TWF partners with Tennesseeâ€™s Wild Side
Board Chair Gayden announces agreement
Statewide deer hunter survey Results provide surprising insight
Social media gems
Contributor posts epic owl vs. snake photos
On the trail of the migrant A look at Tennesseeâ€™s neo-tropical migratory birds and their habitat
PLUS: First duck for the son of a TWF staffer Tenn. hatcheries under pressure Fish tacos are the catch of the day 500
WINTER 2013 l www.tnwf.org l 3
Southern exposures 2013-2014 Board of Directors Dr. John O. “Jack” Gayden • Chairman, Memphis Peter Schutt • Vice Chairman, Memphis Robert Lineburger • Treasurer, Brentwood Terry Lewis • Secretary, Knoxville Chris Nischan • Sergeant at Arms, Nashville R.B. “Buddy” Baird III • Rogersville Allen Corey • Chattanooga Mike Chase • Knoxville Frank Duff • Chattanooga Bob Freeman • Nashville Monty Halcomb • Wartrace Dan Hammond • Franklin John Jackson • Dickson Sam Mars III • Harrogate Albert Menefee III • Franklin Tammi Miller • Franklin Richard Speer • Nashville Ric Wolbrecht IV • Germantown
Advisory Board Anker Browder • Knoxville Albert Buckley Jr. • Franklin Jim Byford • Martin Jim Candella • Brentwood Charles Chitty • Chattanooga Bill Cox • Collierville Nick Crafton • Memphis Bill Dance • Collierville Bruce Fox • Clinton Phillip Fulmer Sr. • Knoxville Paul Grider • Bolivar Mark Ingram • Maryville Mike Kelly • Nashville Jean Maddox • Nashville Jim Maddox • Nashville Colin Reed • Nashville Tom Rice • Nashville Brian Sparks • Collierville Brenda Valentine • Puryear Susan Williams • Knoxville
TWF friend and wildlife photographer Dan Wireman shared this great blue heron photo on our Facebook page. See another Wireman image on page 8. Kendall McCarter, Executive Editor Mark Johnson, Editor
ABOUT THE COVER: The prothonotary warbler is the logo bird of the Hatchie Bird Fest. More on page 12.
TWF Staff Michael Butler, Chief Executive Officer Kendall McCarter, Chief Development Officer Karen Vaughn, Director of Grants & Special Projects Chad Whittenburg, Director of Mitigation and Ecological Services Shayla Beebe, Senior Program Director Mark Johnson, Director of Communications Sonya Wood Mahler, GOU Nashville Manager Andrew Peercy, TNSCTP Manager Matt Simcox, HFTH Manager Cameron Mitchell, Development Officer Kate Friedman, GOU Memphis Manager Amy Colvin, GOU Program Assistant Tony Lance, GOU Program Assistant Kim Smythe, GOU YOLP Assistant Katie Eadler, Executive Assistant/Office Manager George Oswalt, Office Assistant Greg Young, Legal Advisor, Stites & Harbison, PLC Photo by William Sherman
Top TNSCTP athletes gather for Junior Olympics – Page 25 Columbia’s Hannah Houston
Continuing the tradition 8
Eight-year-old Will Mitchell goes on the hunt of a lifetime
On the trail of the migrant 12
TWF’s take on the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014
24 Great Outdoors University
Peter Schutt teaches GOU kids about mushroom hunting
TN Scholastic Clay Target Program
Bob Ford talks neo-tropical birds and forest management
Fish under fire
Tennessee hatcheries threatened by USFWS plans
‘Watch and listen’
TWF CEO Michael Butler chronicles a day in the woods
Junior Olympics produce brother/sister winners
Hunters for the Hungry 26
DEPARTMENTS 4 5 6 15 19 27 28 31
Chairman’s Corner From the CEO Development/Social Media TWF Special Event From the Archives Around the State Gear Reviews Memorials /News
wild game Recipe 30 Fish tacos and salsa
TWF survey reveals statewide trends in deer hunting
Tennessee Out-of Doors magazine is the official publication of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. Printed materials include natural resource and conservation news, outdoor recreation news and articles on pertinent legislation. All submissions are subject to editing or rewriting. All editorial, advertising and subscription correspondence should be mailed to:
300 Orlando Avenue, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37209
SUMMER 2014 l www.tnwf.org l 3
c h a i r m a n ’ s C O R N ER
TWF’s ‘Wild’ new partnership Since the last issue of this magazine was published in December, quite a lot has happened within the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. We’ve launched a new annual giving campaign, conducted two important deer-hunting surveys, hosted more than 100 youth at the Davis P. Rice Memorial Duck Hunt, inked sponsorships with both the Hatchie Birdfest in Brownsville and the Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival in Knoxville, conducted the USA Shooting Certified Training Center Junior Olympics in Paris, wrapped up the inaugural season of the Youth Outdoor Leadership Program, and played an important role in the 10th annual Wounded Warrior/Wheelin’ Sportsman Turkey Hunt in La Follette. And that’s just hitting some of the highlights! Well now, I’ve got something else to add, and it’s a biggie. Beginning this summer, TWF will become a sponsoring partner of the seven-time Emmy-winning television series, Tennessee’s Wild Side. Wow. This is something that anyone who has a connection to TWF can be proud of and excited about. For more than a decade, Wild Side has been turning out award-winning programming about Tennessee’s great outdoors in cooperation with Nashville Public Television. Folks, this is the second most-watched public television station in the country. This upcoming partnership with Wild Side and the Federation will provide an awesome opportunity for us tell our story of conservation through stewardship, public policy, and most of all, youth engagement in new and compelling ways. I think it’s the youth engagement part that has me most excited. The connective thread that runs through almost everything we do can be summed up in one word: kids. As someone who has, as they say, been “around the block” a few times, and as a longtime OB-GYN who has brought thousands of children into this world, I have to say that I’m more fascinated and impressed with our young people than I’ve ever been. Though the mainstream media might have us believe otherwise, I more often than not see Tennessee’s youth doing good things and making positive impacts on their communities. Tennessee Tennessee Out-Of-Doors Out-Of-Doors
Dr. John O. Gayden Chairman of the Board
This doesn’t happen by accident. The well-known African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” couldn’t be more accurate, in my estimation. Even the highest level of parenting relies on the help of the community once the son or daughter leaves the house to go to school, camp, or church. Wild Side will be part of the TWF “village” that is helping produce the next generation of creative, insightful, and respectful future conservationists by artfully telling the story of Great Outdoors University, the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program, and Hunters for the Hungry. By broadcasting the activities of these programs in its distinctive style, Wild Side will play a critical role in getting the word out to the young people of our state that Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources are beyond compare and should be guarded diligently and enjoyed vigorously. Our state’s rich heritage of hunting, fishing, and stewarding our natural resources must be passed down to our children and grandchildren, and I believe this partnership will help accomplish the task. So, friends, tune in for an exciting new season of Tennessee’s Wild Side and keep supporting the critical work of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation!
f r om th e c h i e f e x e c u t i v e off i c e r
Why the Federal Budget matters to conservation in Tennessee Since 2008, there has been a fundamental change as to how conservation funding is being discussed at the federal level. The strategies and tactics that worked to fund conservation for decades are no longer a stable long-term plan. The process for federal budgeting within our country’s political parties’ caucuses has changed, and as a result the conservation community must adjust accordingly or watch the foundational underpinnings of our efforts continue to slowly erode. According to the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget estimates for 2013, the U.S. government collected $2.8 trillion in taxes. In the same year, the government spent $2.02 trillion on mandatory spending. What should be obvious, besides the fact that we spend nearly all tax revenues on mandatory programs, is that everything else (i.e., discretionary spending) is funded with borrowed money. This becomes even clearer when you add defense spending, which totaled nearly $687 billion in 2012. Defense spending is not technically a mandatory spending program, but when you have soldiers in the field it is “must-do” spending. So somewhere around $2.8 trillion comes in and about $2.7 trillion goes right back out. These fiscal realities explain a lot of what is happening to federal conservation programs. Conservation funding (which is discretionary by nature) is being paid for on an annual basis with debt. These realities (along with the recent budget sequester) are leading to decisions that are hurting Tennessee’s sportsmen. For example, in 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) secretly developed a strategic plan for our country’s recreational-mitigation fish hatcheries that seeks to completely defund these operations across the country, unless they are reimbursed from other funding sources. This plan was leaked to Congress in September 2013 and resulted in newly appointed Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, putting a halt to the plan, Congress rebuking the Service and the director of the USFWS, Dan Ashe, issuing a memo to staff bemoaning the fact that the plan was leaked – not that
he was attempting to Michael Butler destroy a time-proven CEO conservation program. The root of the problem, of course, is that USFWS is trying to reprogram its shrinking budget. But more importantly, these plans, if implemented, will create significant reductions in fishing for Tennessee. Here’s one example. Tennessee is home to two federal fish hatcheries, the Dale Hollow and Erwin hatcheries. It has been conservatively estimated that Dale Hollow’s annual economic impact in Tennessee is $150 million. Meanwhile, the Erwin hatchery supplies trout eggs to state and federal hatcheries across the southeast. Recent research shows that for every one federal dollar spent on the federal hatchery program that benefits that state, the return is approximately $90$100 in local economic impact. And while these economics are important to myriad people, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation is most concerned about the impact that the loss of these hatcheries would have on Tennessee’s cold-water fish populations and recreational fishing. Simply put, if the USFWS successfully defunds these hatcheries, the excellent tailwater trout fishing below many dams in Tennessee will come to a screeching halt. It is important to remember that the trout-stocking program in Tennessee’s tailwaters isn’t just a feelgood “put-and-take” fishery. It is the result of federally funded impacts created when the Tennessee Valley Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (See Budget, page 11) SUMMER WINTER 2013 2014 ll www.tnwf.org www.tnwf.org ll 35
twf d e v e lopm e nt/so c i a l m e d i a
New Annual Giving Campaign underway As part of an effort to inspire Tennessee’s vast community of outdoors enthusiasts to give generously in support of our state’s Great Outdoors, the Federation launched its “Tennessee’s Wildlife is YOUR Wildlife” annual giving campaign May 1. TWF’s Chief Development Officer Kendall McCarter says the campaign encourages donors to make their annual gift during a two-month window — May and June — and replaces TWF’s traditional, yearlong renewal process. “Rather than sending several letters to remind donors to renew their annual gift, we wanted to create an exciting and inspiring period of time that will highlight our good work and celebrate the commitment to conservation of our friends and supporters,” says McCarter. “Small gifts do big things, and we are so appreciative of our great annual donors who consistently help us strengthen our ‘Three Pillars of Conservation’ - youth engagement, stewardship, and public policy - and keep Tennessee’s amazing natural resources thriving for future generations.” McCarter says the campaign has received “overwhelmingly positive” response.
