Benefitting farmers, ranchers, landowners, and natural resources throughout the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency has announced a general signup for the longstanding Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) from Dec. 9 – Feb. 28. This will be the first general enrollment since 2016 and will represent one of the largest program acreages ever offered to landowners in the United States. Landowners should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to learn more about general CRP eligibility at this site.
Wildlife populations and rural communities have been supported by the CRP since the mid-1980’s when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on December 23, 1985. With the CRP cap raised to 27 million acres in the 2018 Farm Bill and millions of acres set to expire, there is a significant opportunity for enrollment of over 8 million acres over the next year. Landowners are encouraged to contact their nearest USDA Service Center, map available here.
Here is an interesting look at firearms ownership and production in the United States. The 2017 Firearms Production Report was recently published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association. The report compiles the most up-to-date information based on data sourced from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Reports (AFMER). Key findings for public release showed:
• The estimated total number of firearms in civilian possession from 1986-2018 is 422.9 million.
• 17,740,000 Modern Sporting Rifles are in private ownership today.
• More than half (54 percent) of all rifles produced in 2017 were modern sporting rifles.
• In 2017 there were 7,901,218 total firearms produced and imported. Of those, 4,411,923 were pistols and revolvers, 2,821,945 were rifles and 667,350 were shotguns.
• An interim 2018 estimate showed a total 7,660,772 total firearms were produced and imported. Of those 4,277,971 were pistols and revolvers, 2,846,757 were rifles and 535,994 were shotguns. Those are interim reports and will be updated as complete information becomes available.
• Firearms ammunition manufacturing accounted for nearly 12,000 employees producing over $4.1 billion in goods shipped in 2017. An estimated 8.1 billion rounds, of all calibers and gauges, were produced in 2018 for the U.S. market.
“These figures show the industry that America has a strong desire to continue to purchase firearms for lawful purposes,” said Joe Bartozzi, President of the NSSF. “The Modern Sporting Rifle continues to be the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today and is clearly a commonly-owned firearm with more than 17 million in legal private ownership today. The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves and their homes, and to participate in the recreational shooting sports.”
The report also shows that as lawful firearms ownership in America continues to grow, criminal and unintentional misuse of firearms is falling. During the 25-year period covered in this report (1993–2017) the violent crime rate has decreased by 48.6 percent and unintentional firearm-related fatalities have declined by 68 percent.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.
Now is the time for high school sophomores and juniors to prepare for this exciting – and free – trip to Washington, D.C. The National Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) is an opportunity for leadership training and a share of $55,000 in college scholarships, sponsored and paid for by the National Rifle Association. The 2020 Y.E.S. session will be July 13-19 in our Nation’s Capital.
Y.E.S. encourages young adults to become engaged and knowledgeable U.S. citizens by learning about American government, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the importance of being active in civic affairs. Participants will enhance such academic skills as leadership, public speaking and debating. Tours of Arlington National Cemetery and other national monuments are included.
Up to 50 outstanding students will be chosen to attend. Applicants must include a high school transcript, an essay on the Second Amendment, one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Applications are being accepted now and the filing deadline is Jan. 24, 2020. To apply or for additional information on the 2020 Y.E.S. go to www.friendsofnra.org/yes, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-672-3888, ext.1351.
The future appears bright for the famous snail darter. The Center for Biological Diversity, former federal biologist Jim Williams and law professor Zygmunt Plater have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection from snail darters.
Thanks to government and citizen efforts, the little fish has now successfully achieved recovery and is no longer in danger of extinction. This news comes on the heals of another proud ESA success: The recovery and delisting of the Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear.
The three-inch-long fish gained fame in the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case Tennessee Valley Authority vs. Hill. The court upheld the newly passed Endangered Species Act at the request of conservationists and others who sought to protect the fish and its free-flowing habitat, along with 300 family farms, from the construction of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s highly controversial Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River.
When Congress later exempted the Tellico Dam from compliance with the conservation law, scientists introduced the endangered fish into other rivers. Because of the Act’s habitat protections and improved dam management, which includes pulsing for minimum flow and measures to increase oxygen, populations of the fish have now expanded to waterways in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
The Tennessee Ammo Tax Stamp has been repealed. The little green ten cent stamp is no longer required for every box of ammunition sold in Tennessee. The Tennessee State Legislature passed the repeal of this so-called “special privilege tax” on April 30 and it went into effect on July 1, 2019.
