PORT ARTHUR —
The American public just 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.
In my opinion, the things chosen to shut down were down by design to show that very thing but I will let others delve more deeply into that issue. I am here to talk specifically about the outdoors aspect.
Locally, anglers were shut out of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in the peak two weeks for flounder fishing before the annual Oct. 15-March 15 shutdown. The National Forests so many local hunters hunt during the archery-only season were off limits and access to the Texas Point, McFaddin and Anahuac Refuges was cut off.
As we noted last week, 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 essentially 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 no fishing zones 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 country but in the outdoors realm here is a scenario that now seems not only possible but has precedent.
There is no way we can keep spending many as we have in this country and the dollar not lose great value. It is impossible and it does not matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, math is math. We are digging a deep, deep financial hole.
The government at some point in the near future will have to cut things. China and Japan have already openly spoke about losing confidence in our system and if they stop loaning us money, then deep cuts are inevitable.
There is a very good chance things like law enforcement in national forests, staffing on wildlife refuges will be among the cuts. I hope not but the recent shutdown gave us a glimpse of their priorities.
Since both parties are highly influenced by lobbyists and various special interests, wouldn’t be this be an opportune time for those who are against hunting on federal land and who are advocates of “marine protected areas” to get their visions enacted? 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 Google 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 animal rights groups and other fringe elements 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 outdoors 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 as second. The single best flounder fishing location in the fall is illegal to fish from Oct. 15-March 15 (Sabine Refuge). Although it is not labeled as such that is a no fishing zone. The Aransas Refuge near Rockport is shut down Oct. 15-April 15. There is another no fishing zone during the peak time of year.
These things have happened incrementally and we have just sort of 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.
I hope this column informed you about things that have been happening for years that are increasing at a rapid pace.
We will do our best to keep up with them so you can make informed decisions about your outdoors endeavors and life in a unique period in history.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI. You can watch him Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV (GETV.org) on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)