By Brian Kozminski
From family fishing trips to jobs supported by outdoor tourism, Michigan’s healthy wildlife and natural resources benefit all of us. Beauty so natural is easy to take for granted, but it only exists now because generations of Americans have come together to protect our outdoor heritage.
As an outdoor sportsman, that’s why I support the Environmental Protection Agency’s new limits on industrial carbon pollution. Just like unfettered development and dwindling stocks of fish and game united conservationists in Teddy Roosevelt’s day, climate change now threatens what we must confront to protect our legacy for our children and grandchildren.
The evidence is as solid as the science that connects cigarettes to cancer. Just this spring, a coalition of organizations and federal agencies from the Defense Department to the National Science Foundation released an updated National Climate Assessment documenting changes already happening even faster than projected, with temperatures rising faster, oceans more quickly becoming acidic, and fish and wildlife habitat shifting sooner than many species can adapt.
But we don’t need anyone to tell us our climate is changing - we’re seeing it with our own eyes. We see up close how climate change is altering the forests, fields and streams we’ve enjoyed for years. As temperatures rise, lakes and streams get warmer, making them inhospitable for fish like the brook trout or Pacific salmon that need cold water.
As a fly fishing guide and volunteer stream monitor for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, I have seen sensitive macro-invertebrates disappear from many local small streams that once were cold-water streams that have become too warm for many species of mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies to live in.
Hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts contribute to our economy, too, from the bait shop to hunting licenses to the cabin rental. Every year, outdoor recreation generates $646 billion in spending and 6.1 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.