The printed annual giving campaign mailer features a section on TWF’s three “pillars of conservation”: stewardship, youth engagement, and public policy.
“I think Tennesseans realize the critical nature of our work and they want to help,” he says. “I would encourage anyone reading this to consider making an investment in Tennessee’s wildife during this campaign.”
TWF engages social media to build excitement around nation’s largest youth waterfowl hunt In an effort to build excitement leading up to the 6th Annual Davis P. Rice Youth Waterfowl Hunt (more on page 9), held in Dyersburg over the state’s youth waterfowl hunting weekend, TWF engaged youth participants in a blog to chronicle their experiences, and adopted the hashtag #davispricehunt for use on Facebook and Twitter. The week of the hunt, ninth graders Caitlyn Vincent and Olivia Casada — both members of the Summit High School Clay Target Team in Spring Hill — wrote blog entries that were shared on the TWF website and across our social media channels. As the weekend transpired, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with reports from the blinds, including several first-time experiences in the great outdoors. Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
“Before the sun was completely out, our blind already had five ducks, and I ended up with two,” wrote Vincent, a first-time hunter. “It was an amazing experience, and I hope to get to hunt some more. I really enjoyed hanging out with the team and making so many memories.” Others reported seeing bald eagles — one group even saw a golden eagle — and species of waterfowl including gadwall, mallards, Northern pintail, snow and specklebelly geese, green-winged teal and American widgeon. Saturday afternoon, the groups said goodbye and headed back to as far as Blount County, tired but carrying food for the table and the excitement of having experienced the outdoors in an exhilarating new way.
S O CIAL M E D IA
From our social media friends As our social media community continues to grow by leaps and bounds, so does our interaction with you, our friends. This is one of our favorite forms of communication, so if you’re a Facebook user but haven’t yet LIKED our page, be sure to do it and join the more than 15,000 other friends and supporters of Tennessee’s wildlife and great outdoors! Facebook and Twitter are excellent tools for staying connected
with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts in our state and for sharing photos, field reports, and other types of pertinent information. Remember, you can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ tnwildlife and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/twfoutofdoors.
Owl/Snake faceoff! Sumner County resident Sherry Baker shared a sequence of photos of an epic battle that occurred in her backyard back in April between a great horned owl and a black snake. Sherry says the owl made the mistake of attacking from the “wrong end,” and the snake returned the favor by wrapping itself around the bird. A fierce battle of survival ensued, but in the end, the owl was the victor, as evidenced by photo #4. Thanks to Sherry for sharing these amazing images!
Check out this golden eagle sequence shot shared by TWF friend and wildlife photographer Dan Wideman.
Winning caption! We asked for captions for this hilarious ‘possum photo, and we weren’t disappointed. More than 90 Facebook friends responded with awesome submissions. Our favorite was provided by Rina Barnes: “Somebody please ... just run me over!” SUMMER WINTER 2014 2013 l www.tnwf.org l 3 7
S TA F F S TO RIE S
Continuing the tradition Will Mitchell goes on the adventure of a lifetime By Cameron Mitchell, TWF East Tennessee Development Officer
Each year in January, I travel to Louisiana to hunt ducks on thirty thousand acres of creeks, ditches, open fields, flooded impoundments, and timber bottoms. The hunting spots are three- to eight- mile four-wheeler rides from the home base. This is difficult terrain, even for the seasoned hunter. This year I brought my 8-year-old son, Will. My fondest memories growing up are of adventures with my Dad in pursuit of a game species through the woods, in the bay, or out on the ocean. We had long talks about safety, hunting ethics, and nature. While I have taken Will fishing and hunting, we had never been on a “big” hunting trip. It was time. Day 1 After making our list and packing for days, we load the truck with all the provisions (including our excited dog, Sage) and head out for the first leg of the trip. Luckily, my parents live about half way through the 14-hour trip. This stop gave Will and Sage a break and me a chance to get him excited about being cold and wet for several days in a row. When we pulled into the camp in the early afternoon, the rest of the family was ready to go after a day of scouting. In a race against sunset, we rummage in our duffles for clothes, guns, and waders. I layer Will in camo and heavy boots and hop on already running four-wheelers. We arrive at the location, jump in a small skiff, and paddle out to a floating blind already brushed and ready. Only a few birds pass overhead due to very little wind and mild temperatures. From a distance, we watch a beaver cross the impoundment, and Will takes a few pictures. Just before dark, our hunting companion, Alex, shoots a drake ring neck out of a group that grazed the decoys. As the sun sets, we gather headlamps and goggles and head home on ATVs through the mud. We have our first big dinner with Will’s college-aged cousins, Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
an uncle, and family friends and anxiously make plans for the next morning. Day 2 At 4:30 am, surprisingly, Will jumps out of bed. This is the same kid that usually needs a good half hour to muster on a school day. The group leads Will and me out to a blind hidden in young willow trees along a ditch line in a flooded field. The others split into two groups and set up west and north of us. Will and I deploy our last decoys and hide the fourwheeler. As we wade into the blind and begin to gather our guns and shells, a large group of about twenty-five green wing teals go over the blind at about 45 miles an hour. They make two acrobatic passes and decide to drop right in front of us. Will and I quickly press down as low as we can get without taking on water. Will’s waders are only two and a half feet tall, so this is difficult. We have six minutes before we can legally shoot and it is the longest six minutes of my life. In the back of my mind, the success of this trip will be determined by Will harvesting a duck on his own. After all of these years, I hunt and fish primarily for the experience and the chance to be outdoors, but I wasn’t sure Will got this yet. Just then, we have ducks on the water and can’t move a muscle. At shooting light, we slowly pull his 410 over/under shotgun up and rested it on the blind. Unfortunately, the structure is too tall for him to get a clear sight down the barrel. I attempt to let him step on my wader boots to gain some height but (See Tradition, page 10)
‘This is the same kid who usually needs a good half hour to muster on a school day.’
SUMMER WINTER 2014 2013 l www.tnwf.org l 9 3
TRADITION (Continued from page 9)
the teal see the movement. Will manages to fire two rounds before they fly out of sight. We do not shoot a teal, but Will was able to warm up a bit from the excitement. During our chilly ride back, he laughs and takes in the sights. Even though everyone back at camp has ducks, Will enthusiastically tells his tale along with all the rest during a warm, hearty breakfast. Around 2:30 p.m., everyone stirs from naps taken on old lounge chairs during a lazy afternoon of cleaning guns and feeding dogs. Will and I get back into muddy waders and layer up with gloves, sock hats, hoods, and facemasks. He tries this alone, but is starting to get frustrated by all the gear. I can’t help thinking of that kid in the movie “The Christmas Story” in the oversized insulated jump-suit, but completely camouflaged. This time we hunt from the edge of the water and make our own blind. I place two “marsh seats” to position Will slightly in front of me and to my right. This allows him to shoot safely out front and overhead, but discourages him from swinging around towards me. As we wait, the numbers of ducks begin to increase and we see more and more as sunset approaches. Sitting on our stools in knee-deep water, Will is surprisingly patient and seems much more focused than I remember during our two previous hunts. As ducks approach, I tell him quietly where they are and what direction they are headed. He looks at me. I look at him and point with my eyes as I am calling at the birds. Suddenly, I tell him to “take ’em” and he stands up and begins shooting, just as though he had done this 1,000 times. I watch him aim and fire, then follow the bird through the sight and fire a second round. He quickly reloads and returns to his stool with a slight smile at the corner of his mouth. We do this until we lost legal shooting light. We have another great afternoon duck hunting, even if he was not able to harvest a duck. That evening we prepare a feast of Thai Chili Grilled Quail breast and everyone gathers together for dinner.
