Trump's assault on sportsmen continues

New budget takes aim at programs that protect and enrich hunting and fishing
Donald Trump
Photo: Gage Skidmore

During his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump presided over an administration that has effectively killed the Clean Water Rule—which, to anglers, is quite possibly the single most important piece of legislation in existence—gleefully signed off on the rollback of the Stream Protection Rule, instructed the BLM to prioritize energy extraction over all other activities, initiated a review of 27 of our national monuments with the goal of opening up parts of those public lands to oil and gas development and announced plans to defund the EPA. Any one of these actions, taken solely on their own merit, can be categorized as an attack on sportsmen. Taken as a whole, they are an outright assault.

Trump’s budget proposal, revealed this week, is not just the latest measure in that assault, but one of the most significant. Not only does Trump’s budget include dramatic cuts to the Department of the Interior (1.4 billion), EPA (2.6 billion) and USDA (4.6 billion) and slash funding to programs important to public lands, it takes aim at one of our country’s most beloved and most successful conservation programs—the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—with a staggering 84 percent budget cut.

With Trump’s vision for our nation’s public lands, its rivers and streams, its sagebrush and steppe, its bayous and shorelines increasingly laid bare, it is becoming increasingly difficult for sportsmen that have supported Donald Trump and his administration—buoyed by Trump’s pledges to fight for public lands and by his sons’ affinity for hunting and fishing—to live in denial. For sportsmen that feared Trump taking office, it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of all the things that seem to be falling apart.

The move to target the LWCF, a program celebrated by all but the most draconian of political operatives, is one that came as a surprise even to some of Trump's most passionate detractors. As Ty Hansen wrote in an earlier piece in Hatch Magazine, the LWCF is one of America’s greatest success stories. Hansen notes,

The Land and Water Conservation Fund—which is funded almost entirely from royalties charged on offshore oil and gas leases which are then invested in onshore conservation projects—is right up there with the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act as one of the best accomplishments in the history of the United States Congress. It literally costs the American taxpayer nothing, but contributes billions of dollars every year in revenue to local communities that benefit from LWCF projects.

Communities in every single state in the union have benefitted directly from projects funded by the LWCF, projects that build and restore infrastructure at national parks, improve hunting, fishing and other access on public lands, protect vital fish and game habitat, restore streams and rivers and more. Much more.

Map showing LWCF funded projects throughout the U.S
Map showing LWCF funded projects throughout the U.S. (source: The Wilderness Society)

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) president and CEO Land Tawney lashed out at the cuts.

“The administration’s budget starves our public lands of critical funding,” said Tawney. “The cuts they would levy on our natural resource agencies, resource professionals and key programs are unprecedented and far-reaching in scope: Not only would they profoundly diminish our lands and waters, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor opportunities; they also would hobble America’s potent outdoors economy – currently $887 billion strong, sustainable and growing.”

South Fork Snake River Special Recreation Management Area
Acquired with LWCF funding: the Upper Snake/South Fork Snake River Special Recreation Management Area in Idah--43,000 acres that contain the largest population of the critically-endangered Yellowstone cutthroat trout outside of Yellowstone National Park (photo: BLM).

BHA, along with many other groups representing sportsmen, has been supportive of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s leadership, despite repeated actions by Zinke that have raised significant concerns among many hunters and anglers. In his statement, Tawney acknowledged this fact, stating that “on his first day at Interior, Secretary Zinke signed a secretarial order calling for the expansion of public access and hunting and fishing opportunities on U.S. public lands – an action we applauded. Today, only weeks later, we are confused by the drastic cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has done more to facilitate public access opportunities to hunt, fish and otherwise enjoy the great outdoors than any other federal program in history. The proposed budget flies in the face of what sportsmen and women need and want most: access.”


Thanks for speaking out, Chad. We are in the grip of a living nightmare, and its name is Donald Trump. In a sense, though, he's merely the blunt instrument of the overarching Republican strategy: Court the wealthy, dupe the ignorant, eviscerate every program that contributes to the public good, and create what amounts to a feudalistic society in which the rich rule like lords and the rest of us are forced to work night and day to satisfy our most basic needs. The American Dream, indeed....

