Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Congress and Conservation

"Experience Your America". Unless Congress gets its head stuck somewhere dark.*

The closing of the National Parks is one of the effects of the government shutdown that strikes me most strongly as wrong. Hell, just keep the gates open and let folks wander about. Of course, I'm totally underestimating the work that goes on in the background to maintain the park and keep us all safe. I should probably be more understanding but it still pisses me off.

It's easy to shrug off government shenanigans such as these. One's assumption is that it'll work itself out before too much damage is done. But in the dark of the night, I worry that this one may go on longer than one otherwise might think. A party minority, electorally sheltered in gerrymandered districts, really has no reason to take the gun away from our collective heads. Equally, the defense of the majority rule, democratic system requires the President and the Senate to stand their ground. It's the perfect storm for stupidity to rule the day.

Anglers and conservationists don't have too look far to find impacts of the government shutdown. A buddy of mine was planning to fish the Firehole tomorrow. Not so much if the park doesn't reopen. Further, there's a whole ecosystem that surrounds these parks including the fly shops, guide services, hotels and restaurants (and stuff that silly non-anglers use) that are now losing tons of business. I've heard of the woes of a fly shop in Boulder, CO losing several hundred trips, no doubt to the double whammy of the shutdown of Rocky Mountain National Park plus the flooding. One can easily imagine the impact of not being able to guide in Everglades National Park if that's where you hang your hat. One estimate puts the daily economic impact of closed national parks at $750 million a day.

In a call with the Trout Unlimited Government Affairs folks today they also spoke about the impact of the government shutdown on conservation projects. From the inability to get a $100,000 invoice paid, to stopping work on conservations projects occurring on public lands in Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont & Pennsylvania to the cancellation of the Wild Trout Symposium in Yellowstone National Park the government shutdown is silting over the fertile redds where progress on habitat restoration is made. And if this doesn't end soon, winter weather will delay field work into the coming year.

The effects to the things we care about is significant though likely small in the grand scheme of the federal government's machinations. That said, the government has to govern and Congress has to do whatever it's supposed to do in order to allow them to do so. Time to tell your reps to find a way out of this mess. And maybe do some fishing. Outside of federal lands.

* Like Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Where it's very dark when the lights are off. Which they are due to the government shutdown. What? You thought I meant...? No, I'm not that vulgar.....


  1. Our research is funded by the NIH. Closed for any of our business. Parks are vital too. But I am disturbed that the nation's research - our ability to progress in science - is in abeyance. Ramifications beyond my comprehension. Depressing all round.

    1. You need to teach more creationist science. I hear that's very popular with the Right.