The revenue from the ammo tax stamp went directly into the Wildlife Resources Fund, which is the general bank account of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The TWRA receives no tax support from the state; its entire operating budget is derived from license sales and some matching federal wildlife funds, plus some other sources such as fines and penalties, advertising sales and this privilege tax on ammo.
One drawback to the end of the ammo tax is a significant reduction in the money the TWRA has to spend on wildlife in Tennessee. For those that love wild animals – game and non-game – and would like to contribute something to help them, simply buy a hunting and fishing license. You don’t have to use it; the benefit has been realized. Check out the “Friend of Wildlife” license package available at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com.
Warning to boaters: E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuel has been approved for sale nationwide this summer. This fuel is big trouble for marine engines, older automobiles and many other small engines. What’s more, the E15 warning label is easy to overlook at the gas pumps.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently waived Clean Air Act provisions and eliminated the summer blackout period on the sale of E15 fuel, permitting the fuel to be sold year round. Objections to the move came from a wide coalition of American citizens and environmental, conservation, food producer, fuel retailer, taxpayer advocate, and outdoor recreation industry groups.
The fuel had been banned at the pumps from June 1 to September 15 over concerns that it contributed to smog on hot days. As a result of EPA’s action, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters that they will need to be very cautious at the gas station to ensure they are not filling their boats with fuel that’s bad – and illegal – for boat engines. Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information.
June 6, 1944 – D-Day. The Allied invasion of Europe, codenamed “Operation Overlord”, began 75 years ago at Normandy Beach, France. The assault beach codenames were Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The troops of the United States, Great Britain and Canada participated. Allied casualties numbered 209,000, including the deaths of nearly 37,000 ground troops and 16,700 air forces. It turned the tide of World War II.
Public comments requested now: E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuels can severely damage your boat’s engine and fuel lines, and it is about to get even easier to misfuel your boat. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving toward permitting the sale of (E15) during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15). Currently available only in the colder months, the E15 summertime ban was implemented years ago to address concerns over its contribution to ground level air pollution (ozone and smog) on hot days.
The problem begins with a serious flaw in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is the 2005 federal law that mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. This is where our now-common regular gasoline with 10 percent ethanol blended in (E10) came from. Now E15 is scheduled to replace E10. The trouble is that all marine engines, motorcycles, ATV, small engines (lawnmowers, chain saws, etc.), and older automobiles might tolerate E10, but they are damaged by E15. And manufacturer’s warrantees are often voided by use of E15.
When the RFS was written, it was assumed that America's use of gasoline would continue to rise. However, U.S. gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily since 2005 and now the RFS law forces more corn ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline. What’s more, RFS dictates a reduction in the production of non-blended gasoline (E0), the fuel that all of the above engines were designed to use.
The nation’s largest boating advocacy, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), wants EPA to immediately halt any expansion of E15 fuel availability and is asking recreational boaters to speak up now to stop the summertime sale of E15. It offers an easy way contact the EPA by going to http://bit.ly/2UyyMFV . Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Among other useful information this site has a helpful chart that names the older automobiles at risk.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is also concerned with the EPA’s proposed increase of E15 fuels. It offers the following link to submit original comments to the EPA: www.votervoice.net/NMMA/Campaigns/64343/Respond. The NMMA strongly encourages filers to personalize the beginning and end of the pre-populated message in “Boating United”. EPA will not count identical comments.
It is the largest hunting, shooting and outdoors sport show in the country, and this year it is within driving distance of Tennessee (280 miles north of Nashville). The National Rifle Association’s 148th Annual Meeting and Exhibits is in Indianapolis, Ind. on April 26-28. At least 80,000 outdoors enthusiasts, hunters and shooters will descend upon the Indiana Convention Center.
You do not have to be a NRA member to appreciate the three-day Guns, Gear and Outfitters Show: More than 800 exhibitors on 15 acres representing major manufacturers of firearms and sporting goods. Admission is free to members, uniformed military, law enforcement personnel, and organized youth groups.
