Hunters, anglers fight Bushies’ efforts to sell or drill on public lands

Bush administration plans to sell off big chunks of public land and open other parcels to drilling are meeting stiff opposition from a traditionally Republican constituency: the hook-and-bullet crowd. Hunters and anglers anxious to protect fish and game are being wooed by environmental groups, which don’t have much sway with the current administration. Sportsfolk have been effective in some efforts to stave off development in the West, from winning a deferment of oil and gas leasing in Wyoming to convincing House sponsors of a controversial mining law to withdraw it. While enviros and sportsfolk have a history of cultural antagonism, they have much in common when it comes to preserving natural habitats. “When you lose habitat, [the animals are] gone forever,” says Gordon Johnston, an avid hunter and self-described “hard-core, hard-ass Republican.” Despite lingering wariness, the head of the Sierra Club’s outreach to sportshumans says, “I am seeing trust slowly being built.”