PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

January 19, 2013

Chester Moore column: Conservation changes are coming

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —

    In case you haven’t noticed things are getting strange in the world, especially on the financial front.



    Our region has been shielded from much of the economic chaos in the world but with a government spending money as if they were trying to lose a game of monopoly “interesting” times are on the horizon.



    I write this column from my hotel room in Las Vegas while attending the Shooting Hunting & Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show where virtually every company involved in the shooting and hunting industry shows their new products.



    I had an interesting subject with someone high up in the conservation side of things that pretty much told me the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is pretty much dead in the water in terms of having a real future.



    CRP is a government subsidy for leaving tracts of land “wild” so to speak and has produced more waterfowl that anything since its inception in 1986. Without it, the hunting we are experiencing now would be vastly different.



    Other changes occurring due to economics including less stocking of fish in Texas reservoirs, cutbacks on research and fewer donations to organizations that work on behalf of conservation.



     The reality is the conservation community at large will have to rethink its strategy to move forward in the coming years.



    Let’s talk a little more about waterfowl since in the world of hunting they have the most conservation action and funding directed their way.



    If CRP falls by the wayside, we will lose millions of ducks within a couple of years. More emphasis will need to be put on purchasing crucial land on the nesting grounds of the Great Plains and large scale predator control may have to be a consideration.



    Let’s face it, the reason why waterfowl programs exist is to produce enough ducks and geese for hunting purposes and CRP has essentially been artificially inflating duck numbers by taking land out of the farming market. If it goes back in, hunters will see a vastly different situation unless other measures are taken.



    In fishing I believe we will see much more emphasis on habitat conservation instead of individual species enhancement. That will always exist but by keeping habitat healthy it will give all species a better chance to thrive and could perhaps lessen the need for some types of stocking for example.



    The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) already seems to be moving much of their effort this direction with a big push toward oyster restoration as well as working on programs to enhance seagrass acreage and partnering with Ducks Unlimited for erosion control in key estuaries.



    On the freshwater side of things I am seeing an interesting push toward promoting healthy reservoirs, controlling non-indigenous aquatics like salvinia and planting native grasses.



    Times are indeed changing for those of us who love wildlife and fisheries but they don’t necessarily have to be for the worse if we think big and push hard on behalf of these great resources.



(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com . You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” 6-7 p.m. Fridays on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and watch his WebTV Series at www.godsoutdoors.com.)