Conservation is Strong on this 44th Earth Day

Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson told President Kennedy in 1963 that while the public is “aware that all around them, here and there, outdoor assets are disappearing, they really don’t see the awful dimension of the catastrophe” that prominent conservationists of that time, such as Rachel Carson, were pointing out.

In 1969, after a devastating oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, Senator Nelson had an idea: a teach-in on the environment; and on April 22, 1970, Earth Day began.

Boy, did the country learn. 

The years after the first Earth Day saw the passage of many major environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act in 1973.

Nestucca Bay NWR beckons in this photo from 2009. Credit: USFWS

So, on each Earth Day anniversary, we momentarily pause in our individual and societal quests for greater affluence and give thanks for the many blessings of a healthy environment: clean drinking water; rivers, lakes and oceans that are swimmable and fishable; air that is breathable; open spaces that support outdoor recreation and a vibrant recreation economy; habitat that provides protection from storms and floods … the list goes on.

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Hunting Brings You Face-to-Face with Nature’s Thrills, But Not the Way you May Think

I was lucky enough to spend some time this month week at SHOT Show, a trade show on hunting, shooting and the outdoors, where I got a chance to talk with hunters and shooting enthusiasts about conservation.

Huner

A hunter walks through at Selawik National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

Just like fishing (it’s called fishing, not catching), getting into the outdoors is often the best part of hunting. Many of the stories we shared reflected the hours we’ve spent waiting for waterfowl or elk or deer without even touching the trigger. That’s more than just OK. Being outside, away from the day-to-day, we are free to embrace an important part of our national heritage as well as, in my case, a big part of a family one.

Maybe we’ll see something we have never seen before – nature is always surprising and always a thrill.

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Some Amazing Conservation is Happening out West Despite Challenging Issues

I ventured down to Tucson, Arizona, for a few days recently for the winter meeting of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).

Lee Metcalf NWR The landscape at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in western Montana is just one type we manage with WAFWA. Credit: Bob Danley/USFWS

WAFWA represents U.S. states from Alaska and Hawaii to Texas and the Dakotas. Several Canadian provinces are also members. That’s almost 4 million square miles, home to more than 1,500 wildlife species.

WAFWA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked, side-by-side, on a number of conservation successes last year.

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Last updated: August 31, 2011