Conservation Group, Unions Joining Forces

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.






  1. Tim Z Avatar
    Tim Z

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

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    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. mike Avatar

    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. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    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.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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