03/11/05 — Basnight: Greatest champion of natural resources

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Basnight: Greatest champion of natural resources

“When we leave this earth, let’s hope folks won’t say that we left the environment just a little bit worse than we found it ...”

Who said that?

Perhaps the greatest friend the recreational and commercial fishermen, and the wild game and fisheries resources, of this state have known in the lifetimes of most among us.

Yet, among many of them, he is routinely denounced; and among some, even despised.

His name is Marc Basnight. He is president pro tempore of the state Senate. And a household word across our state.

He has been roundly chastised — make that vilified — by some recreational fishermen for standing up for the survival of the commercial fishermen. Paradoxically, he also has been vilified by some commercial fishermen who felt he sometimes had moved against their best interests. His offense: putting top priority on protecting and enhancing the state’s marine resources — upon which both commercial and recreational fishermen depend!

Sen. Basnight’s focus has been on managing those resources not only for those of us living today, but for the generations that will follow. And to do so without sacrificing the livelihoods of his struggling watermen neighbors.

He has not been impervious to criticism. He feels it deeply, especially at home where he hears daily from his constituency. And he feels it from across the state where some recreational fisherman have regarded him as Public Enemy No. 1.

It has not been a comfortable crusade on the part of Marc Basnight. But it has been a courageous one.

And those firing at him from both sides — recreational and commercial fishermen alike — need to recognize and appreciate that he has been the best friend they, our fishery resources and our environment have had in their lifetimes.

John Pechmann, chairman of the Wildlife Resources Commission, put it accurately and succinctly: “I am moved always by the depth of perception and the dedication of Marc Basnight to not only sensibly utilize, but to preserve and enhance the quality of our waters, our wetlands and all of the natural resources so many take for granted. Whenever I am in his presence, I feel uplifted by his sincerity, his vision and his courage.”

It should be incumbent on all of us who treasure our natural heritage to rise to the challenge of Sen. Basnight — “not to be satisfied to leave the environment just a little bit worse than we found it.”

Failure to do our part in that noble cause will be to deny our children and grandchildren the experience of enjoying the wildlife resources, the environment and the quality of life we have enjoyed and for which our state is nationally recognized.

Published in Editorials on March 11, 2005 10:31 AM