Western Field Coordinator
TU Public Lands Initiative
1/28/2004 -- Washington -- Today national conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) hosted hunters and anglers representing four Rocky Mountain states who traveled to Washington, D.C., to voice their concerns on provisions within the oil and gas section of the National Energy Bill that threaten prime fish and wildlife habitat on public lands in the Rocky Mountain West.
The six speakers – representing hunting and fishing interests in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico – were joined by TU staff at a morning press conference at the National Press Club. Trout Unlimited also released a report that shows the potential effects of energy development in the region on fish and wildlife, and on fishing and hunting opportunities.
The group visited key congressional leaders to request that the most harmful provisions of the Energy Bill, which would eliminate or weaken protections for wildlife and fish on millions of Western acres, are fixed or removed.
“Currently there are 47 million hunters and anglers in this country,” said Dave Stalling, author of the new TU report and Western Field Coordinator for the TU Public Lands Initiative. “That’s a sizeable constituency, and we believe members of Congress who’ll be debating the Energy Bill would be well-served to hear that the folks who fish and hunt these lands want to ensure that if they’re developed, it’s done responsibly.”
Ryan Busse of Kalispell, Mont., vice president of Kimber Mfg. Inc., one of the nation’s leading firearms manufacturers, agreed:
“I have long believed that there should be a new ‘conservative wing’ that embraces most of the Republican platform but that also places a strong value on wilderness, unspoiled land and wildlife. I know these people exist, because I work with them every day. They’re presidents of companies and high-level executives who love to hunt, fish, hike and have wilderness experiences -- and yet all are ardent conservatives. I think the movement is there, and waiting to pop up in a big way.”
Many anglers and hunters throughout the Western U.S. are deeply concerned that efforts to speed energy development on public lands will come at the expense of protections for fish, wildlife and scarce water resources.
“Certainly, our nation needs reliable energy supplies,” said Chris Wood, TU Vice President of Conservation. “But if energy production comes at the expense of fish and wildlife, we all lose. Congress needs to ensure that our public lands are managed for true multiple uses, and that oil and gas development does not have priority over wildlife, and hunting and fishing interests.”
Figures detailed in the TU gas and oil report show that 9 million people spend more than $5 billion each year to hunt, fish or otherwise enjoy the abundant wildlife and fish within the five Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico.
One of those is Stoney Burk, an attorney, businessman, avid hunter and angler from Choteau, Mont., who attended Wednesday’s conference. “I consider myself conservative, but am worried about and opposed to the Bush administration’s invasion of our last remaining roadless lands,” he said. “These remaining wild lands provide some of the last tracts of uninterrupted wildlife corridors, habitat and renewable wildlife populations. We need an energy policy with more emphasis on clean, non-extractive, renewable energy.”
The following were featured speakers at the press conference.
Ryan Busse, Kimber Mfg. Inc., Kalispell, Mont.: 406.755.4648 or 888.243.4522
Stoney Burk, Friends of the Rocky Mtn Front, Choteau, Mont.: 406.466.5490 or 406.466.5755
Courtney Skinner, Skinner Bros. WY Outdoors, Pinedale, Wyo.: 307.859.8608 or 307.360.7126
Alan Lackey, United Chevrolet and Toyota, Raton, N.M.: 505.445.3644
Bob Elderkin, retired, Bureau of Land Management, Silt, Colo.: 970.876.2295
Keith Goddard, Magnum Outfitters, Rifle, Colo.: 970.625.4436
The full report is available at http://publiclands.tu.org/ .
Mission: Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 130,000 members in 450 chapters in North America.