This was the view from our blind. Perfect waterfowl habitat! Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
The cousins tease Will and get him to talk about the day. Alex tells us where he saw a lot of mallards the day before and draws a map of how to get to the area. Laura, Will’s cousin, knew the stop and offers to hunt with Will and me the following morning. During our dinner conversation, Uncle Robin says to Will, “I really hope you get to kill a duck tomorrow, buddy.” Will replies, “Oh, I am going to shoot a duck tomorrow. I can feel it, AND I am going to get a mallard drake!” Uncle Robin looks at me and back at Will and laughs with enthusiasm, sarcastically adding that Will should set the bar higher. We all offer our support and hope that Will’s confidence pays off. Day 3 The next morning, Will bundles up again and gets everything on to help shield the wind and temperatures including his over-sized goggles. He now has a system and dresses quickly without help. We have been riding for about twenty minutes when we approach a really nasty mud hole between two of the flooded areas. Will and I ease in with momentum, but still get stuck. Leaving Will on the four-wheeler, I hop off and push with one hand on the steering and thumb on the throttle. I “gas it” while rocking the four-wheeler back and forth. Mud showers the ATV and Will. We finally climb out, now covered in mud. After walking to the spot and locating the beaver dam and small patch of willows centrally located, I return to Will and Laura. In our race against daylight, we realize that the decoys are nowhere to be found, so Laura offers to ride back and get a bag for us. Will and I then load everything on our shoulders and head across the impoundment and climb up on the beaver dam to construct a blind around us. We suspend as much as possible in the Willow limbs to keep it out of the water and set our marsh seats. Laura returns with the decoys and begins crossing, headed towards our headlamps. Right at daylight ducks begin to go overhead. Will takes a couple of shots at some woodies and then tries his luck at some Pintails that are out at about forty yards. We are there for about an hour when things slow down. Normally antsy, Will calmly watches the skies. Then, Laura whispers, “There’s a duck coming from behind you.” I quickly grab a call and begin a light raspy feeder cadence. The drake, at thirty yards out, folds his wings and just drops from the sky. Will has already raised his gun and is now aiming at the duck. The mallard spins around in the water confused by the stillness of our decoys. I whisper, “Will, shoot that duck!” Several seconds go by and I can feel my heart beating through my waders. Again, I say, “Will, shoot” and he just sits
there, frozen. After what seems like forever, he fires and remains still, aiming. We can’t tell if this is a fatal shot. I hiss at Will, “What are you doing?” He shoots again and we know the duck is dead. After a 14-hour drive and a few days in the cold and mud, my 8-year-old son, harvests his first duck. I have never been more proud. I wade out and retrieve his bird and it is a beautiful mature drake mallard, just as Will said it would be! We hunt for another hour but the excitement is really too much. Will wants to go back to camp and tell his story. Like his adult cousins, he is now part of the annual tradition. We share several more meals with the family and get Will to tell his adventure again and again, marveling that his uncanny prediction came true. Over the course of a short week, my son Will had matured considerably. He learned patience and persistence and the work it takes to harvest your own food. He is a remarkable young man, wise beyond his years, a product of his time in the Great Outdoors.
This is a memory that I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my days. I suspect that Will has similar feelings about the trip.
(Continued from page 5)
built their dams during the early- and mid-20th century. Long ago it was determined that since the building of these dams wiped out what had been outstanding stocks of native game fish and recreational opportunities, the U.S. government, responsible for these impacts, should mitigate them by stocking fish that could thrive in the new cold water releases below the dams. And thus the USFWS recreational mitigation fish hatchery program was created and implemented across the U.S. where federal dams were built. So what does this mean? It means that if we as supporters of conservation wish to continue to see meaningful conservation funded by the U.S. government (e.g., our federal wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, farm bill conservation practices, land and water conservation fund, national parks, national forests, recreation areas, forest legacy program, etc.) then we have to look for non-traditional partners that can help us collectively work to control the growth of mandatory spending in our country. Although conservation is less than one percent of our nation’s budget, keep in mind that means our program budgets are more sensitive to cuts than big programs. Also keep in mind that conservation generates economic value and, with that, tax revenue, which is another reason to protect our already-small programs. Take note of this quote from a November 2013 article by Monte Burke in Forbes magazine.
“According to the Outdoor Industry Association (through Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics), the outdoor recreation industry is big business — worth $646 billion, to be exact. That’s a larger part of the U.S. economy than pharmaceuticals ($331 billion), motor vehicles and parts ($340 billion), and gasoline and other fuels ($354 billion). The Outdoor Industry Association says that outdoor recreation (biking, camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, etc.) is responsible for 6.1 million American jobs and $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue. “The outdoor recreation industry grew five percent a year even during the recession,” says Whit Fosburgh, the president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the group leading the charge for more federal conservation funding. “These are jobs and dollars that won’t get exported to China.” But more importantly, think about the negative impact this trend will continue to have on our state’s and our nation’s magnificent wildlife and natural resources; wildlife and natural resources that are by all measures one of our greatest and most important birthrights as Americans. It’s time the conservation community got to work.
SUMMER 2014 l www.tnwf.org l 11
F EAT URE — st e wa r dsh i p
By Mark Johnson
On the trail of the
migrant U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Bob Ford talks neo-tropical birds and forest management
This Baltimore oriole is one of more than 200 known neo-tropical migrant species.
Each year, they show up like clockwork right around March 15, and each year, they have an incredible and mysterious story to tell. A colony of purple martins arrives at the houses erected for them by the staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge in Brownsville without fanfare — no tickertape parades, no evening news coverage — but Bob Ford would argue that, producing just perhaps,high-caliber they deserve it. retrievers, Chattanooga’s
In Bob Foster on the animal’s “It wasn’t focuses until just a couple of years ago that innate talents researcher on cerulean warblers, and worked with TWF researchers discovered that the same group of purple TCL) as part of its biodiversity program focused on and desire to please By Jay(then Sheridan martins will travel to the same wintering spot in Brazil — some 5,000 miles away — and return to essentially the same breeding location each year,” says Ford, USFWS deputy assistant regional director for science applications and former Tennessee Conservation League (TCL) staffer. “A colony could contain several hundred birds, all traveling and foraging together, and each one returns to his or her particular nest box or cavity. It really just blows my mind.” It’s this kind of joyful curiosity on the subjects of birds — particularly, neo-tropical migrants — that has made Ford a go-to expert in the field for more than two decades. During his 14 years (and counting) with the USFWS, he has worked with the North American Bird Conservation Initiative and as project leader of the U.S. State of the Bird Report. Prior to that, Ford was regional coordinator for the Partners in Flight initiative, was a field
neo-tropical migrants. Tennessee Out-Of-Doors (TOD) recently visited with Ford to discuss these extreme travelers of the ornithological world.
TOD: How did you find your way into this fascination with birds? FORD: I grew up hunting waterfowl, and my dad was one of those guys who could identify a duck in flight at what seemed to me to be half a mile. He taught me some duck identification, and my interest grew from that. TOD: How did this manifest itself into a career? FORD: Through high school, I was pretty convinced I wanted to be a waterfowl biologist. My first year in college I took ornithology and it was like somebody just turned on a light switch for the outdoors. I saw things I knew that I’d been walking past my entire life, even
DID YOU KNOW? Red knots and white-rumped sandpipers, both shorebirds that nest in the arctic tundra, winter as far south as the southernmost part of South America, a one-way distance of up to 10,000 miles!
LEFT: Bob Ford scouts for neo-tropical birds along the swamps of the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge. RIGHT, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Neotropical migrant birds include the black-throated blue warbler, cerulean warbler, green heron, and white-eyed vireo.
something as simple as hawks along the interstate. I’d never paid attention to that in high school. We had a field trip and it was like, “There’s a hawk, there’s a hawk …” How did I not know all this?! From that point on, I was hooked. TOD: What is the definition of a neo-tropical migrant? FORD: “Neo-tropical” literally means the “New World tropics,” and refers to the latitudes between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. In its strictest definitions, the birds that spend the non-breeding season there and come to the northern latitudes to nest are neo-tropical migrants. TOD: What are some birds that occur in Tennessee that are classified as neo-tropicals? FORD: There are quite a few, but some of the more common ones are broadwinged hawks; purple martins; ruby-throated hummingbirds; green herons; barn swallows; chimney swifts; red-eyed and white-eyed vireos; prothonotary, Swainson’s, prairie, and blackthroated blue warblers; and Baltimore and orchard orioles. TOD: You’ve been heavily involved in several state and national initiatives to help conserve neo-tropical birds. Why do these species need so much help? FORD: As a group, migratory birds started seeing populations decline more quickly than permanent resident birds in the 1970s, and that’s predominantly because they are losing habitat on both ends. They are also less productive than permanent residents. A cardinal may start nesting in early spring and continue through August, successfully nesting three or four times. A migrant, on the other hand, may have only one nest and then start moving back south.
