The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 15, 2014

Don Steese outdoors column: Unwanted legislation

— I know that it’s en vogue these days to be a government hater.

Everyone is supposed to believe that the government cannot do anythig right. I try really hard to go along with the program but then my Social Security deposit shows up in my checking account on time and I start having doubts.

Nope, I don’t believe that government is 100 percent wrong 100 percent of the time, but I also believe they can and do engage in a fair amount of mischief.

Pennsylvania House Bill 1576 is one of the better examples of governmental mischief I’ve seen in quite some time.

House Bill 1576, in case you haven’t heard about it, would make sweeping changes in the way Pennsylvania adds species to our endangered species list.

The bill would require that only animals and plants considered endangered or threatened by the federal government could be listed as endangered or threatened by the state, leaving Pennsylvania’s wildlife agencies without the option of setting our own standards.

If the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission or the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wanted to make a recommendation about adding a species to the endangered or threatened list, it would have to be reviewed by an Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

It would also likely be brought to the attention of House and Senate committees. The bill would also require a central database identifying the location of all listed species.

In addition, the bill would limit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s ability to designate a waterway as a Class “A” trout stream.

In addition, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has warned that if this bill becomes law, The Pennsylvania Game Commission and The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission could lose over $27 million dollars in federal funding. That’s a lot of money that might be gone for no good reason.

This bill would benefit the gas and oil industries, developers and therefore the political war chests of politicians, but I’ll be darned if I can see how it would benefit the wildlife or the citizens of the Keystone State.

Taking decisions about wildlife out of the hands of the professionals and putting into the hands of politicians and their appointees simply doesn’t make good sense, in my humble opinion.

Independent Regulatory Review Boards seldom are independent, as far as I can tell. One needs only to ask how one gets onto one of these boards. Generally it’s not so much a matter of what you know but rather who you know that gets you a seat at the table.

My understanding is that this bill was supposed to have been voted on this week but that the bill’s supporters were surprised to find that they didn’t have nearly the votes they needed.

Almost every Pennsylvania sportsmen’s group has voiced concern about this bill and many outdoor writers, myself included, have written pieces voicing opposition. It appears that our voices may have been heard loudly and clearly.

The bill, however, is far from dead. It remains on the legislative calendar until the end of the year and could be brought to the floor anytime between now and then.

Those of us who care about Pennsylvania’s wildlife need to keep up the pressure. Legislators do listen when they get a lot of reaction from constituents.

Let them hear from us, loudly and clearly!

Email comments to

Text Only
The Daily Marquee
National Sports Video
Auto Racing 2014

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.