House and Senate Conference on Coast Guard Authorization Bill to Decide Future of Taxes on Navigable Waters
New taxes on navigable waters in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Utah, Arizona, Maine and Idaho could be enacted if the House language prevails when the House and Senate meet in conference to reconcile the differences in the Coast Guard Authorization of 2010 (H.R. 3619). On Friday the Senate passed H.R. 3619 without including the local taxing authority in Section 301 which was in the House passed version. Amendments to Section 301 will provide state and local governments with the authority to levy taxes on fishing, rafting and other trips on “federally navigable” waters while exempting foreign vessels.
Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate conferees are expected to meet to reconcile the differences between the two bills. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are expected to play a role on the Senate side. Don Young (R-AK) is a possible player on the House side.
The future of outfitting and fishing hangs in the balance. Please call your members of Congress and plead with them to accept the Senate language in H.R. 3619. Ask them to appeal to the conferees in the House and Senate to keep amendments to section 301 in the House bill out of the final legislation.
The House switchboard number is 202-225-3121. The Senate number is 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your member of Congress. Or go to Congress.org and type your zip code in under Get Involved. Note your members of Congress come up on the left.
Regional Forester Says 100,000 Trees Are Falling Per Day in Colorado and Wyoming National Forests
Last week Regional Forester Rick Cables stated that he might have to close portions of three National Forests in Colorado and Wyoming due to hazard posed by beetle kill on 3.5 million acres. Trails, campgrounds and other areas are likely to be strewn with dead fall from extensive beetle kill of lodgepole pine, according to Cables. Cables recently met with the Chief of the Forest Service to appeal for a plan to restore the trail system in areas hit by beetle kill and fire.
Ski Areas Post Second Highest Attendance on Record
According to the National Ski Areas Association, the U.S. ski industry recorded 59.7 million visits, the second best season ever, according to the preliminary 2009/10 Kottke National End of Season Survey. Attendance was only 1.2 percent below the all time record of 60.5 million visits achieved in 2007/08. Read the full report at NSAA Report According to the report, all regions except the Northeast posted significant gains after a down season in 2008/2009.
Boston Globe Feature Article on Pack Trip in the Tetons
Read how this travel writer reconnected with his adult kids on a pack trip in Wyoming. Life is better outdoors! Boston Globe Article.
Outfitter Calls for Emergency Closure to Hunting District in Bitterroot Valley, Montana
Scott Boulanger of Circle KBL Outfitters in Darby, Montana and a member of the Bitterroot Working Group recently created a stir when he wrote Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) calling for closure of hunting district 250 to hunting due to declining elk numbers. Even FWP admits the area has one of the highest wolf to elk ratios in the region. In his letter Boulanger states:
1) The elk population objective for unit 250 adopted by the Bitterroot Elk working group was approved at 2000 head. For the last 2 years we have been hovering around 764. That means we are 62% UNDER the objective! The TOTAL elk population for the entire Bitterroot Valley continues to decline and is down 21% in the past 4 years.
2) The adopted statewide elk management plan calls for a minimum of 10 bulls per hundred cows. Our 2010 flight surveys show that there are only 4 bulls per hundred cows. In fact in the entire hunting district there were only 6 adult bulls observed and 20 yearling bulls observed. That means we are going to have most of our cows being bred by immature bulls if they get bred at all.
Elk calves have dropped to about 11 per 100 cows in the District. With wolves present Boulanger says at least 30 calves per 100 are necessary to sustain a herd. Boulanger is calling for the closure even though his business will be severely harmed. In a newspaper report, he said he had received only 1 negative comment out of 30.
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