From the standpoint of habitat, the success of neo-tropicals is thought to be a good indicator of land management. Some species appear to be sensitive to how big the forest is and are not usually found in smaller areas. They have to inhabit a certain tract size to produce successful nests. The cerulean warbler is a good example of this. For whatever reason, they seem to need a larger tract size than many other birds. That’s one reason why we have such a broad variety of migrants — including cerulean warblers — here at the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge. There’s nearly 20,000 acres of forest in this area and the Hatchie River is one of the last mostly unchannelized tributaries to the Mississippi River and lower Mississippi Valley. In other words, there is a lot of excellent habitat here. TOD: Do neo-tropicals require a certain type of forest aside from tract size? FORD: I think it’s largely about good land management. A lot of people confuse the quality of the forest with no management, but I think that we have to have some. In my view, walking away from a forest is not always the best thing for either the land or the wildlife. We learned this from Native Americans before us who cut timber and used prescribed burning as very effective wildlife and forest management tools. TOD: How would you characterize a quality forest as the term relates to birds? FORD: It would be in bottomland hardwoods, very large, spaced out trees. It’s good to have a fairly open (See Neo-tropicals, page 14) SUMMER 2014 l www.tnwf.org l 13
neo-tropicals (Continued from page 13)
canopy — only about 60 percent closed — with lots of gaps so that light gets through. I also like to see open areas as big as an acre within a forest. Honestly, I think that what works best for wildlife probably appears pretty messy to most folks; big trees here and there, snags, thickets of cane and brush, and understory growth. TOD: Do you consider Tennessee forests to be well-managed for birds? FORD: Actually, I do, and Tennessee has been ahead of the curve in that respect for some time. Up until the 1980s, birds that were found in the forest were kind of viewed as byproducts of good management. But around the mid-’80s, Tennessee became one of the first states to really start thinking of intentional management to sustain populations of birds, especially long-distance migrants, and forestry was changed a little bit to help enhance those populations. Under the direction of Gary Myers, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, with the help of TCL, started viewing neo-tropicals like deer and turkey, where you had certain population goals and habitat objectives to meet. The Partners in Flight initiative became the songbird equivalent to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and it really changed the way we look at the management of the species. It was fun to be a part of that shift in thinking. TOD: How can an average Tennessee resident be a positive influence on our bird populations? FORD: Well, I think it all starts with education. I would recommend that people read as much as they can, attend local seminars when possible, and by all means, come to birding events like our Hatchie Birdfest. I would encourage folks to consider birds — especially neo-tropical migrants — when managing and landscaping their own properties. And of course, I’d encourage them to support wildlife conservation and the work being done by non-governmental organizations like TWF, The Nature Conservancy, and others.
Ford says the Hatchie River area is large enough to attract a wide variety of neo-tropical migrant species. Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
TWF is a proud sponsor of the Hatchie Birdfest, which was held this year May 30 - June 1. The festival was originated in 2012 by Sonia Outlaw Clark, director of the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. Clark says the festival was a natural “offshoot” of the area’s readily available resources. “I know that eco-tourism is a big deal and that we weren’t taking advantage of the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge being right here in our back yard,” says Clark. “In Bob Ford, we also have an expert right here in our community, so we thought, ‘Why not do a bird festival?’” The three-day event includes seminars conducted by Ford and other birding experts, a trade show featuring conservation and outdoorsrelated organizations, and several guided bird hikes around HNWR’s O’Neal Lake and the surrounding area. “This festival is just a great opportunity, not only for serious birdwatchers to see some amazing species, but also for families to simply come spend a fun few days together in the great outdoors,” Clark adds. “After all, our ultimate goal is to get people outside!”
TWF is also taking part in Ijams Nature Center’s Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival, taking place Saturday, Aug. 23, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m at the center’s Knoxville location. For more information, visit ijams.org/hummingbird-festival.
T W F S p e c i a l e v e nt
TNSCTP youth take to the blinds in the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt More than 100 youngsters — mostly Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program athletes — their parents, volunteers, and TWF staff gathered for the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt over the weekend of Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Here are some of our favorite photos, including from both the night-before banquet in Dyersburg and from the field the next day. Thanks to everyone who contributed photos and made the event a success!
More than 300 people attended Friday night’s banquet at the Lannom Center in Dyersburg.
TWF’s Chad Whittenburg was emcee for the banquet.
Spring Hill’s Chase Breeding scouts the skies above his blind.
Spring Hill’s Olivia Casada proudly displays her first duck.
LEFT: A few unidentified hunters enjoy the day. CENTER: Participants browse the silent auction table during the banquet. RIGHT: The hunt was a success for this group. Though rains threatened early, the day turned out to be nearly perfect, though a little on the warm side. SUMMER WINTER2014 2013 l l www.tnwf.org www.tnwf.org l l 15 3
By Jay Sheridan
fish under fire
Federal plan threatens to abandon mitigation hatchery funding Workers trap fish at the Erwin Fish Hatchery sometime in the 1950s. Tennessee hatcheries were created to fill a need that resulted from the construction of flood-control dams in the early part of the 20th century.
Wading a mountain stream in East Tennessee, a lazy river in the mid-state or a backwater to the west, it’s easy to think that these waterways are the same as they’ve been for centuries. But that’s rarely the case. Through the early 20th century, Tennesseans relied on a primitive system of levees and private dams toBy control water in their communities, the tiny towns and Jay Sheridan growing cities that represented clusters of population amongst millions of acres of native land. A lot has changed since then. A string of disastrous floods of the 1910s and ‘20s convinced federal and state authorities that something had to be done to protect the people’s assets, private and public, and in the decades since an entire network of locks and dams have been created across the nation to control water and generate power. In our state, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the Cumberland River system, and the Tennessee Valley Authority built and maintains the dams on the Tennessee River. The downside was that the habitat downstream was forever altered, to the point where native sport fish could no longer thrive – the priority for flood management and power production trumped the needs of the wildlife on the scale of national interest. But it was the citizen’s wildlife and habitat that was being destroyed, and the burden for mitigating that impact led to the creation of federal trout stocking
programs that have become economic engines that deliver returns rarely seen in a government program. “We’ve had people tell us that some of our east Tennessee rivers rival the world-famous trout streams out west, and that’s the result of stocking and management,” says Bobby Wilson, chief of fisheries for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “If our trout stocking program were to go away, the economic loss would be enormous.” And while fisheries experts hope that’s not the case, it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility. A “handshake” deal struck decades ago to make permanent reparations for the impact of the dams on fishing opportunities has slowly gone from bona fide Congressional appropriations to program reimbursements for hatcheries, stocking and management, largely covered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Corps of Engineers, and the
F EAT URE — p u b l i c po l i c y TWRA. A report leaked last year indicates that USFWS Director Dan Ashe plans to do away with the mitigation program funding altogether, shifting the burden squarely onto the Corps and the TVA. Tennessee Wildlife Federation CEO Mike Butler, a biologist by training, has studied the program extensively, serving on various stakeholder committees that have witnessed the storm brewing. This is the first time they’ve seen a plan on paper that confirms their suspicions – the federal agency responsible for managing the nation’s wildlife is not interested in funding fisheries mitigation programs moving forward. “We’ve seen a fundamental change in conservation funding over the years, and the change has accelerated rapidly over the last decade,” Butler says. “These federal dam projects had a negative impact on the people’s resource, and that impact is perpetual. The deal was that the mitigation would be in perpetuity, and we’ve built these economies — the bait shops, the restaurants and hotels — that are generating incredible returns on a relatively small amount of money spent on the programs. But because the water fluctuates so much and it’s so cold coming out of these dams but gets so hot during the summer, trout have to be stocked and managed.” Butler says the USFWS touted these programs as a crowning achievement for decades, all the way through the Reagan administration in the 1980s. But as federal spending continued to soar out of control, Congress started looking for creative ways to cut funding. What was historically one appropriation to cover fisheries mitigation nationwide became a multi-front, ongoing battle for various programs that added complexity and politics to the deal. “The bottom line is that the Fish & Wildlife Service is not legally obligated by specific enabling legislation to fund these programs, so now they’re trying to pass the buck because the current director has other priorities,” Butler says. “We don’t think that’s acceptable, ethically or fiscally, to Tennessee or to any of the other states across the Southeast. We believe they are obligated to mitigate the damage on an ongoing basis, because those dam structures made a permanent impact, and they will be there forever.” Wilson says the mechanics behind the program that includes federal and state hatcheries that grow and distribute eggs and stocking-size fish are pretty straightforward. Two national fish hatcheries at Dale Hollow Lake in Celina and at Erwin provide fish for
A member of the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery Staff oversees the stocking of trout that will likely end up on the end of a fishing line. Between the federal and state trout programs, millions of catchable fish are stocked each year into what have become very popular and productive fisheries. Photo courtesy of TWRA
