Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, VoteWater.org, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.
1. Learn About Everglades Restoration in “Follow the Water”
When most people think of the Everglades, they picture the sawgrass wetlands and mangroves at the southern tip of Florida. What they don’t realize is that the health of this incredible ecosystem is dependent upon events far to the north. Historically, the Everglades received a steady supply of fresh water from a massive watershed that begins near Orlando, but over the past century—in the name of flood control and agriculture—man has interrupted that flow, most notably at Lake Okeechobee. As a result, the amount of fresh water that reaches Florida Bay is less than half of what it should be.
The main goal of Everglades restoration is to send more fresh water south, but this is not as simple as it may sound. Simon and Hannah Perkins—cousins who are part of the third generation of the Perkins family to run Orvis—traveled the length of the Everglades watershed, talking to scientists, conservationists, and fishing guides to see first-hand the work being done and to explore what the future may hold.
2. Republicans Target Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Funding
A group of 54 Republican cosponsors, led by Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, have introduced the ill-named Return Our Constitutional Rights Act (H.R. 8167), which would eliminate excise taxes on many sporting goods–taxes that have funded important conservation efforts for decades. These taxes were actually requested by sportsmen and -women back in the 1930s and 50s because they knew how important funding conservation was to their love of the outdoors.
“For 85 years, the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act has served as the foundation for our American system of conservation funding, which provides dedicated revenue for state wildlife agencies to successfully restore wildlife populations and grow opportunities for hunting and recreational shooting,” commented Tony A. Schoonen, chief executive officer for the Boone and Crockett Club. “Our Club members played a key role in getting the Pittman-Robertson Act signed into law in 1937 and have continued to advocate for dedicated funding for wildlife conservation efforts ever since. Repealing this law would significantly undermine our nation’s successful wildlife conservation legacy.” (via boone-crockett.org)
3. White House Establishes a New Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation
Last week, the White House announced the re-formation of a new interagency effort, Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), whose goal is “to create more safe, affordable, and equitable opportunities for Americans to get outdoors.” FICOR represents part of the America the Beautiful initiative, announced in May 2021:
The FICOR – which includes leaders from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense – will focus on improving access to nature, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and providing the public with improved and more affordable experiences on America’s public lands and waters.
Established under President Obama, FICOR was suspended by the Trump Administration in 2020. Although this is exciting news, the devil will be in the details: where FICOR focuses its efforts, how they are paid for, and so on.