Bassin’ Blogosphere: Who’s Watching Out For Us?
Dec 22nd, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Dec 22nd, 2008 at 12:00 AM
With the new year just around the corner, I am going to ask all of you to make a pledge for 2009. No, not the Anglers’ Legacy pledge, although that’s a terrific one to take. No, I mean a pledge to be watch dogs of our watch dogs.
We, all anglers, need to start thinking of ourselves as a unified group and not a segmented collection of bass, walleye, saltwater, muskie, salmon, trout, etc, etc., anglers. Our unified voices number close to 60 million according to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). That’s close to 20 percent of the population in this country. Many groups do more with significantly fewer folks.
Why this call for action now? Well, since I’ve gotten away from being an editor of a semi-political outdoors magazine, I can honestly say I am guilty of not being on top of all of the dangers we face as anglers. The dangers I am speaking of the erosion of our rights to fish and access bodies of water that have been paid for by the taxpayers.
Recently the Director of Conservation for the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS) Chris Horton has had dealings with the US Army Corps of Engineers. In these dealings, the Army Corps seemed to make promises in the negotiating of angler access rights with marina owners. You can go to www.bassmaster.com and read the full story, but suffice it to say that the Army Corps deceived Horton and sided with the marina owners limiting access to federal waters that we’ve all paid for.
This is just one example of what I am sure are thousands of fights we need to stay on top of. We can’t rely solely on one person or one group to watch out for us fisher folks. We need to start paying attention to town, city, county, state and federal policy. We need to start fighting for ourselves. We’ve become complacent and soft. Not all of us, but I know I have, and I apologize to all for not getting in the battle sooner.
The bottom-line here is that there are way too many groups under the guise of conservation slowly eroding our rights as anglers. They may be folks who want clean rivers, as we all do, but actually have an agenda to limit your access. Or, they could be a group that talks about preserving habitat only to be against any use of the habitat other than simply observing nature.
Please, for our future as anglers make a pledge to get involved this year. Let’s start voicing our opinions. Call or e-mail your local congress person. Get to know your regional fisheries biologist. You can join a club or simply take the initiative to get involved on your own. Either way your voice needs to heard. If you don’t speak up now and get involved now, then when? It’s a whole lot easier to stop legislation before it happens, rather than trying to undo legislation after it becomes law.