tailwaters across the Southeast, as well as educational opportunities for thousands of science students and the general public each year. At Erwin, 13 million fish eggs are grown and distributed each year — to the Dale Hollow facility and to four cold-water state hatcheries in Tennessee to be grown to stocker fish, as well as to research centers and universities and even to tribal lands. From Dale Hollow come millions of rainbow, brown, lake and brook trout for mitigation stocking in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, along with a limited number of rainbows for non-mitigation purposes, such as TWRA’s winter stocking program. Wilson says the state produces about two million fish per year itself, mostly catchable-size trout but some smaller and some much larger. Whereas the mitigation stocking efforts are primarily handled by the Dale Hollow staff, the state fisheries biologists collaborate closely with them, and sometimes do the stocking themselves when the logistics make sense. TWRA’s mission is to ensure the recreational fishing opportunity exists, and that includes stocking trout in places where they won’t survive the year simply so people can catch and eat them. “The winter stocking program, which runs roughly from January through May, depending on the location and habitat conditions, has been hugely popular,” he says. “You could be catching trout in a pond in Memphis or the Harpeth River in Nashville or a spring-fed creek in (See Hatcheries, page 18) SUMMER 2014 l www.tnwf.org l 17
F EAT URE — p u b l i c po l i c y
hatcheries (Continued from page 17)
Waverly, and these are all relatively warm-water areas where the fish can only survive within a certain water temperature range. It’s designed to encourage people to fish, to teach their kids to fish, to take home fish to eat… it’s been a very successful program that essentially pays for itself through the state trout stamp.” People who get hooked on trout fishing here might become more serious fishermen who frequent the areas where the trout can grow and thrive, as a result of the cold water from deep reservoirs pushed through the dam systems. Middle Tennessee anglers might head to the Caney Fork, whereas East Tennessee’s Watauga, South Holston and Clinch rivers have become known for offering the fly-fishing opportunity akin to something you might expect to find only in Montana or Wyoming. All of these resources have serious dollars attached to them – studies have shown that the return on a single federal dollar spent could be as much as $100 to local economies. The program itself costs the federal government less than $43 million each year in Tennessee, $900,000 of which the USFWS is now trying to place onto the Tennessee Valley Authority. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) brokered a deal with
TVA and the USFWS late last year to provide $2.7 million in short-term funding over three years, but the long-term problem is not going away. Butler says it’s about the principle, the threat and the plan for the future. “After 20 years of a failed reimbursement system that never included TVA, the Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to walk away. The Southeast stakeholders have said loud and clear that we don’t believe that’s the right thing to do, and we’re grateful to Sen. Alexander and TVA for being willing to find a solution,” Butler said. “We have to either convince Director Ashe to reverse his approach, or to pass legislation that codifies this mitigation responsibility once and for all.” Wilson says the state is hoping for the best but planning for the worst. “We assume the hatcheries will continue to operate under some funding model, but this is most certainly a federal responsibility,” he says. “We don’t have the resources to cover it, and if it went away, the result would be a cut to the total trout stocking program of more than 50 percent, at minimum, of the number of fish stocked. Over time, the fishing opportunities would be decreased exponentially.” The budget process is happening now. Make your voice heard on this important issue by contacting USFWS Director Dan Ashe at email@example.com, or Sen. Lamar Alexander at www.alexander.senate.gov.
p u b l i c po l i c y act i o n ale r t
Conservation Easement Incentive Act The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is supportive of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2013 and is tracking its progress through Congress. With the increase of urbanization and land alteration, preserving working farms, ranches and thriving natural areas on private lands is becoming more important. Conservation easements are an essential tool for preventing key agricultural lands from being lost to development while retaining them as working landscapes. Tax incentives like H.R. 2807 would provide good stewardship and actions that benefit society more broadly. The bill is still making its way through the House. Go to www.tnwf.org to track the progress of H.R. 2807 under our “Public Policy” tab. Please call your representatives at 202-224-3121 or email them today to help ensure enhanced tax incentives for private landowners entering conservation easements on their property are made a permanent provision of the U.S. tax code.
F EAT URE — F r om th e a r c h i v e s
‘Rapidly changing and critical times’ The following is adapted from Dr. Marge Davis’ book Sportsmen United: The Story of the Tennessee Conservation League, which chronicles the nearly 70-year history of the organization we now know as the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. Mining had been among the state’s most important industries since early statehood. In fact, the first natural resource manager in Tennessee was not a game manager nor even a forester, but a state geologist. Coal was first mined in the late 1800s. In those early days, virtually all coal extraction was done in underground pits and shafts. After World War I, however, strip mining began to grow increasingly popular. By 1967, fully half the coal mined in Tennessee was surface mined. Yet the state had never regulated surface mines. It had tried to do so as early as 1942, but miners were a sort of outlaw culture, and most legislators considered strip mining the political equivalent of a hand grenade. If there was a man willing to handle it, it was Herman Baggenstoss, whose home was in the middle of coal country. In 1957, he wrote an editorial on the subject in his weekly newspaper, the Grundy County Herald, titled “The Land Cries Out in Anguish.” Stripping has come to the little community of Sanders Crossing… Never again will the Village look the same… never again will the people be the same because of it… Never again will the school children run up and down the green hill behind the school, for that tree-covered hill is no more. The strip mining has passed by, with day and night chugging… and the blastings that shook the foundation of Sanders Crossing School and sent the school children and teachers scurrying home… The stripping has moved across the highway, railroad tracks and the old Altamont Road, shoving everything out of its path to take a swipe at Blue Ribbon Hill… Hobbs Hill and on until a ditch will encircle most of the town of Tracy City, creating a land condition that not a single student of the Sanders Crossing School will see corrected… bleak, bare hills towering above the oaks… a man-made curse to mankind. In 1959, Baggenstoss undertook to write his own strip mine legislation. The powerful mining lobby defeated the
bill, however, and several subsequent attempts. But that was about to change. Early in the 1967 session, Oak Ridge-area legislators introduced two new reclamation bills. The reception was predictably cool, but the winds of environmental awareness were already shifting. On April 4, 1967, Tennessee finally got its strip mining law. It was not a strong law, and there would be numerous attempts to toughen it. But change comes slowly in the hollers, and some folks thought this change would never come at all. Almost overnight, it seemed, environmental lobbying had become an established branch of legal, political and public discourse. Meanwhile, a veritable army of citizen soldiers was coming forward to enlist. Student groups formed on college campuses; mothers organized to protest nuclear power. While some of these new organizations were actively opposed to hunting, most groups simply didn’t hunt, and had little to do with groups that did. In some ways, it was an ironic segregation: the League (now TWF) had supported, even been instrumental in passing the Strip Mine Act, the Scenic Rivers Act and the Scenic Trails Act. Yet apparently it was still perceived as a men’s hunting and fishing club. Nothing galvanized the new generation of activists like the growing list of national eco-disasters: the Torrey Canyon oil spill in California in 1967, the fires on the Cuyahoga River in 1969, the toxic waste leaks at Love Canal in 1971, the mutated bodies of eaglets poisoned by DDT. Some of the datelines were Tennessee, such as Hollywood dump in Memphis, an ironic name for one of the country’s worst hazardous waste sites. Then there were the fish kills, a virtual epidemic by the late 1960s. One of the worst in Tennessee happened in Boone Reservoir in May 1969, when “empty” barrels used for flotation rusted out, leaking residues of a highly toxic mercury compound and killing more than two million fish. A few months later, a similar leak in the Watauga arm of the same reservoir killed another half-million fish. By 1970 the state was posting Pickwick Lake, the Hiwassee River and the North Fork of the Holston against widespread mercury contamination. The federal government responded to the growing crisis with the most concentrated and far-reaching surge of environmental legislation in any period before or since. Between 1965 and 1972, Congress passed more than a (See Changing times page 20) SUMMER 2014 l www.tnwf.org l 19
F EAT URE — f r om th e a r c h i v e s
Changing times (Continued from page 19)
dozen ground-breaking environmental laws, including three progressively stronger water quality acts: the Water Quality Control Act of 1965, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, whose historic amendments included Section 404, the first real wetlands protection law in the nation. Tennessee meanwhile was responding with its own laws. And in 1970, a mild mannered dentist from West Tennessee, Winfield Dunn, who had never held elected office, made history by campaigning for governor on a strong environmental platform – and winning, the first Republican in that office since Alfred Taylor in 1921. On April 22, 1990, Tennessee and the rest of the nation celebrated the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. The League (now TWF) decided to mark the occasion with a major retrospective, a look back that served equally as a look into the future. Released the first week of April, the Tennessee Environmental Quality Index 1970-1990 summarized 20 years of progress in the state’s environmental programs. The League’s report analyzed air quality, water quality, solid waste control, land and soil use, forest management and wildlife protection. The authors of the 12-page report were all environmental professionals, and their manner was likewise
professional, neither understated nor embellished. Old threats had been controlled; new ones were emerging: that was the gist of the report. Their tone was one of statistical precision, technical circumspection and, from time to time, cautious optimism. To those fearing (or expecting) a more dire accounting, the summary was surprisingly temperate. Tennessee’s environment was “not as well off as [it] ought to be,” it concluded, but neither was it “as bad off” as it might be. In short, the EQ Index took a determinedly balanced view of things, delivered with roughly the same degree of emotion as an IRS audit. Yet for all its lack of fireworks, it attracted lavish media attention. Headlines announced, “State’s Environment Has Improved.” The Greeneville Sun ran an eight-day series. The Tennessee Conservationist reproduced the entire report in its July-August issue. Given the national clamor over Earth Day in 1990, such attention was to be expected. But the League’s EQ Index would probably have been newsworthy in any case, because it was followed, just one week later, by the publication of a much more damning environmental review, and much more ominous headlines: State Ranked Near Bottom on Environment. To be continued in the next issue, when we explore the looming crisis of the state’s population boom, and the fight over land-use planning.