Additionally, there is fun for the whole family with an air gun range, seminars on hunting and firearms, country music, and other entertainment. The Saturday Night Concert features Alan Jackson and William Michael Morgan. Go to www.nraam.org for more information.
The big wildlife conservation payoff from the 2019 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Funds is $1.04 billion, nearly matching the 2018 figure of $1.10 billion. Hunters and anglers contribute this money for wildlife through the 11 percent excise tax on sporting goods (Pittman-Robertson Act), plus approximately 10 percent on fishing and boating equipment (Dingell-Johnson Act). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually distributes the revenues to all the states proportionally by their land mass and their license sales.
Tennessee’s share of the 2019 Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds will be $26,245,289. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is in charge of apportioning it. This year marks $21 billion total contributions to the Fund by hunters and anglers nationwide. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $7.3 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
Rejoice all ye who love the outdoors. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been permanently funded by federal law. President Trump has signed the bipartisan bill S.47, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act). The LWCF is a significant tool for increasing recreational access to public lands and supporting fish and wildlife habitat. This public lands package also contains more than 100 local and regional public lands bills that aim to benefit sportsmen and women.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund works in partnership with federal, state and local efforts to protect land in our national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, national trails, and other public lands. The program’s goal is to preserve working forests and ranchlands; to support state and local parks and playgrounds, to preserve battlefields and other historic and cultural sites and to provide the tools that communities need to meet their diverse conservation and recreation needs.
Outers – outdoors men and women – have a choice on where they spend their hard-earned money, and they are choosing to support their political interests. This report comes from The Outdoor Wire today, March 13:
Continuing to pursue the tightened gun policies that initially drove its stock down, Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) has announced it will remove hunting gear from about 125 stores. The change, expected to begin August 1, will affect about 17 percent of the company’s stores.
The announcement, coupled with continuing declines in same-store sales since 2017, is being credited with a nearly 11 percent decline in stock price yesterday. Dick’s closed at $34.45 on the NYSE, down $4.28/share. Dick’s CEO and major shareholder Ed Stack has told the Wall Street Journal that if the 125-store move “goes well” the company may remove hunting gear from more stores next year.
Last month, Stack was one of four CEOs to sign a letter supporting a gun control bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also joined the business council of Everytown, the nonprofit organization founded by Michael Bloomberg that advocates for gun control.
The following is a timely editorial by Mia Anstine, contributing editor to The Archery Wire and The Outdoor Wire. It was condensed by me. See the entire article here.
Hunters need to stand together now more than ever to preserve our traditions and freedoms. I recently wrote an op-ed in opposition to H.R. 8, the supposed universal background check law. Later, the House GOP invited me to speak at a press conference on Capitol Hill where the bill then passed the House with a 240 -190 vote. We have to tell our Senators to vote NO on this and other feel-good bills.
I teach basic firearms, archery, and hunter education classes. I also help with youth competitive shooting teams. H.R. 8 is a threat to these activities. If a youngster competing in a Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) competition and she only has a bow, I won’t be allowed to lend a shotgun to her, her parents, or the coach, unless I’m present at the event, or I run a background check on them.
In Colorado, we already have a universal background check law, which has done nothing to reduce crime. Our Colorado law and H.R. 8, have many shades of gray. While a grandparent will be able to loan a hunting rifle to their grandchild, an uncle won’t be allowed to loan one to his niece. A stepfather won’t be allowed to loan to their stepchild. There are exemptions for hunting written into H.R. 8. As an outfitter, I may loan my gun to a client for “a reasonable length of time.” Some hunting seasons are months long — Is that a reasonable length of time?
I will have to run a background check on my neighbor whose animals are being threatened by predators, or a friend who has a stalker. Then he/she can “borrow” my gun, except then it becomes his/her gun. To return the firearm, they’ll have to run a background check on me. With H.R. 8 if we don’t follow these rules, we will both become felons.
We all have to stand against these types of laws, and if you’re an archer who thinks it won’t affect you, know that they are attempting to ban the National Archery in the Schools program in the state of New York. Your state could be next, or like these universal background check laws, it could go national.
The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting; it is designed to save us from tyranny. Universal background check laws will never be universal because criminals don’t obey the law. It will instead cause law-abiding citizens to become criminals.
