A political discussion of the candidates? | High Sierra Topix  

A political discussion of the candidates?

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A political discussion of the candidates?

Postby dave54 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 5:43 pm

Earlier in this forum’s history, the consensus view was to keep the freewheeling political commentary elsewhere and keep this forum on topic and civilized. I do not believe either party can claim the mantle of being the ‘environmental’ party as both have legislation to their credit and discredit, and victories can also be seen as defeats depending on subjective viewpoint.

I will attempt to discuss a very political topic and stimulate a discussion on the relevant issues while maintaining evenhandedness. I have my own viewpoints on outdoor and public lands issues, and the regular readers already know them; but here is a [I hope unbiased and objective to the extent feasible] discussion of the two major candidate’s positions on issues of interest to this forum. The other minor party candidates are excluded for space reasons. Some readers will claim I was fair in this discussion, others will assert I was unfair to their preferred candidate.


Neither candidate has made public land issues any importance on their websites. “Environment” means oil and energy issues, and “Rural” means farms. Public land use is not a big issue this election for most Americans and the respective websites devote little space to the topic.

Both talk about the right of hunters and anglers to maintain access and both give some space about conserving wildlife. Both are also short on specifics.

“Every year, more than 45 million Americans venture to our forests, marshes, mountains, lakes and streams to pursue the traditions of hunting and fishing. Our sportsmen are citizen stewards of these sensitive areas and play a vital role in maintaining the abundance of wildlife found on our public lands. Indeed the sportsmen community is perhaps our strongest advocate for programs that encourage habitat protection and wildlife conservation. A vibrant hunting and angler community is essential to supporting our state and federal game and fish agencies.” --McCains website.

“Barack Obama recognizes that American hunters and anglers are losing access to places to hunt and fish.
Obama supports the Open Fields Incentives legislation that provides incentives to farmers and ranchers who
voluntarily open their land to hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related activities.
Barack Obama is fully committed to protecting the habitat for the fish and wildlife that sportsmen enjoy.”
– Obama’s website.

Both continue on to discuss private land access and the various federal funding mechanisms for wildlife and conservation.

To Obama’s credit, he at least touches on National Forests in mentioning, in one sentence, protecting roadless areas for wildlife habitat. He specifically mentions habitat restoration for sage grouse and antelope, which struck me as contradictory. Those two species have mutually exclusive habitat requirements, and restoring/maintaining for one is to the detriment of the other. So it appears Obama is throwing out sound bites to the masses without really researching the science. Before he had the nomination sewn up his web site mentioned “using science to manage our public lands” but that phrase is not present now. Since science solidly supports active management of natural resources, one has to speculate the reason for the rewrite of his position statement. Preservation without management strikes a chord among voters and appeals to users of wilderness areas, but is not science based. How can you restore/manage for wildlife habitat if the agencies are denied access to the land?

“Obama will direct the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to place a special emphasis on restoration of habitat for important game species associated with specific regions of the United States..., and sage grouse and pronghorn antelope habitat in the West.”

Obama has a separate section on his website entitled ‘Environmentalists for Obama’, and has a long list of endorsers. Some of the supporters listed are of dubious value (extremist), and some of the organizations listed are environmentally active to the point of being borderline eco-terrorists. I am not certain the list of environmental supporters is well vetted.

I could not find the words ‘National Forests’ on McCains website. He references the phrase ‘Natural Heritage’. McCain also states using science in the management of natural resources, and supports multiple use.

Our nation's conservation movement began over a century ago as westward expansion encouraged clearcutting logging practices, unsustainable grazing policies, and the overhunting of game and fish populations. Visionaries such as Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and Ding Darling rallied Americans behind unprecedented efforts to save our wild landscapes, important watersheds and migratory bird corridors. Their labors led Americans to embrace principles of multiple-use public lands management and natural resource conservation based upon sound science. This heritage must be understood and reignited in Americans to meet the challenges we face.” [Bold face mine]

McCain supports increasing funding for public lands, but for infrastructure and operations, not habitat and ecosystems management.

“Our national parks, national seashores, wildlife refuges and national monuments embody America's commitment to preserving our most precious natural treasures. Unfortunately, Congress' failure to devote the proper resources towards operations and maintenance has caused many park units to fall into disrepair. As we reconnect with our outdoor heritage we must focus on maintaining these areas. From the Grand Canyon to Gettysburg, to the Indiana Dunes and the Everglades, we must preserve the cultural significance and natural beauty of our most wild and historic places. These irreplaceable landscapes deserve our renewed attention.”

Campaign position statements are traditionally carefully wordsmithed to appeal to the broadest number of voters possible and avoid hot button phrases and these are no exception. Specific details are also impractical to discuss on a website. In reviewing the candidates’ websites and stripping away the partisan campaign language, I find little differences in their position statements. Most of it is the usual sound bite designed to feel good without actually committing to anything firm.

The President, of course, cannot simply decree his wishes to the country. Congress must concur, and negotiations among both parties is required before Congress can legislate. Then the courts must give their approval. More importantly, the law itself is less important than how it is actually implemented on the ground. The choice of Sec of Interior and Agriculture and the various agency heads will influence public land issues and policies more than campaign position statements. The House Ways and Means and Budget committees control the pursestrings, and no policy or program will function without money regardless of who is in the White House.
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Re: A political discussion of the candidates?

Postby trav867 » Tue Oct 07, 2008 2:17 pm

Good post, odd what little discussion it's created. While I don't vote based purely on environment and land use issues, the more time I spend outside the more important they seem to become to me. For me, human-created global warming is the biggest threat to the Sierra, and the most important issue for one concerned about the future of the wilderness.
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