p u b l i c po l i c y act i o n ale r t
The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill to publish details on lawsuits lost or settled by federal agencies that must pay the private legal fees of the other side. The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is tracking this legislation because we feel that the approximately $100 million dollars spent annually to settle these suits may be better spent on more pressing conservation priorities. The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, H.R. 2919 — which recently passed the House by voice vote with support of both Democrats and Republicans — would create an online public database of court cases against Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
the U.S. government. Agencies do not keep usable data on cases brought against them according to investigations by the Government Accounting Office. H.R. 2919 would provide a common base of information available to all citizens. The Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s partner, the Boone and Crockett Club, through its President Emeritus Lowell Baier, worked closely with Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) on this bill. Rep. Cohen was instrumental in bringing the bill to (See Equal Access page 31)
p u b l i c po l i c y act i o n ale r t
The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014
he Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 1996) was introduced on February 4 of this year and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation has been monitoring its progress through Congress. This legislation packages 12 important federal wildlife, sporting and conservation titles into one piece of legislation. A large and diverse coalition of hunting, shooting, angling and other conservation organizations have united to ask that members of Congress cosponsor this important legislation to promote and preserve the values and traditions shared by sportsmen and women across the United States. The 29th and most recent Senator agreeing to cosponsor is Tennessee’s own Lamar Alexander. The bill currently has the support of 28 United States Senators. It is sponsored by Senator Kay Hagan and Senator Lisa Murkowski. This pro-sportsmen’s package is a compromise of legislation from Senator Hagan’s Sportmen’s and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions (SPORT) Act and Senator Murkowski’s Sportsmen’s Act of 2013. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act includes the following 12 titles: • Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2013 (S.738), authorizes the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to allow any state to provide federal duck stamps electronically • Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S.1505), exempts lead fishing tackle from being regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act • Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S.1212), enables states to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain shooting ranges on federal and nonfederal lands • Duck Stamp Subsistence Waiver, grants the Secretary of the Interior the authority to make limited waivers of Duck Stamp requirements for certain subsistence users Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act (S.847), permits the Secretary of the Interior to authorize permits for re-importation of legally harvested Polar Bears from approved populations in Canada before the 2008 ban • Farmer and Hunter Protection Act, authorizes USDA
extension offices to determine normal agricultural practices rather than the Fish and Wildlife Service • Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act (S.170), the bill also requires the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to keep their lands open to hunting, recreational fishing, and shooting • Permits for Film Crews of Five People or Less, directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to require annual permits and assess annual fees • Making Public Lands Public, requires 1.5% of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund for securing fishing, hunting, and recreational shooting access on federal public lands • Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization (S.368), a program that enables the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public land to private owners, counties, companies and others for ranching, community development and other projects • North American Wetlands Conservation Act Reauthorization (S.741), provides matching grants to organizations, state and local governments, and private landowners for the acquisition, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands critical to the habitat of migratory birds. • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Reauthorization (S.51), a non-profit that preserves and restores native wildlife species and habitats. The Federation feels that this important piece of legislation is worthy of the Tennessee congressional delegation’s support. As we monitor its progress, we will make it a point to let you, our supporters, know where Tennessee’s U.S. senators and congressmen are in terms of their support of this legislation. If you would like to communicate directly with your senator or congressman, please go to www.tnwf.org and select the “Public Policy” button to find the link to this issue.
‘Watch and Brother/sister duo win trap medals at 8th annual Junior Olypics in Paris, Tenn.listen’ CEO Michael Butler chronicles a day in the woods By GOU Manager Sonya Wood Mahler
The thrill of calling in an old gobbler like this one will “never subside,” says TWF CEO Michael Butler. The TWF executive has begun chronicling some of his outdoor adventures in a new blog at thesustainablecreation.wordpress.com.
Yesterday I went back to one of my favorite turkey hunting spots. I was set up in time to take a seat and watch the world wake up once again. While millions of people around the world were getting ready to go to work, I had to the privilege to sit and watch and listen. The first arrival was the sound of barred owl, followed by song birds waking. Not too soon after there was the soft purr of a hen turkey on the roost, followed by a chorus of gobblers doing the same from their overnight “boomhuts.” My first visitors were white-tailed deer. Being well camouflaged, I wasn’t spotted and they moved on through. This was followed by an aerial assault of turkeys flying off their roosts and gliding several hundred yards to the middle of a large flat field where they could forage undisturbed. Once they hit the ground, I started my attempts to convince them that my jake (a first year male turkey, not much different than a 16 year old boy) and hen decoys were where the party was. This is a somewhat more difficult task if you are working with full-grown tom turkeys. Toms have been around the block and can often smell a trap. But what I didn’t know was that I was dealing with teenagers. After calling for a few minutes I was promptly greeted by nine jake turkeys. They were like high schoolers crashing a house party while the parents are out of town, complete with bullies and social posturing. My poor jake decoy didn’t stand a chance while the biggest of the jakes pulled a Biff Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
moment to my Marty McFly. After whipping the rubberized facsimile, the boys took a liking to my hen decoy, but soon learned she was just a “blow-up doll,” too. This would have been a great turkey hunt if I had gotten up and walked home right then. But as any hunter will tell you, the unknown and unpredictable nature of the hunt is what keeps us saying to ourselves, “Just 15 more minutes, then I’ll go.” So I decided to stay. Turkey hunters often get discouraged and prepare to leave when they haven’t heard a tom gobble for about an hour or so. I am no different, and having sat on the hard ground for two and a half hours, my hind-end was wanting a reprieve. So I carefully stood up. And while I had a great hiding place, one of the better things about this place is that when I stand I can see into a great field and observe if there is anything that I might need to check out. It just so happened what I saw was both disheartening and hopeful. Off in the distance several hundred yards away were two strutting toms, with another turkey hanging around nearby. Disheartening because of their distance and
sta ff sto r i e s that they were on a strutting ground. Hopeful because they were toms. Assessing this situation, and the wind that had picked up, there was nothing to lose if I called aggressively enough to try and get their attention. You see, in turkey hunting (like all hunting) most participants have opinions that range across the spectrum. Some will never call much, choosing to be demur and play hard to get. Others like to throw a big party and raise cain. I fall somewhere in the middle (like a lot of hunters I know), choosing to try tactics and strategies based upon the situation at hand. I started my calling while still standing and hiding behind a tree. Hard cuts on my mouth call didn’t seem to make any impact, possibly because of the wind. But after a few sets of cuts and yelps, I decided I just needed to sit down, be patient and keep calling. That’s about the time the first distant gobble erupted. This inspired me to keep trying. I didn’t know if it was my call that got the ol’ boy fired up, but I was willing to keep trying and find out. A few minutes later my call was met by another gobble. The game was afoot. Another thing that turkey hunters learn over time is how to tell a mature gobbler from a jake by the sound of its gobble. Mature gobblers have a thunderous gobble that ends with something that sounds like a person rattling a ball bearing in a Hills Brothers coffee can. The deeper the tone at the end of a gobble typically indicates a larger and/or older tom. In this situation the direction of the wind was preventing me from making this determination. Further, I knew there were a bunch of jakes in the area. Either way, I wanted to continue on and see what was nibbling on my line. A few more calls and yet another gobble. This one was closer, but also muted behind a hill that lay behind me. Another call, another gobble, still sounding closer, but could I coax my quarry over the hill? Was my party music good enough? That’s when the tom topped the hill and met my call with a full blown thunderchicken response. Now when you have a tom turkey coming up behind you, your mind goes to all those stories you have heard from your buddies about how the tom “hung up” or “got spooked” and never came in. I needed this tom to come past me all the way to my decoy so I could get a good clean shot … and that was still a ways away. But as my heart pounded and my breathing elevated,
I could hear clucking and the sounds of turkeys moving behind me. Straining my peripheral vision for movement, the sound of the turkey drumming was like a bumble bee on steroids. And there he was. Out of the corner of my eye, a dark object walking straight towards the decoys. And then another, and another. Three turkeys, but what were they? Once they cleared the tree serving as my natural camouflage, three toms emerged with their bright red heads. They promptly trotted up to my jake decoy and let everyone know that this was their spot by issuing forth a chorus of three gobbles, and then chest bumping the jake decoy. For me, I was looking closely, measuring beards and body size. After watching this display for several minutes, the tom who was most aggressive towards the jake decoy was also slightly the largest bird available. With one smooth motion, I raised my shotgun and pulled the trigger. The 20-gauge produced the desired effect on the turkey, and it flopped over onto its back. A clean kill. While the sound of the shot spooked the other two toms, they did not run. As can be the case with turkeys, if they do not see you they sometimes will stick around. One of the other toms came up to his dead comrade in a half strut, pecking at him as if to say “even though we were brothers and competitors, I am still alive and the hunter has done what I would have had to do anyway.” And for the next twenty minutes these two toms hung around gobbling and staking claim. During this time I turned around to see that behind me were several hens purring and clucking just ten yards away. As the turkeys moved on, gobbling, scratching and yelping, I rose to pack up my rubber accomplices and the old tom that would become my family’s Easter lunch. The wind had picked up, the sun was out, and the sky blue on a wondrous spring Tennessee morning. Harvesting a tom was only a “side benefit” This never gets to a spectacular morning, says Butler. old. SUMMER 2014 l www.tnwf.org l 23
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GOU goes mushroom hunting By GOU Nashville Manager Sonya Wood Mahler
TWF Board of Directors Vice Chair and GOU founder Peter Schutt explains the ins and outs of mushroom hunting during a week-long excursion to the Washington Cascades mountain range last October.
and a few oyster mushrooms. Of course, it became a competition, with each returning team emptying their bags and counting the mushrooms they had collected. The winning team found a total of 109 mushrooms! These we later cleaned and sauteed for a delicious supper.