I urge you to not solely rant on social media but to contact your Senators now. Tell them to VOTE NO on H.R. 8 and other bills (H.R. 1112 and S. 42) that threaten to dismantle our constitution. For a link to your U.S. senators and for more information, go here. Or you can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Follow Mia at http://MiaAnstine.Com. Listen to her podcast “MAC Outdoors” on iTunes, Stitcher and more.
The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) needs to be reauthorized, and now is the time to do it. Background: Created by Congress in 1964, the LWCF was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. National parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, rivers and lakes, community parks, trails, and ball fields in all 50 states were set aside for Americans to enjoy, thanks to federal funds from the LWCF.
It was a simple idea: use revenues from the depletion of one natural resource - offshore oil and gas - to support the conservation of another precious resource - our land and water. Every year $900 million in royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf are put into this fund.
The money is intended to protect national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. Over the years, LWCF has also grown and evolved to include grants to protect working forests, wildlife habitat, critical drinking water supplies and disappearing battlefields, as well as increased use of easements.
Tennessee’s Senator Lamar Alexander has long been a champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and conservation in general. Ask him to take that one step further in the lame duck Senate and prioritize LWCF. It is important that LWCF be permanently reauthorized and fully funded. Contact him at www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email.
The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) last week, showing a 3.3 percent decrease in the national crime rate for 2017. This is the 15th consecutive year of dropping crime rates. Homicides overall declined in 2017, with firearm-related homicides dropping slightly more than total homicides.
Looking at the data in the UCR, it is clear why banning certain firearms based on cosmetic features will not prevent crime. In fact, assaults with knives, hands and feet, and hammers were several times more numerous than firearms of any kind.
There is more. While the data for the UCR is from 2017, another report out last week previews a similar picture for 2018. The preliminary data from the report “Crime and Murder in 2018: A Preliminary Analysis,” show that crime in 2018 appears to be dropping back to the historical downward trend. The Brennan Center, a left-leaning think tank at the New York University School of Law published the report. Despite the lack of any new gun control laws in most states, it was found that in 19 major cities, crime rates and homicide rates are dropping. The data suggests that in 2018 the murder rate in these cities will be 7.6 percent lower than in 2017.
In a related story, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) has just issued its 2018 annual report on the number of concealed handgun permits in the US. In 2018, the number soared to over 17.25 million – a 273percent increase since 2007. Permits are held by 7.14 percent of American adults.
Unlike surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer some personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really “hard data” that we have on gun ownership across the United States. Still, an even larger number of people carry because in 14 states people don’t need a permit to carry in all or virtually all those states.
The CPRC report also noted that concealed handgun permit holders nationwide are extremely law-abiding, much more so than police officers. In Florida and Texas, for example, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth the rate at which police officers are convicted. The full report can be downloaded here.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan K. Zinke Tuesday announced a $1.9 million distribution from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to Tennessee for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. The exact amount is $1,889,644.
This is part of a $100 million distribution from the LWCF to all 50 States, the Territories, and the District of Columbia. LWCF funds are non-taxpayer dollars derived from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues and are awarded through federal matching grants administered by the National Park Service.
Secretary Zinke said, “The LWCF State and Local Assistance Program leverages public and private investment in America’s state and local parks and exemplifies my priorities to improve and expand outdoor recreation and access, and bolster state and local community recreation, tourism, and economic goals. I support permanent reauthorization of LWCF and am hopeful that Congress will pass this important bill before the deadline."
In addition, the $100 million in LWCF funding distributed now was supplemented by the June distribution of $61.6 million in revenues to states from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations. The LWCF invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to permanently conserve outdoor recreation areas for public use and enjoyment. The funds enable state and local governments to improve park and other recreation areas in their communities.
Since the inception of the LWCF 53 years ago, over $4.2 billion from responsible offshore oil and gas development has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 conservation projects throughout the nation. For more information go to www.nps.gov/lwcf.
The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact is an interstate agreement that recognizes the suspension of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses in member states. This means that illegal activities in one state can affect a person’s hunting or fishing privileges in all participating states. Tennessee is a member of the Compact, and Nebraska just became the 46th member state.
Any person whose license privileges or rights are suspended in a member state may also be suspended in the other member states. Tennessee honors all similar wildlife violation suspensions from other member states. This cooperative interstate effort enhances the various state wildlife agencies’ abilities to protect and manage their wildlife resources.
