Phillips: Four wishes for 2014 — more snow, less wolf talk

rphillips@idahostatesman.comJanuary 2, 2014 

Can you believe it’s 2014 already? I probably say that every year, but here it is, whether I am ready or not. I’m not much of a year-in-review guy because nothing from the past will change.

But I do have some New Year’s wishes:

MORE SNOW

Water makes this state tick, and everyone from snowboarders to farmers cross their fingers and hope for a good snowpack.

We’ve been drought-stricken the last couple winters, and this year’s snowpack isn’t exactly steep and deep.

But it’s not over, either, and in the past we’ve had some big snowstorms in January, February and March.

Let’s hope they show up. Snow is obviously good for skiers and snowmobilers, but it also means full reservoirs, cool flowing streams, splashy whitewater and fewer wildfires.

MORE AMMO, TOO

It’s nice to walk into a sporting goods store and not reflexively grab every box of 9 mm or .223 ammo I see. Ammo shelves are adequately stocked for the most part, and some prices are even dropping to pre-hysteria levels, which is also a promising sign.

But I am still waiting for bricks of .22 ammo to return to shelves at reasonable prices. I’m guessing it will happen before the end of 2014.

Hopefully, this is the year we will return to that not-so-distant past when the availability of ammo in sporting goods stores raised about as much concern as the supply of breakfast cereal at Albertson’s.

NON-GOVERNMENT GROUPS TAKE THE LEAD

Gridlock, shutdowns, budget battles, feds vs. state, county vs. city — pick your government crisis of the week. No matter what level of government, there seems to be big hassles and little accomplished.

But for every example of government ineptitude, you can often find a counter-balancing group of citizens who’ve taken it upon themselves to get things done.

I will put them all under the umbrella of non-government organizations, even though they can be as varied as a global nonprofit to a neighborhood coalition or a local recreation club.

The work NGOs are doing is appreciated and inspiring, whether it’s mountain bike groups and their partners building trails in the Foothills, The Nature Conservancy and Wood River Land Trust pitching in to buy and protect a 10,000-acre Blaine County ranch from development, or Western Rivers Conservancy buying 1,200 acres along the Salmon River to protect the river and adjacent wildlife habitat.

It’s great to see individuals and groups getting things done when government can’t or won’t.

It’s easy to get frustrated about government, but it’s better to volunteer your time, labor or money so organizations can improve the places we play, and protect the places we love.

NO MORE WOLVES IN THE NEWS

Yes, I see the irony of putting this in the newspaper, but I’m fed up with hearing about wolves.

One side or the other is still crying wolf about some complaint or another, and here’s the blunt truth: Whatever you’re saying has been said 500 times before, so let the echo chamber die down.

Wolves are in Idaho to stay for the foreseeable future. Whether there are too few or too many is closely tied to your gut feelings about them.

But there’s no shortage, and they’re not flooding the state or snatching Little Red Riding Hood off the front porch swing.

Johnny and Janie Q. Public also have accepted that some wolves will be shot and trapped under this crazy thing we call “wildlife management.”

The recent wolf hunting “derby” in Salmon is a classic example of the clarion of hyperbole drowning out the voice of common sense.

One side decried the event as a wolf “slaughter” although not a single wolf was killed during the derby.

And the organizers of the event generated a bunch of needless controversy and made Idaho and its hunters look stupid and bloodthirsty.

Let’s all take a time out about wolves.

If you’re still howling mad about wolves existing in Idaho, you sound more like a wackjob than a skilled debater.

And if you love to hear the sound of an actual howling wolf, you’re more likely to hear one if you stop shouting.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

Statesman outdoor writers Pete Zimowsky and Roger Phillips alternate columns on Thursday. Look for Zimo next week.

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