For most of the boys, it was a trip of firsts: their first time to be away from their moms, fly on an airplane, be on a boat (much less steer one), write a postcard home, lead a group hike, and see more than a dusting of snow. And, yes, it was their first time to gather something from the forest and eat it for supper.
GOU Summer Wish List We always need “stuff” to make GOU go, and your gifts are critical. If you would like to contribute, give us a call at 615-353-1133 for details. Currently, our top “wish list” items include:
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he pinnacle trip each year for Great Outdoors University is a week-long adventure for eight Boy Scouts in the Washington Cascades. On our trip last October, all of the boys were part of the Scoutreach program for low-income kids in metro Nashville. Peter Schutt, a TWF board member and the founder of GOU, generously covered the cost of this trip and served as our guide. Our home base was Peter’s cabin in the tiny town of Glacier, Wash., 10 miles from the Canadian border. The boys were very comfortable in the bunkhouse (which they called “our place”) that Peter had specially built for GOU trips. Peter took us mushroom hunting in the Mount Baker Snoquamie National Forest, not far from his cabin. He explained that our “prey” might be growing beneath the canopy of huge Douglas firs and hemlocks. We spread out in teams of three. At first the boys didn’t see any. But slowly, the pumpkinorange color of the chanterelle mushrooms began to catch their eyes. Some of the boys really had a knack for it, but none of us were as good as Peter, whom we dubbed “the Mushroom Whisperer.” We filled our bags with chanterelles
Sports chairs Fishing rods Split firewood Water shoes Hiking boots Plastic forks, knives, and spoons Gas canisters for a gas stove Day packs
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Brother/sister duo win trap medals at 8th annual Junior Olympics in Paris, Tenn. More than 150 international trap and skeet competitors from Tennessee competed May 2-4 for state championship honors and an opportunity to represent the Volunteer State on a national level in July. The 8th Annual Tennessee Junior Olympics event, hosted by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation through the organization’s designation as a USA Shooting Certified Training Center, was held at the Holly Fork Shooting Complex in Paris, Tenn. as part of the state-level Junior Olympic qualifying process. The 28 skeet and 136 trap competitors now have a chance at the National Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colo., this summer. “This is the largest qualifying event of its kind in America, and Tennessee has become nationally known for producing highly talented shotgun athletes,” said Chad Whittenburg, TWF’s Certified Training Center Director. “Trap and skeet shooting has become a bona fide sport in a majority of our county schools and dozens of private schools, because it’s a sport that anyone can participate in.” Brother-and-sister duo Jared and Emma Williams of Savannah, Tenn., won the men’s and women’s international trap gold medals, respectively. USA Junior World Team Member Hannah Houston of Columbia, Tenn., along with Will Dunnebacke of Hampshire, Tenn., emerged as the state champions in the international skeet competition.
(Left to right) Gracin Anderson, Emily DeCuir, Laura DeCuir, Garrett Potts, Alicea Smits, Hunter Fletcher, Colin King, Will Dunnebacke, Hannah Houston, Paige Kephart, Gavin Anderson, Tori Brown, Wilkes Halliday and Nelson Rainey were winners at the Tennessee Junior Olympics May 2-4, 2014
Henry County athlete Caleb Orr powders a target during Thursday afternoon’s skeet competition.
LEFT: Trace Crockett (Montgomery) takes a breather. CENTER: From left, CTC coach Bob King and Laura DeCuir and Hannah Houston (both Maury) watch the proceedings. RIGHT: From right, Tori Brown (Maury), Sarah Kolbe (Montgomery), and Nelson Rainey (Maury) share a laugh. SUMMER WINTER2014 2013 l l www.tnwf.org www.tnwf.org l l 25 3
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Hunters for the Hungry survey yields insights to program growth
ver the course of 16 years, TWF’s Hunters for the Hungry program has collected and distributed more than a million pounds of venison to soup kitchens and food banks across the state. Each year, thousands of deer are donated by generous hunters – that meant more than 500,000 meals this year alone – but we’re really just scratching the surface in the fight against hunger. As we work to grow Hunters for the Hungry, we’re constantly looking for feedback from hunters and others who want to support the program that utilizes a healthy, renewable resource to address a critical social need. We conducted a survey earlier this year that generated some 3,000 responses, and we wanted to share some important insights with you. More than 50 percent of hunters take multiple deer each year to eat – some as many as 10. As a result of a booming whitetail deer population, hunters can legally take more than 100 each season, if desired. Nearly 30 percent reported that they’d never donated to the program, as a result of either the cost or the lack of awareness. Those who did donate cited the desire to help Tennesseans in need (68%); harvesting more deer than they can personally use (43%); extra motivation to get in the woods after they’ve taken their own deer (34%); and using the program as a herd management tool (19%) as primary drivers. More than 70 percent said they would be willing to donate one or more deer if the processing were free. Participating processers allow hunters to donate a portion – a pound or more of ground venison burger, for instance – when picking up their meat. Nearly 75 percent said they’d be willing to consider giving a portion this year. Funds raised by TWF help offset the cost of the processing deer, often allowing hunters to donate whole deer at no cost. Once the funding is exhausted,
hunters are sometimes asked to cover the cost themselves. When asked if they would pay to donate deer to HFTH through a participating processor, 43 percent indicated they would be willing to pay up to $20, and 21 percent would be willing to give up to $40. On average, it costs about $40 to process a deer, which yields about 160 meals. “We have quotas for free processing based on private donations, but they are typically exhausted before the season is over,” TWF Chief Development Officer Kendall McCarter explains. “Clearly, hunters and others who care about our natural resources overwhelmingly support the program, and want to find ways to help. Every donation makes a difference.” To support Hunters for the Hungry, visit www.tnwf.org/donate and choose the program in the gift designation box or call 615-353-1133.
T W F AR O U N D T H E S TAT E
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is active across the state, from Mountain City to Memphis. Here are some quick looks at things going on in the world of TWF’s youth engagement and wildlife conservation across Tennessee.
TWF names “Top Gun” students in Memphis.
TWF receives a grant from the Nashville Predators Foundation.
TWF presented awards to Memphis University School students Bolton Gayden and Nick Dunn and Hutchison School’s Connell Erb (pictured with Board Chair Dr. Jack Gayden, left, and HFTH Manager Matt Simcox), whose efforts provided more than 56,000 meals through HFTH.
Karen Vaughn, TWF Director of Grants and Special Projects, was on hand to receive the check from Predators player Rich Clune and mascot Gnash during a May 7 presentation.
HENDERSON COUNTY TWF Chief Development Officer Kendall McCarter will appear on Tennessee’s Wild Side television program. Scheduled to be filmed in June, Kendall will join board member and fishing/hunting guide Chris Nischan in a lake-fishing excursion in Natchez Trace State Park.
LAWRENCE COUNTY Babes, Bullets, & Broadheads to host archery shoot in support of Hunters for the Hungry The event will be Saturday and Sunday, July 12-13, at David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg. For more information, visit www.babesbulletsbroadheads.com.
KNOX COUNTY Federation becomes a sponsor of the upcoming Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival. This event will take place Saturday, August 23, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. For more, visit ijams.org/hummingbird-festival.
ANDERSON COUNTY TWF’s Certified Training Center hosts wobble-trap match in Oak Ridge. Some 30 athletes participated in the April 19 competition — the first of its kind in East Tennessee — at the Oak Ridge Sportsmen’s Assocation.
