past director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and later executive vice president of the National Wildlife Federation, said in 1981: “Man…is an integral part of the animal kingdom. As our environment becomes less livable for the subjects of the kingdom, it also becomes less suitable for the king. The status and trends of species diversity and the condition of fish and wildlife populations are the litmus tests of a healthy human environment.”

It is often said that opposition to action on climate change stems from the perceived harm to our current fragile economy. The American people are rightfully concerned about imposing government constraints that might limit their ability to earn a living in a place they want live, doing the things they want to do, at a level above poverty. We demand the economic freedom to make choices about our own lives.

Fish and wildlife have their own economy, one measured by both the energy gained from living in suitable habitat with adequate food and the energy expended in day-to-day survival rather than by eight-hour days and dollars in the bank. A species cannot survive long when energy expense exceeds energy intake. Poverty would be defined by net energy loss and would likely lead to species extirpation.

Man and wildlife – we’re all in this together. We need to believe that.

Posted by Rod & Gun contributor Bill Geer.

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Conservation Solutions - 1

We’re starting a new feature. Jeremy Schneider will be contributing energy (and money) saving tips that will lower your power bills and reduce the amount of carbon you’re contributing to the atmosphere.

Creating a Conservation-Friendly Game Freezer

As hunters and anglers, there are easy steps we can take to save energy and reduce harmful emissions. If we all conserve, we can help protect our lands and our hunting & fishing for generations to come. For this week’s tips, look no further than your Game Freezer.

Tip 1 - Take Your Temperature: Check the temperature of your freezer using a thermometer. It should read 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to keep your freezer in a cool location that isn't facing the sun. This will save energy and prevent your freezer from running on overdrive.

Tip 2 - Pack it Up: Keep your freezer packed full. The emptier your freezer is, the more energy it uses to regulate the temperature. Just be sure not to block the fan that circulates cold air. If you're having trouble, fill plastic bottles or plastic milk jugs with water and freeze them. Maintaining a full freezer will help keep your temperature consistent and your energy-use down. As an added bonus, if you lose power, your plastic containers will keep the freezer cold.

Tip 3 - Become a Logger: Log the contents of your freezer on a sheet of paper and keep it nearby. Not only will this help keep your meat organized, but it will save energy. Opening the freezer and fumbling through packages lets cold air escape. The more cold air that escapes, the more electricity the freezer consumes to bring the temperature back down.

Tip 4 - Slim- Pickens: If you’re down to a couple of cuts of meat, move them to your kitchen freezer or get cookin’. Running your freezer for those 2 pieces of meat doesn’t make sense. Also, don't kid yourself. If you're not going to eat all your meat, give it to a buddy or donate it.

Tip 5 - Give it a Rest: Once those long-neglected mystery meats are finished and you’re left with an empty freezer, unplug the unit and let it defrost. Be sure to leave the freezer open and lay down a few towels to absorb the water. Once fully defrosted, give it a good scrub, let it dry and leave it unplugged until you’re ready to fill it again. Running an empty unit wastes energy and costs you money on your utility bills. Proper maintenance also ensures your freezer works efficiently.

Tip 6 - If your freezer is on the fritz and you’re thinking about replacing it, consider purchasing an Energy-Star rated unit. Be sure to visit the
Energy Star Freezer page to get information on models, rebates, special offers and trade-ins.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor
Jeremy Schneider.

Jeremy Schneider is a sportsman and conservationist from New York's Hudson Valley.  During hunting season, he spends his time on public lands.  As the weather warms, you'll find him casting a line on the Upper Delaware River.  When Jeremy isn't outdoors, he's focused on local conservation efforts.

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Experts

Twenty years ago I was a fly fishing guide on the Henry’s Fork, which is one of the world’s most famous trout fisheries. Anglers from all over the globe visited Last Chance, Idaho in the hope of catching a few of those spectacular Henry’s Fork rainbows, and many hired guides to increase their odds of success.

Back in 1992 a fellow by the name of Motorcycle Mike was a fixture in Last Chance. If you believed his stories, Mike had at various times been a heart surgeon, a tarpon guide in the Florida Keys, and a Colonel in the military. Regardless, Mike spent the spring and summer of ‘92 sweeping the floor in the A-Bar and doing odd jobs for businesses and homeowners. During our occasional conversations it became painfully clear that Mike knew next to nothing about trout fishing or the Henry’s Fork.

Now none of this would have mattered if Mike didn’t occasionally ride his motorcycle to the river, find a prominent position on the bank, and dispense his angling wisdom to every drift boat that floated past.

When it happened to me - and it did - my clients invariably wanted to know who this guy was, and why he was telling us to fish with different flies and different techniques. Which left me little choice but to tell them the truth - that Mike was clueless. He honestly had no idea what he was talking about. As I explained to my clients, if we followed his advice we wouldn’t catch a single fish.

Did I enjoy telling my anglers about Motorcycle Mike? No, I didn’t. It was actually embarrassing to talk about him. Who knows what deep seated psychological urge led him to shout instructions about a subject he didn’t understand? But when people asked - and they did - I felt like I had to be honest.

So why am I bringing up Mike right now? Because I’m running across more and more people who act just like him. They send me information about climate change or ocean acidification that they’ve found on the web - information that either has no scientific validity or is, at best, of questionable origins - and then they’re amazed when I don’t shout “Hallelujah!!!!” and hand them my shotgun.

