An unlikely group of Republicans and Democrats, the Union Sportsman's Alliance, will be formed on Jan. 23 to protect lands in the Rocky Mountain West for hunting and fishing that are largely threatened because of energy exploration.
"In a first-of-its-kind alliance that could fundamentally reshape the environmental movement, 20 labor unions with nearly 5 million members are joining forces with a Republican-leaning umbrella group of conservationists -- the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership -- to put pressure on Congress and the Bush administration."
"The primary goal of the Union Sportsman's Alliance is to increase federal funding for protecting wildlife habitat while guaranteeing access for hunters and anglers."
"The unlikely marriage of union and conservation interests comes at a time when the Bush administration, with its push for oil and gas drilling in the Rocky Mountain West, has limited public access to prime hunting and fishing areas on federal land. This has triggered a bipartisan backlash from sportsmen and conservation groups, as well as from Western politicians in both parties."
"Jim Range, chairman of the board of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which includes most of the nation's mainline hunting and fishing groups, said his organization forged an alliance with the unions in large measure because of their manpower, money and lobbying savvy. He predicted that the alliance will create a sudden and historically unique influx of millions of new people to the cause of land conservation."
"'It is a real creative step in cutting across party lines,' Professor Smith said. 'It is likely to be a very effective strategy.'"