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Archive for November, 2012

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DENVER – A sportsmen’s coalition applauds the Bureau of Land of Management’s balanced decision on the protection of many vital fish and wildlife habitats, but has concerns about the increased risk to the greater sage-grouse.

The final programmatic environmental impact statement released Friday would make about 800,000 acres available for oil shale and tar sands production in northwest Colorado, southwest Wyoming and northeastern Utah. Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development supports the BLM’s move to require more research before issuing commercial leases on public land and believes it is prudent for companies with existing research parcels to show tangible results before additional land is leased.

While many important habitat areas were protected, some key greater sage-grouse habitats in Wyoming were opened to potential development, which is of concern, the coalition said. The National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnerships are the SFRED coalition’s lead partners.

“We need to understand fully the trade-offs we are making before we seal the deal to commit a thousand square miles of public land to this risky business,’’ said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife’s public lands policy director. “If we don’t, good air and water quality, fish and wildlife values could be lost forever.’’

The proposal revises a 2008 plan to open about 2 million acres of public lands in the three Rocky Mountain states to oil shale and tar sands development. The BLM took another look at the plan after challenges from several conservation groups.

“Colorado’s Piceance Basin has the region’s richest oil shale deposits and is also the heart of what’s long been called the state’s mule-deer factory,’’ said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “ The BLM has said oil shale and tar sands development might fragment or destroy wildlife habitat.’’

Northwestern Colorado was home to about 120,000 mule deer in the early 1980s, O’Neill said, but the population had dropped to about 50,000 by 2010.

“Oil and gas drilling has increased substantially in the area and more development is planned,’’ she added. “We don’t know how much more pressure the herds can bear.’’

Hunters and anglers commend the Interior Department for taking a more prudent approach to oil shale and tar sands development, said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development.

“We support responsible energy development,’’ Arnett added, “but oil shale remains an unproven source of energy and we don’t know how much water or electricity will be need to unlock the oil in the rocks.’’

The region’s public lands are crucial for hunting, fishing and recreation, all sustainable, important parts of the economy, said Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project

“The region’s fish and wildlife populations are dependent on the availability of clean, cold water. Our water supplies in the West are too valuable to put at risk until the technology is better developed,” Powell said.

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

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THEIR BUDGET
The Romney-Ryan Budget Would Gut Programs Most Prized by American Sportsmen: The Romney-Ryan budget could cut funding for conservation and outdoor recreation programs by nearly 20 percent – including those that conserve waterfowl habitat, assess fish stocks, eradicate invasive species, and set land aside for recreation and conservation.

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The Romney-Ryan Budget Would Cut Funding for Hunting Grounds: The Romney-Ryan budget could cut the funds needed to manage the National Wildlife Refuge System, which conserves some of the most important hunting grounds in North America. This is just more of the same from Paul Ryan, whose budget last year also eliminated all funding for these very programs. In fact, 31 Sportsmen organizations opposed the budget that Ryan authored and Romney embraced, stating its provisions “strike directly at America’s longstanding tradition” of fish and wildlife conservation.

THEIR REAL RECORD
Mitt Romney Quadrupled Fees on Purchasing or Carrying Firearms: After taking office as governor of Massachusetts, Romney drastically increased fees for firearms dealers, ammunition licenses and more.
Mitt Romney Tried to Raid Sportsmen Funds: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney tried to raid the fish and game fund created from hunting and fishing license fees and used to conserve wildlife across the state.
Mitt Romney Increased Fees on ATVs, Snowmobiles, Boats, and Jet Skis: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney increased outdoor recreation vehicle registration and dealer fees, making it more expensive for people to enjoy the outdoors.
Paul Ryan and House Republicans are Leading an Attack on Conserving Wildlife Habitats: Under Paul Ryan and House Republican’s leadership, congress is launching the largest attack on fish and wildlife habitat in 100 years.

THEIR BROKEN PROMISES
Mitt Romney Broke His Campaign Promise to Enhance Massachusetts’ Open Spaces: During Romney’s tenure as governor, state parks were “lacking,” and outdoor advocates noted that plummeting state support was distressing the parks system.
Mitt Romney Promised Not To Raise Taxes And Instead Raised Fees On State Park Activities: Although he campaigned on a promise not to raise taxes, Romney increased fees on parking, access to piers, and recreational activities at state facilities.

THEIR “EXPERIENCE”
Mitt Romney Wasn’t Honest about his Hunting Experience and Gun Control Record: When Romney ran for the Senate in 1994, he said “I don’t line up with the NRA.” But in 2007, Romney falsely claimed to have been endorsed by the NRA when he ran for governor. He later joined the NRA only after deciding to run for President. In 2007, he claimed “I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life” but admitted he only had gone twice.

THEIR PROPOSALS
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Would Sell Off Public Land: Romney supports the Ryan budget, which would sell millions of acres of public land now used for hunting and fishing, handing them over to special interests – even though recreation and tourism on public lands supports more than 400,000 jobs and generates nearly $50 billion in economic activity.
Mitt Romney is Out of Touch with America’s Sportsmen: Romney has said that he doesn’t understand the purpose of federal land. He doesn’t realize that they provide hunting and fishing grounds for American sportsmen

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