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Hell NO!


Have you been paying attention?



There seems to be a subtle push from political leaders to possibly gain the largest land grab in history. Are you prepared, as fly fishing anglers, to pay rod fees to land owners to have access to our local streams, rivers, and lakes?


The Pueblo Chieftain just published an editorial “Activists camouflage backers agenda” (April 11 Opinion), an attack on local sportsmen’s groups by one Will Coggin of Washington, D.C.


All I can say is—consider the source.


Coggin is “director of research” for something called the Environmental Policy Alliance.  A little research shows that this Alliance is actually a front group for secretive corporate interests pushing for a takeover of our public lands. Coggin accuses respected sportsmen groups like Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership of being “green decoys” that pretend to represent hunters and anglers but are actually controlled by “radical environmentalists.”


That’s pretty rich. As a lifetime member of TU, I don’t think I’ve ever met a radical environmentalist at one of our meetings. Mostly they’re local anglers, sportsmen, and veterans who want to give back to their communities and the home waters that they love. TU volunteers contribute many hours on stream restoration projects, teach kids to fish, and help veterans heal through fly-fishing experiences.


Pretty radical stuff, huh?


As a Colorado Springs fly-fishing shop owner and outfitter with more than 30 years in the industry, I think I qualify as a “real sportsman.” I also think I know a little bit about the value of our public lands in Colorado. That’s why I spoke at a recent rally at the capitol in Denver (organized by Colorado sportsmen, not radical outsiders) to tell lawmakers to keep their hands off our public lands.


That we’re getting organized and speaking out is apparently having an impact—because it’s led to a blizzard of smear pieces, all penned by Mr. Coggin, who asserts that our sportsmen groups are “far-left,” “anti-gun” and “anti-energy” radicals. These are ridiculous charges that can be debunked with even a modest bit of research online.


What Coggin doesn’t say is that the places where we hunt and fish, camp and raft, hike and ride are under attack from a few fringe lawmakers and groups who want to give away our American public lands to the highest bidder. This change in ownership would not only invite a public land grab by private interests and developers—it would mean a fundamental shift in our Western way of life.


Never mind that a vast majority of Americans have expressed no support whatsoever for selling off our public lands—these groups apparently can’t take “no” for an answer.


So let me say it louder: “Hell NO.”


For generations of Colorado hunters and anglers, public lands have been a source of recreation and renewal. Many Coloradans choose to live here because of the rich outdoor experiences provided by special places like Browns Canyon and Hermosa Creek. In short, our public lands provide incredible access and outdoors opportunity to hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists of all kinds.


Do federal agencies do a perfect job of managing these lands? Of course not. But we should be encouraging local, state, and federal agencies to better communicate and coordinate on managing public lands—not wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous studies that invariably show these land grab proposals to be uneconomical and unconstitutional.


Coggin, Lamborn, Buck and other Washington bureaucrats seem to be playing politics with our public land. Their agenda is clear: provide big energy corporations with open access to all public lands despite the cost to wildlife and sportsmen who enjoy the outdoors. The real agenda here is a plan to sell off our public lands heritage to the highest bidder.


Who has the secret, radical agenda here?


What can you do?

Take a few moments and send our political leaders a message: 



Defend your public lands, Coloradans, before you wake up and find them posted with a “No Trespassing” sign.






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