Sportsmen for Romney? What the F?????

This from the National Wildlife Federation:

We just heard about Mitt Romney’s Sportsmen for Romney effort and I wanted to share a quick reaction from Land Tawney, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for sportsmen leadership based in our Missoula, MT office: “Sportsmen are a valued constituency, both during and after the election season, and I look forward to reading Mitt Romney’s plan to address our concerns. A top issue Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will need to address is their thoughts on selling public lands. Exactly what would that mean for America’s public lands, the fish and wildlife that live there, and the hunters and anglers that rely on them?”

The National Wildlife Federation wrote to Rep. Ryan last week asking him to clarify some recent comments on public lands: A recent poll of sportsmen shows that 79% of hunters and anglers support allowing them access to public lands that to date have been inaccessible. Given a choice between protecting America’s public lands and prioritizing the production of oil, gas and coal, 49% want to protect public lands and just 35% choose fossil fuel production: And here's a passage from a recent column of from my close friend and neighbor, Mark Blazis, the smart, tough outdoor editor of the Worcester Telegram (the only good thing about that embarrassing rag):

Romney's no Teddy Roosevelt. He's at best a hunting dabbler. No one I know recalls ever seeing him fish or hunt in Massachusetts, or shoot at a local sportsman's club or gun range. But that doesn't really matter. His running mate is a deer hunter, with a tree stand, bow and game-filled freezer to win us over. Though not a hunter, Romney is at least 100 percent behind our tradition — I guess. It's not clear to some authorities I interview that he's what he appears. A wildlife biologist and avid hunter, who asked not to be named and worked for the state when Romney was governor confided, “I really don't recall the Romney administration and its appointees having much interest in sportsmen or wildlife conservation. … We were small potatoes with little political or financial power … inconsequential in their estimation. …. I recall that when the Romney administration came to power, it immediately seized all state funds, including the Inland Fish & Game Fund. “The IFGF cannot, by law, be spent on anything but fisheries and wildlife management. … The Romneyites … held onto it for months, long enough that multiple requests (from Mass Fish & Wildlife) failed to get it back, and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service finally had to write a letter informing the governor that the Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife would be forfeiting a huge sum — $3.2 million, I think — in federal funds if the IFGF weren't returned to the control of the Massachusetts Wildlife board. This finally got the Romneyites motivated, and they finally relinquished control. “They held a press conference, and the governor came out to field headquarters and made a speech about how good it was to help out and get this funding for the sportsmen! It was almost surreal: the guy who took the Fish and Game money and held onto it, despite many calls for reason, spins the spectacle to make it sound like he's a hero for somehow getting it back for us! … Watching that scene play out sure convinced me that he is about as genuine as polyester.” Critics question Romney's regard for bipartisan cooperation, politics over performance, and commitment to the environment. Back when both parties worked to get things done, Bob Durand was — despite being a Democrat — an effective secretary of Environmental Affairs for Republican Governor Paul Cellucci. Despite Durand's leading many successful environmental efforts in our state and working well with Republicans, Romney jettisoned him soon after being elected governor. Subsequent environmental efforts were minimal. An anonymous source who worked with Durand alleges that, “Durand was perceived as a handsome, bright and effective Democrat who could become future political competition given more exposure.” Critics fear that, with a Romney presidential victory, care for wildlife and wild land would be low on his priorities list and readily sacrificed. All the Republican primary candidates made freedom a focal issue. During Gov. Romney's administration, though, controls on the media were firmly set in place. Before his election, outdoor writers had direct access to Mass Wildlife staff and other state authorities to answer sportsmen's concerns. After Romney's election, interviews with state professionals had to have prior approval through the governor's staff, effectively controlling the message going out to the public. Gun rights for personal defense are critical to freedom. But freedom doesn't depend on gun rights alone. Most of us outdoor writers would like our candidates not to just talk freedom and Second Amendment rights, but to also vigorously foster another essential foundation of our freedom — free, unfiltered access for the press. We also want our candidate to be committed to protecting our heritage of public land, not privatizing it, committed to protecting the wildlife that enriches it, and committed to acquiring and preserving vanishing habitat as the tentacles of suburbia, business interests and development inexorably engulf it. The freedom to hunt means little if we don't have wild places to go to and abundant wildlife to give them value.