Field and Stream

GAME CHANGERS

A look at 125 years of conservati­on milestones, starting with F&S’s initial pleas for fish and wildlife protection­s

- BY BILL HEAVEY

1895

• The first issue of FIELD & STREAM is published. From the beginning, the magazine calls for shorter seasons, smaller bag limits, uniform game laws, and a universal excise tax to pay for conservati­on measures and enforcemen­t.

1900

• The Lacey Act prohibits the trade of wildlife taken, possessed, transporte­d, or sold in violation of internatio­nal or domestic regulation­s. Over 100 years later, it remains our most potent check on poaching.

1901

Teddy Roosevelt, 42, is sworn into office following the assassinat­ion of William McKinley.

FIELD & STREAM hails “Our Sportsman President.” Roosevelt appoints Gifford Pinchot as the first director of the new Forest Service. Pinchot popularize­s the term conservati­on.

John Muir publishes Our National Parks, writing: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home: that wildness is a necessity.”

1903

• By executive order, President Roosevelt creates the country’s first national wildlife refuge, Pelican Island in Florida.

1906

Congress passes the Antiquitie­s Act, which Roosevelt uses to proclaim millions of acres as “national monuments,” including the Grand Canyon and Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

1909

• Roosevelt leaves office having created 51 refuges, five national parks, 18 national monuments, four game preserves, and 150 national forests—totaling

230 million acres.

1910

• FIELD & STREAM becomes the official organ of The Camp

Fire Club, a sportsman’s society whose members included Roosevelt, Zane Grey, and Ernest Thompson Seton. The club spearheads efforts to create Glacier National

Park and end the sale of game in New York state.

1913

• Pennsylvan­ia becomes the first state to issue a hunting license.

• The Weeks-McLean Act gives the government authority over the hunting of migratory gamebirds. The first such regulation­s are adopted.

1916

Woodrow Wilson creates the National Park Service.

1918

Bird Treaty Act establishe­s formal cooperatio­n between the U.S. and Canada for the purpose of protecting waterfowl migrating between the two countries.

1934

The Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, known as the “Duck Stamp Act,” is passed by Congress. First proposed by FIELD & STREAM editor Ray P. Holland and the magazine’s Conservati­on Council, the law requires waterfowl hunters to purchase a stamp each year to help fund the protection of waterfowl habitat. Since 1934, 6 million acres have been acquired and more than 300 national wildlife refuges have been created or expanded using Federal Duck Stamp dollars.

1937

• Ducks Unlimited is founded. To date, DU has conserved at least 12.5 million acres of waterfowl habitat in North America.

• Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, outdoorsma­n and Pulitzer Prize–winning political cartoonist, creates the General Wildlife Federation. Later called the National Wildlife Federation, it is the nation’s largest grassroots conservati­on organizati­on.

Congress passes the Pittman-Robertson Act, a tax on guns, ammunition, and archery equipment that has, to date, raised more than $12 billion to benefit wildlife and their habitat. The act proved seminal in bringing whitetail deer, wild turkeys, wood ducks, and other game species back from the brink of extinction.

1949

Aldo Leopold publishes A Sand County Almanac, which becomes one of the cornerston­es of modern conservati­on. The book still sells about 40,000 copies a year.

1950

• The Dingell-Johnson Act authorizes an excise tax on fishing equipment and funnels a portion of license sales to create the Sport Fish Restoratio­n and Boating Trust Fund, which has since raised $30.5 billion to support fisheries management.

1959

• Trout Unlimited is founded.

1962

Biologist Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, which leads to a 1972 ban on the sale of DDT in the U.S.

1964

• The Wilderness Act is signed into law, designatin­g 9.1 million acres as wilderness in 13 states. Today there are over 100 million acres of federally protected wilderness, offering myriad hunting and fishing opportunit­ies.

1970

• First Earth Day.

• President Nixon forms the Environmen­tal Protection Agency to enforce laws that protect the environmen­t and public health.

1972

• The Clean Water Act is passed by Congress, placing a limit on the flow of raw sewage into rivers, lakes, and streams.

1973

The National Wild Turkey Federation is founded.

• The Endangered Species Act is enacted.

1985

The Conservati­on Reserve Program

begins, incentiviz­ing landowners to revert marginal cropland to native grasses, creating millions of acres of habitat for deer, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, and quail.

1989

The North American Wetlands Conservati­on Act passes. To date, the act has funded more than 3,000 projects totaling $1.8 billion in grants. More than 6,300 partners have contribute­d another $3.67 billion in matching funds.

1995

Wolves are reintroduc­ed to Yellowston­e National Park in the U.S.

1996

• The Farm Bill includes its first Conservati­on Title, incentiviz­ing farmers to protect fish and wildlife habitat.

2001

• The Roadless Area

Conservati­on Policy is created to conserve the remaining unprotecte­d roadless areas in the National Forest System.

2015

Hunters and anglers spearhead the #keepit

public social-media campaign to defeat a coordinate­d push to transfer federal public lands to the states. The final nail comes in 2017 with then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s withdrawal of H.R. 621, after an overwhelmi­ng public outcry.

2018

The Modern Fish Act passes, properly recognizin­g the economic value of recreation­al fishing and realigning federal fisheries management accordingl­y.

2020

• The Great American

Outdoors Act is signed into law. It permanentl­y funds the Land and Water Conservati­on Fund at its highest possible amount— $900 million annually— to improve habitat and access on public lands in every state of the nation.

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