Madam Secretary. How could you?

My response to Secretary Norton follows her press release below: For Immediate Release Contact: Hugh Vickery March 23, 2006 202-208-6416 NORTON NAMES 12 TO NEW SPORTING CONSERVATION COUNCIL; WILL ADVISE INTERIOR ON HUNTING, WILDLIFE RESOURCE ISSUES (COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today announced the creation of a new Sporting Conservation Council that will advise the Department of the Interior on resource conservation issues of interest to the hunting community. Norton also named the initial members who will represent various parts of the community. The council will provide important input in the areas of habitat restoration and protection; the impact of energy development on wildlife resources; forest and rangeland health; hunting access to federal lands; and other issues in which the sporting and conservation community can provide a valuable perspective to resource managers and senior leaders throughout the department. Norton made the announcement at the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Columbus. “Dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, hunters have been the pillar of conservation in America, doing more than anyone to conserve wildlife and its habitat,” Norton said. “This new advisory council will provide a formal mechanism for the department to benefit from the expertise of sportsmen and –women as well as become aware of their concerns as we develop federal policies.” Norton noted that sportsmen and –women have contributed billions of dollars in license fees, excise taxes and conservation stamp revenues to finance federal and state wildlife conservation efforts, including the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System. “Many hunters also volunteer countless hours for conservation causes and raise additional money for habitat improvements and acquisitions across the country,” she said. “The creation of this council recognizes their vital contribution to our nation’s conservation ethic. It is a way of institutionalizing the role of sportsmen and -women in advising the decision-making process at Interior.” The panel, whose members will serve two-year terms without compensation, is to meet at least twice a year. Members may recommend policies or programs designed to maintain or restore wetlands, forest and rangeland habitats, as well as policies or programs that promote access to hunting and recreation on federal lands. The council will also advise the Interior Secretary about wildlife conservation endeavors that benefit hunting and wildlife resources and that encourage partnerships among members of the public, the sportsmen-conservation community, wildlife conservation groups and state and federal governments. Norton said that a careful appraisal determined that no other entities exist that adequately represent the views of the hunting and conservation communities, and she therefore deemed it worthwhile to create the council under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Support services for the activities of the council will be provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Council members appointed by Norton include: •… Robert Model, chairman, Boone and Crockett Club of America, representing big game hunting; •… Steve Mealey, former forest supervisor and member, Boone and Crockett Club of America, representing the hunting community; •… Rob Keck, Chief Executive Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation, representing game bird hunting organizations; •… John Baughman, Executive Director, International Association of Fish and wildlife Agencies, representing state fish and wildlife agencies; •… Jeff Crane, president, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, representing wildlife conservation organizations; •… Merle Shepard, Vice President, Safari Club International, representing big game hunting organizations •… Jim Mosher, Executive Director, North American Grouse Partnership, representing game bird organizations; •… Peter J. Dart, president and Chief Executive Officer, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, representing big game hunting organizations; •… Susan Recce, director, Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources, National Rifle Association, representing wildlife conservation organizations, and •… Christine Thomas, Dean and Professor of Resources Management, University of Wisconsin-Stevens point College of Natural Resources, representing the hunting community; •… Daniel R. Dessecker, senior wildlife biologist, Ruffed Grouse society, representing game bird organizations; and •… John Tomke, Chairman of the Board of Ducks, Unlimited, Inc., representing game bird hunting organizations. -------------- Madam Secretary, how could you? You have made some DREADFUL choices here. The fact that you have consistently sought advice from the type of people below has helped facilitate your administration's betrayal of sportsmen--the very interest group that put it in power twice: Steve Mealey: The Idaho legislature went after the state fish and game department with a vengeance when biologists got the commission to come out for dam removal in May 1998. It tried to take authority for salmon away from the department and fire the head of the salmonid program and the chief of fisheries. State fisheries professionals stood tall, albeit without their then boss. Fish and Game Director Stephen Mealey, seeking to ingratiate himself with Governor Kempthorne (soon to be Interior Secretary), issued a gag order that forbade department personnel from talking publicly about Snake River salmon recovery. (Whereupon a person or persons within the department stuffed toilet paper into the mouths of every mounted fish on display at the Boise headquarters.) The previous August he had announced that any Fish and Game employee who supports federal protection of state wildlife should “find a different place to work.” The commission fired him. Mealey drew national attention when he “mooned" a statue during a 1997 boat ride with Fish and Game Commission members. Rob Keck, Chief Executive Officer, National Wild Turkey Federation, representing game bird hunting organizations. Don’t know much about Keck, but his outfit is the pitts. It quit the Outdoor Writers Association of America because it wrongly imagined we had insulted the NRA. Read about it on this blog by doing a search for “NRA.” Jeff Crane, president, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, representing wildlife conservation organizations. The foundation (the fund-raising tentacle of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus) functions as a green-washing machine for anti-environmentalists in Congress. No way does it “represent wildlife conservation organizations.” Merle Shepard, Vice President, Safari Club International, representing big game hunting organizations. If SCI “represents big game hunting organizations,” hunters are in a lot more trouble that any of us had supposed. This is the outfit that promotes and excuses “canned hunts”--i.e., the shooting of tame animals (some with names) inside fences. And among its main missions is the gutting of the Endangered Species Act so its members can more easily import the horns, heads and hides of everything that walked Noah’s plank. Peter J. Dart, president and Chief Executive Officer, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, representing big game hunting organizations. Read all about how he has ruined Bugle Magazine and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Dave Petersen’s superb piece under “The Garbage Sportsmen read.” Susan Recce, director, Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources, National Rifle Association, representing wildlife conservation organizations. Please!!!! The NRA does not represent any legitimate conservationist or “conservation organization.” To learn about how it embarrasses legitimate hunters, do a search for NRA on this blog. You’ll come up with several indictments. Daniel R. Dessecker, senior wildlife biologist, Ruffed Grouse society, representing game bird organizations. The worst of all these bad choices. This guy and his outfit are just plain awful. They front for Big Timber, accepting large grants to whoop it up for clearcuts and roads. The RGS was the only sportsmen’s organization to actively fight Clinton’s roadless rule. The RGS makes me ashamed to be a grouse hunter. Its behavior has been absolutely despicable! When I mentioned it briefly in Fly Rod & Reel Dessecker vented all kinds of gas and wind in a letter to the editor, to which I responded in print as follows: “It astonishes me that Mr. Dessecker and his outfit can argue with straight faces that the existing 380,000 miles of Forest Service roads (enough to circle the globe 15 times) is not enough. Moreover, I was reporting science, not expressing ‘opinion,’ when I chronicled the devastation to fish and wildlife (particularly troubled salmonids) wrought by clearcutting and road-induced landslides. This habitat destruction was prescribed by the ‘existing’ forest plans Dessecker defends, plans that in many cases are as illegal as they are ancient. It would have been one thing for the Ruffed Grouse Society to advocate clearcuts in, say, the aspen woods of Minnesota. But its attempted derailing of a national initiative to save America's last scraps of roadless area is myopic, avaricious and utterly disgusting.”