Where’s win­ter at?

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors @out­look.com

It doesn’t feel much like Jan­uary. I spend the months of Novem­ber and De­cem­ber rev­el­ing in the hol­i­days and my con­so­la­tion af­ter putting away all the dec­o­ra­tions and get­ting back to the daily grind is look­ing for­ward to the glory of win­ter. But our stretch of mild weather has left me a bit empty, maybe wist­ful even.

The fa­mil­iar smell of my neigh­bor’s fire­place has been no­tice­ably ab­sent when I step out of the house in the morn­ing. I haven’t even needed a win­ter coat much the past few weeks. The rhubarb I planted just weeks ago al­ready put out new red shoots, and sprightly green leaves are now un­furled above the mulch I care­fully lay- ered over the crowns to pro­tect them from cold weather.

The Old Farmer’s Al­manac pre­dicts a very cold and snowy win­ter. I don’t put much stake in the re­li­a­bil­ity of such pub­li­ca­tions, but I do en­joy leaf­ing through a copy every fall when the new one hits the shelves at my lo­cal We don’t have to worry about such things much these days. We have the Weather Chan­nel to send our phones “rain alerts” and gro­cery stores with shelves stacked high with food that was grown half­way across the globe.

Lately, I find my­self won­der­ing if it will even snow this year. Granted, there are still a lot of days left in win­ter. The Old Farmer’s Al­manac has been fairly ac­cu­rate with its fore­cast for the mid-At­lantic re­gion. Tem­per­a­tures were warmer than av­er­age this past De­cem­ber. And, ac­cord­ing to its re­gional fore­cast, the snowiest days are ahead of us.

I know that win­ter can be ar­du­ous, and that many of you are ap­pre­ci­at­ing this warm spell. Truth be told though, I’ve become a woman for all sea­sons. I started out life all about the sum­mer­time, but, as I’ve ma­tured, win­ter has be­gun speak­ing to me in ways I never imag­ined. Each of the sea­sons has a place for me and gets me in touch with the cy­cle of na­ture.

To be clear, I don’t look for­ward to shov­el­ing the walk, but I do look for­ward to ad­mir­ing a fresh, white blan­ket of new-fallen snow be­fore boot prints and snow plows mar its per­fec­tion. The kids and I de­light in ob­serv­ing hun­gry birds flock to the feed­ers in our back­yard. The reg­u­lars are al­ways there,

but a snow­storm blows in lots of new vis­i­tors look­ing for sun­flower seeds for a quick burst of en­ergy.

The out­side world is dif­fer­ent cov­ered in snow. In­tri­cate ici­cles form on the house and glis­ten in the sun­shine. Tree branches sparkle. Snow crunches gen­tly un­der­foot. The list goes on.

Tech­ni­cally, win­ter just started on Dec. 21, so maybe I shouldn’t ex­pect too much too soon, but usu­ally by this time even if we haven’t had snow, we have had plenty of cold days. Maybe I am re­spon­si­ble for all this mild weather though.

About two months ago I broke down and bought my­self a bunch of new win­ter gear, to re­ally get ahead of things and be pre­pared. Af­ter all, they were on sale.

The way so many things go, the like­li­hood that I’d need them this win­ter im­me­di­ately shrank the sec- ond the box con­tain­ing them was de­liv­ered to my front door. But, by the same to­ken, by putting these thoughts in print, and doubt­ing the power of Old Man Win­ter, I may sum­mon the snow gods to dump a lit­tle of the white stuff on us here in South­ern Mary­land.

REC Act be­comes law

Last month Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed the Out­door Re­cre­ation Jobs and Eco­nomic Im­pact Act of 2016 into law.

Mov­ing for­ward, the con­tri­bu­tions of the out­door re­cre­ation in­dus­try will be of­fi­cially rec­og­nized and as­sessed as part of our na­tion’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. The lat­est sta­tis­tics es­ti­mate that that the out­door in­dus­try gen­er­ates ap­prox­i­mately $646 bil­lion each year and em­ploys 6.1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans.

The out­door lobby is ramp­ing up for a strong year with the pas­sage of this law and the cre­ation of the Out­door Re­cre­ation In­dus­try Roundtable, an or­ga­ni­za­tion of 14 out­door as­so­ci­a­tions that pro­mote fish­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing, off-road­ing and other out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. Among its goals are in­creased ac­cess to more fed­er­ally-man­aged pub­lic lands and wa­ter­ways, pro­mot­ing con­ser­va­tion, and cre­at­ing more do­mes­tic jobs re­lated to the out­door in­dus­try.

With the pas­sage of the REC Act, the roundtable is call­ing for any agency that man­ages pub­lic lands and wa­ter to an­a­lyze the eco­nomic im­pact of re­stric­tion or pro­hi­bi­tion and pro­vide jus­ti­fi­ca­tion be­fore mak­ing de­ci­sions that re­strict ac­cess. In the past, the eco­nomic im­pact was just a guess. Now there will be ac­tual data to base de­ci­sions on, which is im­por­tant for com­mu­ni­ties that have a high de­gree of out­door re­cre­ation con­tribut­ing to their lo­cal economies.

Last month, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump nom­i­nated U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for the po­si­tion of Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior. This de­ci­sion was her­alded as a win for the out­door in­dus­try by scores of hunt­ing and fish­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Rep. Zinke grew up hunt­ing and fish­ing in Mon­tana and was per­son­ally vet­ted for the post by Don­ald Trump Jr., an avid hunter and an­gler him­self. As the lone Con­gress­man from Mon­tana, Rep. Zinke has con­tin­u­ally op­posed the sale of federal lands. With his nom­i­na­tion and the pas­sage of the REC Act, it looks as if the next few years will be good ones for the na­tional parks and the peo­ple who visit them.

Firearm deer sea­son is back

The win­ter por­tion of the firearm deer sea­son opens to­day in Re­gion B coun­ties, which in­cludes all of South­ern Mary­land. The three-day sea­son also gives hunters the op­por­tu­nity to hunt on pri­vate lands this Sun­day, Jan. 8, in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s coun­ties.

The sea­son’s bag lim­its al­low for one antlered white-tailed deer and 10 antler­less white-tailed deer. Hunters who have al­ready har­vested two antler­less have the op­tion to pur­chase a spe­cial stamp to take a bonus antlered deer in the weapon sea­son of their choice. There is an antler point re­stric­tion in ef­fect as well.

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