Let us know what’s happening in your county. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org SUMMER WINTER 2014 2013 ll www.tnwf.org www.tnwf.org ll 27 19
G ea r r ev i ews
st o r y a n d p h ot o s by j oe l lu c k s
Oculus 7.0 10x42 Binoculars The Oculus 7.0 10x42s are binoculars on steroids. They are compact, they have a great feel to them and they scream of quality. Oculus did not skimp on the amount of prisms and glass that they put into these binoculars, either. These feature-packed binoculars are for the serious sportsperson and conservationist. Whether you are glassing your favorite big game across a valley or watching birds in your backyard, you should never leave home without them. Their extra-low dispersion (ED glass) formula — not so much the type of glass as much as the technology — actually condenses incoming light for better color reproduction and clearer images. Some manufacturers just do a better job at reducing chromatic aberration, but the Oculus patent virtually eliminates color fringing and chromatic aberrations. These 10x42s also have a wider field of view, increasing your picture through the eyepiece, allowing you to glass more terrain with less movement of the binoculars. They are fog-proof and waterproof, both important when weather conditions can change on a moment’s notice. And their exterior lens coating, what Oculus calls a hydrophobic lens coating, keeps lenses bright and clear even during the worst kind of weather. Further, all lenses that come in contact with air are treated with their anti-reflective (AR) coating, which increases light transmission and minimizes the loss of clarity to glare. The center focus wheel and right eye diopter finish off the major features on this beauty, but not without wrapping the magnesium construction up in a rubber armor protection. Visit www.BassProShops.com for more information and pricing (SKU # 1897046).
BlackOut Swivel Hard-Arm Chair The BlackOut Swivel Hard-Arm Chair is the perfect accessory for long hours in the woods when you’re hunting from the ground. At 14 pounds, and with a convenient shoulder strip, it easily attaches to your backpack or hooks onto your shoulder. Once set up, the heavy-duty steel frame and heavily padded back support embraces you like your favorite recliner. No more sitting against a hard tree with your legs spreadeagle on the ground. The foam-padded hard arms provide immediate comfort and a safe place to temporarily put your firearm or bow when you need to shake the circulation back into your hands. And the independent telescoping legs allow you to incline the chair to any angle. In a blind, movement is less critical, too, so the 360-degree total swivel seat allows you flexibility to move around without having to lift up the seat to get up and down, minimizing the amount of noise we sometimes can generate when we’re not supposed to. The breathable mesh seat is also water resistant, so if you are in and out of a blind during a wet, rainy day, you’re off the ground and you dry off quickly. Like a camera tripod, the chair collapses to a low profile, low-weight package. For more information on the BlackOut Swivel Hard Arm Chair, visit www. BassProShops.com and search SKU # 1997631. Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
Joel Lucks, of Smyrna, Tenn., is a freelance outdoors writer and photographer and a frequent contributor to the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation.
ASCEND MS4400 Trail Pack The Ascent MS4400 Trail Pack is a great value for the price as an overnight heavy-loading backpack capable of packing in for several days, or as a backpack that can double-up as a lightweight daypack to hold just snacks, water and emergency equipment. The MS4400 Trail Pack is loaded with features for the serious and casual hiker. Built for big-volume packing of up to 4,400 cubic inches, it also doubles as a light daypack for handling lower loads. The built-in load adjustable support system is the first technological group of features that I noticed with this pack. The adjustable torso-fit panel, the air-mesh padding, the padded shoulder straps and wrap-around waist belt are just some of the major features that make this a dream backpack, comfortable no matter where you take it. Not stopping there, the designers built a lot of extra features into this pack, as well, not the least of which include a top-loading main compartment with the capacity to hold clothes or a sleeping bag. But the icing on this cake includes features such as front and side loading compartments, the YKK® zippers with string loops, the quality hardware and buckles, the convenient loops for trekking poles and room for a hydration bottle, which all add to your comfort, and ability to easily and practically pack and unpack, especially if you need to find something fast. Nothing is worse than having to unpack your pack on the trail to get something that has drifted to the bottom. With the Ascend MS4400 Trail Pack, convenience and efficiency mark this backpack as a great “partner” for your overnight backcountry adventures or day trips. This is a multiple-features backpack with lots of great benefits for those with smaller budgets. It is one of the best-valued backpacks on the market today. For more specific information, go to www.BassProShops.com and search SKU # 1974534. WINTER 2013 l www.tnwf.org l 3
wild game recipe
R e c i p e a nd photo by C a m e r on M i tc h e l l , twf e a st t e nn e ss e e d e v e lopm e nt off i c e r
Catch of the day: fish tacos with homemade salsa
When the dogwood trees begin to bloom, that’s generally a sign of crappie-fishing season. If you catch and eat crappie, then you know that most people fry it. Some people soak it in buttermilk or roll it around in flour and cornmeal, then deep fat fry or sizzle it on an iron skillet. The following recipe offers a healthy alternative, also gluten-free and with fewer saturated fats and cholesterol. A side of Spanish rice is a nice touch. General grocery list • 2½ pounds crappie fillet meat, boneless/skinless (10 ounces per person) • 12 blue corn taco shells • ½ teaspoon chili powder • ¼ teaspoon paprika • ¼ teaspoon cumin • 6 small cloves garlic, minced (also for salsa) • 1 bunch cilantro (for crappie and salsa) • 6 ounces, fresh-shredded white sharp cheddar cheese • 2 fresh avocados • ½-head iceberg lettuce, shredded • 2 limes • 1 cup sour cream • 2 hot chili peppers, serrano or jalapeno, finely chopped (for salsa) • ¼ cup olive oil (for crappie) • 1 cup long-grain white rice • salt and pepper Sauté crappie taco meat: (Yield: 4 portions, 3 tacos each) • ¼ cup olive oil • 2 small cloves garlic, minced • 2½ pounds crappie fillet meat, boneless/skinless • ½ teaspoon chili powder • ¼ teaspoon paprika • ¼ teaspoon cumin • 1 ounce lime juice • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro • 12 blue corn taco shells Tennessee Out-Of-Doors
Crappie makes fantastic and often-overlooked taco filling. The result is a light, healthy, and flavorful dish.
Preparation: Heat large sauté pan or iron skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic, olive oil, and all crappie meat to pan. Gently stir while trying to avoid breaking up crappie meat. Allow to cook for two to three minutes. Add cumin, chili powder, and paprika, based on personal preference. Add lime juice and a pinch of minced cilantro. Turn off heat and cover. Homemade Tomato Salsa: (Yield: Makes 2 cups) • 3 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion • 2 small cloves garlic, minced • 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed, chopped • 1 hot chili pepper, (serrano or jalapeno), seeds discarded and finely chopped • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro • 2 tablespoons lime juice • salt and pepper Preparation: Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour two cups boiling water over them then let drain thoroughly and discard the water. Cool the onions in refrigerator. Combine onions and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for two hours to blend flavors.
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2013 Memorials In Memory of Mr. Douglas Wayne Sims Mr. & Mrs. Bettie & Gene Gustafson, Millington, Tenn.
J. Clark Akers honored Federation staff, friends, and family honored longtime TWF supporter and lifelong conservationist J. Clark Akers on Friday, May 23, with the presentation of a resolution establishing a Conservation Achievement Award in his honor — the J. Clark Akers III Champion of Conservation Award. Pictured are, from left, TWF CEO Mike Butler, Akers, TWF Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Monty Halcomb, and TWF Chief Development Officer Kendall McCarter.
equal access (Continued from page 19)
the House floor after winning passage in the Judiciary Committee, where the bill passed also by a voice vote and was reported with no dissenting views. The bill is co-sponsored by six additional members of Congress, evenly bipartisan: Reps. Joe Garcia (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Rob Bishop (R-UT). We applaud the House’s passage and are promoting Senate passage. Our goal is to better understand why environmental litigation is so common, the grounds on which the government loses, and the reasons for using public funds to pay private legal fees. “Many people have opinions on environmental litigation,” said Baier, “but there must be data on what is actually happening before anyone’s opinion can help with this issue.” Many sporting conservation groups also support H.R. 2919 because they work closely with the federal agencies that manage wildlife habitat on public lands, where many management projects stall in the courts, taking time and money away from on-the-ground conservation work.
In Memory of Mr. Ray Eugene Quinn Russ, Marion, Jennifer, & Kate Farrar, Brentwood, Tenn. Interstate Mechanical Contractors, Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.
TWF adds program intern TWF is proud to announce the addition of program intern Michael Folk, a Memphis native and 2013 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Michael is an outdoor enthusiast who hopes to make a career in the field of wildlife and habitat conservation. A joint letter from sportsmen’s groups last fall to lawmakers in Washington D.C. urged support and co-sponsorship for the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act. Baier said, “Sportsmen, particularly the founders of the Boone and Crockett Club, led the creation of federal conservation agencies. Naturally we are intent on their success today. These agencies must be accountable to the public, but in a case of differing opinions, which is what many of these lawsuits are, the government should not subsidize the controversy. To get the balance right, we need common data to enable us to sort case details and adjust policies accordingly.” Suing the government has become common enough to raise questions about whether agencies are properly carrying out the law, whether lawsuits are too easy to file and win, and whether all lawsuits should be supported with public dollars, says Baier, and H.R. 2919 would help answer these questions. The Federation will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and the position of our U.S. senators as it makes its way through that chamber. For more information, go to www.tnwf.org. The Boone and Crockett Club and Watershed Results contributed significantly to this update.
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