Hexmeister, your comment is spot on and quote-worthy. May I quote you?

Bravo, Hexmeister. Exactly what I could not put into words. I will humbly use your quote.

Maybe start by cutting funding to oil company subsidies and wars rather than to water quality protection and science? Crazy talk, I know...

Well, how about cutting the military, only the greatest make-work program in history. But, Utah does have a bunch of military projects...right?

I agree wholeheartedly. Every cut will be criticized by someone with equally believed arguments. Money is not the answer to every problem. And, yes, by all means cut subsidies to the energy industry and make our military and govt. in general more efficient.

Agreed! Time for the left to recognize that our national debt is out of control. Government needs to spend less - our beautiful lands and streams will be worse off when China owns them! Things need to change. The LWCF hasn't been managed the greatest either ; MO hasn't seen much from it

Unlike many of the "sportsmen's" groups such as Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Boone and Crocket Club who did much (long-term damage) in their bizarre and perhaps self-serving quest to make Ryan Zinke and Donald Trump Jr out to be Teddy Roosevelt reincarnated – and even said some nice things about Donald Trump's supposed love and support of public lands – many of us in the environmental community were not afraid to call attention to the real record of Zinke and Trump on public lands, environmental, wildlife and conservation issues.

Here's my statement from last December when President Elect Trump hand-picked Zinke to lead Interior. Compare the statement below with the glowing pro-Zinke statements that came from the lips of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Boone and Crocket Club.

For Release: December 15, 2016

Statement from Matthew Koehler, Director of the WildWest Institute, on President Elect Donald Trump’s Nomination of Rep Ryan Zinke as Secretary of Interior

Rep Ryan Zinke has an established track record of being pro-coal, pro-fracking, pro-logging, anti-science and anti-endangered species act when it comes to managing America’s public lands and wildlife. This has earned Zinke an environmental voting record of 3% from the League of Conservation Voters and a National Parks voting record of just 9% from the National Parks Conservation Association.

Let’s also not forget that Rep Zinke was just hand picked by President-elect Donald Trump, someone who is clearly assembling the most anti-environmental, anti-public lands, pro-oil and gas and pro-wall street cabinet and administration in U.S. History.

To think that Congressman Ryan Zinke is going to be a strong advocate for America’s public lands, our national parks and fish and wildlife species – and not just do the bidding of his boss, Donald Trump and campaign contributors in the resource extraction industry – is simply delusional, and not being honest with the American public.

Simply because someone has stated that they would not sell-off, or give away, America’s public lands, does not in any way make that person a huge public lands champion, or a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican” especially when the voting record clearly exposes the truth.

See also:

Cutting the budget of these programs doesn't necessarily mean programs will be affected. Being critical before seeing the impact on these programs is not helpful. Isn't there a chance we'll get good results at less cost.

The fat was trimmed long ago, programs will indeed be affected. Surely you don't think that similar cuts to NIH and NSF will have no effect on programs? Surely you don't think that the corollary -- increases to military spending -- will have no effect on their programs?

Spoken like a true Trumpite.

Wow, every now and again I forget that this site has little to do with fishing and more about anti-trump rhetoric. I don't agree at all with the article and would agree with those who have stated that the out-of-control spending has got to stop or none of us will be fishing or hunting. You could argue that China already owns our public lands due to the lack of leadership in past years.

Trump is a proper name; you should capitalize it....oh, sorry.

Same type of crap we heard when George W Bush took office. Same hysteria by the liberal-progressives that a Republican presidency means the end of the enviorment as we know it.

"At a boisterous public meeting in June, the Tulare County supervisors voted 3-2 in support of a plan to shrink the Giant Sequoia national monument, which contains the majority of the world’s population of the towering trees, to less than a third of its current size. The decision sparked bellowing acrimony that required the county sheriff to step in to restore calm. “It kind of got out of control,” said Steve Worthley, vice-chairman of the board of supervisors in Tulare County, California." The Guardian