Monday, December 20, 2010

Attack on the Hackmatack

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently studying the feasibility of a huge National Wildlife Refuge in Lake County and neighboring areas. To be called Hackmatack, the refuge will extend from Ingleside to Crystal Lake & Harvard in McHenry County, and north into Wisconsin.

Why should we care? Open, public land is a precious natural resource was can bequeath to our children, but only if it is preserved before being developed. National Wildlife Refuge System was created 100 years ago by Teddy Roosevelt, to set aside public land to protect wild animals and plants. Anyone who enjoys hiking, birdwatching, hunting, fishing on public lands today can thank Roosevelt for his vision.

So why does the Northwest Herald oppose the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge?

At first glance the Northwest Herald would be commended for covering the efforts to establish the Hackmatack Refuge. However a close read of the most recent Herald story would suggest that they are covering the Hackmatack to kill it. That story was little more than a soapbox for spokespersons from the Heartland Institute and the Cato Institute, both well-funded libertarian think tanks that want to see all publicly held land in private hands.
Push for Hackmatack refuge prompts debate on land use
A Northwest Herald editorial last week spelled out their reasons for opposing the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge:

we don't need to be adding to the responsibilities of a federal agency that is not working on vital issues right now. We've got a massive federal deficit. Joblessness still near 10 percent. A war in Afghanistan. A significant deployment of troops in Iraq. Nuclear proliferation concerns in North Korea and Iran. New terrorism concerns cropping up regularly. Do we really need taxpayer-funded federal employees spending countless hours and resources studying whether we need a reserve to protect the northern harrier? And then the federal government buying up more land – it already owns about a third of all land in the U.S. – that it then has to spend even more money on to maintain? Our short answer is no.
Wrong time for fed study
Excuse me, but I do not recall the Northwest Herald ever saying their short answer to the Iraq War was no. A war which added a trillion dollars, and counting, to that massive federal deficit. But when it is a matter of a few dollars to fund a Fish & Wildlife Service study, the Herald thinks it is time to pull the plug. The Northwest Herald can say they are "not opposed to the idea of preserving open space and the life of plants and animals."

Northwest Herald, this observer finds that hard to believe.

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