November 02, 2012
Open Season on Access During Lame Duck Congress - 0
by Ben Lamb
At 6,800 feet, I’m looking for sign of a legal bull on the broken ridge across the canyon in front of me. There are monsters in here. Heavy-antlered bulls, broad-shouldered wolves, and grizzly bears that can take out an NFL center in one swipe. It’s rugged, steep country jammed up against the backbone of the world. I’m hunting tiny islands of habitat swallowed by ridges of nothing but blowdown timber, ice, and mud. A friend looked at me the other day and said, “This is fun to you?”
Yes, it is.
I have a couple of recognitions on this deep-country elk hunt. First is the reminder that elk don’t like roads. Specifically, they don’t like you in your truck on roads. They run away, driving deeper into the muck and maze of rotten timber. Second, I’m happy to get away from election-season media. We are inundated with one angry, dishonest political ad after the other. Out here, it’s silent and peaceful.
But after the general election on November 6 ends, we’ll still be immersed in political hi-jinx. It’s called the “lame-duck” session of Congress, the final hurrah for those voted out of office. A lot of nonsense happens in these lame-duck sessions, largely because many participants have nothing left to lose.
And one of the worst bills, for hunters like me who like to hunt elk and other road-wary game, is a spate of attempts to carve roads into the nation’s wildest country.
When Congress reconvenes after the election, the spin machines will continue to whirl. Good bills and bad bills alike will get attached to must-pass legislation in a last-ditch attempt to get something done, like passing a budget. I hope Congress declines to frolic in the ideological and political, and simply gets to work helping put the public on our public lands.
About Open Country
Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.
Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.
Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.
We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.
The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.