The Compact also establishes a process whereby wildlife law violations by a non-resident from a member state are handled as if the person were a resident, meaning they can be served a ticket rather than being arrested, booked, and bonded. This process is a convenience for hunters, fishermen, and trappers of member states, and increases efficiency of wildlife officers by allowing more time for enforcement duties rather than violator processing procedures.
Three states have legislation pending to join the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact: New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware. Only Hawaii is not interested. For more information go here.
Great Idea! What more fitting location is there to welcome new citizens to the United States than one of our national parks? U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently presented 75 citizenship candidates to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee during a special naturalization ceremony at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.
USCIS held the ceremony at BSFNRRA as part of an ongoing partnership with the National Park Service to showcase the nation’s prominent landmarks, parks and historic sites. The 75 citizenship candidates originated from the following 33 countries: Brazil, Burundi, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Venezuela.
During fiscal year 2017, just over 715,000 people were naturalized at ceremonies nationwide. For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit https://uscis.gov; or phone Sharon Scheidhauer, USCIS Public Affairs Officer, at 202-215-1227.
Here is good news for all lovers of the great outdoors. President Trump signed the bill “Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act” last week. It reauthorizes a volunteer program that provides essential support for keeping our national wildlife refuges open and accessible to the public, and ensuring they remain vital habitat for our country’s wildlife.
Mike Leahy, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager of public lands and sportsmen policy, commented, “Throughout the country, wildlife refuges provide a serene environment to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors. By lending their support and expertise, these refuge volunteers are pitching in and helping keep these refuges maintained and operational. The National Wildlife Federation thanks Congress and President Trump for coming together and showing overwhelming bipartisan support for our National Wildlife Refuge System and helping ensure that refuges across the country remain havens for wildlife and all Americans.”
Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at www.NWF.org/News. The NWF this month named the Tennessee Wildlife Federation as its “National Wildlife Federation’s Affiliate of the Year”. Learn more at https://tnwf.org.
Deer hunters and conservationists nationwide, listen up: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently revising their standards for chronic wasting disease (CWD) management on deer farms, and they need to hear from deer hunters across the country. The agency is currently seeking comments from the public on this important program.
Contact the USDA by the April 30, 2018 deadline and let them know how you feel about CWD, and its impact on our precious wild deer resource. Read the USDA proclamation at http://chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com/2018/03/usda-aphis-notice-aphis-revises-chronic.html and comment at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0011
Deer hunting is the single most popular form of hunting in the United States, with 9.2 million Americans participating each year, contributing more than $20 billion in economic activity, state and local taxes, and wildlife restoration trust fund excise taxes.
Deer hunters play an essential role in the "user pays, public benefits" framework of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Reductions in deer hunting and the number of deer hunters have reverberating impacts that extend far beyond deer and deer hunting directly, including state fish and wildlife agency budgets and their broader fish and wildlife management work, and rural economic health.
The National Deer Alliance https://nationaldeeralliance.com/ has teamed up with some of its strongest partners, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Archery Trade Association, QDMA, National Wildlife Federation, and Wildlife Management Institute, to alert concerned citizens on this issue.
The big payoff from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Funds for 2018 is $1.1 billion, an increase of $320 million (41 percent) over 2017. Hunters and anglers contribute this money for wildlife through the 11 percent excise tax on sporting goods (Pittman-Robertson Act), plus approximately 10 percent on fishing and boating equipment (Dingell-Johnson Act). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually distributes the revenues to all the states proportionally by their land mass and their license sales.
Tennessee’s share of the 2018 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Funds will be $30,002,038. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is in charge of apportioning it. This year marks $20 billion total contributions to the Fund by hunters and anglers nationwide.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said, “American sportsmen and women are some of our best conservationists and they contribute billions of dollars toward wildlife conservation and sportsmen access every year through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts. For nearly eighty years, states have been able to fund important conservation initiatives thanks to the more than $20 billion that has been generated nationwide. Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation. The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works."
The attack on the legitimate use of firearms continues. Previously it was retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field and Stream and Walmart that stopped selling rifles, shotguns and high-capacity magazines to eligible citizens under age 21; then certain state legislatures introduced bills to do the same thing. Now financial giant Bank of America is declaring it will stop lending to makers of modern sporting rifles (AR-15s).
