I agree with these words

This response to a Wall Streen Journal piece was originally published on this blog on 04/05/2017. I have been assuming all the costs and responsibilities of this blog, but in that effort I lost the original posting of this piece. My good friend Matt Chappell, I apologize, and for now can only offer this re-posting of your work, which I very much agree with.

A response to the article by Terry L. Anderson titled, “Utah Faces Down the Rock-Climbing Industrial Complex”
Published 04/05/2017 on DrewDittmer.com:

In light of opinion editorials and political attacks to reverse the Bear’s Ears National Monument, eliminate wilderness study areas, and transfer federal land to states and private entities, I would like to offer some insight.

First, we need to understand the designations for these federal lands and the agencies that oversee them to understand how they are managed. There is a political agenda attacking federal lands, and oftentimes their message distorts what wilderness, national monuments, national parks, and the agencies that oversee them are to further their agenda.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Terry L. Anderson inferred that national monuments created under the Antiquities Act by a President follow rules to “…leave the land wild for recreation while discouraging oil and gas development.” This is incorrect. A President creating a national monument does not designate wilderness—this takes an act of Congress. Typically, the reverse is true of national monuments. Hunting and fishing, outfitting, water and utility maintenance, commercial development, motorized use, mountain biking, firewood cutting, grazing, timber harvest, mining, and oil and gas development are allowed (most are prohibited in wilderness). President Obama did not create any wilderness by designating the Bear’s Ears National Monument.

A new idea infers that profits from recreation are what dictate the politics of federal land management. Recreation is undoubtedly significant, but it does not solely drive management. Habitat restoration, tribal rights, water management, and resource extraction have important seats at the table too. Furthermore, different agencies have to follow separate laws. The National Park Service is very limited in resource extraction because of the Organic Act. The U.S. Forest Service has to balance many user groups under the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act.

The implication that profits from the outdoor industry are an enormous subsidy that the taxpayers foot only mentions a drop in the bucket of subsidies on federal land. Most studies show the massive tax and revenue generation of outdoor recreation to the government and economy. According to the Outdoor Foundation, outdoor recreation generates 730 billion dollars into the U.S. economy and employs 6.5 million Americans.

Prodigious subsidies are attributed to the outdoor industry on federal land, but the drivers of such mendacities fail to talk about the vast subsidies given to the resource extraction industry. Billions of dollars go to grazing, timber harvest, dams, mining, and the oil and gas industry. People fail to mention what these subsidies do to markets and tax revenue to the detriment of public health and cost of cleanup.

The maintenance backlog of federal land is not a subsidy issue, but a Congressional budget issue. The National Park Service oversees the second largest amount of infrastructure in the government with a 3 billion dollar budget. Of the 19 billion dollar public land maintenance backlog, 12.5 billion of it is from the National Park Service. Only the U.S. military oversees more infrastructure. The U.S. Forest Service budget is 5.8 billion, spending 52% of it to fight the nation’s wildfires. Congress created an unsustainable situation by shrinking budgets for these agencies, refusing to adequately appropriate money for wildfire and maintenance costs. Congress has continued to let wildfire remain the only natural disaster not covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Many critical of subsidies in other industries want to implement a tax on the outdoor industry to pass on to their consumers who purchase outdoor equipment and clothing. It would be hardly fair to have one user group foot the bill for federal land management, when so many are left out. The subsidies associated with resource extraction on public land are excessive and their return to management are dismal.

Regarding fishermen and hunters, people bring up the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts in a blind attempt to justify an outdoor industry tax. They falsely equate that these national taxes getting divided up among state agencies solves any of the issues associated with federal land management. States utilize this money for hunter education programs, state public shooting ranges and boat ramps, and state conservation. They do not go to federal land management.

Americans foot the heavy subsidy bill for resource extraction on federal land. If critics truly cared about paying for federal land management, they would mention targeting extractive resource industries that receive the most in welfare with marginal returns to the people and land.

