HUNTERS AND WILDERNESS … As the Times reports, a battle is raging in Pennsylvania to keep 44,000 acres of state-protected wilderness from becoming a National Guard target range.

The fight for conservation is being spearheaded by a coalition group that includes sportsmen who value the Stony Creek wilderness area as top notch hunting grounds. Unlike the proposed entry of Bradley fighting machines, hunting on foot and limited by state game laws does not impair ecosystems. (I know not all readers are fans of hunting; I take a more sympathetic view for reasons elaborated here and here.)

My point here is simply that these sportsmen would not be taking a leading role in conservation advocacy had they never been allowed to hunt on, and develop a connection with, these state lands. As urbanization and other factors make it harder to find good places to hunt, or hike, enthusiasts will fight harder for what’s left. That’s a potentially potent political force.

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Christina Larson is a Washington Monthly contributing editor and an award-winning science and environment journalist who has reported from five continents.