Several people have asked me to run for Congress because of my American values and conservation ethics. I don’t have the patience, training or desire so that will never happen.
Yet, I wish someone that thought like mainstream America would step up and join the political ranks. We need a conservation president with American ideas.
That said, if I was in political office, here are the issues that would receive attention:
• First, I would make sure every child had a chance to spend time in the outdoors during the school year while being taught the true meaning of conservation. These classes would include how the balance of nature can mean survival for mankind. Mankind will eventually be doomed without sound environmental guidelines.
• Second, I would start a campaign to save our bees. This might mean eliminating some of the poisons that people spray on row crops. I might even pay every landowner to plant bee friendly crops and even create artificial bee hives – anything to bring up their numbers.
Saving the bees is especially important now because of the slow decline and extinction of the bee population. Bees are a vital part of a healthy planet. They pollinate plants and are responsible for 70 percent of the pollination and reproduction of our everyday crops. Without them, our global food supply will slowly diminish.
• Third, I would pay people to clean up our oceans, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Hiring the unemployed to do this clean-up work would be a great start. I might even offer tax concessions to communities that made a clean-up effort and could prove they did. Rivers and streams provide 65% of our nation’s drinking water. Millions of tons of trash end up in our nation’s rivers and streams every year. And it’s more than just an eyesore; it can contaminate your drinking water and threaten the life of all who depend on it.
• Fourth, I would start a zebra mussel elimination campaign. Biologists have claimed that eventually zebra mussels will take over every freshwater lake north of Arkansas, an ecological disaster. Problem is, one female zebra mussel is capable of hatching a million zebra mussels. They grab onto every hard surface imaginable, eliminating oxygen in the water and killing most living things, including fish.
Outdoor recreation, tourism, property values and the municipal water supply are threatened. Zebra mussels can foul boats and boat engines, foul beaches with washed-up remains, clog water intake pipes, alter water quality and affect the overall lake ecosystem.
Adult zebra mussels can be transported by attaching to boat hulls, engines and anchors. Zebra mussel larvae can be carried in the water of engine cooling systems, bilges, live wells and bait buckets, easily spreading everywhere.
• Fifth, I would pay farmers to do buffering programs around row crops. This successful program has brought back quail and pheasants in many areas.
Conservation buffers are small areas or strips of land in permanent vegetation, designed to intercept pollutants and manage other environmental concerns. Buffers include riparian buffers, filter strips, grassed waterways, shelterbelts, windbreaks, living snow fences, contour grass strips, cross-wind trap strips, shallow water areas for wildlife, field borders, alley cropping, herbaceous wind barriers and vegetative barriers.
Strategically placed buffer strips in the agricultural landscape can effectively mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients and pesticides within farm fields and from farm fields. When coupled with appropriate upland treatments, including crop residue management, nutrient management, integrated pest management, winter cover crops and similar management practices and technologies, buffer strips should allow farmers to achieve a measure of economic and environmental balance. Buffer strips, too, enhance wildlife habitat.
• Sixth, I would make sure all conservation departments across America were well funded, even if it meant taking money from other areas. Few groups are more important than our men and women who do their job keeping Missouri and Kansas sound in conservation.
Wildlife biologists, herpetologists, arborists or arboriculturists and all the other conservation employees help keep our wildlife sound and in good numbers.
• Seventh, I would make sure every child and adult took hunter’s education programs, a free learning experience offered by each state’s fish and game department. Then I would make sure every veteran hunter re-qualified every 10 years. This would create a lot of jobs and angry people, but it might save a life or two.
Many of you might say I am a dreamer with all my conservation desires. That may be, but eventually some of these issues will have to be resolved. Conservation is our future and nothing ever improves by being ignored. The problems are definitely here.
So please don’t vote for me in the next election; I will not accept. But I will conclude by wishing everyone a Happy New Year!
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.