The biggest losers in public lands are the American people, not the resource extraction industry, who have profited so handsomely at everyone’s expense.
Public lands serve the people of America.

Mathew Chappell

The west side of the Guadalupe Mountains

Last weekend I went to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It has been known to be among the top ten least visited national parks. Mostly because it is in a region of the USA that is rarely part of a destination trip for most travelers. I did not go to summit the highest peak in Texas, I went to the see the salt basin dunes. It was a tough hike in triple digit heat, but I maintain that it was worth it

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Dalquest Desert Research Station

This last weekend the Texas Herpetological Society (THS) had a split field trip. Some of the members went to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Other members, including myself, went to Dalquest Desert Research Station (DDRS). The lower age limit is 18 for visitors and researchers using DDRS facilities, this is why the field trip was split, so those who wanted to bring younger THS members could still find a place to gather and look for reptiles and amphibians. What follows are some of the pictures that I took of the landscape, flora and fauna, and my beloved 4runner.

TX-I69, looking at San Jacinto Mountain, 4965 Feet

TX-I69, looking at San Jacinto Mountain, 4965 Feet

TX historical marker Alamito Creek Station My Rig I lost count of the mumber of cattle crossings Jack Rabbits are abundant in West, TX DDRS entrance sign

DDRS field station accomodations and HQ

DDRS field station accommodations and HQ

Ocotillo at sunrise
Ocotillo at sunrise
Alamo de Cesario

Alamo de Cesario

Sceloporus merriami

Sceloporus merriami

Sceloporus merriami

Sceloporus merriami

Sceloporus merriami

Sceloporus merriami

Lithobates berlandieri

Lithobates berlandieri

Aspidoscelis tesselata

Aspidoscelis tesselata

Aspidoscelis tesselata

Aspidoscelis tesselata

Echinocactus bloom

Phrynosoma modestum; female is pale grey, male is rusty orange.

Phrynosoma modestum; female is pale grey, male is rusty orange.

Elevation is roughly 4600 feet looking northward at DDRS field station

Elevation is roughly 4600 feet looking northward at DDRS field station

driving out

driving out

Canyon, name unknown

Canyon, name unknown

Crotaphytus collaris

Crotaphytus collaris

Probably Kinosternon here, but I couldn't find them

Probably Kinosternon here, but I couldn’t find them

I’m not in Australia anymore

This blog is going to change. I now live in Texas, and I want to try to put up more pictures/brief trip reports from the trips I take. The kind of trips I generally take involve activities like camping, paddling, and day hiking. More often than not these activities are necessary to access locations for fishing and hunting trips.

Most recently I checked out a wilderness area in one of the National Forests of East Texas. I was mostly focused on scouting for feral hogs. I did bring my recurve bow and some broadhead tipped arrows. I saw a sounder of hogs on the final day of my trip; I only had one shot opportunity and I missed.

Overall I just enjoyed paddling my Bell Wildfire Canoe through a lowland swamp. Please enjoy the pictures.

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Long-nosed water dragon with a cockroach meal

On New Years Eve day I took a day trip with my wife to Ellery Creek Water Hole in the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park. With the last jolt of energy from my camera’s battery I managed to capture the following images of a long-nosed water dragon (Lophignathus longirostris) that captured and ate a cockroach. These lizards are abundant and easy to observe at Ellery Creek.Lophognathus longirostris and Blattarid Lophognathus longirostris and Blattarid

This image came out funny, I observed this lizard catching and eating this insect, and not once did it appear to be distasteful. The camera just happened to capture this image during a split second that suggests the lizard is not going to finished this meal.

This image came out funny, I observed this lizard catching and eating this insect, and not once did it appear to be distasteful. The camera just happened to capture this image during a split second that suggests the lizard is not going to finished this meal.

Lophognathus longirostris

Some other tourists walked by and the lizard ran from it’s rock perch to the limb seen here. It finished swallowing it’s meal from this position.

 

Lophognathus longirostris Lophognathus longirostris digesting