INSIDE FISH & GAME by Roy and Ardia Neves

A Sporting Chance

W hether you believe that global warning, or Climate Change, is a real phenomenon or just a hoax cooked up in the back rooms of sinister New World Order conspiracy factories, there is one undeniable—if not entirely inconvenient—truth: without responsible stewardship, no environment can withstand the relentless onslaught of human growth and development. As populations increase, demand also rises for more buildings, roads, and the redirecting of natural resources to satisfy the yawing need to house, feed, water and entertain the expanding mass of humanity.   

This growth pushes hard against the most formidable defenses that Nature can muster, and—setting aside the argument over man’s role in climate change—the past several centuries have shown that the innovative genius of humans has decisively gained an upper hand. No canyon, mountain, rainforest, barrier island, ocean, river or desert can stop a human initiative to conquer it. The only recourse Nature seems to have left is one of revenge: throwing tantrums in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes and floods, or, in its more passive-aggressive moods, the silent treatment of prolonged droughts.

In this battle for domination over the planet’s natural resources, people whose lives are enriched by outdoors experiences might appear to be faced with a dilemma. Hunters and anglers tend to be conservative by default, and with a pragmatic view of growth and development, many of them feel that progress is inevitable and that economic health is as important to human well being as spiritual health. But doesn’t progress also rob them of their beloved playgrounds?

Most sportsmen are keenly aware of the cost that must be paid in the service of progress. Growth causes formerly untrampled lands, rich in old growth hardwoods and sparkling streams, teaming with deer, turkey and other wild game and native fish, to be bulldozed and paved over with concrete, steel, glass, sod and shingles. The opening of a new road, or subdivision, or shopping center, or hospital takes land away from the Habitat side of Nature’s ledger.

texas fish & game editor-in-chief Chester Moore has observed that there is more than a linguistic coincidence between the words “conservative” and “conservation.” In the true sense of the word, a “Conservative” is one who conserves, saves, preserves. “Conservation” is the accepted, often preferred, term for “environmentalism.” A “conservative” who is also blessed with a keen sense of what growth and development really cost, in terms of lost wilderness, is probably better positioned to also understand where to find relief and solutions to the vexing problems created as the toll of progress is exacted. 

For this reason, we are firm in our belief that the best hope for a long term solution to the environmental challenges faced by this and future generations, to deal with the seemingly impossible balance of finite resources and infinite growth, lies with sportsmen, who have a vested, primal interest in keeping the balance.

Animal welfare organizations that focus on preventing animal cruelty are fine. Those willing to leverage their core missions for political reasons—or those promoting irresponsible wildlife management policies—are not. And then there are the fund raising organizations posing as “environmental stewards” that pay lavish administrative salaries and buy non-environmental clout with hefty contributions to partisan causes. They are not going to save anything.

The true heroes of conservation are going to be those who, in the end, understand how the balance of nature works. If you take something away, you must either put something else back or face the consequences of a world tilting out of control.  

It is our continuing mission in these pages and on our digital platforms to support protection of the natural resources in our state and to keep Texas as wild as is humanly possible. So, our coverage of wildlife and habitat issues will keep expanding. To us, that is progress.

Today, when you drive through the Piney Woods and need your sunglasses on back roads that used to be tunnels of shade; or when you cruise Hill Country highways and look across fields of rooftops that were once hillsides of live oak, rock and cedar, you can see that this is a complex, ongoing struggle that is going to require fortitude, passion, smarts, and commitment.

Fortunately for Texas, and the world, those are qualities that define a true sportsman.       

E-mail Roy at rneves@fishgame.com and Ardia at aneves@fishgame.com


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