I can’t overstate what an important political development this may be, not just for wildlife conservation, but for the future structure of American politics.

“In a first-of-its-kind alliance that could fundamentally reshape the environmental movement, 20 labor unions with nearly 5 million members are joining forces with a Republican-leaning umbrella group of conservationists — the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership — to put pressure on Congress and the Bush administration.”

Read the rest in the Washington Post by Blain Hardin.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Conservation Group, Unions Joining Forces

  1. avatar Tim Z says:

    What will be their attitude towards predators? I get nervous when groups use the word “sportsman”.

  2. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    It’s probably way too early to tell, but I think it will probably represent the interests of the average sportsman (meaning not rich) with an emphasis on wildlife habitat and preventing public land sell-offs and sell-outs, that you don’t see with the right wing groups like SFW-ID, WY, (and I’ve heard, Utah).

    This could be a huge problem for the National Rifle Association — one reason they are starting to move away from BushCO.

  3. avatar mike says:

    Ralph, you can’t imagine how intensely I want to share your optimism; but, I have also seen so, so many of these groups form before and then seen them burn us. For years, my father was a diehard champion of the NRA as an organization that “protected hunters and wildlife” and it was hard to see him finally come to grips with the NRA’s true nature. Yes, the NRA is distancing itself from the Bush Administration; who isn’t at this point? At the end of WWII, the allied troops couldn’t find a single German who supported Hitler; there apparently were never any Nazis in Germany to judge by the claims of the occupied Germans. We have all watched the antics of the old Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and I can remember when they were being touted as a conservation-minded. I have seen the REP spread as much confusion as help. In the postings on New West, one of the most outspoken supporters of the TRCP is also one of the most virulent defenders of Rex Rammell. Now, we have this new Union Sportman’s Alliance; I’m afraid that, after seeing so much treachery, over so many years, from each and every “Republican-leaning umbrella group” that you can name, my first thought would be that this is just a scheme to pull the unions away from and immunize them against any tendency to come back towards their Democratic roots on the basis of their conservation leanings. I hope that I am surprised and proven wrong; but, remember your history, Teddy Roosevelt himself wasn’t.

  4. I don’t have any hope for the NRA. What an awful bunch! I joined the American Hunters and Shooters Association the very day I heard of them. I’m just speculating that the NRA may have sensed they are getting a lot of moderate competition.

    Unions are the only group that has ever served to give working class Americans any sense of their economic interests, so I think it’s likely better that blue collar sportsmen get involved in a group like this than groups that are privatizers at heart and/or fronts for the extractive industries or the Dick Cheney kind of hunters.

    I know from my experience in Idaho that the timber unions, operating with no input from conservation organizations (which were too upper middle class for them to pay any attention to) were one of the most anti-wildlife forces in Idaho. There was no necessity in that.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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