Trump Jr., public lands and climate

Public lands and climate change should be topics for Trump Jr. and sportsmen Thursday.

I’m assuming there’ll be a good- sized crowd of “sportsmen” welcoming Donald Trump Jr. to Grand Junction later this week. He’ll be at the Mesa County Fairgrounds on Thursday night for what’s being billed as “Autumn Fever — A Campfire with Donald Trump Jr.”

Organizers say the session with Trump Jr., who’ll be in Mesa County following a Utah/Colorado hunting trip, won’t be so much a campaign appearance in support of his father but rather a discussion of outdoor issues and other topics of interest here in western Colorado.  But don’t be surprised if the evening looks a lot like a campaign event.

Political or not, it’ll be a timely opportunity to discuss outdoor topics.  As one of the sponsoring organizations, a group called Colorado Sportsmen “Make America Great” notes, “the president sets the compass for the direction of the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.  His appointments to the heads of those agencies is critical in determining the policies that affect every aspect of hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation on our federal lands.”

Well said, grammatical inconsistencies and alternative gender possibilities that might result from the November election aside. 

Much of western Colorado’s job-generating multi-million dollar recreation economy, including but certainly not limited to hunting and fishing, is dependent on access to federal public lands. That includes Mesa County, where more than 70 percent of our lands are managed by federal agencies such as the BLM and Forest Service and where the Fish and Wildlife Service exhibits substantial clout in areas such as endangered fish programs and efforts to sustain sage grouse populations.

A couple of political points merit discussion Thursday night, both inconvenient truths for a presidential campaign ostensibly interested in outdoor issues. One is the following statement in the GOP platform regarding public lands.

“Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey federally controlled public lands to states.  We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exercise their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands…”

Concerns, both philosophical and practical, to that platform statement should concern all sportsmen, Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Green.

From a philosophical standpoint, those public lands belong to all Americans, not just those in close proximity to any particular piece of them. That’s a stance first embraced by Teddy Roosevelt, who was intimately familiar with western Colorado’s public lands, and amplified by Ronald Reagan. From a practical standpoint, the well-known financial issues of managing those lands would be even more overwhelming for cash-strapped state agencies than for the feds.

After recent Daily Sentinel reports on the “Cycle of decline” regarding long-term forest health issues attributable to climate changes and a multitude of stories about drought and future water problems, this GOP platform statement also should be a topic of discussion later this week.

“Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data…The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution…We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement…”

It’s abundantly clear something’s up, climate-wise, that has significant potential impacts to hunting, fishing, rafting, biking, hiking, climbing, OHVing and other outdoor users who ought to make up the non-exclusive group of “sportsmen” involved in the Trump event, indeed in any event where issues of outdoor activity and wildlife and habitat conservation are topics of discussion. Planning for potentially adverse scenarios ought to be celebrated, not condemned.

It’ll be interesting to see if these topics come up Thursday evening at the fairgrounds and, if so, how they’re treated in the discussion.

“Sooner or later, guided by its own intelligence or by bitter necessity, a civilization will again remember that visible nature is not the immediate spoil of an age or its generations, but the timeless inheritance of man, the ancient mystery to be forever shared with those who forever are to come.” 
                          — Naturalist Henry Beston,

                                    “The St. Lawrence”

Jim Spehar thinks the term “sportsmen” should encompass all outdoor enthusiasts, not just those (like him) who hunt and fish.  Comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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