I’m not sure where this alternate reality comes from, or why so many people are willing to dismiss the huge - and I truly do mean “huge” - preponderance of scientific evidence on climate change while relying on dubious information from dubious sources. All I can say for sure is that the Motorcycle Mike analogy is almost perfect. We’re paying our top climate scientists to row us down the river, yet we can’t stop listening to the crazy guy shouting from the bank.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Monday Open Thread -3/5

Here’s your chance to tell us what you’re thinking on this first Monday in March.

On a more somber note, our thoughts & prayers go out to all those who suffered through those terrible storms in the Midwest and South. If any of you lost family, friends or colleagues, you have our deepest sympathies.

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Ben Long

I spent the last couple days at the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Rendezvous in Missoula, MT. In fact, I’m still in Missoula as I type this update. BHA is a sporting group focused on hunting & fishing in a natural setting, and you’d be hard pressed to find nicer folks anywhere. They have a passion for the outdoors, and their commitment to teaching kids, and to protecting our wild places, should be an inspiration to the entire sporting community.

And that’s where Ben Long comes in. Ben is the Co-Chair of BHA, and he’s also a friend of mine. A fair number of people know that I’ve offered to give my Beretta shotgun to anyone who can convince me that climate change isn’t real, or that Conservation Hawks is wasting its time on the issue. Last night, Ben took things one step further.

It turns out that Kimber had donated a beautiful rifle to the Rendezvous, and BHA was raffling it off at $20 a pop. When the time came for the raffle last night, someone reached into all those tickets and a sweet little bolt action .270 suddenly had a new owner - Ben Long.

When Ben heard his name drawn, he walked up to the front of the room, held up the gun for everyone to see, and then announced that he would donate that $1400+ rifle right back to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, where it would be included in the evening’s auction.

Let me be clear. Ben didn’t have to turn that rifle over. He paid his money just like everyone else. But he’s a staunch conservationist; honest and ethical, with a heart as big as the outdoors, and he saw a chance to help his organization yet again.

Folks like Ben, and like Conservation Hawks Treasurer Bill Geer, who put on an outstanding climate presentation for BHA members earlier in the day, give me hope for our future. They also make me proud to be a hunter & angler.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner

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Wilderness Warming

If you’re a hunter or angler with a passion for wild country, you may find this thoughtful piece from Park Science magazine worth your time. Authors Nathan Stephenson and Constance Millar explore the issues of climate and wilderness, and offer their thoughts on what may happen as climate change impacts our wild places and humans try to manage the situation.

Here’s a little taste:

SOME 20,000 YEARS AGO, THE AREA THAT WE NOW know as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness in Everglades National Park (Florida) was not graced by the sprawling “river of grass,” dense mangrove forests, and the rich waters of the Florida Bay. With a sizable amount of Earth’s water locked up in continental ice caps, the present bay was high and dry, the nearest ocean shore was miles away, and the land supported pine woodlands and scrub. On the other side of the continent, the parched salt flats of today’s Death Valley Wilderness (California) were drowned under a 600-foot-deep (183 m) lake. The Yosemite Wilderness’s (California) stately forests, lush meadows, and high mountain lakes were buried under hundreds of feet of ice.

What a difference a few degrees can make!”

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Nordhaus On Climate Skeptics

I was almost heading out the door for the big Backcountry Hunter & Anglers Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana when this piece by economist William Nordhaus popped up. Take a look. If you’re concerned about the economic aspects of climate change, you’ll want to read the entire essay.

Here’s a taste for those of you interested in climate models:

Several modelers ran both cases 1 and 2 described above—one including human-induced changes and one with only natural sources. This experiment showed that the projections of climate models are consistent with recorded temperature trends over recent decades only if human impacts are included. The divergent trend is especially pronounced after 1980. By 2005, calculations using natural sources alone underpredict the actual temperature increases by about 0.7 degrees Centigrade, while the calculations including human sources track the actual temperature trend very closely.

Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor
Todd Tanner

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LA Times Op/Ed

The L.A. Times ran an exceptional climate Op/Ed on Tuesday. The entire piece is worth reading. Here’s a little taste:

“As of January, the Earth's atmosphere contained 393 parts per million of carbon dioxide. And rising.”

“To understand why that's a very sad number, it helps to know that from the dawn of human civilization until the 19th century, the concentration was about 275 parts per million, and that many scientists believe 350 parts per million is a sort of tipping point: Irreversible impacts and feedback loops start to kick in, and the cost of repairing the resulting damage from such things as sea-level rise and droughts not only skyrockets, the cost of adapting to the changes does too. But we've already sailed past that point. And we're heading inexorably toward another one that's far worse: 450 parts per million, the truly scary level at which 3.5 degrees of warming above pre-industrial global average temperatures is locked in. The predicted result: centuries of weather extremes, drought-fueled global famine, mass migration, the vanishing of low-lying islands and territories as sea ice melts away, wide-scale species extinction and other horrors too numerous and depressing to list.”

“To global warming denialists, the above paragraph constitutes the "alarmist" perspective on climate change. Never mind that it is backed by a wealth of research, the world's most state-of-the-art climate models (whose accuracy in predicting the recent effects of climate change has been repeatedly demonstrated), the national science academies of the world's developed nations (including the U.S. National Academies), the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other prominent academic and scientific organizations. To the denial set, these groups and individual scientists are part of a global liberal cabal that is scheming to impose its radical environmentalist agenda on the entire planet via government programs to cut carbon emissions; as proof, denialists point to their own research and studies -- typically funded by fossil fuel interests, performed by non-climatologists and published in non-peer-reviewed journals -- that pick away at the scientific consensus. You wouldn't think such an anti-intellectual and grossly irresponsible movement would have much success in the court of public opinion. You would be horrifyingly wrong....”

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