Last fall, the American public got a taste of just how much power our government wields.
By simply shutting down things popular to the people (national monument, parks, national forest, etc.) they showed how far their influences reaches into our lives.
The things chosen for shut down were done by design to cause maximum agitation but I will let others delve more deeply into that issue. It is our job at TF&G to talk specifically about the outdoor aspect.
Anglers were shut out of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in the peak two weeks for flounder fishing before the annual six month fall-spring shutdown. The National Forests so many East Texas hunters hunt during the archery-only season were off limits and access to all other federal refuges was closed from all activities.
Florida anglers had a huge surprise to learn thousands of square miles of waters controlled by the federal government was off limits to fishing. Interestingly, one of those locations has been under consideration to be labeled as a “marine protected area” which is a No Fishing Zone.
There are people in high positions in the federal government who openly espouse the desire to create many of these “marine protected areas.” They are doing it because they believe it is the best management principle but at the end of the day, you and I are locked out of access. It started when President Clinton created an executive order to create millions of acres of them and continued with Bush who did the same thing.
In addition, President Bush did something quite surprising in making an executive order to declare redfish and striped bass in federal waters as “game fish” thus curtailing commercial harvest concerns.
I have many concerns about the direction of this country but in the outdoor realm here is a scenario that now seems not only possible but has precedent.
There is no way we can keep spending money as we have in this country and the dollar not lose great value. We are digging a deep, deep financial hole. Math is math.
The government at some point in the near future will have to cut things. China and Japan have already openly spoken about losing confidence in our system and if they stop loaning us money, then deep cuts are inevitable.
When that happens, things like law enforcement in national forests, staffing on wildlife refuges will be among the cuts. You can bank on it.
We have gone far past Democrat vs. Republican and Conservative vs. Liberal into an era when all people who love freedom face a progressive ideology birthed in the early 1900s that is rearing its ugly head against everyone. These people are what nightmares are made of.
And those who have dreamed of eliminating fishing, hunting, trapping, exotic pet ownership, etc. are boldly stepping up to do so and future economic problems will be a way to do it without much effort. They would not have to use the “hunting and guns are bad” argument. All they would have to do is work behind the scenes to shut down under the guise of budget cuts.
Do a simple Internet search for “ban hunting on national forests” and you will see references to partial hunting bans and limitations of specific gear all over the country. These are being fueled by activists who want everything from guns to snowmobiles banned on federal land. Ditto for “marine protected areas.”
Rest assured such a thing would probably not happen all at once. It would start in areas where the influence of freedom loving outdoor people is weak like in the Northeast and cascade from there. In reality, it is already happening and we have ignored it for years.
Think about this for a second. The single best flounder fishing location in the fall along the Texas/Louisiana border is illegal to fish from October 15 to March 15 (Sabine Refuge). Although it is not labeled as such, that is a No Fishing Zone.
These things have happened incrementally and we have let it pass without notice. I think, however, the recent shutdown has awakened people to the possibilities.
We live in transformative times and should all keep an eye on the freedoms we cherish. I have no idea what the solution to all of this will be but I do know that if we are not informed then we have no chance to preserve our heritage.
We will do our best to keep up with this so you can make informed decisions about your outdoor endeavors and life in a unique period in history.
Positive change can occur if we take off the lame mask of “tolerance” we have been wearing and get active, especially at the local level. We can either curse the darkness or light a candle. I prefer the candle route although as crazy as things are getting, a little cursing might happen from time to time.
Be informed. Stand strong. Live with purpose.