“It’s our intention not to finance these military-style firearms for civilian use,” Anne Finucane, a vice chairman at Bank of America, said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview. The firm has had “intense conversations over the last few months” with those kinds of gun manufacturers to tell them it won’t finance their operations in the future, she said.
Finucane said Bank of America also won’t underwrite securities issued by manufacturers of military-style guns used by civilians. Bank of America issues the Bass Pro Shops credit card and has helped finance Vista Outdoors (Savage Arms) and Remington. Being less than 24 hours, no official response has been heard from any firearms company, the National Shooting Sports Foundation or the NRA.
[News and editorial comment] Psychologists often use a five-step process to describe the cycle of responses to tragedy: Tragedy, introspection, action, divergence, and, finally, a return to the status quo. In the aftermath of the Parkland school massacre on Feb. 14, more than a dozen companies have taken some action, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field and Stream stores, and United and Delta airlines. Of course hundreds of other businesses are waiting for the status quo to return.
The actions taken are not directed at the failure of the local police and the FBI and the “gun free zone” myth to protect us. Instead the action is aimed at the National Rifle Association. NRA benefit programs and company endorsements are being withdrawn. Dick’s and its subsidiary Field and Stream have stopped selling “assault style rifles” (meaning modern sporting rifles) and high capacity magazines, and have restricted ALL firearms sales to ages 21 and older. But Dick’s is also pulling all NRA-branded merchandise.
It seems that these reactionary companies blame the NRA and do not want to do business with them – and their more than five million law-abiding members. So be it. Let them have their wish. Do not patronize them. After all, this is still a free country, thanks to the Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment.
Jan. 12 is last call for high school sophomores and juniors to participate in the National Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.). It has been so successful that it is adding a second session in 2018. High school sophomores and juniors should look into this opportunity for leadership training, a share of $55,000 in college scholarships and a great trip to Washington, D.C. The two 2018 Y.E.S. sessions will be July 9-15 and July 23-29 in our Nation’s Capital.
Y.E.S. encourages young adults to become active and knowledgeable U.S. citizens by learning about American government, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the importance of being active in civic affairs. Participants will enhance such academic skills as leadership, public speaking and debating. Tours of Arlington National Cemetery and other national monuments are included.
Up to 50 outstanding students will be chosen to attend each session. Applicants must include a high school transcript, an essay on the Second Amendment, one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Applications are being accepted now and the filing deadline (postmarked) is Jan. 12, 2018. To apply or for additional information on the 2018 Y.E.S. go to www.friendsofnra.org/yes, email email@example.com, or call 800-672-3888, ext.1351.
The Boat Owners of the United States (BoatUS) has this report on ethanol blended fuels. Last summer the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the public how much ethanol it wanted to be added to the nation's gasoline supply, and recreational boaters as well as many other owners of gasoline engines and vehicles spoke up against increasing ethanol volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Earlier this month the EPA set the 2018 RFS at 19.29 billion gallons, a 0.05 percent increase over the 2017 standard. Signed into law in 2005, the RFS requires an increasing amount of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be blended into the gasoline supply.
"In August, EPA originally proposed a slight lowering of the overall ethanol mandate. However, bowing to pressure from the ethanol backers, the agency actually notched the mandate higher," said BoatUS Government Affairs Manager David Kennedy. "We think the EPA's decision unfairly supports the ethanol industry over protecting consumers, recreational boaters, and the environment. If ethanol is as good for America's fuel supply as Big Ethanol would like you to believe, then why do we have a law that forces more ethanol each year into the market? The RFS no longer works for Americans."
When it was written, RFS assumed that America's use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has not increased as forecasted, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate, in 2010 EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 (15 percent ethanol) into the marketplace. However, only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats. As higher blends enter the gas supply, the chance of misfueling increases.
"Ethanol has been demonstrated to cause harm to many gasoline engines at the present 10 percent ethanol level, especially legacy outboard motors, decreases fuel efficiency, increases fuel costs for consumers, and has questionable environmental benefits," added Kennedy. "BoatUS will continue to fight on behalf of America's recreational boaters to fix the RFS." Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition.