America’s hunters and anglers know firsthand the importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. Whether it is casting a fly over an Appalachian Brook Trout, struggling up a mountain side for a brief encounter with a grouse or driving to the coast to share a duck blind with a wet dog, we relish being outdoors.
We recently marked National Hunting and Fishing Day, a day to champion our outdoor heritage. Sportsmen clubs, and state sportsmen conservation groups held events to commemorate our sporting heritage and to introduce young and old alike to our sporting traditions.
Generations of Americans have enjoyed the outdoors, but it’s not just about being outdoors. Hunting and fishing generate more than $95 billion every year in the economy, from buying bait to renting cabins and hiring guides.
But we cannot take these great traditions for granted. A warming planet and a changing climate pose new threats to fish, birds and other wildlife. Power plant and industrial carbon emissions are heating up streams, making some uninhabitable for coldwater fish. Warmer winters linked to carbon pollution are altering waterfowl migration and creating mismatches in timing. Sea level rise is flooding coastal habitats, home to fish nurseries, birds and other critters.
The National Wildlife Federa-tion has issued several reports that tell a compelling story: Swimming Upstream: How Climate Change is Harming Freshwater Fish; Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis; and Shifting Skies: Migratory Birds in a Warming World. (Visit www.nwf.org.) The science is clear. The controversy is history. Climate change is here now and we must act.
As we celebrate our hunting and fishing heritage, let’s also applaud the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, which announced new limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.
Cutting pollution is as important to hunting and fishing as a good pair of boots, a nice casting stroke and clean water. I applaud EPA. Let’s tell Congress to let EPA do its job, to protect wildlife habitats, our sporting heritage, the sportsmen economy, and our children’s ability to enjoy wild North Carolina like we have.
G. Richard Mode is Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. This first appeared in the Asheville, N.C. Citizen-Times.