Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lead bans in California

© Joshua Stark 2010

Phillip at the Hog Blog beat me to it, but I wanted to note here that the proposed lead ammunition ban in California wildlife areas was killed in committee.  I don't expect this decision to be paraded around by opponents as another example of wise leadership on the part of our legislature, but it should.
That's right, I said that the folks who were opposed to this ban need to acknowledge, vocally and in public, that this decision was a good, wise decision.  Then, they need to take it a step further, and offer a bill that would provide for research on these properties, research that looks for any and all impacts from potential pollutants, including lead, but also other pollutants.  It's time to judo-flip this puppy, lock arms with other members of the environmental and EJ communities, and say, "hey, there is a concern for pollutants on our lands.  We worry, because we love the wild, and we also eat the wild.  We want healthy places for our land and for our children."

Now is the time to step up with some solid language.  I propose the bill language include general research into airborne, soil, and water pollutants with a focus on identifying the toxins and determining their vectors into the habitat.  I also propose that findings be reported by five years' time.  Last, I propose that the research consider each wildlife area individually, that it not be lumped into some general statements.

We are a huge state with many climates, dozens of microclimates, many different watersheds, and a huge diversity of industries.  We also have a gigantic population that is highly urbanized.  All of these factors weigh in on the various pollutants with which we live.

Seriously, this could be the impetus for bringing together those who care about our environment, whether for hunting, for its own sake, or for the pollutants that harm our own neighborhoods.

Editorial note:  I did support the lead ban in condor country, but opposed the proposed lead ban in all wildlife areas.  I also no longer shoot lead at all when hunting, because I have a pregnant wife and a three-year-old daughter.  We need solid science to show that a lead ammunition ban would, indeed, positively impact my wild places, and where this comes to light, I do support lead bans.  But, where it is determined that it is not causing a problem, I do not support a ban.

The sorrowful pessimist in me says that other politics (namely, the grip of huge industries on our political sphere) will keep our groups from organizing on this issue.  But, I try to remain hopeful, and if anyone is interesting in helping out, please let me know.


Phillip said...

Josh, I can sort of get behind what you're saying here.

However, it seems to me that much of the research you propose is already underway by State and Federal agencies. How would you change what's already being done?

Josh said...

I'm not so sure that much is actually being done in the field, in general, and I know that nothing is being done in these particular fields.

For example, the Peregrine Fund has a great set of research papers on specific topics, impacts on particular species, etc. But, there are few data sets for particular places, and none for any of these wildlife areas that refer to lead or other pollutants. At least, I don't know of any on-the-ground research into particular wildlife areas in California.

The bulk of State and Fed. monitoring is in urban areas and iconic places (at times), and the vast majority of it is in regards to air quality and, to a lesser extent, water quality. Marginal places like hunting grounds for Californians are overlooked. Heck, I just read today that they "discovered" extremely high mercury levels in a Bay Area water supply!

For as much as we think we are looking, we really aren't. It's like the pretty girl never getting asked to the dance: Everybody thinks everybody else already asked her.

If the hunting community were to head it up, it should start in hunting grounds: Wildlife areas, popular BLM and USFS areas, etc. We need to recognize particular places, their importance to us and their health, and work from there.

I think much progress could be made if we took the concept down into particular lands, and in doing so, helped to re-ignite a connection to particular places.