PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

October 9, 2013

Chester Moore column: Government shutdown raises serious outdoors issues

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —

 

 



 



    By the time this story hits, the government shutdown could be over.



    It is doubtful but it is a possibility as this dramatic play of political maneuvering takes place.



    Whether you agree with it or not, it certainly raises interesting questions for the hunting and fishing community.



     Right now, several hundred thousand acres of national forests are off limits to bowhunters and squirrel hunters.



    If duck season were open now, we would not be able to hunt Texas Point, McFaddin, Anahuac or Sabine National Wildlife Refuges locally along with many more areas in the state.



    In other areas, it is impacting fishing and boating.



    According to the Miami Herald, “Fishing guides were notified this week that the 281-square-mile Biscayne National Park would be closed until further notice. Most of that park is comprised of water.”



    “Everglades National Park also was closed, putting almost all of Florida Bay off limits. In an email, Park Superintendent Dan Kimball said the closure applies to fishing guides, kayakers and pleasure boaters.”



     The late Ed Holder who was the Outdoors Editor of the Port Arthur News for decades told me once we were blessed to have public waterfowl hunting but the more land that went to the federal government the more problems we could have down the line.



    This political play will probably be over soon but there is something about this I cannot shake.



    We are headed for financial disaster in America if we do not change our ways. Real problems could lie ahead and even if we avert them, we will have to cut spending at the federal level.



    They simply cannot keep doing what they are doing and expect to sustain things. Impossible.



    Let us say if it comes to the point where they decide to or are forced to cut budgets of wildlife refuges, national forests, etc. will access be cut out?



    The justification for closing these areas is that staff like law enforcement, registration and rangers are not available so they cannot operate.



    If we were to face this sort of thing, which we are getting a glimpse of now would access to literally hundreds of millions of acres end?



    We have little federal land in Texas compared to other states. A state like Colorado for example is mostly federal land and if access to it were gone, access to most hunting would be gone.



    The fishing shut down in Florida raises another issue: no fishing zones.



    Both Presidents Clinton and Bush made executive orders shutting off millions of acres of ocean waters to fishing. The vast majority of this is far away from mainland USA but it is off limits nonetheless. It blows my mind that any President can do this with a pen stroke without a word from Congress or the public but that is another issue entirely. This administration will likely follow suit.



    We are seeing what such a “no fishing zone” in a highly fished near shore area would do with this shutdown and it is not good for the economy or the sporting industry.



    Perhaps this will galvanize the sporting industry to stand against furthering the agenda of those pushing for these types of restrictions.



    At the time of this writing the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, one of the top fishing (especially for flounder) areas in the region is closed and the worst part is it closes to fishing Oct. 15-March 15 anyway.



    Now, imagine if it were closed year-round.



    If the shutdown continues, the portion of the sporting community that will be hurt most is the average Joe.



    The person who cannot afford a deer lease so he hunts in the Sabine National Forest or who hunts ducks over at the Sabine refuge in Louisiana will feel the pinch. Sadly, that is the way it usually works and nothing seems to be changing, at least not for now.



    We will keep following the issue and bring you the latest on how the shutdown impacts your outdoors activities.



 (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and watch him Saturdays at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” on GETV (GETV.org)



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